The Most Popular Kitchen Tools We Recommend

Using a serrated bread knife to slice off butternut squash skin

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik, unless otherwise noted]

Ever find yourself curious about what other people are shopping for? This happens to us a lot in the grocery store aisle: We're minding our own business, grabbing bananas and all the other stuff we actually need, when someone walks by with a cart full of products we suddenly...need. (The most commonly lusted-after item—for some of us, anyway—is Oreos.)

Of course, when you're browsing online, it's a bit harder to know what your fellow shoppers have in their baskets, and thus derive inspiration for your own purchases. If you suffer from this condition—let's call it Shopper's FOMO Syndrome—we can help you out, at least within the realm of great cookware and kitchen tools.

We've rounded up the recommended equipment our readers shopped for most this year—the Serious Eats–approved kitchen items that readers have been drawn to buy again and again. Make sure the tried-and-true top 10 below are all on your holiday wish list, and, if you already have 'em, don't forget that they make pretty good gifts, too.

An Oven Thermometer

It's no surprise to us that this humble oven thermometer, featured on Stella's list of essential baking gear, is the number one most popular tool of the year.

Its $7 price tag belies its value: If your oven at home doesn't seem to run true to temperature, a simple oven thermometer can help you get a more accurate reading, which will in turn save your holiday cookies from scorching, ensure your cakes don't turn out gummy, and keep your buttery pie crusts from turning out greasy—all undesirable outcomes that can stem from an oven that's too hot or too cold. All you need to do to protect yourself and your baked goods is hang this little doodad on one of the racks.

Poultry Shears

Poultry shears are a great tool to buy for yourself, and make an excellent, albeit slightly dangerous, stocking stuffer for someone else. Use them to spatchcock your holiday bird, allowing you to achieve the ideal combination of extra-crispy skin and juicy meat. We tested a wide variety of poultry shears, and this pair by OXO won by a landslide, cleaving through bone and cutting slippery skin without any fuss at all.

The Tojiro Bread Slicer

The saw-toothed edge of a bread knife is essential if you want to slice through bread (or a ripe tomato!) without squishing it. But a good bread knife doesn't need to be expensive. This Tojiro bread slicer, for example, was a favorite in our review of bread knives. It costs just under $16, it's lightweight, and it deftly slices bread and even squash rinds (which can be notoriously difficult to cut).

Fat Daddio's Cake Pans

Overhead shot of rolled and cut cinnamon rolls, pre-baking, in a cake pan

After using Stella's recommended extra-deep cake pans, we're never going back. The higher walls help your cakes climb higher, with perfectly fluffy results and minimal doming. They're also useful for more messy, bubbly baked goods, like Stella's sticky buns. Plus, the reflective anodized aluminum they're made from helps prevent unwanted reactions with acidic batters, which can lead to off flavors. Sure, they may take up a little extra room in your cabinet—but you're worth it.

A Wok

This carbon steel wok continues to be a crowd favorite, perhaps because it's so versatile—you can use it to stir-fry, deep-fry, or steam. And it isn't too difficult to maintain, especially with this helpful guide.

Our Top Budget-Priced Immersion Blender

We've written quite a bit about why an immersion blender can be a godsend. While our favorite one, from All-Clad, is just under $100, this more affordable model (under $30) will also get the job done, whipping up great homemade mayo and creamy soups, and even crushing through ice.

A Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

Spreading frosting over the surface of a cake in a cast iron skillet

More and more people are coming to appreciate the range of kitchen tasks that a cast iron pan can help with, including recipes as diverse as skillet hummingbird cake and this one-pan chicken dinner. If you're feeling intimidated at all about seasoning and caring for your pan, we can help you there, too.

A Half-Sheet Pan

There's so much you can do with a rimmed half-sheet pan, and it looks like you're all finally getting wise. Sure, it's the ideal vessel for baking a Texas sheet cake or a batch of chocolate chip cookies, but it's also handy for roasting vegetables and defrosting frozen soups and meats. A popular companion tool for the half-sheet pan is this similarly sized wire rack—we definitely recommend you pick one up if you want to use your sheet pan for dry-brining a holiday bird.

The Instant Pot

Adding water to an Instant Pot full of meat and herbs

[Photograph: Liz Clayman]

We figured that by the end of 2017, all of you would already own Instant Pots. But not quite! This Black Friday/Prime Day golden child is still a super-popular purchase, and for good reason. Our favorite affordable pressure cooker, the Instant Pot is great for our pressure cooker shoyu ramen recipe and any other recipe that calls for the time-saving convenience of a pressure cooker. It also cooks up some pretty fluffy rice. And does a whole lot more.

The Anova Sous Vide Cooker

An immersion circulator, like the Anova sous vide precision cooker, is your gateway to the world of super-nerdy, super-fun precision cooking. Buying one and, uh, immersing yourself in its many uses can provide hours, days, maybe even years of entertainment, wonder, and delicious meals. And playing with this ever-popular tool isn't even that difficult when you have Kenji holding your hand.