Kitchen tools you need for cozy meal season


We’re in the thick of cold weather season: Days are short, storms are frequent, and it’s getting harder to find the motivation for chores like cooking.

But we like to look at this time of year as the best excuse for staying in and indulging in homemade cozy meals. Winter classics like soup, pot roast, and curry dishes taste much better when you’re sheltering from nasty weather.

Even if you don’t have the motivation to get up and start cooking yet, we think investing in these tested-and-approved cozy meal tools will get you excited to get in the kitchen.

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1. A multipurpose Dutch oven

Product image of Made In Enameled Dutch Oven

Made In Enameled Dutch Oven

This gorgeous Dutch oven is durable and yields deliciously tasty results.

A sturdy Dutch oven is practically the mascot for cozy meals. Beyond obvious purposes like flavorful homemade soup and braises, a Dutch oven is also great for easy no-knead bread, homemade fried chicken, and these savory white beans. Basically, the comfort food world is your oyster.

We love Made In’s Dutch oven because it excelled at every baking and cooking task we threw at it during testing, proving itself worthy of evenly browning foods and retaining moisture for every recipe.

2. A reliable slow cooker

Product image of Cuisinart 6-Quart 3-in-1 Cook Central Multicooker

Cuisinart 6-Quart 3-in-1 Cook Central Multicooker

Achieve flavorful and tasty soups, stews, dips, and roasts with a reliable slow cooker.

When the craving hits for pot roast, spicy chili, or cheesy dip, a trusty slow cooker becomes your best friend. These appliances are designed to deliver hands-off dinners, requiring only some early prep work before you place all the ingredients in and let the machine do the rest of the work.

Slow cooking yields particularly tender results due to the extra time it uses to distribute flavors and break down even tough cuts of meat. Our favorite is the Cuisinart 6-quart 3-in-1 Cook Central Multicooker, since it keeps food at the optimal temperature without creating hot spots, and it’s easy to clean. Plus, it comes with helpful recipes to get you started.

3. A baker’s dream stand mixer

Product image of KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-head Stand Mixer

KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-head Stand Mixer

Achieve flavorful and tasty soups, stews, dips, and roasts with a reliable slow cooker.

Whether you already consider yourself a baker or not, winter is the best time to flesh out those skills. And especially if you’re looking to advance your homemade breads and pastries, you’ll need a stand mixer to achieve the best results (without a ton of elbow grease).

The KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-head Stand Mixer is still a top choice because it excels at a variety of tasks, from whipping to kneading to mixing. And it comes in a variety of colors, including the latest KitchenAid Color of the Year](https://reviewed.usatoday.com/cooking/news/kitchenaid-color-of-the-year-02-08-24), to suit any home kitchen. Although it’s an investment, it’s one we can confidently say will last you years, if not decades, to come. (Our editor still owns her grandmother’s—and it’s in great condition!)

4. A reusable nonstick baking mat

Product image of Silpat Premium Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat

Silpat Premium Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat

Cut down on expenses (and waste) with a reusable baking mat.

Bakers know the struggle of wrangling single-use parchment paper to bake homemade cookies, pastries, and cakes to avoid sticking disasters. Investing in a reusable nonstick baking mat, like the Silpat mat, reduces waste and cuts down on costs, especially since this brand is known for its reliably long-lasting product.

Beyond baking tasks, though, this mat is also great for roasted veggies, nachos, bacon, and any sticking-prone food that gets cooked in the oven.

5. A hands-off multicooker

Product image of Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker Steam Fryer

Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker Steam Fryer

This multi-cooker can churn out full, low-effort meals in a snap.

Not a big hands-on cook, but still want to benefit from a cozy home-cooked meal? The Ninja Foodi might be your dream kitchen sidekick.

This multi-cooker tops our list of the best pressure cookers, but it’s so much more than that. It boasts 14-in-1 functionality, with the ability to churn out crispy air-fried foods, tasty slow-cooked meals, easy homemade rice and yogurt, and so much more.

Our favorite function of the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker Steam Fryer is the Steam & Crisp setting, which makes it easy to create a full meal—think tender grains, roasted veggies, and crispy-yet-moist protein—at one time. (Or just one flavorful comfort food—hello, buffalo mac and cheese.)

6. A durable cast-iron skillet

Product image of Lodge 12-inch skillet

Lodge 12-inch skillet

Cook up perfectly browned meals and desserts with our favorite cast iron skillet.

If you don’t already have this cookware staple, cozy season is the perfect opportunity to invest.

Cast iron is known for its supreme browning and frying abilities, thanks to the material’s inherent ability to retain and distribute heat. It’s especially great for stovetop-to-oven recipes, like cheesy frittatas, saucy chicken thighs, or this savory Dutch baby.

Our favorite cast iron pan is the Lodge 12-inch skillet because it’s affordable and reliably nonstick.

7. A handy garlic press

Product image of OXO Good Grips garlic press

OXO Good Grips garlic press

Add big flavor to your comfort dishes with a Reviewed-approved garlic press.

Let’s be real: Most popular comfort food recipes call for fresh garlic—and lots of it. Whether you’re making pho, bolognese, or just a hearty chicken soup, you’ll likely need to mince plenty of garlic. (Plus, a little extra of this health-promoting food goes a long way during cold and flu season.)

For that, we always turn to a trusty garlic press. We love the OXO Good Grips garlic press because it has a large capacity for pressing multiple cloves at once, and it features a swing basket that makes clean-up a breeze.

8. A non-intimidating pasta maker

Product image of Marcato Atlas 150

Marcato Atlas 150

Impress guests (or yourself!) with easy homemade pasta.

Yes, it’s easy to grab a box of dried pasta from the grocery store whenever you get a hankering for cacio e pepe or penne alla vodka. But there’s something uniquely indulgent about housemade pasta—and it’s not as difficult to make as you’d think.

Our favorite pasta maker, the Marcato Atlas 150 makes it easy, thanks to its sturdy build and intuitive knob and handle. And even if you’re using gluten-free dough, it’s easy to get consistent results.

9. A soup-ready immersion blender

Product image of GE Immersion Blender

GE Immersion Blender

Blend, puree, whip, and process with this workhorse appliance.

If you’re a fan of butternut squash soup (or tomato, potato-leek, and mushroom soups), an immersion blender is the easiest way to achieve creamy results (without having to pull out a full-sized blender.

Our favorite is the GE Immersion blender because it boasts a powerful motor that purees and combines ingredients with ease. Plus it comes with a whisk and food chopper attachment that extends its capabilities beyond soups and sauces (homemade whipped cream and pesto, anyone?).

10. A low-effort bread machine

Product image of Breville Custom Loaf Bread Maker

Breville Custom Loaf Bread Maker

This machine churns out loaves of homemade bread on its own—no kneading required.

The smell of freshly baked bread at home typically comes at a price—namely, hours of measuring, kneading, and rising. But all those tedious steps get skipped with a high-quality bread machine—and you still get to benefit from freshly baked loaves.

The best bread machine we’ve tested just requires you to pop the ingredients in, press the appropriate button, and wait. The Breville Custom Loaf Bread Make excels at producing fresh white, wheat, and even gluten-free bread, all with an incredibly intuitive LCD touchscreen.

11. A serve-worthy casserole dish

Product image of Great Jones Hot Dish

Great Jones Hot Dish

This casserole dish will take you from appetizers to dessert, beautifully.

Winter is casserole season. And even if you’re not a casserole person, these dishes are the ideal vessels for other comfort food stars, like lasagna, enchiladas, and potato gratin.

If you’re ready to invest in a truly beautiful casserole dish, we recommend the Great Jones Hot Dish. It boasts a large capacity, convenient handles, and a gorgeous design that you’ll want to use for serving.

12. Pasta bowls for cozy dining

Product image of Le Tauci Pasta Bowls

Le Tauci Pasta Bowls

These plate-bowl hybrids are perfect for lazy couch meals.

Once you’ve done all the hard work of preparing a cozy dinner, we don’t blame you if you want to veg on the couch and enjoy it!

These Le Tauci pasta bowls make it easy to dig in, even without a sturdy table surface, because they hold plenty of food, can be held with one hand, and have tall walls to keep food from falling out. Get that streaming marathon started.





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