Adaptive Kitchen Tools That Make Cooking Easier for Everyone
For some, cooking is bliss — a meditation, an art form. For others, it's simply a necessity. Dinner needs to be served, and the kitchen is where we make that happen, preferably in as hassle-free a manner as possible. Either way, our gadgets and appliances make cooking easier and faster.
But what about home chefs with disabilities that may not be able use those same gadgets and appliances? What are the best kitchen tools for those of us with mobility or visual impairments, with arthritis or grip-strength challenges?
Allrecipes spoke with hundreds of people who cook every day while navigating a variety of disabilities. The result? We found some of the best kitchen tools for accessible cooking and baking. From slow cookers to these POURfect Braille and Tactile Measuring Cups, we have compiled the best adaptive kitchen tools to make your time in the kitchen fun and relaxing.
Veggie and Fruit Prep
Buy it: $10; Amazon.com
OXO is famous for their "Good Grips" kitchen gadgets. In fact, co-founder Sam Farber helped to design their very first soft-handled peeler in response to his wife's difficulties in the kitchen due to arthritis. OXO continues to be a favorite company for many home chefs who struggle with hand mobility and grip strength. The OXO Good Grips Y Peeler is one of the best peelers out there.
Other tools that make prepping veggies and fruit easier include:
- A rocking t-knife, whose handle allows for easier gripping
- A professional cubing mandolin, which chops veggies with ease
- An easy-grip grater, which makes fast work out of grating pretty much anything
- A cutting board with spikes, which keeps food firmly in place to allow for one-handed chopping
- And even electric scissors, which aren't officially a culinary tool, but many of readers have found them useful for chopping up herbs, lettuce, spinach, and more.
Open and Shut
Everyone struggles with opening jars and cans from time to time. But for cooks with limited movement and strength in one or both hands, a lack of accessibility can drastically decrease our time and enjoyment in the kitchen. Luckily, there are now a ton of affordable gadgets to keep us cooking and baking.
Some of our favorites:
- A cordless, hands-free can opener, like this one from Bangrui
- The SoloGrip One-Handed Jar Opener and the Spill-Not Jar and Bottle Opener, both of which keep jars and bottles of varying sizes fixed in place for easier lid and cap removal
- OXO's simple and effective Good Grips Jar Opener
- The Brix J-Popper, which opens ring pulls and pull-tabs
And let's not forget the wine! This cordless Oster electronic wine-opener makes short work of difficult foil wrappers and corks.
Home chefs everywhere have their favorite kitchen hacks and secrets. We asked for accessible hacks and tricks — and we found some great ones.
Far and above all others, the most-loved kitchen hack seems to be a good immersion blender. This allows chefs to chop, blend, whisk, and froth at the touch of a button, without the need for delicate finger work or a strong grip. And it's so easy to clean when you're done.
Other useful tools and gadgets for people with limited mobility, arthritis, or other disabilities:
- A funnel — so basic and yet so helpful. A funnel allows for easy pouring into jars and pitchers, and you end up with much less mess to clean up afterward.
- A one-handed tray — for serving, carrying ingredients to another part of the kitchen, and more.
- Storage containers with easily-removed lids, like this set from Pyrex.
- A good, sturdy, adjustable stool with handles. Standing can be exhausting or impossible for some of us, and a place to sit at the counter can make all the difference.
Appliances and Kitchen Design
When it comes to designing an accessible kitchen, it's all about the appliances and storage. When we asked cooks what they loved best (or hated most) about their kitchens, those with disabilities told us over and over about the need for specific appliances that allowed them to prep, cook, and clean without adding to the stress on their bodies.
One great option for mobility-impaired chefs is a dishwasher with drawers, such as this one by Fisher. Drawers are sturdier than racks and allow for an easier reach from a wheelchair or stool. If that price tag is setting off alarm bells, don't worry. Regular dishwashers can also be outfitted with drawers for less.
Another option is a portable, countertop dishwasher. Countertop dishwashers allow for an easy sink-to-dishwasher transfer that requires no bending.
One mom from Virginia said, "Some days, my hands just don't work. But my two kids still need dinner! So I throw a chuck roast and a bag of carrots into my slow cooker – and I know we can still eat well. The slow cooker is my lifeline on hard days with chronic pain!"
Taking the slow cooker to the next level is the multicooker, which can also stir, sauté, steam, and cook rice, too.
And equally important to appliances is layout. Hooks for pots can be added to walls or the sides of counters at the height that works best for each individual home chef. Cabinets can be lowered, or even substituted in for drawers below the counters. Countertops can extend in a semi-circle to allow easy access from one seated position, and also can be custom-built to offer worksurfaces at different heights.
We've come a long way since those old-fashioned metal vegetable peelers. New, accessible gadgets and appliances open up the kitchen to all chefs — allowing us to focus on what we love to make and share: food.