The Geek Cook

The coolest gadgets and tools for food science nerds.

Leave-In Probe Thermometer

While it’s one of the most precise thermometers we tested, the ChefAlarm is also easy to use. The probe, which comes with a pot clip, has about six inches of usable length to reach into the thickest roasts, and springs on both ends of the 47-inch-long cable that protect it from wear at common failure points.

Mercer Culinary Millennia Chef's Knife

For those who just don't want to spend much, or who want a "beater" knife—one that they can abuse without feeling guilty—this option from Mercer is hard to, um, beat. It's not the best knife by any measure—its balance feels off, and its thick handle can make a chef's grip awkward for smaller hands—but it has an impressively sharp edge and a price that's just about as low as it gets.

Baking Steel

Unlike crackable baking stones, the Baking Steel is a solid sheet of steel. Not only will it last forever, but, with superior thermal properties, it produces the best pizza crusts we've ever seen in a home oven.

Removable-Cup Spice Grinder

The high-capacity removable bowl and lightning-fast grinding speed make the Cuisinart the ideal spice grinder for the spice fanatic. The grinder cup easily locks into place with a twist and is dishwasher-safe for fast cleanup. The cord tucks away into the base for tidy storage, and the grinder is activated simply by pressing down on the lid.

What Einstein Told His Cook 2

What we find really great about both books in this series is their episodic, casual nature. Have a few spare minutes? Just flip to a page and find out what bones contribute to a good stock (collagen, baby!), or what freezer burn actually is (and find out that airtight plastic wrap isn't actually so airtight after all).

Breville Smoking Gun

Equipped with an assortment of wood chips, the Smoking Gun allows you to easily smoke anything indoors with just the flip of a switch. It's instant fun right out of the box.

Chinese-Style Cleaver

A Chinese-style cleaver is an all-purpose knife for the kitchen, just as good at carving up meat as it is at chopping vegetables. The large blade surface is quite useful for transferring chopped ingredients from your cutting board to a bowl or a pan, and is particularly efficient at smashing things, like garlic cloves and cucumbers. While they take some getting used to if all you've ever used is a Western chef's knife, once you get the hang of a Chinese-style cleaver, it can do almost anything a Western chef's knife can do. This knife is made from carbon steel, which needs to be cared for with a little more attention than stainless, but it's easier to sharpen and will hold its edge like a champ. A perfect gift for your knife-curious loved ones.

The New Best Recipe

If you're tired of pancakes that fall flat, if you're sick of roast chicken that looks lovely on the outside but is dry and stringy inside, if you get paralyzed by choosing between the dozens of banana bread recipes a quick Google search turns up, if you've never made a meatloaf in your life and want to make sure it comes out right the very first time, The New Best Recipe is an invaluable resource that you'll turn to again and again.

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

Kenji says that On Food and Cooking is, has been, and will probably always be the most important, most referenced, and and most cherished book in his library.

ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide

The Joule is an impressive piece of sous vide machinery packed into a ridiculously lightweight and compact device. It has almost everything you could ask for in an at-home immersion circulator—it's accurate, it heats up water quickly and quietly, and it has a sleek design with innovative features, like a magnetic base that clings securely to the bottom of many pots.

Searzall

This simple attachment will transform your blowtorch into a handheld, high-octane broiler. It's perfect for searing steaks, lighting charcoal, and finishing roasts. It provides even and intense heat, without the off-putting aroma of a traditional blowtorch.

Escali Kitchen Scale

A good digital scale is an essential tool for bakers or home charcuterie makers. This one comes with an easy-to-clean, removable stainless steel weighing surface; great accuracy and precision; and a backlit pull-out display to make measuring easy, even for large or unwieldy items.

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot Duo60 is a fantastic value and performed almost as well as the top pick among countertop pressure cookers we tested. It's easy to use, the company has a reputation for great customer service, and there's an avid and helpful community of users online to boot.

Glass Pickle Weights

Whether quick-pickled or lacto-fermented, homemade pickles are an easy and colorful way to dress up any dish. These pickle weights are ideal for keeping vegetables submerged in a wide-mouthed Mason jar. Because they're made of glass, there's no need to worry about chemicals leaching in an acidic environment. Use them for sliced veggies, like radishes and onions, or whole ones that tend to float, such as green beans and okra. These weights are also heavy enough for a small batch of tsukemono (Japanese-style pressed pickles).

Precision Coffee Maker

While you can get it brewing with just the push of a button, the Breville offers layer upon layer of fine-tuned control for the coffee geek who wants to tweak brew variables. Finishing near the top of our taste tests, this spendy machine allows you to control brew-water temperature and time and the blooming phase. It can also make cold brew, and it’s compatible with popular pourover devices like the Hario V60 and Kalita Wave.

High-End Blender

Oh, man, do we love our Vitamix blender. Whether we're making super-quick smoothies or the creamiest, smoothest purées and soups imaginable, the Vitamix is unparalleled in its power.

How to Read a French Fry

Parsons's book doesn't try to be everything to everyone, and it doesn't pretend to be an encyclopedia of food science. Instead, it's a well-curated package of only the most useful and interesting scientific tidbits, with a straightforward, "just the facts, ma'am" approach. Each of the six chapters is about a single basic concept of food science: how frying works, how vegetables ripen, how beans and pasta soften, how meat reacts to heat, how eggs are the most useful culinary tool on the planet, and how fat, flour, and water come together to form pastries and cookies.

Micro Scale

If you're interested in dabbling in modernist cooking, start with a gram scale. Capable of measuring to the hundredth of a gram, this is an absolute must-have when you're working with hydrocolloids, where accuracy is paramount.

Korean Fermenter Crock

These fermentation crocks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all have the same smart design: An inner lid can be pressed down against the surface of the brine, ensuring the vegetables remain submerged (and thus don't rot), while the lids lock into place to keep bugs out.

BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts

By the time you're done reading BraveTart, you'll not only know how to make Stella's favorite brownies (or Little Debbie's favorite Oatmeal Creme Pies), you'll have been sufficiently schooled in the underlying science and technique to be able to make your own favorite brownies, whether you like them fudgy or cakey (and, because of Stella's infectious infatuation with history, you'll note that the cake-fudge paradigm shift occurred sometime in 1929). Where Willy Wonka relied on magic to bring his creations to life, Stella relies on science, history, and fanatical testing and devotion to her craft. This is good news for us. You have to be born with magic, but science, history, and technique are lessons we can all learn.

Miracle-Gro Twelve Indoor Growing System

After previously lauding Aerogardens for how easy they make it to grow herbs at home (and how having a constant supply of fresh herbs has changed her cooking), Ariel's upgraded to this larger system from Miracle-Gro. The increased size—it's about as big as a side table—and bright lights allow you to grow a bounty of lettuces, herbs, and other greens, and you can program the app to turn the lights off and on according to your schedule. An expensive but excellent gift for anyone who loves fresh produce and fears their own black thumbs.

Leave-In Probe Thermometer for Grilling

If you’re seriously into barbecuing pork butts, briskets, and ribs, the FireBoard is the brainiest thermometer we tested, aimed at making your cooking more predictable. The app enables you to name, chart, and store your smoking sessions, and the base has a port to accept a fan accessory, which controls the temperature of a smoker or charcoal grill by adjusting airflow.

Misono UX10 Chef's Knife

A deft and nimble blade, Misono's UX10 is one of the lightest-weight knives we tested. It's razor-sharp right out of the box and handled every task we threw at it with ease, dicing an onion as if it were as soft as a blob of Jell-O and making paper-thin slices of smoked salmon as if the knife were a true slicer.

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained

The books are set up in a question-and-answer format that really appeals to us. Best of all, these are questions that people really ask. "Does blowing on hot food cool it?" "When I cook with wine or beer, does all the alcohol burn off, or does some remain?" "I know that a calorie is a unit of heat, but why does eating heat make me fat? What if I only ate cold foods?" And so on. Each question is answered in a manner that's personable and relatable, but also authoritative.

Breville Induction Cooktop

When the Serious Eats test kitchen was without gas for several months, we relied on these induction burners for almost all of our recipe testing and video and photo shoots. They're not cheap, and they're not for everyone, but boy, can they do a lot. My favorite feature: a temperature-control probe that essentially lets you turn the unit into a deep fryer (just set the oil temp and let the cooktop do the rest) or a sous vide cooker–like water-bath controller (we use it to poach meats and seafood at precise temperatures, directly in a flavorful broth).

MAC Professional Santoku Knife

This santoku from MAC's professional line is an absolute pleasure to use, no matter the task. It's lightweight, well balanced, sharp as can be, and comfortable to hold. It made perfect carrot cuts, broke down a chicken with ease, and filleted a whole fish as if it were a fish-shaped block of butter.

Vacuum Sealer

Interested in sous vide cooking? You're going to want this. And it's handy for way more than just sous vide cooking. A vacuum sealer makes it really easy to save meats or other foods in the freezer, and it keeps air (read: freezer burn) off it all. The Oliso sealer uses a unique resealable-bag system, which means far less wasted plastic than a conventional cut-and-seal vacuum sealer.

Cambro

While an immersion circulator can be used with any old pot, we strongly suggest using a Cambro container, small or large (or both) depending on what recipes you have your eye on to start with. Pots aren't as ideal for sous vide as Cambros, as plastic is a better insulator.

Mercer Culinary Genesis Chef's Knife

One of the more affordable options among the German-style knives tested, Mercer's Genesis chef's knife delivers good bang for the buck. The knife is quite a bit lighter than the Wüsthof Classic and has a grippy rubber-and-plastic handle that's comfortable to hold.

The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science

A New York Times best-seller! The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, by J. Kenji López-Alt, is his column by the same name on this very website, blown up to 900-plus pages (and seven-plus pounds) of concentrated culinary science. Gorgeous color photos, detailed how-tos, and elaborate explainers cover ingredients, technique, gear, and the secrets of the universe underneath it all. May include puns.

Leave-In Dual-Probe Thermometer

The Smoke is designed for grillers and barbecuers, but it’s a precise two-probe thermometer that can be calibrated and is just as handy indoors. Use the meat probe to gauge the temperature inside a roast and the ambient probe to track the smoker or grill’s temperature.

Tojiro Fujitora Honesuki

Over the course of his career, Daniel has slowly built up a decent collection of both traditional and Western-style Japanese knives. Next on his list is a honesuki—a small, triangular butchery knife that tapers to a fine point. It's designed for breaking down chickens and other small pieces of meat. The blade isn't meant to cut through bone, but instead to deftly slide through meat and connective tissue, and carve its way between joints.

Messermeister Knife Case

Most professional cooks own a knife bag so they can tote their knives around from one job to another. But knife bags can be really useful storage options, as well. They're compact, they can hold many knives, and they can be moved around as needed, which means you don't necessarily need to have a dedicated knife drawer as long as you can find somewhere safe to stash your knives.

Kuhn Rikon Stovetop Pressure Cooker

We tested dozens of stovetop pressure cookers before settling on Kuhn Rikon's Duromatic. It has a heavy sandwiched-aluminum-and-steel base that gives you even heat, and a pressure gauge that makes telling exactly how much pressure has built up inside visual and intuitive.

Mercer Culinary Genesis Santoku

For great performance at a low cost, Mercer is killing it these days, and its santoku knife is no slouch on either front. One of the most affordable knives we tested, Mercer's blade outperformed many knives that cost more than twice as much. For the price, you might as well grab one—it's the perfect knife for guests who want to be helpful in the kitchen, but whom you don't trust with pricier blades.

Misono 440 Molybdenum Chef's Knife

Even lighter in weight than its more expensive sibling, the UX10, the Misono 440 offers an incredibly agile experience, with an especially sharp out-of-the-box blade. It handled all our testing tasks with ease. The price variance between this one and the UX10 mostly comes down to the steel used, a difference most home cooks won't likely notice, making this one a good intermediate choice.

Blade Protectors

At a certain point, you need to give up on proper knife storage and just think safety: How can I toss this knife into a drawer and not cut myself on it later when fishing around for matches? The answer is blade guards. It's smart to put them on knives in a knife bag, but they're also essential if you're keeping any knives in a place where they're free to bang around—they'll protect the blade edges and you.

Tagine

Daniel's been lusting after one of these hand-painted ceramic tagines since seeing one in a cookware store a couple years ago. They require some special care, and possibly a heat diffuser to prevent cracking from intense direct heat, but they're worth it just to look at, even if you never cook in them. If you do, a future of flavorful North African stews, presented beautifully at the table, awaits. They also come in a variety of designs and colors, meaning you can find the perfect option for any home.

Anova Precision Cooker

Sous vide cooking—cooking foods in vacuum-sealed pouches in precisely controlled water baths—is no longer the exclusive preserve of fancy restaurant kitchens. The Anova Precision Cooker is one of the best home water bath controllers on the market, with an easy-to-use interface, Bluetooth support, rock-solid construction, a sleek look, and an affordable price tag to boot.

Mac Knife Chef's Knife

We were impressed by all the Mac knives in our testing, across their range of price points, but this one came out on top thanks to its combination of price and performance. While not inexpensive, it was one of the more affordable Japanese-made knives we tested. This blade is comfortable in the hand and has hollow-ground dimples to help reduce friction when cutting.

Smeg Toaster

After years of putting up with a cheap toaster that she picked up at the supermarket, Stella recently upgraded to this super-fancy Italian job in cool mint. Its sleek design and soothing pastel color transform the kitchen's most boring appliance into a statement piece, and it does a great job with the toast itself. Plus, it's really dang pretty. If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to read this toaster's priceless reviews.

Tsukemono Round Pickle Press

The quick pickles common in Japanese cuisine that go by the name asazuke, or "morning pickles," are typically made in a contraption similar to this one. The screwable tamper is spring-loaded, which exerts consistent pressure on sliced, salted vegetables, which presses out excess water and creates a highly seasoned brine, which then flavors the vegetables. The small size is perfect for anyone who wants to experiment with the technique.

ThermoWorks Thermapen

The Cadillac of kitchen thermometers is indispensable when you're roasting meat, cooking steaks, making candy, deep-frying, or carrying out any other task where precise temperature control is needed. It's got a big display and a blazing-fast measuring time of under two seconds.

Tojiro Santoku

Tojiro's santoku knife held its own throughout the testing. It feels a little chunkier in the hand than our top pick, and it cracked one slice of carrot before sailing through a dozen more slices without any problems. It's a well-made knife, offering an excellent money-to-quality ratio.

Fixed-Cup Spice Grinder

The sleek and minimalist design of the Krups means it's easy to hold, handle, and store—perfect for anyone tight on space. Even without a removable bowl, cleanup is a cinch because spices never get trapped beneath the blade, and there are no unnecessary ridges or notches to clog with spices. The one-touch operation makes it easy to use, and it quickly yields a fine and consistent grind in both large, tough spices and smaller seeds.

Broil King Professional Portable Nonstick Griddle

The Broil King was the top-performing electric griddle that we tested in terms of consistent heating and cooking results, turning out batches of perfectly browned pancakes. What's more, the legs of the Broil King can be adjusted to pitch the cooking surface, which helps drain fat into its grease trap.

High-Output Torch

Forget those puny kitchen torches designed to make crème brûlée for ants. If you want some serious torching power in the kitchen, for putting the final touch on fancy desserts or for finishing off a sous vide steak, you want a high-output torch like this one. You'll get a deeper char than you'll ever be able to get from using a skillet alone.

Bamboo Steamer

Bamboo steamers are particularly useful when you're steaming largish things—say, a small whole fish, like a porgy or small sea bass. They're also super easy to clean.

Dyson Handheld Vacuum

We like to keep our kitchens very clean. This handheld vacuum (which a few of us have, use, and swear by) ensures zero crumbs left behind, whether in that small space under the dishwasher or in the crevice between the stove and the cabinets.

Wusthof Classic Chef's Knife

If you're dead set on a traditional German knife profile—characterized by a more curved blade that's bigger and heavier than the Japanese options—the Wüsthof Classic continues to be a stalwart. It weighs more than most of the other knives tested, giving it a solid and sturdy feel, but it still handles well and has a sharp edge.

Food Dehydrator

Elazar's dad has always been into gardening, but recently he found a way to actually use all of the produce he grows. Since he got an Excalibur dehydrator a few years ago, he's put more or less everything he grows through it. That means Elazar gets sent bags of dehydrated tomatoes, apple and pear slices, and more. This is a great gift for any dads who love to garden—or make jerky! Plus, if you're lucky, you'll start getting gift baskets from them.

Instant Pot Accu Slim Sous Vide Immersion Circulator

Of the affordable immersion circulators that we tested, the Accu Slim performed the best. It's a bare-bones machine with a simply display interface—no bells and whistles, no paired app, no Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity—but that's what makes it appealing and such a great deal. It knows its lane and keeps to it, performing the essential task of an immersion circulator quite well: heating and circulating water at a precise temperature.

BraveTart's Custom 8x4 Cheesecake Pan

This is a cheesecake pan designed according to Stella Parks's exact specifications, specifically for a towering New York-style cheesecake—though it'll coax a great rise out of any cheesecake you make.

Breville Electric Countertop Pressure Cooker

A pressure cooker is a cooking vessel that just keeps on giving: Once you discover the time-saving feats it's capable of, you'll never look back. A countertop electric model gives you set-it-and-forget-it convenience. Breville's Fast Slow Pro Cooker gives you complete control over your pressure cooking but also works as a slow cooker and a rice cooker.

AeroGarden Harvest

Cooking with fresh herbs makes every recipe better. Cooking with fresh herbs that you grew all by yourself makes life better. The AeroGarden takes the guesswork out of growing herbs inside, with an automated light to keep your parsley and thyme thriving and weekly reminders for water and nutrients. Just prepare yourself for epic amounts of basil.

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