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5 must-have products for a better kitchen

As the holidays approach and the days grow shorter, many of us are preparing to clock more hours in the kitchen cooking everything from turkeys to cookies. 

To improve your extra time spent in the kitchen, CNBC Make It rounded up five staff-approved products to upgrade your cooking space, from an immersion blender perfect for making soup to a leak-proof trash can to hold all your scraps. 

1. Mini Dutch oven

With a chill in the air, it’s finally soup season, which usually means pulling out my deepest, heaviest pots. But since I’m usually only cooking for my husband and myself, it can be exhausting to haul out — and clean — our 8-quart stockpot all the time.

Luckily, my Great Jones Dutch Baby, $120, is the perfect volume for cooking dinner for two. It’s still a hefty cast iron, but its petite size, 3.5 quarts, makes it ideal for soups, chili and risotto without a lot of wasted space. Plus, in an autumnal green, it looks really cute on my stovetop. 

— Hanna Howard, Senior Work Editor

2. Immersion blender

If you’ve ever tried to make a blended soup batch by batch in a regular blender, you know how much it sucks.

While an immersion blender, like this $45 one from KitchenAid, isn’t technically a must-have kitchen tool, the time and energy it saves for things like soup and applesauce is 100% worth it. Plus, it’s so much easier to clean after use.

— Emmie Martin, Money Editor

3. Sous vide cooker

The cooking technique known as “sous vide” sounds fancy, but really, it’s culinary finger painting. You basically stick a cut of meat or some veggies in an airtight plastic bag (with whatever seasonings or marinade you like) and dunk it under some water. Then you use a little machine — mine from Anova costs $100 — to heat the water until the internal temperature of whatever you’re cooking matches the temperature of the bath.

That means, if you’re willing to wait an hour or two, you can have a uniform, white interior on those mutant-sized chicken breasts — or get a perfect medium rare on your favorite cut of steak. Just pluck it out of the water, put a good sear on it and serve.

The cooker can be controlled from an app, which also contains recipes and guides written by award-winning chef J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. It really couldn’t be easier.

— Ryan Ermey, Senior Money Reporter

4. Simplehuman trash can

In what kind of world do kitchen trash cans — the ones recommended by reviews websites, anyway — cost hundreds of dollars? Insane. But while Simplehuman is among the companies liable for this mess, I have to hand it to it: Its 13-gallon semi-round plastic trash can is right on the money at $50.

It looks perfectly nice and has proven sturdy, leak-proof and pet-proof so far. If one of those elements fails, it comes with <checks notes> a five-year warranty — for a trash can. Excuse me while I untangle my brain over this one.

— Cameron Albert-Deitch, Success Editor

5. Mini rice cooker

Living in New York City with limited space, I’ve done my best to stick to the necessities in terms of kitchen items. A rice cooker never felt necessary when you can just make rice on the stove. But as it turns out, I’m not great at stovetop rice. I’d add too much water, or let it simmer too long. Anyone else?

When I finally acquired the Dash mini rice cooker, $21.99, it was a game changer. I can now set rice to cook and forget about it. No more babysitting, and I get perfect rice every time, without any guesswork on timing or water level.

A bonus: The appliance is small enough to tuck into a cabinet when I’m not using it.

— Emmie Martin, Money Editor

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CNBC will host its virtual Your Money event November 9 at 12 p.m. ET, with experts including Jim Cramer, Ben McKenzie and Farnoosh Torabi. Learn how to boost your finances, invest for the future and mitigate risk amid record-high inflation. Register for free here.

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