A few minutes of wandering through a kitchen supply store or the home goods section of a department store will reveal that there is no shortage of kitchen gadgets on the market today. Good, well-designed kitchen accoutrements make your life easier, not create confusion and clutter. However, it can be difficult to determine which appliances and tools are truly useful and which are simply trendy pieces that don’t really help you in the long run. Read on for a list of modern kitchen upgrades that will help you turn out magnificent meals with ease.

1. Induction Cooktops

Induction cooktops, formerly reserved for use in kitchens where open flames were prohibited, are now all the rage for homeowners. The heat on an induction cooktop is caused by an electromagnetic charge between the cooking surface and the pot or pan, so you do have to use magnetic cookware—cast iron and stainless steel will usually do the trick. One major advantage to induction is that unless a compatible pan is placed on the cooking surface, no heat is produced, so there’s no danger of anyone in the home accidentally placing a hand on a stovetop that looks cool but is actually still quite hot. If you love the control of a gas cooktop, induction can give you the same control with the benefit of a more energy-efficient appliance that doesn’t give off extra heat.

2. Convection Ovens

Similar to induction, convection technology has been around for several decades, but it is now gaining in popularity due to decreasing price points for convection appliances. While traditional ovens rely on the radiant heat created by a heating element or gas flame to cook food, convection ovens have an internal fan that circulates the hot air. This results in an oven with no hot or cold spots and food that cooks faster and more evenly. Transitioning from a traditional to a convection oven does involve a small learning curve, but once you master the technique, going back to a conventional oven will be unthinkable.

3. In-line Gas Cooktops

Although in-line gas cooktops are a bit hard to find at the moment, they are making their way onto the modern kitchen decor market. Traditional gas cooktops have burners arranged in a grid, but a handful of manufacturers are changing that design in favor of having all four (or sometimes five) burners side-by-side. This setup does require more lateral space on the countertop, but it eliminates the awkward—and sometimes dangerous—need to reach over a boiling or steaming pot or pan.

4. Warming Drawers

Once a trapping of only the most elite kitchens, warming drawers are now much more accessible to today’s average kitchen consumers. Timing an entire meal takes a lot of planning, skill, and luck, and sometimes, things just don’t work out as planned. If a side dish is finished early or a dinner guest is tardy but still in your good graces, a warming drawer can be a lifesaver. Many warming drawers now even include different temperature settings, so whether you’re keeping a plate of leftovers from getting cold or heating up a pan of dinner rolls, you’ll be in good shape.

5. Touchless Faucets

Changing a faucet is one of the easy kitchen upgrades that can take your kitchen into the twenty-first century. A touchless faucet actually does require a brief touch to turn it on and off, but you don’t have to grip a handle. Instead, tapping the faucet with your wrist, forearm, or elbow will do the trick, so your kitchen (or the faucet, at the very least) stays cleaner. Most touchless faucets are designed to sense the difference between an accidental brush or tap and an intentional touch, so a curious cat is unlikely to turn on the tap. If that does happen, though, the faucet’s timer will turn off the water after a few minutes.

Kitchens are said to be the heart of the home. The kitchen is where guests and family members will gather regardless of how nicely you’ve set the table and arranged the rest of the house, so why not indulge in some modern upgrades that will make your culinary life a little easier? These five easy upgrades will make prepping and cooking a breeze, and you’ll have more time to spend with loved ones.

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Sources: Epicurious; Kitchen Faucet Divas; This Old House; The Induction Site; The New York Times.

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