Every kitchen needs a gigantic mixing bowl

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I’m someone who has always lived in a city and, until five years ago, in an apartment with a kitchen that had minimal space in both cupboards and on counters. So it might surprise you that one of the pieces of kitchen equipment I’ve always kept around is a giant mixing bowl.

I’m not talking about a regular old large mixing bowl, the biggest one that comes in the set of nesting bowls. That’s a fine bowl, especially for popcorn, but it’s still too small. I mean a bowl of nearly planetary enormity, big enough to bathe a toddler in, the kind you have to buy on its own and which will likely take up a whole shelf in a cabinet to store.

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Why on earth would I think this is a good idea? There are several reasons. First, if you have limited kitchen storage space, you likely also have limited entertaining space, so having a piece that can perform multiple culinary duties in your life becomes a good investment. Something versatile is all the more necessary, and I have found that if you have one giant bowl and a couple of small bowls, you don’t need that stackable set. As for material, I prefer metal: It’s the most durable, attractive, and easy to clean.

A giant bowl is super useful for cooking. I’m notoriously messy in the kitchen, but when I use my giant bowl for mixing things that tend to spatter, like whipping cream or loose batters, everything stays contained. I also use it to toss salads so I don’t end up with dressed leaves all over the place. When I need an ice bath for quickly cooling down recipes like ice cream bases or custards or soups, a big bowl with ice and water filled halfway allows me to submerge another bowl or a pot without anything overflowing.

For entertaining, a huge bowl is a godsend. Limited room on the coffee table for snacks? Place another bowl or colander upside down in the bottom of your huge bowl and top with a plate. You can put a bowl of dip or hummus or salsa on top of the plate and surround with vegetables or chips for a great serving piece that actually takes up less room than a group of smaller bowls. You can even make some dividers with folded over tin foil to serve several types of snacks in one bowl.

Having a larger party? You can fill your giant bowl with ice so that it becomes a base for a platter of seafood or a bowl of something else that needs to stay cold, like a mayonnaise-based salad at an outdoor barbecue. You can use it as an impromptu ice bucket for bottles of wine or beer or other beverages or tubs of ice cream for dessert.

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After dinner or in the middle of a party, I often leave it on the counter filled with soapy water and use it to wrangle dirty silverware, serving pieces, and small plates or bowls as I clear the table. This allows me to swiftly address cleanup and get back to my guests, and keep the sink clear for larger pots, pans, and serving pieces.

Here is a piece of kitchen equipment that’s a true multi-tasker and deserving of prime pantry real estate. No matter how much space you have—or don’t—an investment in a seriously gargantuan bowl is definitely worth making.

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