Kitchen tools are not only essential for unlocking different recipes in your cookbooks but they can also make your life easier. But there’s a limit to which ones you actually need because as useful as they are in certain situations, they can also weigh you down and clutter your kitchen.
Needless to say, you don’t have to spend your paycheck on countless kitchen gadgets to be a good cook. A good cook knows it’s not all about gadgets. But there are some pieces of equipment that come in handy in a lot of situations and are worth investing in to increase the quality of the time you spend while cooking.
Let’s talk about what kitchen tools you actually need. In this list, you’ll find the stuff that are an absolute necessity, along with a few reasonably-priced extras that will make you enjoy cooking even more.
1. A Chef’s Knife
We know that a knife is a staple in every kitchen, but we wanted to include it as an entry in our list to underline the importance of a good chef’s knife. It’s super obvious, but if you don’t have it, you might be in trouble because a good chef’s knife is essential for a) improving your chopping game and b) getting consistent results when cutting food items. If your knife isn’t high-quality, it can work against you when you’re cooking.
And since it’s so important, it’s worth spending some money to get a nice one. But the price is not the sole indicator of a quality chef’s knife. The best knife for you should also feel comfortable in your hand as it’s the one tool you’ll be reaching out for the most. Plus, keeping your knife in good condition is as important as getting a good one. If you have a habit of throwing it in a drawer randomly with other tools, you can dull your blades and more importantly hurt yourself. For that, you might consider developing a safe knife storage system for your knife arsenal. So, spend some time on getting a good knife for yourself and create a system for storing it nicely to keep it (and yourself) in mint condition.
2. A Wooden Cutting Board
There are many different cutting boards out there but nothing can replace a good and sturdy wooden cutting board. Wooden cutting boards take the cake for a couple of reasons — first, they allow you to chop food without dulling your knife, and second, they’re not only aesthetically pleasing and look decorative on your counter but they also give you a nice big surface to work on.
Plus, they can practically last forever if you take care of them properly, which includes oiling them from time to time and storing them cleaned and dry to prevent mold.
3. A Microplane
The most common way to grate food in the kitchen is with a grater, but a Microplane grater makes it all the more fun because it produces those nice and delicate shreds that just aren’t achievable using anything else. It’s really an all-purpose tool that you can use to grate garlic, ginger, citrus zest, hard cheeses, chili peppers, chocolate, and much more.
When you use a Microplane instead of a regular grater to top your spaghetti, you end up with such fine pieces of parmesan that you won’t ever want to go back to a regular grater.
4. A Kitchen Scale
If you consider yourself someone who’s good at eyeballing when cooking your usual weekly menu — that’s great, kudos to you! But if you don’t have a kitchen scale you might not be able to follow some exquisite recipes that require strict precision.
For example, if you want to make fermented foods where the ratio of the ingredients can make or break the recipe, or get into bread-making (baking is a philosophy in itself, or should we say, science, based on how closely you need to follow the recipes), you have to be precise to provide those friendly living organisms with the perfect habitat for delicious outcomes.
Plus, a kitchen scale helps you keep track of what you eat and helps you be more mindful of how much of what goes into your dishes.
5. A Pair of Kitchen Tongs
If you’re not used to using a pair of kitchen tongs you might be missing out on the ease of grabbing virtually anything. They’re great for flipping meat, mixing salads, serving pasta, and more. It’s like having an extra pair of silicone hands to get creative with.
6. Mortar and Pestle
A mortar and pestle made from natural stone is an essential tool for any home cook, plus it’ll look fantastic on your shelves. It’s an ancient kitchen tool, but it’s still used today for a bunch of purposes, like crushing nuts or grinding dry herbs, as well as preparing some nicely textured pastes and dips, such as this Thai green curry paste we love. You can also make pesto, guacamole, hummus, and many other amazing recipes.
The grinding releases all of the flavors and aromas from the ingredients and you’re always in total control of the smoothness or chunkiness of everything you’re preparing. If you’re wondering what kind is best for you, check out our review on the best mortar and pestle sets as well as our guide to choosing the best type of mortar and pestle.
7. Cast Iron Skillet
A nice cast iron skillet will give you an evenly heated surface, perfect for all kinds of culinary acrobatics — sautéing, searing, braising, pan-frying, broiling, and roasting. Nothing can compare to a cast iron’s skillet heating capacity and properties. It makes everything you cook juicy and delicious, especially meat. If you’ve heard that it’s hard to maintain a cast-iron skillet you might be turned off, but compared to the benefits you’re getting, it’s really not much of an effort.
8. Baking Dish
Baking dishes are great for making many tasty dishes — comfort foods like lasagna and baked mac and cheese included. They are functional, practical, easy to clean, and you don’t have to get too fancy with them as any material will work well, though typically, tempered glass and ceramic ones perform best.
9. Fine Mesh Strainer
Fine mesh strainers are not just for straining liquids. They also come in handy for sifting flour, steaming vegetables, poaching eggs, or even making homemade fresh cheese (yum!). A good fine mesh strainer should be made of stainless steel to keep it durable. The ones that come with a hook on the opposite side of their handle are great for placing over pots when you’re steaming vegetables.
10. Measuring Cups
There’s a saying that goes “you can’t improve what you don’t measure”. Measuring cups are pretty standard tools to have in a kitchen but they are especially important if you want to follow precise recipes. Sure you can make a Spanish omelet by eyeballing the ingredients with no hustle after some trial and error, but if you ever get the itch to make something more elaborate, or bake, measuring cups are essential. Moreover, they are also great for calorie-conscious meal preparation.
11. Silicone Spatulas
Have you ever seen a person cooking with a metal spoon on a non-stick pan? Well, we know the pain of realizing that your brand new pan has been ruined, so we’ll do our best to keep anyone from approaching a non-stick skillet with a metal spoon.
Aside from the fact that they’re gentle with nonstick skillets and the fact they come in handy when you’re mixing batter for cake, a silicone rubber spatula also works wonders for scraping the bottom of pans and pots to eliminate waste.
12. Container Set
We talked about all the tools you need to prepare amazing meals at your home, but food storage is just as important as meal preparation. That’s why you need a set of plastic containers. The ones we think work the best are reusable BPA-free plastic ones because you can just purchase them in bulk. They fit perfectly together one in another, so they’re also easy to store and will save you some space.
Over and Out!
Today we shared what we find to be the essential utensils to make your life easier in the kitchen. We know that it’s a poor craftsman who blames the tools, but with the help of some of these high-quality, general-purpose tools, you can make your cooking experience more enjoyable and quickly improve the quality of the dishes you prepare. And it’s always inspiring and encouraging to have good results to share with your family and friends or enjoy what you prepare yourself.
Although it’s always good to keep an eye open for ways to make your cooking more convenient, the key is to do it wisely. Remember that as tempting as it is to get very specific tools for every occasion, that will eventually clutter your kitchen.
Last Updated on May 16, 2022