There are plenty of fabulous appliances and accessories that can make specific food-related tasks just a little bit easier, but others are likely to do little more than squander your money and your storage space. From sneakily mainstream to the truly bizarre, here are 50 wasteful buys that you just don't need in your kitchen.
What you'll save: $20-$40
You have to really love asparagus to invest in a special asparagus-sized pot with a wire insert that encourages your favorite veggie to stand up straight while it cooks. The rest of us will stick with cramming asparagus into a multi-purpose steamer basket, roasting it in the oven, or tossing it in a pan with some garlic and butter (yum).
What you'll save: $5-$7
The hilarious reviews of the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer on Amazon are a testament to its utter uselessness and redundancy. Unless you have a thing for ultra-uniform banana slices, save your cash and use a knife. (See also: Hot dog slicers, strawberry slicers, avocado slicers ... basically, all special slicers.)
What you'll save: $300
Yes, this "pancake printer" is a thing, and no, you don't need one. Owners say there's a long learning curve if you really want to make your pancakes look like the Eiffel Tower, or an astronaut, or Darth Vader. And your hangry kids probably aren't going to be very patient while you design your custom pancake, load up a bottle with batter, and cross your fingers.
What you'll save: $50-$300
Your kitchen already has a built-in bread-making machine (Hint: it's called an oven). Try a quick bread or the now-famous no-knead bread recipe from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. The ingredients are basic, the technique is simple, and the result doesn't require a pricey, specialized machine the size of a small child.
What you'll save: $5-$25
Not gonna lie: These things look pretty cool for unleashing your inner carnivore – or for pretending you're Wolverine. But unless you're a hosting daily barbecues or regularly cooking whole hogs on your backyard spit, these are probably overkill. Stick to a couple of forks for your latest crockpot creation.
What you'll save: $30-$300
It's not even worth doing the math to find out how much popcorn you'd have to eat for a personal popcorn machine to be cost-effective. Save your valuable cupboard space and throw a bag of Jiffy Pop on the stove, reap the money-saving benefits of popping raw kernels, or buy microwave popcorn. To really impress movie-night companions, jazz it up with spices already in the cabinet such as paprika, curry powder, or an Italian spice blend.
What you'll save: $8-$20
While we're on the subject of corn, there are all sorts of gadgets that will strip your corn cob of all its delicious kernels. Unfortunately, that would deprive you of the summer rite of passage that is eating a delicious ear of buttery corn on the cob, then picking those kernels out of your teeth. Instead, grab a sharp knife and use one of the Kitchn's hacks instead of buying another gadget.
What you'll save: $5 each
There's a reason everyone thought Amazon Dash buttons were an April Fools' joke when they were first rolled out: They're utterly ridiculous. Even if you do use Amazon to replenish your stash of detergent, paper towels or Cheez-Its, we have faith that you can remember what you need long enough to re-order them the old-fashioned way.
What you'll save: $30-$250
Unless you're rolling out pounds of fresh pasta each night, a pasta machine isn't worth the money. It takes some work to use, and it's a major pain to clean. Dry noodles are ultra-cheap, so a pasta machine isn't a major money saver. Also, Italian grandmothers have also been making fresh pasta for decades without machines. This Epicurious recipe calls for just two ingredients: semolina flour and water.
What you'll save: $7-$40
Notoriously hard-to-clean garlic presses are the subject of a bit of snobbery among professional cooks, who prefer to simply mince, chop, crush, or slice their garlic with a knife. If you need more reason to work on your knife skills: Interestingly, some food experts even say the press can impart a slight metallic tang as well as make the garlic overly potent – and more likely to ruin, not enhance, a dish.
What you'll save: $20-$30
Again, perhaps you could justify electric salt and pepper grinders if you have arthritic hands or another condition that prevents you from twisting a handle. Otherwise, it's hard to justify these automatic contraptions that have motors and batteries that die, leaving your dishes tragically unseasoned. (Yes, many of them have LED lights, but unless you're preparing dinner in the dark, they're probably not worth the extra spend.)
What you'll save: $10-$50
You have to be eating a whole lot of greens to get your money's worth from a salad spinner, which simply makes washing and drying those leafy veggies a little bit quicker than the ol' rinse-and-pat method. Steer clear unless you plan on putting it to work in other capacities, like as a serving bowl or a colander.
What you'll save: $5-$20
No oven? No grill? No stove? Then maybe, just maybe, a microwavable bacon cooker is for you. But if the thought of rubbery bacon makes you die a little inside, steer clear of these hard-to-clean plastic contraptions, some of which may even be prone to melting. After all, some things are supposed to be sacred. Bacon is one of them.
What you'll save: $8-$25
We always thought shaping patties was part of the fun of homemade burgers, but if touching raw meat isn't your thing, there's a burger press out there ready and willing to come to the rescue. If you're intrepid enough to keep using your hands – they're free, after all – Serious Eats recommends putting a shallow dimple in each disc-shaped patty to keep them from puffing up into awkward golf balls once cooked.
What you'll save: $16
If you're dipping your Oreos in your milk using your fingers, the makers of The Dipr Ultimate Cookie Spoon kindly want you to STOP IT NOW. There is a better way, they insist. The dipper "cradles the cookie by the cream and prevents the cookie from crumbling when dunked." So, no more cookie search-and-rescue operations, as long as you're willing to devote precious dollars and drawer space to this very specific little gizmo.
What you'll save: $55
Smart water bottles have to be one of the more inexplicable smart innovations to reach the masses. The Hidrate Spark 2.0 aims to keep you ultra-hydrated, automatically tracking your water intake and syncing the data to assorted fitness apps. Of course, the same apps have places where you can (gasp) manually record water intake, but what fun would that be?
What you'll save: $30-$70
Does your family really like breakfast? Enough to buy an appliance the size of a small dog that is dedicated to churning out your daily bacon, eggs, toast and coffee? Then by all means, snap up the multi-functional gizmo that is the breakfast station, which typically combines a toaster oven, griddle, and coffee maker. (Seem excessive? A breakfast sandwich maker can let you indulge your morning-meal fantasies on a smaller scale.)
What you'll save: $5-$10
Sure, salmonella is nothing to take lightly, but a dedicated egg separator seems especially superfluous when most of us have long used the shell itself to isolate the yolk and the white, taking care to wash up afterward. (Bonus: This egg separator might just be one of the grossest things we've ever seen on Amazon.)
What you'll save: $80
For years, slow cookers have been a low-tech, convenient way to cook dinner without a lot of fuss. But that didn't stop Crockpot from adding Wi-Fi and charging double for its newly "smart" appliance. Sure, Wi-Fi lets you can check in on your meal from the road, but it also overlooks the reason why most people get a slow cooker in the first place: They're gloriously hands-off.
What you'll save: $15-$40 Wine aerators should get a pass from any penny pincher. Unless you're in a real hurry to aerate a wine, experts say there's no reason to pony up for yet another useless bar accoutrement. Slowly swirling wine around in your glass should add plenty of oxygen, helping flavors deepen. (Bonus: You look like such a serious wine connoisseur when you do it.)
What you'll save: $5-$10 Pickle pickers, aside from begging to be included in a tongue-twister, are made solely to spare your fingers from the germy indignity of reaching into a pickle jar (or olive jar, or pepper jar). Of course, a fork has served the same purpose for years, but pickle pickers claim to do the job more reliably, and keep your hands juice-free.
What you'll save: $8-$30
When a rolling pizza cutter just doesn't clutter your drawers enough, it's pizza scissors to the rescue. These stainless-steel wonders promise to slice through your pie with ease, and many even come with an attached wedge-shaped spatula to keep your fingers grease-free. (Hope you aren't one of those weirdos who likes square pieces of pizza.)
What you'll save: $15-$60
We're not sure why anyone decided cupcakes were precious enough to require their own appliance, but the very existence of cupcake makers means there's a market somewhere (plenty of reviewers seem to buy them for kid bakers). But we'll stick to using our tried-and-true cupcake pan and, y'know, the oven.
What you'll save: $12-$30
This head-scratching contraption aims to make the arduous task of filling a plastic baggie so much easier. Unless you're filling dozens of plastic bags a day with dastardly, unwieldy sauces or soups, steer clear. Your hands are free, and you won't have to excavate them from the back of your junk drawer.
What you'll save: $15-$40
Step away from the egg cookers. Making hard- or soft-boiled eggs requires little more than a pot and the ability to boil water. Other egg tasks such as scrambling, poaching, or omelet-making can be done in with your average sauté pan. If it's too daunting to cook eggs on a stovetop, there's no shame in making them in the microwave.
What you'll save: $20-$40
A prime example of a gadget that occupies too much precious space on a kitchen counter, an electric can openerdoesn't save money or make food taste better. If it breaks, it's a hassle and an extra cost to repair or replace. Unless you have arthritis or another condition that necessitates an electric can opener, stick to the manual version.
What you'll save: $40-$200
Store-bought carbonated drinks are relatively inexpensive, and what are the chances that you'll improve on the formula for Coca-Cola in your home kitchen? If you consume a lot of seltzer on a weekly basis, consider a hand-held carbonated soda maker, which is easily stored and a fraction of the cost of a countertop soda maker.
What you'll save: $15-$25
We all scream for ice cream, but apparently some of us are more impatient about it than others. Enter the self-warming ice cream scoop, which promises to make quick work of even the hardest ice cream using some sort of thermodynamic voodoo. Cool idea, but we'll stick to the time-tested methods of running a regular ice-cream scoop under warm water, or simply letting that pint of frozen goodness soften on the counter for a few minutes.
What you'll save: $30-$100
The '70s called, and it wants its fondue set back. There's a reason fondue was a trend that hasn't exactly seen a revival: This is the quintessential single-use appliance, and it typically ends up gathering dust in the garage, or on the shelves of a thrift store. If you're nostalgic for vintage kitchenware, invest in a good cast-iron pan instead. And if you really want fondue, splurge on a nice evening at The Melting Pot.
What you'll save: $20-$40
Most of us mere mortals make our omelets with a nonstick fry pan and a stove. Heck, some of us even enjoy waiting for that perfect moment to flip them. But if you're anti-flip (or anti-stove, or anti-pan), rejoice in the ridiculousness of a dedicated, plug-in omelet maker. Bonus: It will take you twice as long to make omelets now – and that's even after the thing is preheated.
What you'll save: $30-$80
Though pizza-only countertop ovens claim to save energy and cook more evenly, these small appliances aren't that small, and they will take up a lot of cabinet or counter space for something you may use just once a week (unless you have a deep, unabiding love for DiGiorno). The beauty of the oven you already have? It bakes everything, including pizzas.
What you'll save: $30-$150
Making homemade baby food can be cheaper than using store-bought, and you can be confident about what's going into your baby's mouth. But a new parent doesn't need another single-purpose appliance like the Baby Bullet taking up space and requiring special parts, cleaning, and repairs. A regular food processor is up to the task of pulverizing vegetables and fruit.
What you'll save: $10-$25
Perhaps taco holders facilitate a more civilized taco-eating experience. They can allow an intrepid home chef to pre-make each precious taco, then keep everything upright and together once it's on the plate. But we're just not convinced. In the interest of saving money and space, we'll be over with the barbarians who assemble their tacos as they go, finishing off any spilled toppings with a fork and a smile.
What you'll save: $15-$35
Toss a tortilla onto a lightly greased pan, add cheese and other toppings, fold it and flip after a few minutes. That's all it takes to make a quesadilla -- crispy on the outside with a gooey, melty inside. There's no need for specialized equipment, just a sauté pan and a spatula. After using a quesadilla maker a few times and scraping bits of dried cheese from its crevices, you'll send it to collect dust in the garage with other single-purpose appliances.
What you'll save: $13
More than almost any other treat, s'mores are indelibly tied to the process of making them: A crackling, cozy campfire, burnt-on-purpose marshmallows, and sticky fingers. But if you want to suck all the joy out of s'mores and make them into a soulless weeknight dessert, by all means, invest in this bizarre-looking, space-hogging microwave s'mores maker.
What you'll save: $7
Can't get enough of canned tuna? Then this little can-shaped colander, complete with its fish-shaped handles and holes, is for you. The tuna press aims to help you drain that can without any muss or fuss, and it can even drain the occasional can of black beans or corn, too. Of course, most of us just carefully drain the liquid past a partially open can lid, but if you like your tuna extra dry, knock yourself out.
What you'll save: $20-$80 A deep fryer might sound like a fun purchase when there are visions of onion rings and funnel cake dancing in your head. But it definitely won't see enough use to justify its size, cost, and labor. Achieve all your deep-frying needs with a heavy-duty medium or large pot (or even a wok) plus a thermometer. Serious Eats offers deep-frying instructions so you can be a pro without the machine.
What you'll save: $6-$15
Chances are that if you know what a pie bird is, you probably already have one. For the rest of us pie novices, here's a quick explainer: These little ceramic birds can help vent steam as your pie bakes and keep the filling where it should be, instead of bubbling over. Of course, most home bakers still manage to turn out tasty pies sans pie birds, and owners admit they're more of an adorable kitchen accent than a must-have baking tool.
What you'll save: $20-$50
To be fair, an automatic wine opener can be a handy gadget for vino lovers who lack the strength or dexterity for a corkscrew. Otherwise, the downsides are myriad: These gadgets are single-use, expensive, and require a spot (and an outlet) on your counter. A corkscrew barely takes up any space, usually includes a bottle opener, and keeps your wine-lover street cred intact.
What you'll save: $20-$35
Calling all waffle lovers who are deathly afraid of knives! Instead of using your existing waffle iron and cutting a whole waffle into waffle sticks, a handy dandy waffle stick maker can turn them out in stick form from the get-go. There's not a whole lot other to say here except this: Why?
What you'll save: $10
Poof! It's magic: Your $10 just evaporated into thin air when you bought the Magic Tap. This drink dispenser saves us all from the indignity of lifting and pouring containers of juice, milk, soda, or other drinks. Unless you buy the heftiest Costco mega-jugs, we recommend you keep working on your upper-body strength by getting your favorite beverage the old-fashioned way.
What you'll save: $15
If you can't stand to eat messy foods like chicken wings or ribs without getting your fingers slathered in sauce or grease, Trongs are angling for a spot in your utensil drawer. These bizarre plastic pinchers with grooves for your fingertips supposedly make mealtime a cleaner affair, but reviewers say they're awkward to use (surprise, surprise). We'll stick with fingers (and plenty of soap and water once we're done).
What you'll save: $7.50
Reheating pizza in the microwave is convenient, but we all know what we're getting: A sad, rubbery slice that bears little resemblance to the original, fresh-from-the-oven pie. This microwave-safe, pizza-shaped reheating pan does little to change that, disappointed reviewers say. Either put that pizza back in the oven, or, better yet, use a skillet to restore the crispy crust and melty cheese. (Or eat it cold. No shame.)
What you'll save: $24
If it's too much effort to sing "Happy Birthday" to friends and family, this musical cake server is here to save you. (Bonus: It also plays "Jingle Bells," "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," and Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" – oh so versatile!) Sadly, you can't put the cake-encrusted thing in the dishwasher after you're done, but since you saved yourself the effort of actually singing, you'll have plenty of energy to wash it by hand.
What you'll save: $65
The smart HAPIfork will surely be the envy of your dumb forks – that is, if you don't throw it out the window first. It will light up and start vibrating if you're eating too fast, in theory slowing you down so you feel more satisfied with less food. Of course, it will push all sorts of useless data to your phone, including how many forkfuls you eat every minute, and how long you pause between bites. Don't take this fork to the Olive Garden unless you want to feel really, really bad about yourself.
What you'll save: $200
This electric martini maker could make a nice gag gift for your booziest friend or a conversation starter at your next party, perhaps. But let's get real: Whether you want your drinks shaken or stirred, preparing them is half the fun. Plus, a normal cocktail shaker – one that doesn't have a motor that can break down at any time – is a fraction of the price.
What you'll save: $25
Pro tip: If you are fancy enough to require an appliance solely devoted to making edible spoons for appetizers and desserts, you can probably afford to buy your edible spoons premade. Or pay someone else to make the edible spoons for you, whisking away this bizarre little appliance so that it doesn't take up space in your cavernous, luxurious kitchen.
What you'll save: $25-$80
You've got to really love yogurt to want one of these yogurt makers taking up space in your kitchen, especially since you can make even make yogurt in everyone's favorite multiple-use small appliance, the Instant Pot. Even worse, most of these gadgets won't turn out yogurt for at least half a day, and only do so in very small quantities. We'll stick to grabbing a six-pack on sale at the grocery store.
What you'll save: $15
The fact that this product's description refers to it as a children's toy tells you everything you need to know: No one needs a motorized fork to twirl their pasta for them. Plus, it doesn't stop twirling when your fork is loaded up – the on/off button is manual – so you'll spend your meal twirling, switching the fork off, eating, switching the fork on, and going back for more pasta. We'll pass.
What you'll save: $4-$12
It's beyond us why anyone wouldn't want leftover pasta – after all, it's one of those rare dishes that just seems to get better with age – but if you're militant about portion control, a pasta measurer can keep you from boiling too many noodles. But we still suggest that you fuhgeddaboudit because life is too short to measure pasta. Mangia, baby.