Whether you’re new to cooking, a culinary expert, or simply looking to declutter your kitchen, here is a list of kitchen essentials you will likely use every time you cook. These ten must-have tools will save you time and make cooking so much easier and more enjoyable.
Plastic. Wood. Glass. Large. Small. Handle. No Handle. Lot of options for this kitchen essential, and just as many schools of thought on which is best. Plastic scars and stains easily, making it impossible to clean. Bamboo is eco-friendly, yet its hardness dulls knives easily. Wood is kinder to knives, though it scars as easily as plastic. I use all three in my kitchen.
My picks include a good, sustainably sourced Reversible Wood Cutting Board made of maple. It’s self-healing, which means it doesn’t scar easily and it will last for years. Natural Bamboo Chopping Boards are also an excellent choice, especially when it includes three sizes to manage multiple tasks in the kitchen. The nonporous design on these Gorilla Grip Cutting Boards makes it a perfect choice for plastic and an ideal kitchen tool for everyday use.
Knives are indispensable and having the right ones can change how you feel about cooking altogether. Among all the types of knives you can have, a chef knife and a utility knife are essential, must-haves.
The chef knife is your workhorse and it’s perfect for cutting meat and tackling other tasks like chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing. The Miyabi 8-inch Chef’s Knife is one of the highest rated. It’s an incredibly sharp and well-balanced knife that works on all types of cutting jobs.
The Wusthof Classic 4½” Utility Knife is one of the best on the market and it won’t let you down in the kitchen. It’s ideal for tackling your smaller tasks like cutting a sandwich, mincing shallots, slicing tomatoes, and other tasks too small for a hefty chef knife.
Chefs around the globe rely on wooden spoons over metal and plastic, and it’s easy to see why.
They don’t react with acidic ingredients. They don’t conduct heat. They won’t damage a nonstick cooking surface. They won’t melt. Nothing compares to the timeless, sturdy wood spoon. My pick is the OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Set, which includes the three most essential spoons for your kitchen.
While often the unsung hero in the kitchen, the spoon rest makes the list of essentials for several reasons. Most importantly, it prevents utensils from becoming contaminated with germs and other funky impurities that may be present on your countertop. It also prevents spills and keeps the mess contained, making cleanup a snap.
There’s no one spoon rest that’s better than another. I recommend you find one that matches your décor or speaks to your personality. Find something fun and functional like this Splash Spoon Rest.
If you’re not stirring things while cooking, you’re more than likely flipping it. There are many kinds and sizes of spatulas to help you do that, each with slight variations. At a minimum, I recommend that you keep a sturdy spatula on hand for lifting, flipping, and serving all kinds of foods.
I’m quite fond of my Pampered Chef spatulas. The Mini-Serving Spatula is an all-time favorite. Its’ handy size makes it easier for serving over a long-handled spatula. And the Large Serving Spatula is versatile enough to use for anything I’m cooking, plus it’s dishwasher safe. Gotta like that.
You already own scissors, right? I suggest you keep those in your junk drawer and equip yourself with genuine kitchen shears. Dedicated shears in your kitchen ensures you won’t cross contaminate food with whatever the heck someone may have cut with your basic house scissors. Kitchen shears can take on all kinds of cutting tasks from snipping herbs to opening packages to cutting twine, bones, meat, and veggies. Plus, the stainless-steel blades are rust resistant, so you can pop in the dishwasher to get them super clean for the next use.
If you don’t already have one, I recommend you add this essential tool to your arsenal. The KitchenAid All Purpose Shears is what I use. It’s one the highest rated and very affordable.
Every modern kitchen needs a vegetable peeler. I use mine all the time from peeling potatoes to cleaning cucumbers. I also, ahem, use one for that extra special zest in my evening cocktails. While I’m not suggesting that you buy one of all types like I did, I am suggesting that you have at least one in your kitchen drawer.
For delicate foods, a serrated peeler like the Spring Chef Vegetable Peeler is an excellent choice. It’s affordable and won’t apart soft fruits and veggies. The Y-shaped peeler is ideal when you have lots to skin, like potatoes and carrots. Not only is it comfortable in your hand — left or right — it’s designed to swath cut, leaving more of the vegetable behind. Here’s a good Ceramic Peeler that will help get the job done. You may want to consider the Stainless Citrus Peeler for your home bar. The perfect zest for your cocktails, plus it does double duty in the kitchen removing zest for special dishes.
Having a food thermometer is the only way to ensure you’re killing all the harmful agents that cause salmonella, listeria, E. coli, and other infections and parasites. This simple tool will help prevent food illnesses that can have family and friends running to the bathroom or, worse yet, the hospital.
There a lot of options ranging from disposable pop-ups to old-fashioned leave in dial types to hi-tech wireless digital probes. I prefer a basic, easy to use kind like this Digital Cooking Probe, which gives a 99.99% accurate reading in less than 2 seconds.
Whether mixing ingredients, holding prepped foods in advance of cooking, or storing foods in the fridge, prep bowls keep me organized and make cooking so much easier.
I love the three sizes in the Cuisinart Steel Mixing Bowl Set, each with a lid that’s quite convenient. I also highly recommend this versatile 8-quart Mixing Bowl. I’ve had mine for years and use it for everything from making meatballs to preparing a salad. It’s the first prep bowl I reach for every time.
While I’m notorious for not measuring, I do know the value of having these essentials in the kitchen. Without the right tools, it’s impossible to get the ideal blend of flavors in any dish, every time you cook it. I’m a victim of that, because my family will attest that they rarely get the same meal twice — until now, of course.
For dry measuring, I like the Good Grips Measuring Cups for its comfortable grips, magnetic strips for easier storage, and the ability to toss in the dishwasher for easy clean up. I inevitably lose measuring spoons to the trash or garbage disposal, which is why bright colors and affordable cost of Farberware Measuring Spoons are a perfect choice.
These essentials tools will get you started in the right direction for any recipe. Undoubtedly, you’ll still need to have the right pots, pans, appliances, and other tools. You don’t need to go crazy and buy one of everything out there. All you need is a few good essential pieces. I post Worry-Free Cooking tips with my recipes to give you some good options on these other essential items for your kitchen.