As technology advances, people invent more kitchen appliances to solve certain dilemmas. But do you really need all of these appliances? Kitchen tools aren’t cheap, and we only have so much cabinet and counter space to spare. Most of the time, you can accomplish the same goal without these gadgets.
Some needless appliances–such as popcorn machines and pancake printers–cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. If you’re debating buying any of these, here are cheaper options that you can pursue instead. Follow everything on the list, and you can save up to $3,811.
Home Deep Fryer, $40 – $290
Home deep fryers, at their cheapest, cost around $40. Most high-quality fryers sell for close to $300. If you adore fried food, then buying a deep fryer seems like a logical choice. But did you know that you can deep-fry food with only a pot and oil?
You just need a frying oil, a deep pot, and a stove. Heat the oil between 375°F (190°C) and 440°F. (225°C). Then you can batter your food, fry it using a strainer with a handle, and pat it dry. Do that, and you’ll save hundreds of dollars for the same food.
Meat-Shredding Claws, $8 – $15
Meat-shredding claws look cool. There’s no denying that looking like Wolverine will make anyone feel awesome. Since they usually cost between $7 and $15 at Target and Walmart, people may think that they’re a good deal. They would be if they weren’t useless.
Most meat-shredders are made of nylon, and their “claws” bend after a single-use, according to Amazon reviews. Even if you get metal, they’re still harder to use than shredding meat with two forks. Chef Alton Brown tested meat-shedders and said that they weren’t sturdy or necessary.
Electric Can Opener, $20 – $30
The electric can opener is a prime example of a tool that occupies too much precious counter space. Handheld can openers cost $5 on Amazon. Unless you struggle to move your hands, you likely don’t need an electric can opener.
This gadget wouldn’t be so atrocious if it didn’t cost between $15 and $30. If it breaks, you have to pay more for repair costs or purchase another one. If you physically struggle to open cans, this tool may help you. Otherwise, stick to the manual technique.
Pie Bird, $4 – $24
Unless you’ve used a pie bird, you probably don’t know what this funky contraption is. Also called a pie vent, pie birds are ceramic tools that ventilate a pie. It keeps the filling inside the crust and prevents it from bubbling over. Although they’ve been around since Victorian times, most pie pros don’t use them at all.
Have you seen those wavy pie crusts? That’s a method called pie fluting, in which bakers shape the crusts to ventilate steam. It looks far classier than a pie bird and doesn’t cost you $24.
Popcorn Machine, $50 – $400
Popcorn machines usually cost between $50 and $400. Unless you’re running a movie theater, why do you need a popcorn machine? If you want to save money on raw kernels, here’s a method to pop them without using a machine. You can cook popcorn in a regular pot by pouring oil into a pan, adding raw kernels, and waiting for them to pop.
If you want movie-style popcorn, raid your pantry. You can spice up your snack with garlic powder, Italian seasonings, curry powder, or lemon pepper. You can also buy a $12 cheesy popcorn seasoning and save $388 on a machine.
Pizza Scissors, $19 – $30
Some inventors realized that college students often cut their pizza with scissors. It’s surprisingly efficient because you don’t need to buy a rolling cutter. This convenience immediately disappears with Scizzas, or pizza scissors, that cost $30 on average.
The reason people use scissors for pizza is to not pay for a rolling cutter. If you make more expensive scissors, that steals the appeal. Scizzas have a ledge that helps you dish the slice after cutting it. But most people already own spatulas or–dare we say it–their hands. You don’t need to spend $20 to $30 on fancy scissors.
Magic Tap, $6 – $13
If you haven’t seen a Magic Tap commercial, consider yourself blessed. Magic Tap is a tool that you can screw onto any milk or juice carton, and it’ll dispense it. The device frees people from lifting containers, unscrewing the lid, and pouring it. But that’s not hard to do unless you’re buying enormous Costco mega-jugs.
Reviews of the $13 Magic Tap describe the object as “too tall, too touchy” and unable to fit on standard-sized containers. The product will often continue to shoot juice until you manage to reset it at just the right angle. Save yourself the hassle.
Pancake Printer, $240 – $2,000
This is what one may call a “drunk purchase.” Pancake printers, also called Pancakebots, bake pancakes into 3D shapes. They also cost hundreds of dollars on the cheap end. That’s enough to deter someone from buying a tool that doesn’t even help you cook easier.
If you want to make your pancake look like the Eiffel Tower, all the power to you. But go for the cheaper option; don’t pay $2,000 for one. Shaping custom pancakes without a fancy appliance provides more laughs and takes less time. Pancake printers don’t need to exist.
Salad Spinner, $20 – $70
Salad spinners save a little bit of time may partially drying freshly-washed greens. They would be worth $20 to $75 if they worked as well as they marketed. After you spin your greens, they still feel a bit damp. You’ll have to pat them down anyway.
If you eat salads every day, you might benefit from a salad spinner. But be aware that they consume quite a bit of cabinet space. Unless you’re making giant salads, spinners often take the same amount of time as patting your lettuce dry or shaking it a bit.
Electric Salt And Pepper Grinders, $30 – $70
On average, one pair of electric salt and pepper shakers costs $70. Cheaper pairs sell for $30. Again, people who struggle to use their hands might benefit from these tools. Even so, they’re costly. Also, many electric grinders come with LED lights. Why? In case you ever decide to cook in the dark for some reason.
If you want a grinder, you’ll save a lot of money buying manual grinders (which cost $15 to $30). Better yet, avoid the hassle altogether by buying regular salt and pepper shakers.
Warming Ice Cream Scoop, $20
Ice cream lovers understand the struggle of scooping frozen solid desserts. Most of us leave the carton out for a couple of minutes, or better yet, stuff it in the microwave for twenty seconds. But some people are more impatient than that. These are the inventors of the heat-conducting ice cream scoop.
With thermodynamic technology, this scoop slightly melts ice cream to dig into it. Sounds great–except that we can pay nothing to nuke your ice cream in the microwave. Most warming ice cream scoops cost between $14 and $20. Save your money and be a little patient.
Avocado Masher, $7 – $15
Yes, the avocado craze has encouraged people to mash this fruit every day. But do you know what most people use? A fork. Avocado mashers are made to make the process “easier,” although we can’t fathom how the process could be any easier.
If you buy an avocado tool, buy a 3-in-1 slicer. This $7 to $10 tool slices, mashes, and removes the pit of an avocado all at once. That’s far cheaper than a $10 to $20 masher and far more useful. Otherwise, cook like the rest of us and use a fork.
Corn Kernel Stripper, $8 – $22
Although many of these gadgets seem convenient, they quickly lose their charm once you realize that they’re useless. A corn kernel stripper is a prime example. These tools cost anywhere from $4 to $22 depending on quality. Just use a knife instead.
Corn kernel strippers may cut all the kernels, but they create a mess. To not dirty your kitchen (and save money), hold the cob vertically over a bowl. Then slide your knife down the sides. You can use a fork to separate all the kernels. This trick takes the same amount of time and saves you $20.
Electric Wine Opener, $18 – $70
Those who struggle to fumble with a corkscrew may appreciate an electric wine opener. Otherwise, the contraption has more downsides than benefits. They cost anywhere from $18 to $70 and still require enough dexterity to hold them steadily over a slim bottleneck.
Electric wine openers are single-use and require an outlet in your kitchen. Meanwhile, a corkscrew only costs a couple of bucks and usually comes with a bottle opener. Wine openers don’t need to be electric to remove the cork.
Quesadilla Maker, $20
How did people make crispy, gooey quesadillas without the invention of a quesadilla maker? They used a pan. Toss a tortilla on a hot pan, add your cheese, fold it in half, flip it, and you got a great quesadilla. You don’t need to pay an extra $20 for it.
Compared to other tools on this list, quesadilla makers seem to have decently high reviews. If you want to get one, at least you’ll have a working product. But you’ll also own an item that takes up counter space and does the same thing as a pan and a stove.
Bread Maker, $40 – $300
Your kitchen already comes with a built-in bread making machine; it’s called an oven. The cheapest bread maker costs $50 at Walmart, while most others cost between $200 and $300. That’s a lot to pay for a recipe you can make without the machine.
Bread makers market accessibility by relieving the burden of kneading your bread. But there are plenty of no-knead and no-yeast recipes out there. You can use these recipes to save money and not have a giant bread maker consume your space.
Omelet Maker, $17 – $22
Again–why do we need a product that does the same thing as a stovetop? Most of us cook omelets by using a nonstick pan and flipping it. You don’t need to purchase another tool for one single meal. Unless you eat omelets for every meal, you don’t need this.
Sure, omelets are difficult to slip in a pan. But once you master that, they become one of the easiest, quickest meals to make. Either you can spend $10 to $20 on an omelet maker, or cook five omelets on a pan until you master the art of flipping.
Asparagus Steamer, $24 – $60
Asparagus steamers cost, on the low end, $20 to $30 at Home Depot. Others cost up to $60 at Macy’s and Williams-Sonoma. If someone pays $60 to steam asparagus, they must really love asparagus.
If you cut your asparagus, you can fit it into a regular steamer (same price range, but you get more use out of it). Otherwise, you can dampen your asparagus, place it in a container and cover it with plastic wrap with ventilation, and bake it in the microwave for two to four minutes. Viola–you save $60.
Egg Cooker, $17 – $40
To make hard- or soft-boiled eggs, you need a pot, water, and eggs. Or do you? Stores such as Target, Kohl’s, and Williams-Sonoma sell egg cookers specifically designed to take up space. On the cheap end, they’re $17. Others cost up to $20 or $40.
The benefit to egg cookers is that they keep each egg separated. If you want that, you can buy egg racks that fit inside of your pot. They cost less (about $10) and don’t occupy valuable counter space. But we don’t need to tell you that you can boil eggs without one.
Pasta Maker, $63 – $300
Modern health movements have been pushing people to make their own bread and noodles for a while now. If you want to make fresh noodles, you can do so without a machine, as chefs have been doing for centuries. Or you can pay up to $300 for a pasta maker.
While pasta makers are supposed to be convenient, they actually make your work harder. There’s a technique to folding pasta dough and cutting it to create neat, untangled noodles. Meanwhile, pasta makers crank out piles of noodles and are a hassle to clean. They’re not worth the money or the effort.