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Cold Weather Cooking Gear To Make Warm Winter Meals

From standard slow cooker to adventurous sous vide machine, these kitchen gadgets and gear help prepare all kinds of comfort foods.

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Electric Skillet

Habitually out of burner space? A trusty electric skillet is your answer. Of course it can handle hearty breakfast favorites like eggs and pancakes — programmable temperature settings and even heating make it easy to get perfect results. But don’t miss out on all the other meals you can simmer beneath the lid. Put it on a buffet to keep apps hot, for example, or cook and serve wow-worthy crepes tableside.

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These traditional Moroccan cooking vessels evoke a genie’s bottle, with a tall, conical lid over a wide, round base. Use them to prepare meals, also called tagines, combining protein, vegetables and even fruit. The unique lid helps the moisture and flavors meld together into a tender, delicious dish. Choose an authentic clay tagine, a decorative glazed ceramic one (shown) or an updated tagine with a cast-iron base.

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Slow Cooker

Slow cookers are a trusted, well-known way to simmer a warm pot of whatever you crave. Just get that chili or stew going in the morning, and you’ll be serving up a hot, home-cooked meal at the end of a cold, busy day. Slow cookers with extra features like programmable cooking times, removable crocks, locking lids, temperature probes and keep-warm settings take this popular device to the next level.

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Shabu Shabu Pot

This Asian version of fondue employs boiling hot broth to cook thinly sliced meat and vegetables in a communal-style meal. An electric shabu shabu pot serves a small group, making it easy to turn any tabletop into a cozy winter dinner party. It also works as a nabe pot to create delicious Japanese-style stews.

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Dutch Oven

Long before there were electric cookers, there was the Dutch oven. These squat lidded pots, often made of cast iron, remain an adaptable piece of cookware for stovetop or oven. It’s great for all sorts of cold-weather dishes, including pot roasts, casseroles and even warm, crusty bread, as plenty of the pandemic’s new sourdough bakers discovered. The version with colorful enamel coatings looks great as serving ware, too.

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Sous Vide Water Bath

The weird name (pronounced “soo veed”) and necessary extra step to vacuum-seal your food make this cooking method sound trickier than it actually is.

Sous vide machines are immersion heaters that gently cook sealed packets of seasoned protein in a circulating water bath. A quick post-bath sear or broil give you a tender, flavorful perfectly cooked filet. Control WiFi-enabled sous vide cookers with your smartphone. Or, if you’re not ready to invest in a stand-alone machine, experiment with a multi cooker with a sous vide function instead.

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Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers take the opposite approach from slow cookers but offer similar results. As the steam and pressure builds beneath the sealed lid, the boiling point rises from 212 degrees F to about 250 F. All that retained moisture means accelerated cook times on foods like grains and dried beans, plus wonderfully tender meat stews. They’re great for cooking game day meals.

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Simmer Mat

A simmer mat boosts the results of your winter favorites requiring long cook-times over low heat, such as soup, stew, chili and pasta sauce. These low-tech kitchen devices sit between the burner and any standard pan to help distribute the flame into a more even and moderate heat source. They’re slim so they store easily, too.

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Rice Cooker

A gadget seemingly dedicated to only cooking one type of food may seem unnecessary, but hear us out: A rice cooker with multi-cook functions steams veggies and other meal components for easy, healthy, one-dish dinners.

Models with sauté or slow-cook settings extend your options even further. And of course you’ll turn out perfectly cooked rice every time with just a push of a button. Use that perfect rice as a base for spice-filled curries, roll it into chicken enchiladas or toss in some veggies and an egg for stir-fried rice.

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Fondue Pot

During the height of the hygge trend, home cooks rediscovered fondue as a warm and wonderful way to bring friends together over a pot of melted cheese, oil, broth or chocolate. If you got rid of that avocado green model in the back of a cabinet, invest in a new electric fondue set or an old school-cool Sterno-fueled option.

Cut up bits of meat to cook, steamed veggies and bread to dip or fruits to dunk. Then hand out the skewers and enjoy a slow, cozy interactive dinner.

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Cast Iron Skillet With Lid

If you already own a cast-iron skillet, the simple addition of a lid designed to fit around any pour lips creates a low-tech but effective one-pan way to sear and simmer your cold-weather meal.

A cast-iron lid with basting tips — special grooves or spikes that collect and redistribute condensation — keeps meat tender. Another option: an oven-proof skillet with short handles on either side for easier handling and presentation.

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Stockpots feature tall sides that cut down on evaporation when simmering pasta sauce, for a comforting pasta dinner. You can also use it for your favorite soup recipe, lobster boils, pasta, corn on the cob or deep frying.

Stainless steel-clad aluminum stockpots heat evenly and clean up easily, and colander inserts make it easy to pull out all the ready-to-serve goodness. Other nice-to-have options include heat-proof handles, engraved measurement markings and steamer baskets for veggies.

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Multi-Function Cooker

Surely you’ve heard the news: If you’re debating between a slow cooker and a pressure cooker, you no longer have to choose. The Instant Pot is the most well-known of the multi-function cookers that have become so popular in the past few years.

The wide range of possible cooking methods and Instant Pot accessories, plus the ability to prepare anything from boiled eggs to yogurt to entrees, have drawn many devotees. After a day out in the cold, you’ll appreciate how the pressure setting brings you crave-worthy warm meals in record time.

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Helen Newling Lawson
Helen Newling Lawson is a published garden writer and freelance content marketing professional. She is a lifelong gardener, originally from central New Jersey but now digging in Georgia clay. She has been a University of Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer since 2002 and earned the Georgia Certified Plant Professional certification in 2017. A regional director of GardenComm, the Association of Garden Communicators, Helen is a contributor to magazines including Country Gardens, Birds and Blooms, Georgia Magazine, Nursery Management, State-by-State Gardening, and Atlanta Parent. She has also developed content for clients in a range of industries, from tech to the green industry. She enjoys photography, often supplying her own images for editorial use, and hikes and does yoga in her spare time.