All year long, our culinary team rigorously tests tools and equipment to help you cook better, whether it's with a rice cooker that reliably produces fluffy (not burnt or gummy) rice, a cast iron pan that creates a perfect sear, or a sturdy cutting board that'll help preserve the life of your knives. To that end, we have a lot of recommendations for every kitchen size and budget.
Of course, there's another side to this, and that's you. Knowing what you add to your cart informs us about what you're into (better baking pans!) and not into (slow cookers). So this time of year, we like to take a look back and see the equipment that you felt was worthy of a spot in your kitchen.
Below you'll find the ten most popular Serious Eats–recommended tools, the ones our readers shopped for again and again in 2019. Already got 'em? Let us know what you think! And don't forget: They make pretty good holiday gifts, too.
Fat Daddio's Cake Pan
Stella has produced a fair amount of cakes in her day. And when I say "a fair amount," I mean more than I'll produce in a lifetime. That's likely why we all consider her recommendations gospel. Case in point, her favorite cake pan, an eight- by three-inch anodized aluminum pan from Fat Daddio's, is our top-selling piece of equipment this year. That additional depth will help your cakes rise taller and fluffier. Plus, it'll help keep messier (drippier) baked goods, like sticky buns, from dripping into your oven. In fact, all of Stella's cake recipes are developed for this type of cake pan. Luckily, getting one will only set you back $11.99.
When Stella couldn't find a cheesecake pan to meet her needs—her favorite had been discontinued—she worked with LloydPans to make her very own. Designed to Stella's exact specifications, this pan is ultra-deep, which creates a different volume-to-surface-area ratio. This produces the most epically tall cheesecakes with way more real estate for that creamy interior, whether you're going New York–style or trying an extra-light, no-bake variety.
There are a lot of reasons for keeping an instant-read thermometer in the kitchen, from reducing food-poisoning-your-guests paranoia to ensuring your meat is cooked to actual perfection (and a safe temperature!). When it comes to speed and precision, the Thermapen trumps all others. It's the one we reach for when we're testing recipes and the one we get super-excited about when it's on sale. It's no surprise the Thermapen is also one of your most-shopped-for tools this year. As the holidays roll around, Thermapens also make for excellent gifts, perhaps for your mother-in-law who keeps overcooking her roast? Just saying.
Tojiro Bread Slicer
Having a serrated knife in the kitchen is essential. Those sharp saw teeth will break through the toughest bread crust without damaging the airy crumb and breeze through tomatoes without any issue. Our favorite bread knife has long been from Tojiro, and it continues to be a favorite among you, too. Perhaps, it's the price, a cool $19.99, or that Daniel calls it "a pleasure to use." Who knew slicing could be so much fun?
Joyce Chen Wok
This year Sho wrote a story about everything you can do with a wok. That paired with Kenji's guide to buying and seasoning a wok resulted in a tidal wave of orders. If you've been tentative about picking up a wok, I can safely say that we have all the content you need to use yours well and reap the benefits. The benefits being kung pao chicken, braised eggplant with pork, fried chicken, and smoked tofu skin.
It's possible that this in-oven thermometer is the cheapest item that Serious Eats recommends—and the most useful. At just $7 (and sometimes cheaper over the holidays), this little thermometer will hold your entire oven accountable. An oven that runs hot can burn cookies; one that runs cool can result in gummy cakes. Simply put, it's harder to make our recipes, or any recipe, if you can't rely on your oven to be accurate. It's likely why so many of our readers have picked up this Rubbermaid model this year. If you already have one (well done!), we might even recommend getting another for that white elephant exchange you have coming up.
Poultry shear popularity explodes over the holiday season. That's likely because you all have realized that spatchcocking your Thanksgiving turkey is the absolute best way to achieve a juicy, not-overcooked bird. With the ability to slice through tissue and slippery fat, these poultry shears cut out (hehe) the competition in our review. But don't just use them around the holidays. Use them for better roast chicken, too. There's nothing better than a spatchcocked roast chicken on a cold Friday night.
It may be difficult to think about, or even remember, grilling season right now. (Though if you live in a warm climate, lucky you!) While we have a few recommendations for the best skewers, our top-pick for longevity is the flat skewers by Norpro. These guys are easy to maneuver and the flat surface will keep your food from sliding around. This results in evenly cooked and charred meat, vegetables, and even cheese.
Krups Spice Grinder
It is a universal truth that the best way to use spices is to buy them whole and then grind them as needed. This preserves their rich aroma for your food—and not the air in your pantry. We rely heavily on this Krups spice grinder. It's easy to hold, handle, and store. And the sharp blade can blast through fibrous spices like cinnamon.
Flexible Fish Turner
The final tool that's seen a surge in popularity is this flexible fish turner. Sure, maybe it isn't sexy. But what it lacks in pizazz, it makes up for in utility. The thin, flexible spatula is ideal for getting under and flipping delicate ingredients like fish or pancakes. It can also easily handle flipping a half-pound burger, too.