Even if you have a pot to piss in (and a fry pan and a colander), you’re going to need much more to impress a woman with a home-cooked meal. There’s a whole world of gadgetry out there ready to act as your kitchen staff. These tools, machines and accessories will make cooking easier, more fun, and will help you kick any meal to the next level, from scrambled eggs to soffrito. Do you need all this stuff to get the job done? Nah. But start building your arsenal of cooking tools little by little and before you know it you’ll be ready for anything Sidesaddle Kitchen’s Laura Miller throws at you. (Admit it, you watch.)
A starter set
Cover all the basic bases with spoons, spatulas, tongs and more.
We like: Kitchen-Aid 17-Piece Tools and Gadget Set, $43 at amazon.com
Garlic press/slicer combo
Because you have better things to do than chop and mince — like avoiding hand injury and drinking enough beer to be an amiable host — leave it to the gadgets (see also #16 and #22). This one literally slices and dices.
We like: Trudeau Garlic Duo Press and Slice, $20 at amazon.com
A stylish way to steam meat, vegetables or both at once.
We like: VonShef Bamboo Steamer, $25 at amazon.com
Respectable men can cry, but in the kitchen it’s kind of a waste.
We like: RSVP International Onion Goggles, $20 at amazon.com
Bar tools set
This 10-piece group of cocktailing tools has everything you need to make just about any cocktail you can think of — down to a cutting board, a very nice price and a stand that looks great on a shelf.
We like: Oggi 10-Piece Bar Tools Set, $40 at wineenthusiast.com
For everything from protein shakes to sauces and dressings. This handheld model means you won’t have to haul out a full-size blender.
We like: All-Clad Stainless Steel Immersion Blender, $85 at amazon.com
Carbon steel knives
High-carbon knives are sharper than stainless steel and stay that way; they also resist rust and corrosion, which makes them look damn stylish on a counter.
We like: Mercer Culinary 6-Piece Stainless Steel Knife Set, $130 at amazon.com
Cut down on fast food by making restaurant-quality grilled sandwiches at home — you control the portions and ingredients and, therefore, your pants size.
We like: Breville Panini Duo Press, $70 at surlatable.com
Remote meat thermometer
Take the guesswork out of grillmastery with this thermometer that’ll let you track temps on your smartphone.
We like: iGrill2 Meat Thermometer, $100 at idevicesinc.com
A spring whisk adds extra volume to eggs and sauces, and it’s great for whipping things up in small bowls and containers.
We like: Kuhn Rikon 10-Inch Galaxy Spring Whisk, $12 at amazon.com
When you can’t use your pressure cooker (see #13) or marinate overnight, use this shortcut to moistness and flavor.
We like: Mr. Grill Stainless Meat Injector, $15 at amazon.com
A quick way to slice everything but, ideally, your fingers.
We like: PL8 Professional Mandoline, $60 at bedbathbeyond.com
Your absolute secret weapon: Make fall-off-the-bone ribs in half an hour, or lasagna in even less. This programmable model lets you set it and forget it ’til your masterpiece is done.
We like: Cuisinart 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker, $100 at bedbathbeyond.com
From detox to retox: Squeeze fresh juice or express lemons for cocktails.
We like: Breville Citrus Press, $129 at williams-sonoma.com
You’ve got to have a peeler, and this is the best one. It rotates 360 degrees to handle large and small vegetables with ceramic blades that won’t rust.
We like: Kyocera Advanced Perfect Peeler, $15 at amazon.com
Auto-chopping may be cheating, but not as much as getting takeout. This one dices onions, garlic, tomatoes and fruit in seconds.
We like: Ohana Magic Slicer/Chopper, $18 at amazon.com
Stainless steel grill set
Cuisinart thought of everything when creating this cookout set, down to a fork with a digital timer and temperature readout.
We like: Cuisinart 20 Piece Deluxe Grill Set, $70 at amazon.com
Glass stovetop pot
It’ll get a “wow” on your stovetop, even if you only boil water in it.
We like: Castagna glass pot, $200 at momastore.org
Because trying to drain a pasta pot using a plate over the sink is just asking for trouble.
We like: Cuisinart 5-quart steel colander, $20 at bedathbeyond.com
Pour-over coffee pot
Pour-over coffee is trendy for a reason — it extracts more flavor and tastes fresher.
We like: Bodum Pour-Over Coffee Maker, $32 at amazon.com
Because Scotch on the rocks doesn’t mean Scotch whisky with water. These keep your drink cool without weakening the spirit.
We like: Whiskey Rocks Granite Whiskey Stones, $20 at amazon.com
Cast iron skillet
Cast iron cookware has weighty benefits: It heats more evenly, doesn’t stick and lasts forever. The shape of this Oregon-made skillet even allows for pouring.
We like: Finex 8″ Cast Iron Skillet, $125 at finexusa.com
Vacuum wine preserver
Keep wine and champagne fresh — your abs don’t want you to drink the whole bottle anyway.
We like: Vacu Vin Wine Preserver, $13 at amazon.com
Cheese board and knives
Being able to whip up a quick cheese plate is a must for entertaining, and slicing brie with a butter knife is not a good look.
We like: Crate & Barrel slate cheese board, $30, and marble handled cheese knives, $30 at crateandbarrel.com
Zest lemons and limes or grate cheese and potatoes with this chefs’ favorite.
We like: Microplane Premium Zester, $15 at bedbathandbeyond.com