5 On Your Side

Gifts to upgrade the home cook's kitchen

Posted December 7, 2017 9:09 a.m. EST

Home cooks looking for a new gadget might not have to search too hard this holiday season to find one that can replace several others.

The Instant Pot has been one of the most in-demand item over the last year because it promises tender pot roasts in two hours, baked potato soup in 10 minutes and it claims to even make cheesecake. Consumer Reports recommends the cooker as a seven-in-one appliance.

Consumer Reports says the Instant Pot is a good gift option for avid and intrepid cooks alike. The device's seven functions can make large batches of yogurt, perfectly cooked brown rice and fall-off-the-bone slow-cooked meals. It costs $99.

The $260 Cuisinart Toaster Oven is another Consumer Reports recommendation. It has a convection setting and comes with an extra rack and pizza stone. The magazine says it delivers whether baking or broiling.

For a chef that has all the basics, a professional-level device might step their game up. Consumer Reports recommends sous vide cooking to get cooks to the next level.

"Sous vide cooking is a process where you vacuum seal foods and cook them in a hot water bath," said Paul Hope, an editor at the magaine. "It lets you cook through foods to a perfect internal temperature without over cooking them."

The $199 Joule appliance has an app that works with smartphones. The $149 Anova has an app, too, but it can also be set manually.

"The sous vide appliances we tested had different features, but we liked the results from both as long as you follow the directions," Hope said.

New appliances can add to a chef's repertoire, but basic pots and pans are important, too. Consumer Reports says the $40 Cuisinart CastLite NonStick performs almost as well as ones that cost twice as much.