We asked chefs about the one tool that's most essential in their home kitchens.
Burr coffee grinder
“As popular as blade grinders are, they rip coffee beans apart rather than crushing them like burr grinders do. I have two burr grinders: one for coffee and one for spices. The even, fine grind makes for better extraction of my coffee, and it crushes pepper and coriander perfectly for mignonette.” —Chef Paul Fehribach, Big Jones, Chicago
Buy it: Breville Smart Grinder Pro ($200 at amazon.com)
“My rice cooker is my salvation. It’s perfect for dinner, school lunches, and oatmeal for breakfast. I leave the oatmeal overnight, and in the morning, it is nicely cooked. My kids’ school lunch obsession is onigiri (rice balls) filled with an array of ingredients. I fill the rice cooker when I get home at night, and there is fresh rice waiting for us in the morning.” —Chef Mina Newman, Sen Sakana, New York City
Buy it: Aroma 16-cup Turbo Convection Multicooker Rice Cooker ($140 at amazon.com)
“I recently found out the merits of the panini press the hard way. When your stove goes out, you can produce whole meals on it! It acts as a flattop grill and can cook anything from pizza to pork chops.” —Chef-owner Deborah VanTrece, Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours, Atlanta
Buy it: Cuisinart GR-11 Griddler Grill & Panini Press ($48 at amazon.com)
“A kitchen tool I can’t live without these days is a julep strainer. It’s made for the bar, but I use it in all sorts of ways, from gently dropping eggs into water to skimming broths. It’s super versatile.” —Chef Ilan Hall, Dog Haus, New York City
Buy it: Williams Sonoma Open Kitchen Julep Strainer ($12 at williams-sonoma.com)
“I always bake muffins at home in a popover pan. I love the shape, and since it’s a bit narrower, it cooks a smidge faster. If you use a nonstick pan, then you don’t need paper liners.” —Baker-owner Tiffany MacIsaac, Buttercream Bakeshop, Washington, D.C.
Buy it: Chicago Metallic 6 Well Popover Pan ($16 at amazon.com)
“The most-used appliance in my house is my vacuum sealer. Not only is it good for extending the life of leftovers (typically three to five extra days), but it also allows me to portion items and freeze them. I can make a big pot of red beans and vacuum seal them so the next time I want them, I simply pull the bag from the freezer and heat the whole thing in boiling water.” —Chef Mike Brewer, Copper Vine and Fulton Alley, New Orleans