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Best kitchen gadget(s) for multi-purpose chopping?

by (1997)
Updated about 22 hours ago
Created October 12, 2010 at 7:19 PM

Since going paleo, I'm of course finding myself making a lot more food from scratch. I love cooking but am getting a bit tired of tedious prep work. The biggest source of this seems to be chopping. I have a mandoline which is great for slicing small things (zucchini, squash, carrots, eggplant, etc) or julienning, and a stick blender with a small food processor cup that works well for liquids/purees. But where I'm spending most of my time is chopping onions, tomatoes, nuts, garlic, herbs, hardboiled eggs, etc.

I'm looking at getting something like one of those quick "slap" choppers, maybe a chopper like this, or a manual food processor. For budget/power/space reasons, I'd rather not get a standard food processor but if popular opinion is that it's the only way to go, then I might be swayed :)

What kitchen tools have made your paleo meal prep easier? What would you recommend?

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4258 · February 16, 2012 at 4:02 PM

I use my ulu to mince garlic. best thing ever.

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4258 · February 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM

+1 for emphasis on aesthetics. A knife feeling good in the hand, or making that satisfying "shlick" sound that tells you it's supersharp, it just makes the experience better.

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405 · January 06, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Late but you don't have to peel it. Jamie Oliver.

Medium avatar
2913 · January 06, 2012 at 4:44 AM

Professional chefs all agree: a basic, well-cared for 8" chef's knife is all you need. The only exception to sharpening is if you're regularly preparing fish, a hint of dullness means it slides along the bones instead of cutting through them. This tidbit comes from Justo Thomas, the fish butcher who preps 700 lbs of fish a day for Le Bernadin.

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10768 · January 07, 2011 at 1:42 AM

I'm still using my grandmother's Ulu-like knife.

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8 · October 29, 2010 at 3:29 PM

To me a chopper is just another thing to wash, like AnnaA said. I just rinse my french chef knife under running water most of the time. Done. Get skilled with it and it doesn't take long at all to chop through a big cutting board full of veggies.

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8 · October 29, 2010 at 3:28 PM

To me a chopper is just another thing to wash, Line AnnaA said. I just rinse my french chef knife under running water most of the time. Done. Get skilled with it and it doesn't take long at all to chop through a big cutting board full of veggies.

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2387 · October 13, 2010 at 12:55 PM

Oh yes, indeed. Cutting with a sharp knife can be loads of fun.

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821 · October 12, 2010 at 11:33 PM

FWIW, I'm a klutz too. Fingertips do grow back. ;) And you only make that mistake once or twice before you get really good at chopping.

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1676 · October 12, 2010 at 10:45 PM

Wow, I have one of those. I didn't know you didn't have to peel first. This is a revelation!

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821 · October 12, 2010 at 8:31 PM

Yep. I hate doing that.

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78422 · October 12, 2010 at 8:31 PM

Dang, I think I'd rather chop with a knife than wash all those icky little parts of the chopper.

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78422 · October 12, 2010 at 8:29 PM

I just smash garlic flat with the side of my knife, then chop it.

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1997 · October 12, 2010 at 8:15 PM

FYI: I do have a couple of good knives and a sharpener but I was really looking for an alternative. I'm a time-pressed klutz and I really don't think I'm going to become enamored with chopping...

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1997 · October 12, 2010 at 8:13 PM

Ha, I have a paleo husband who washes dishes ;)

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78422 · October 12, 2010 at 7:52 PM

marry a chef? :)

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13 Answers

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4059 · October 12, 2010 at 7:46 PM

Get a REALLY sharp, aesthetically pleasing (to you) knife and keep it sharpened. It becomes a pleasure to cut meat and veggies with a well balance, very sharp knife, and rather than a mindless chopping-chore, prep work can transform into a tactilely satisfying aspect of food preparation.

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2387 · October 13, 2010 at 12:55 PM

Oh yes, indeed. Cutting with a sharp knife can be loads of fun.

Medium avatar
2913 · January 06, 2012 at 4:44 AM

Professional chefs all agree: a basic, well-cared for 8" chef's knife is all you need. The only exception to sharpening is if you're regularly preparing fish, a hint of dullness means it slides along the bones instead of cutting through them. This tidbit comes from Justo Thomas, the fish butcher who preps 700 lbs of fish a day for Le Bernadin.

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4258 · February 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM

+1 for emphasis on aesthetics. A knife feeling good in the hand, or making that satisfying "shlick" sound that tells you it's supersharp, it just makes the experience better.

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2759 · October 14, 2010 at 5:32 AM

We also have an ulu which is good for dicing and mincing.

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10768 · January 07, 2011 at 1:42 AM

I'm still using my grandmother's Ulu-like knife.

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821 · October 12, 2010 at 7:51 PM

This isn't the answer you're looking for, but I don't go in for gadgets. All you really need is a decent chef's knife and some knife skills. I learned my food prep skills on the job but I bet there are local places near you that have basic knife skills classes. There are also videos on YouTube, entire books and tutorials on websites like seriouseats.com. It helps to learn these things when the deadline is "now" and the standard is "perfect" :) but I think the time and effort put into learning food prep is well worth it. Basically you need to learn how to prep by hand faster, which means having the correct tool, and learning how to do it safely.

An affordable knife option is a Forschner. I have found them at the local restaurant cash n' carry (open to the public) for about $20. They won't hold up as well as something more expensive, but good for learning until you're ready to invest more.

I do hate chopping garlic. This is expensive for a garlic press, but worth every penny--smash, rinse, and put it back in the drawer for next time. No peeling!

http://www.amazon.com/Zyliss-Susi-DeLuxe-Garlic-Press/dp/B00004T14B

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78422 · October 12, 2010 at 8:29 PM

I just smash garlic flat with the side of my knife, then chop it.

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1676 · October 12, 2010 at 10:45 PM

Wow, I have one of those. I didn't know you didn't have to peel first. This is a revelation!

D738a5b2a67f3c36518a2ac9f32d27af
821 · October 12, 2010 at 8:31 PM

Yep. I hate doing that.

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405 · January 06, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Late but you don't have to peel it. Jamie Oliver.

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4258 · February 16, 2012 at 4:02 PM

I use my ulu to mince garlic. best thing ever.

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4625 · October 13, 2010 at 1:09 AM

eight inch chef knife is the best. it has a curve that allows you to rock the blade as you slice, dice or chop.

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64 · October 12, 2010 at 9:35 PM

check out some of the pamperedchef gagets they are great quality and are designed to cut prep time

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0 · April 13, 2014 at 4:42 PM

We created a website with unique tools & goods for Paleo and other similar lifestyles. There are a lot cool kitchen tools to browse. Hope you enjoy it! www.LostGrok.com

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37187 · January 05, 2012 at 10:17 PM

For thin slices (think potato chips) I love my mandolin. Overall, though, all the gadgets I've tried involved too much wash-up afterward so, like Christopher Gagnon, I usually just use a knife.

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6107 · January 05, 2012 at 9:55 PM

I feel as if I've tried every gadget out there, and it always seems to come back to this: there are no real shortcuts. You either spend your time tediously chopping with a knife (which I happen to enjoy in an almost meditative way, sometimes while sipping red wine....), or you spend your time assembling, disassembling, and cleaning all the parts of the gadgets. And cleaning some of those sharp things can be downright dangerous! Even a garlic press often seems to be more work to clean than it takes to just chop the garlic with a knife. Also: the slap/chop things I've tried never seem to work very well.

The only chopper I ever used that worked was a big, all-metal industrial one at a restaurant. It was big, heavy, the action arm was weighted, and the whole apparatus was securely attached to the wall for maximum stability. It would also easily chop your hand into hundreds of little cubes if you messed up!

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75 · January 05, 2012 at 9:00 PM

I use the Norpro Stainless Steel Vegetable Chopper. It's great for nuts and garlic or anything that needs to be chopped finely (or not). I just put that sucker on my cutting board and go for it. Easy rinse-clean.

http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-Stainless-Steel-Vegetable-Chopper/dp/B0002IBQQM/ref=pd_sbs_k_4

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3690 · January 05, 2012 at 8:19 PM

8 inch Chef's knife + Rocking motion + tucked fingers, knuckle up against the blade. Choppa time!

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2269 · October 17, 2010 at 10:45 PM

I've tried a mandoline, a double-bladed ulu-like thing I got at IKEA, etc. and ended up just going back to my trusty ancient Henckels 10" chef's knife. A few swipes on a sharpening steel and it's razor-sharp again.

It also helps to learn a chopping technique that minimizes loss of fingertips :)

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0 · October 17, 2010 at 6:24 PM

Pampered Chef Mini-Chopper...I finally wore one out (15 yrs) and just purchased a new one. I use it everyday!

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2759 · October 13, 2010 at 6:45 AM

First, I do not work for Tupperware. I bought a Tupperware Quick Chef a month or two ago. Before I used it I thought it was a bit flimsy but, dang, can that thing chop stuff up!

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