Setting up a new kitchen? Trying to pare down an overload of gadgets? Check out our guide to what you’ll actually use in the kitchen.
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When it comes to kitchen gadgets, I can go a little crazy. Walking down the cooking tools aisle at a store, specialty tools like avocado peelers, strawberry hullers, or a teensy-tiny wooden spoon always call my name. Unfortunately, because I don’t have space or the budget to indulge in these semi-impractical kitchen tools, I have to streamline my batterie de cuisine to just the essentials. But what about those essentials every cook should have? Whether you’re looking to minimize your kitchen clutter or start stocking your space from scratch, here are the tools every home cook needs.
2 Chef’s Knife
A good knife is a chef’s best friend. This is one of the few things that you’ll thank yourself for investing in. Carbon-plated stainless steel will stay sharp over time but go to a specialty store to find the best match for you. Choose a knife that you feel comfortable handling. It should feel balanced in your hand, easy to hold and control, not too heavy, but definitely not flimsy. Believe us, you’ll be using it a lot, so take good care of it.
3 Metal Spatula
A sturdy metal (or high-quality plastic) spatula is vital for flipping, tossing, and serving all kinds of foods. Think eggs over easy, puffy pancakes, roasted veggies, sauteed meats, baked salmon…we could go on.
4 Silicone Spatula
A silicone spatula is crucial for scraping out the food processor or the sides of the mixing bowl, swirling frosting onto a cake, or folding egg whites into a cake batter. Make sure your spatula is silicone and not rubber, or else it may risk melting under high heat. If you make lots of garlicky things, you may want to have a separate spatula for sweet baking only.
Sturdy metal whisks come in all shapes and sizes. Choose a mid-sized whisk with a handle that fits comfortably in your hand. Use it to mix dry ingredients together before baking, stir eggs for a frittata or emulsify a vinaigrette.
6 Slotted Spoon
Whether it’s wooden or metal, a perforated (or slotted) spoon acts like a miniature strainer, removing solids from liquids—think pulling potatoes or small pasta noodles from boiling water.
7 Kitchen Shears
Super basic, super useful. Every day, you’ll reach for shears to open up the packaging, snip away herb stems, or trim fat from meats. Once in a while, you might use them to cut up a whole chicken or trim the crust off a pie. Look for a pair that dismantles for cleaning, so gunk doesn’t build up in the hinge.
For a few bucks, you can buy a cheap pair of metal tongs that’ll last you a lifetime. I’m always finding new uses for mine, from turning chicken breasts in the pan to reaching into the oven to check on my roast. (Basically, think of them as extensions of your fingers.) They’re also great for serving family-style at dinner.