What is your favorite kitchen unitasker?

Kitchen Unitaskers!

Unitaskers are kitchen gadgets that have just one use, rather than being versatile enough to be applied to a variety of situations. The term was coined by Alton Brown on the show Good Eats, where Brown was always looking for things that could serve double duty in the kitchen. This is definitely a practical approach and you don’t need a separate gadget for every culinary task when you can do a heck of a lot with a knife, a whisk and a spatula. That said, I think that a lot of these gadgets have their place. If they streamline a job so it saves you a lot of time and you’re going to use them frequently, it is worth adding that “unitasker” to your collection – even if that is the only job they really do!

As a frequent cook and baker who loves to experiment with new recipes and new gadgets, I have a lot of so-called unitaskers in my collection. I suspect that most of the specialty bakeware I own could be called unitaskers in the sense that many have only one specific purpose or only work for one type of baked good. I have a dedicated nutmeg mill (that I use all the time) when I could simply use a microplane. I have a cool-looking watermelon knife that really is superior to my chefs knives for slicing large melons. My belgian waffle maker could possible be used as a sandwich press if I really needed it to do double duty, but I really only have it for making brunch.

I definitely like the fun and convenience of a unitasker every now and then, and I suspect that – unless you have a lot of self control when you’re in your favorite kitchen store – you probabably also have at least one of these gadgets in your kitchen. So it is time to own up: what unitaskers do you have in your kitchen and what are your favorites?

25 comments

  1. my rice cooker and bread maker

  2. I have one of those plastic lettuce knives but I think the collection of special occasion cookie cutters are my biggest offenders. They take up so much space and I love them but who really needs a shamrock cookie in October?

  3. My Indian Wet grinder. It is so huge that it takes quite a bit of counter space. But I need it to make Indian steamed rice cake and rice crepes batter.

  4. At the moment, it’s my egg separator. If I hadn’t received it as a gift, I don’t think I would ever have bought one for myself, but now that I have it, I would never want to do without it.

  5. I’m going to have to go with Cathy – I looove my rice maker.

  6. I’d have to say that my favorite unitasker is my electric wine opener! (and those banana slicers look slightly like torture devices!)

  7. Garlic press, no doubt. It’s so integral to cooking that it barely even registers as a unitasker.

    My Chef’n lime juicer is a close second. Wouldn’t part with it, regardless of the unitasker stigma.

  8. Ok, so I have a few. The garlic press & egg separator have already been mentioned. To them I’d add a strawberry huller and my all-time favorite unitasker: a Crate and Barrel avocado slicer (link: goo.gl/rlVe2) that they don’t carry any more :(

    Kitchen space is extremely limited at my house, so each of these has to earn its keep!

  9. My can opener and blender. I just love unitasker when it makes my work easy ad fast.

  10. The neat lemon/lime juicer that you put the half lime in and just push the handles together. Love it. Garlic press, of course, and I don’t think of it as a unitasker because we use it so often, too. The spice grinders are right up there because we can decide what we want our popcorn to taste like. I can’t think of anything else, though.

  11. Whoa, it didn’t even occur to me that my rice cooker was a unitasker. I guess I use it so much, it’s earning its keep. I have a cake leveler that I think I’ve used once, but fortunately it doesn’t take up much space.

  12. My cherry pitter – the cherry season’s so short I only use it a few times a year but it’s totally worth it!

  13. I love my garlic press.
    I have plenty of unitaskers that sit in the cupboard now, though: mango slicer and the brand new avocado slicer I picked up at a yard sale – shoulda known, right?

  14. Hmm, I certainly love the garlic press, and the cherry pitter is really nice (I love mine because it’s a pretty cherry red). And the bread machine is certainly nice, but it makes so many different doughs that it doesn’t feel like a unitasker. However, my very favorite is my Accusharp knife sharpener. I love that with just a few swipes I can have a crazy sharp knife that will slice through anything.

  15. My egg slicer, although does it count as unitasking if I put it to work making perfect strawberry slices for tarts and pies?

  16. My rice cooker! Even though they say it is also a vegetable steamer, I have only used it for rice, and can’t imagine using it for anything else! And my cherry pitter – - my cherry tree produced 60 quarts of cherries last year,and I don’t know what I would have done without it!

  17. I’m with the cherry pitter person. I can’t find another use for it other than pitting cherries.

  18. We have two ice cream makers–one with the freezer insert and one large one that uses ice and rock salt (and I’ve been coveting the kind with the built-in compressor). Unitasker or not, you can’t really make homemade icecream without one and storebought is just not the same.

  19. I love my garlic press, but my all-time favorite has to be my springerle rollers (yes, plural). I only make springerle cookies at Christmas, but they’re so tasty, and the rollers to give them shape are a must.

  20. I’m with @wendryn. Definitely my lemon juicer do-hickey. That sucker gets every last bit of juice out and doesn’t make you aware of all the nicks and scratches on your hands!

    I have to say, I’m surprised at the garlic press love. I hated my garlic press and got rid of it. I use my microplane for the job now.

  21. Just purchased a pineapple cutter from Pampered Chef. I love it! It makes it a little bit easier to remove the outside of the pineapple, but it is sometimes difficult to get it to go all the way through at the end (like an apple slicer).

  22. I’ve probably got some unitaskers that I’m forgetting, but I love my juicers, both electric and lever-action, my garlic press, cherry pitter, (though I suspect it could be used for olives), egg slicer, (I also use it for strawberries and mushrooms, so for me it’s a multi-tasker!), but my current favorite is my VacuVin pineapple slicer/corer, (the one with three sizes of slicers), it is totally awesome!

  23. The one unusual unitasker that I have and love is my jalapeno corer. So worth it!

  24. This is my favorite…
    http://www.amazon.com/STRAWBERRY-HULLER-W-FINGER-GRIP/dp/B000ITZ5IA
    It is a strawberry huller. I picked one up at the nearby orchard when we went strawberry picking. It was 99 cents, so easy to use and worked like a charm!

    I too am surprised to hear such love for the garlic press. I hated mine and gave it away as well. I used a glass plate with a pokey texture to mince my garlic. I bought this gadget at our state fair, but I have seen it sold on infomercials as well.
    http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&q=Garlic+plate&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=1032&bih=574&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=9013384032225953400&sa=X&ei=I4MgToznBqOKsgLAjo3JAw&ved=0CEgQ8wIwAQ

    I love it, but ever since I found frozen garlic cubes (1 cube = 1 clove of garlic) sold at Trader Joes, I have never needed to buy fresh again. This stuff is AWESOME!
    http://blog.cookingwithtraderjoes.com/2008/06/30/a-cheer-forfrozen-garlic.aspx

  25. I have two which are supposed to be unitaskers, but I actually use both for multiple tasks! One is my strawberry hulled, which doubles as a tomato core(the stem at the top) remover. The other is my cherry pitter, which it turns out also works for kalamata olives (although the smash and pull apart is also a good technique)

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