If you're going to buy high end kitchen tools over $100, you want to make sure you know they'll last a lifetime (or at least a very, very, very long time).
When it comes to kitchen tools there are plenty of gadgets and gizmos that don't require saving or splurging. But there are a few items that are definitely worth the moolah. If you know me you know that basically any purchase over $50 requires at least a week of agonizing followed by a 3 day anxiety spiral before I finally close my eyes, hit the "buy now" button, and hope I don't regret my decisions.
So when I tell you that these kitchen tools over $100 are worth every penny I paid for them, trust you can believe me. Okay, yes, some I received as gifts (perks of getting married, tbh), and others I've borrowed from friends, but now that I've experienced them firsthand, if any of them were to break (and most won't because they come with lifetime guarantees, or lifetime warranties) I would feel absolutely confident paying full price to replace them.
What to look for in expensive kitchen tools
If you're planning to drop a lot of money on something, you definitely want to get your money's worth. But some pricey products aren't actually high quality — they're just trendy, or cute, (like that Instagram famous pan with truly terrible reviews).
Here's what to look for before spending over $100 on a new kitchen tool:
- Good reviews. Consistently good reviews from reputable review publishers (Wirecutter, Reviewed, CNET, etc) and from users on Amazon, etc.
- What kind of warranty or guarantee the company offers. If a company offers a lifetime warranty or lifetime guarantee, that means they know they offer a good product. They aren't anticipating many people needing to use it, but if you do run into any issues, they're willing to make it right.
- How will it look or fit into your kitchen. There's nothing more annoying than buying an expensive tool or appliance and getting it home only to find it's too tall to fit under my cupboard or too heavy to keep pulling out and putting away again between uses.
After a decade of rice that was just fine made in a $15 dorm-sized rice cooker, we seriously upgraded our rice making capabilities with this highly rated Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker. You really don't know what you're missing out on in terms of fluffy, well-cooked rice until you experience it in a Zojirushi. It has 8 different rice cooking settings to achieve that perfect rice texture and can handle making everything from sushi rice to brown rice to porridge. It even lets you choose between soft or hard rice.
My favorite feature, however, is the "keep warm" setting that keeps your rice piping hot and fresh for up to 3 days without any burning or clumping or sticking on the bottom of the pot. On weeks when I plan on eating tuna newberg for lunch all week, I make a big pot of rice and leave it in the rice cooker, scooping what I need when I need it.
The Zojirushi also has a timer in it, so you can tell it what time you want the rice to be done, set it up before you leave for work, and it will start cooking so that the rice is done right on time. The non-stick bowl is easy to clean and has markers on the inside to show you how high to fill the water so you don't have to worry about losing track of counting how many cups you've added. Oh, and it plays a jaunty little tune to let you know when it's done cooking.
A sous vide (pronounced: "sue-veed") is an immersion circulator, which is science-speak for: "it keeps water moving at a precise temperature." Drop some vacuum sealed and seasoned food inside, and the gentle currents of the water bath will cook your food to specific temperatures without overcooking. If you're a stickler for a medium-rare-never-medium steak, a sous vide will ensure you get a perfect medium rare every time.
We use the sous vide to start cooking our dinners the night before, cutting back on the amount of actual cooking we have to do after work. Tougher and bigger cuts of meat cook overnight, and have a large window of time for when they're done. Four pounds of pork shoulder for carnitas cooks for 12-24 hours. It's done after 12 hours, but can safely remain in the water bath for up to 24 hours, giving you a 12 hour window to use them. Set your sous vide up the night before, or in the morning before you go to work, and when you get home, you'll just need to quickly sear or broil your food to eat it.
For things with a shorter cook time like steaks or carrots, that you're not ready to eat right away, you can put the sealed sous vide bag — with your perfectly cooked food inside — in the fridge until you're ready to eat. All it will need is a quick sear to brown the outside at mealtime. Sous video cooking is ideal for steaks and large roasts, and fatty, tough cuts of meat like pork shoulder. But it's also great for things prone to overcooking like vegetables, chicken, pork, and fish, and you can even use it to temper chocolate.
There are a lot of sous vide models on the market right now, but Anova's are some of the best. The Nano is the most affordable and the best option for someone new to sous vide cooking, imo. I say this as someone who has a (discontinued) model of Anova's standard sous vide, which has WiFi capabilities (the Nano only has bluetooth), but I can honestly say I've only ever used the connectivity features of the sous vide once. You don't need an app or internet access to use Anova's sous vide, unlike Breville's Joule sous vide cooker which is controlled solely by an app.
3. Vitamix 5200 blender (64 oz container)
When I asked Jimmy what he loves so much about our Vitamix 5200 he said: "There's blenders... and then there's Vitamix. Nothing has ever liquified anything as well as a Vitamix does."
Until you've blended something with a Vitamix you haven't experienced blending. Unlike most blenders which require liquid to run, the Vitamix can turn dry ingredients to dust or powder in just seconds (great for popcorn seasonings!). It has completely changed our entire approach to making soups and sauces that are silky smooth and super thick and rich.
It truly liquefies whatever you put in there making it great for turning chili peppers into hot sauce, mushrooms into marsala pizza sauce, broccoli stalks into broccoli soup, roasted veggies into salsa, fresh fruit into smoothies, and so much more.
The blade is built into the Vitamix container so you don't have to worry about your soup falling out the bottom because it accidentally unscrewed. The only downside is it's loud — but it takes just a few minutes to really do its job, so you don't usually need to leave it running very long.
In the hall of fame of kitchen tools over $100, KitchenAid stand mixers are the GOAT, imo. If I could only have one item on this list, my stand mixer would be it.
If you're in the market for a stand mixer, the KitchenAid model I recommend is a 5- or 6-qt bowl-lift mixer, especially if you'll be using it to make breads or doughs. The 7-qt size, which I have, is a bit too big for most regular baking needs and can make it tricky if you're working in smaller batches.
The bowl-lift models have a more powerful motor than the tilt-head models, and can run for longer on tougher doughs without overheating. I've used both models and with a lot of doughs, the tilt-head models will get stuck or the bowl will start to unscrew. If you're going to invest money in a stand mixer that you plan to have for a long time, do yourself a favor and spring for the bowl-lift pro models — you'll get a lot more out of them in the long run.
My KitchenAid Stand Mixer is one of my most prized possessions. These are workhorse machines, designed to last a lifetime. My first KitchenAid stand mixer was my grandmother's, it was 30+ years old, and it worked beautifully. It was a tilt-head with a bowl that screwed into the base, and it was just too small for what I needed which is why I upgraded to a 7-qt bowl-lift mixer (refurbished) instead.
The bowl-lift models come in a range of fun colors (sadly not as many fun colors as the tilt-head models), have 10-speed settings, and come with a paddle, a whisk, and a dough hook attachment. The mixer attachments (for making pasta and stuff), screw on to the front of the mixer. They are universal and will fit any KitchenAid mixer of any size. They even worked on my grandma's 30-year old model!
If you make a lot of homemade stock or soups, All-Clad's 12 qt stock pot with steamer basket inserts is a really, really nice statement piece that will also last you a lifetime. Literally, it has a lifetime warranty. This stainless steel pot is dishwasher safe, works on induction burners, is easy to clean, and is just really very nice looking.
Because it's so wide and deep, it's one of our favorite pots to use with our sous vide (see above!), and it's super sturdy so we don't have to worry about it getting knocked over or dented. It's oven safe to 600F, and unlike pots with plastic handles, the whole pot and lid can go into the oven if needed.
The massive 12 quart size of this stock pot is ideal for making a huge batch of stock or if you're having guests over and need to cook up a large batch of pasta. It comes with 2 steamer basket inserts — a deep one and a shallow one. I love the double steamer basket option because it means you can steam two different things at once, or steam two layers of the same thing at once (like bao buns or tamales).
The steamer baskets are also super helpful when you're making stock; put them in after you've added the bones and veggies and they'll keep everything fully submerged. It's a lot easier to skim any scum off the top that way.
Buy the 12 quart stock pot here!
Okay, so I've come down hard on expensive, self-chilling ice cream makers before, but after borrowing this Breville ice cream maker from a friend, I've been converted. If you plan to make ice cream frequently, or if you can't easily lift a heavy frozen ice cream maker bowl, Breville's ice cream maker is a dream to use. It's expensive, yes, and it only makes about a pint of ice cream at a time, but the fact that you can churn a batch of ice cream in less than an hour start-to-finish is kind of amazing.
Unlike ice cream makers which require chilling a bowl in the freezer for 12+ hours before use, the Breville machine has a pre-cool setting that takes just 10-15 minutes to kick in. The digital display clearly and helpfully guides you through the process, including telling you when it's time to add your mix-ins. The bowl is lightweight and has a handle that makes it easy to lift out of the machine, and you can choose from so many different firmness settings with a turn of a dial to get the consistency you want.
It also has a "keep cool" setting that will periodically churn your ice cream when it's done for up to 3 hours, keeping it ready in case you aren't there just as it ends. I know I find deciding when my ice cream is "done" to be kind of stressful, especially since you can't really tell the finished consistency until you've let it set up in the freezer, so the fact that the Breville stops automatically when you get there and keeps it cool is a really nice feature.
Downsides: The interior bowl is not dishwasher safe and can only be used with soft, silicone tools. It's a bit noisy, which I know a lot of reviewers have complained about, but it doesn't run for very long so I don't find the noise to be an issue. And it does only make 1 pint of ice cream at a time, unlike some of the less technologically advanced machines which can make a quart or more at a time.
7. Boos Block wooden cutting board
If you're in the market for a wooden cutting board that will truly last a lifetime, a heavy-duty Boos Block is the kitchen statement piece you need. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit how many cutting boards have cracked, broken, or warped under my care (do you like how I've used passive voice here?) but my Boos Block has truly stood the test of time.
The Boos Block cutting boards come in a variety of wood grains, patterns, sizes, and thicknesses, but I really like the 2.5" thick boards without any fancy grooves or anything on top. Wood is soft which is great for helping your knives go longer between sharpening, but it's also porous so I prefer a solid flat surface with no additional nooks or crannies for juices to get stuck in.
Cleaning them is easy too — I use a handful of kosher salt and half a lemon to exfoliate (for lack of a better word) the surface. The combination of abrasive salt and acid from the lemon pull up any stains and keep the surface of the wood soft without scratching it. You'll need to use food-grade mineral oil and wood wax periodically to condition your board so that the wood stays hydrated. This prevents it from cracking and keeps it shiny. But with just that little bit of care, it really will last you a lifetime.
When Jimmy got serious about his French press coffee routine a few years ago I got him Baratza's award-winning Encore Conical Burr Grinder as a birthday gift. He loves it. It has a large storage basin at the top for whole beans, and a drawer in the front that slides in and out to collect the coffee grinds. With 40 different grind settings, you can adjust the size of the grounds by rotating the basin on top, which is great if you like to change up your coffee routine every now and then. Push the button on the front to pulse the machine, or turn the switch on the side to let it run.
Unlike coffee grinders with blades that chop beans into a powder, a burr grinder truly does grind roasted coffee beans between two grooved plates. You can get a coarser grind for a French press, but when I want to use coffee grinds in baking, I can adjust the size to get a really fine powder that won't leave any gritty residue behind.
9. Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum (refurbished)
I resisted buying one of these sci-fi-looking Dyson cordless stick vacuums for a long time thinking my portable handheld dust buster was just fine. But after my third handheld vacuum crapped out on me, I decided it was time to invest in something that promised to last a good long while and leave my kitchen looking spotless. I don't think I knew it was possible to love a vacuum so much until I brought my refurbished Dyson home. It's fun to use, which is something I never thought I'd say about a vacuum cleaner.
With multiple vacuum heads of varying lengths and nozzle types that snap on and off easily, it's able to get into all the nooks and crannies of my kitchen, deep under the cupboards and fridge and oven, and leaves absolutely no crumb behind. It comes with a wall-mounted charger (I bought a stand to mount it on instead) that has two clip-in slots to hold the extra nozzle attachments when not in use, which is really nice. It's also easy to empty without having to reach your hand in and touch all the gross stuff and is great at pulling cat hair out of carpets — less of an issue in the kitchen, but an important factor in my household nonetheless.