Everyone dreams of having a clean kitchen, with lots of space to create art through food. That's why we've made this list of 25 essential kitchen tools. Others will disagree, insisting that X is never useful, or complaining that we didn't include Y.
Plus, depending on what types of cuisine you cook more often, this list might change. For example, we didn't include a wok, but if you cook a lot of stir-fried vegetables, then a wok might be absolutely crucial in your day-to-day life.
So if you're just starting out and need to know what to get, this guide is for you. If you're moving and need to downsize, this guide is for you. Or if you're just trying to give your set-up the finishing touches and aren't sure what essentials you might be missing, this guide is for you. Plus, when you're done, you can take your newfound essentials and try your hand at some easy and delicious recipes. So read on to discover which 25 kitchen tools are absolutely essential.
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The OG of all kitchen tools. Every good chef needs to stir things, and nothing works better than a wooden spoon. Plus, it doesn't bring any metallic taste into the food.
This tool is great for all things breakfast and also for sautéing vegetables. It's an all-purpose utensil that cooks and flips everything with aplomb. As a brunch-lover, I can't omit the godfather of breakfast tools.
This tool is vital for baking especially and also for working with all sorts of semi-solid substances. Think of those early childhood baking memories - where would you have been without one of these? It mixes things, it scoops batter out of the bowl, and it's easy to wash - after you lick it clean, of course.
There are three basic movements that you'll need in a kitchen: stirring things, pouring things out, and grabbing things. You can't grab anything without tongs; it's so incredibly important to have a decent pair of grabbers for basically every situation.
This falls into the aforementioned stirring/mixing category. Sometimes, a spoon just doesn't cut it. There are lumps in that mix, and a spoon doesn't break it up, or mix it well enough. Enter the whisk: It's perfect for everything from eggs to batters to... why do you need another example? This is a total no-brainer.
If you don't bake, you don't need a rolling pin. But then again, if you do bake, a rolling pin is super-helpful. Even if you never use it for baking, it can still be repurposed in a bunch of ways.
On to the electric items: The food processor is a big one, because when you need to quickly chop a lot of things, or blend things to make a sauce, a food processor will save you a lot of time and hassle. Some would put a blender here, and that's a fair option - but in this slot, it's one or the other, and a food processor is simply way more versatile than a blender, which can only, well, blend things.
A stand mixer is another vital electric tool to have in your kitchen equipment arsenal. If you're committed to baking, then you will need one of these. It helps create dough for anything you'll ever bake. Super helpful and another featured kitchen item in childhood kitchen memories.
In a kitchen, you have to measure things. It's one of those irrefutable laws until you get good enough to do everything in dashes and handfuls. Cup measurers are great for liquids, but how do you weigh solids? That's right, a scale. Bam. Usefulness.
This one is pretty self-explanatory in terms of the essentialness of this pan. Sauteing ingredients is one of the bedrocks of cooking - you can't get anywhere as a chef in your kitchen without knowing how to saute and having a pan to do it in.
A cast-iron skillet might very well be the most useful and versatile thing on this list. Its combination of non-stick surface and equal distribution of heat makes it ideal for just about anything. Plus, you can pop it in the oven to create treats like skillet corn bread. Even if you were limited to this pan alone, the possibilities would still be endless.
Some believe that a stock pot isn't entirely necessary; this couldn't be further from the truth. A stock pot is a must-have for boiling water - anytime you need to poach vegetables or make pasta, this is what you need. If you want to make homemade stock with leftover bones (or any other type of broth/sauce/stock), then this is the perfect tool to get the job done!
If you've ever had to cook on a hiking trip without a colander, you'll know exactly how useful this is. Picture trying to drain a dish of its water while keeping your food intact and out of the sink. Having a colander to strain food makes life so much easier that it can be hard to imagine how cooking without one is even possible.
The Dutch oven is to pots what the cast-iron skillet is to pans. Allow us to explain: Its thick base ensures even heat distribution, while the lid keeps heat and flavor locked in. It's perfect for browning meat and making stews (or chili), and it can be used to cook vegetables and rice. Plus, similar to the cast-iron skillet, it's oven-friendly, which means that it's quite easy to make a roast in there, too.
Metal Baking Pan
At some point, you'll want to bake in your kitchen. When that time comes, you'll need a metal baking pan because it's the best way to do cakes, cookies, and other baked treats. (For what it's worth, the cast-iron skillet is in many ways better for bread and some other baking projects.) Simply put, you need a baking pan. Period.
Now we get to the "food prep" section. One of the most important things on that list is a nesting set - a series of different-sized bowls. These bowls are incredibly helpful for mixing things and making things in a bowl. That seems really obvious, but nesting bowls have so many uses that it's hard to enumerate.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't need a billion different cutting boards of all sizes for all your cutting needs. All you need is one big, sturdy cutting board. Make sure there's enough room on the board to move veggies away from the "cutting" area while still remaining on the board. Seriously, get a big cutting board.
You need to measure things in the kitchen, especially if you aren't a master chef quite yet. And in order to measure things, you'll need measuring cups...
...And if you're going to need measuring cups, you'll also need measuring spoons.
And now, the essential sharp things you'll need. This list starts with the versatile chef's knife. It's got a wide range of uses, and it feels great to cut with. A couple of tips: When you first get the knife, hold it with your middle finger at the blade end of the handle, with your thumb and the top joint of your pointer finger pinching the blade. It gives you more control over the blade, and uses the natural balance of the knife to your advantage. Shopping tip: Many of the best chef's knives are made in Japan. When samurai swords fell out of favor, swordsmiths turned their skills to knife-making, and as a result the workmanship and quality are unparalleled.
A paring knife is the yin to the chef knife's yang when it comes to cutting things. One is big, one is small; the chef's knife cuts away from you, the paring knife cuts toward you. This is great for taking the skin off of oranges or making any smaller and more intricate cuts. Most importantly for you, though, is that it's super versatile; basically a smaller chef's knife.
A bread knife is the result of someone bringing a saw into the kitchen and giving it the appropriate handle. Specifically, the bread knife has a bunch of teeth on the blade, giving it more traction in whatever you're cutting. It "rips" more than it "slices" or "chops," making it perfect for bread.
Y-shaped Vegetable Peeler
Peeling vegetables is essential for everything from actually cooking vegetables to peeling apples or getting orange zest for some fancy project. When it comes to peeling vegetables, the Y-shaped peeler is king for its forgiving handle, versatility (it can be used with both hands), and simple effectiveness.
At some point in the kitchen, you'll need to cut things. These can be used for mundane tasks like a pair of scissors, but what makes these different is their extra oomph! in cutting anything from string to skin. Plus, they can be used with either hand, and some models come apart to make cleaning and sharpening each blade that much easier.
With all of your kitchen equipment, it's important to keep things in good shape. Making sure that everything stays clean and in good working condition is a great way to ensure the longevity of your gear, and that's more important with knives than any other piece of equipment. Your knives will lose their edge quickly and start to dull, rendering them practically useless. So, when you use your knives, give them a couple runs at the honing steel first. It'll keep your knives sharp and your cuts more enjoyably smooth and is certainly one of the most important restaurant secrets every home cook should know.
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