Having the right kitchen tools can make cooking easier, more enjoyable, and much more efficient. While it’s tempting to fill your kitchen with every interesting new gadget, most home cooks only need a handful of essential tools in their arsenal.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the 10 must-have kitchen tools that every cook should invest in. Whether you’re equipping your first kitchen or paring down an overcrowded drawer, this essential toolkit checklist will help you gain the hardware needed to take your home cooking game up a notch.
Quality Chef’s Knife
The most important tool in any kitchen is a good chef’s knife. This versatile kitchen knife lets you chop, slice,dice, and prep ingredients quickly and safely. A quality chef’s knife is a cook’s best friend.
When choosing a chef’s knife, look for one with:
- High-carbon stainless steel blade – holds an edge well
- Comfortable grip and weight – well-balanced in your hand
- 8-10 inch length – ideal for most tasks
- Full tang – blade extends into the handle for durability
Brands like Wüsthof, Henckels, and Shun make excellent chef’s knives that will last years if properly honed and sharpened. While pricey, a good chef’s knife is worth the investment for everyday food prep tasks. But how kitchen knives want to stay sharp all the time, they need to be well taken care of.
A good cutting board is also essential for protecting your counters and knives. Cutting boards come in wood, plastic, rubber, and more.
Wood boards are gentle on knife edges but require more maintenance to avoid splitting. Popular woods choices are maple, walnut, cherry, and teak.
Plastic boards stands up well to meat juices and can go in the dishwasher. Look for harder plastics like polyethylene or polypropylene vs soft ones that scar easily.
Rubber boards are gentle on knives but tend to retain odors. They work well for meat prep.
No matter the material, look for a large board with at least a 16 x 20 inch surface area. A decent board starts around $20. Hand wash and air dry cutting boards to prolong their life. Oil wood boards periodically with food-safe mineral oil.
Having a variety of mixing bowls is useful for tossing salads, making salad dressings, blending ingredients, and more. Good mixing bowls nest for compact storage.
Look for mixing bowls that are:
- Microwave and oven safe
- Non-reactive stainless steel or glass
- Nesting sizes from 1-5+ quarts
- Durable with some heft – not thin plastic
Quality nested mixing bowls provide the essential sizes for everything from mixing to serving. Stock your kitchen with this kitchen essential.
Measuring Cups and Spoons
Accurate measuring cups and spoons are crucial for baking success and portion control. Look for durable, legible measuring tools:
Dry measuring cups – stainless steel cups for flour, sugar, etc.
Liquid measures – clear graduated cups with spouts.
Measuring spoons – sets with 1⁄4 tsp, 1⁄2 tsp, 1 tsp, and 1 Tbsp.
Stainless steel provides durability. Get a second set just for baking ingredients like flour and sugar to avoid cross-contamination.
Baking pans like sheet pans, muffin tins, and cake pans make baking everything from cookies to roasted veggies a breeze. Here are some top pans:
Rimmed baking sheets – Also called sheet pans, essential for cookies, roasting meats and veggies. Look for heavy-gauge aluminum.
8×8” baking pan – Perfect for brownies, bars, and small batches of baked goods. Stainless steel or aluminum.
9×13” pan – Larger for casseroles, cakes, banana bread. Glass or metal.
Muffin tin – A 12-cup standard tin is useful for muffins and cupcakes. Nonstick surfaces help baked goods release easily.
Loaf pan – Essential for banana bread, meatloaf and more. Look for light metals that bake evenly.
Quality baking pans distribute heat evenly for better results. Invest in pans with some heft that will last for years.
Stainless Steel Skillet
A good stainless steel skillet is one of the most versatile pans in any kitchen. With its larger surface area, a skillet excels at searing, frying, simmering sauces, and more.
Stainless steel is durable, withstands high heat, and distributes heat evenly. A 10 or 12-inch skillet with an aluminum core or bottom cladding is ideal for everyday cooking. Brands like All-Clad and Viking make excellent stainless skillets meant to last a lifetime.
For nonstick cooking, a nonstick pan is also useful for eggs, pancakes, and other delicate foods.
A small 2-3 quart saucepan is indispensible for boiling pasta, cooking grains, making oatmeal, and simmering sauces. Like skillets, stainless steel is the best choice for even heating.
Look for a saucepan with:
- Tight-fitting lid
- Helper handle opposite the main handle
- Pour spouts are useful when draining
A good saucepan can tackle everything from cooking hard boiled eggs to preparing canned beans. They’re kitchen workhorses.
Once you’ve boiled pasta or veggies in your saucepan, a colander is essential for draining water. Colanders come in both metal and plastic.
For durability, we recommend a stainless steel colander. Look for one with:
- Feet to elevate it in the sink
- Folding handles for compact storage
- At least 4-quart capacity
A good colander makes draining pasta and rinsing fruits and veggies much easier. The perforations won’t clog like cheaper plastic models.
Food Storage Containers
Storing leftovers is easier with good food storage containers. They keep food fresh longer, allow you to prep ingredients ahead, and prevent waste. The best containers are:
- Airtight to prevent leaks
- Durable plastic or glass
- Microwave and dishwasher safe
- Variety of sizes, from single-serve to family-size
Brands like OXO, Pyrex, and Rubbermaid offer quality storage containers perfect for saving leftovers, marinating meat, and prepping veggies.
More Essential Kitchen Tools
Round out your essential toolkit with these handy extras:
- Wooden spoons & spatulas – Essential for cooking, these are gentle on nonstick pans.
- Kitchen utensils like tongs, a whisk, and slotted spoon – Useful for serving, mixing, and cooking.
- Oven mitts & pot holders – Protect hands from burns when cooking. Look for longer mitts offering more coverage.
- Kitchen scale – Useful for consistent baking and portioning ingredients. Digital scales provide precision.
- Can opener – A handheld opener tackles cans of beans, tomatoes, and more.
- Salad spinner – Quickly dry lettuce and greens for healthier salads.
- Immersion blender – Blend soups in the pot for quick pureeing.
- Garlic press – Minces garlic quickly for recipes.
- Paring knife – Small knives handle tasks like peeling fruit.
With high quality versions of these everyday essentials, you’ll gain the kitchen tools needed to cook smarter meals at home.
Shopping for Kitchen Tools on a Budget
Quality cooking tools don’t have to cost a fortune. Here are some tips for equipping your kitchen while sticking to a budget:
- Check restaurant supply stores for deals on commercial-grade tools.
- Scan thrift stores and yard sales for castoff quality pieces.
- Invest in multi-purpose tools like an air fryer/toaster oven combo.
- Buy tools like measuring cups/spoons in multi-packs.
- Choose lighter nonstick aluminum pans vs pricier stainless steel.
- Opt for smaller or fewer tools if storage is limited.
- Register for sought-after tools like stand mixers as gifts.
With careful selection, you can outfit your kitchen with professional-level gear at affordable prices. Focus first on the true cooking essentials for your needs. Quality tools don’t have to break the bank.
The Essential Kitchen Toolkit
Equipping your kitchen with quality cooking tools makes creating delicious home-cooked meals a joy rather than a chore. With a well-stocked arsenal of essential equipment, you’ll gain the hardware needed for kitchen success.
Invest first in these 10 must-have kitchen tools:
- Chef’s knife – The versatile chopping workhorse
- Cutting board – Protects knives and counters
- Mixing bowls – For mixing, serving, and prep
- Measuring cups and spoons – For baking accuracy
- Baking pans – For cookies, cakes, roasting, and more
- Stainless steel skillet – All-purpose frying and searing
- Saucepan – For boiling, simmering, and steaming
- Colander – Draining pasta, produce, and more
- Food storage containers – For saving leftovers and prepping
- Handy utensils – Wooden spoons, tongs, turners, mitts
With these kitchen workhorses ready for action, you’ll be prepped for success whether baking cookies, cooking eggs, or boiling pasta. Proper tools make the difference between kitchen frustration and culinary creativity.
What essential kitchen tools do you rely on daily for cooking at home? Share your must-have list with us in the comments!