In the kitchen, having the right tools are key. The right tools not only make your cooking life easier but are essential for successful meals. I’m going to suggest my favorite tools which I use daily to make my dishes with ease and efficiency. If you follow my guideline of basic tools, I bet you will love cooking even more and your dishes will be even tastier.
Here are my favs:
Must have knives
6 or 8 inch chefs knife
These knives are great for everything. Get friendly with your knife, it won’t hurt you if you treat if properly. Did you know you can go to your local restaurant supply warehouse and buy reasonably priced knives that chefs use? Gone are the days where you have to spend over $100. on one knife. You should also take the time to try knives before you buy them to see which ones fit your hand the best. This can be done at local kitchen store, large department stores, usually anywhere that sells knives will let you try them out.
Its perfect for small jobs and gives you a greater amount of control. Great for delicate fruit, intricate cuts, peeling skin, deveining shrimp and so much more. As a matter of fact, the paring knife is most used out of all knives.
This is the tool you will use every couple of days to keep your knife sharp in between a professional sharpening. You will find plenty of videos online to show you how to hone. By the way, professional sharpening services are available all over, at your local grocery store, farmers markets, kitchen stores and of course cutlery stores. It usually runs about $5-10 per knife and should be done approximately every 3-4 months
Shears are absolutely essential and no kitchen should be with out them. These will help you cut through chicken cooked and raw, cut through bones, open packages and the uses go on.
Obviously for cutting bread but also great for tomatoes, cutting through the rind of melons, shaving chocolate and the only way to slice cakes.
Originating in Japan and now extremely popular everywhere. This knife is known for it’s ease of use and comfortable grip. It has a dimple pattern on the steel which makes quick release of the food you are chopping.
My Favorite Kitchen Essentials
Get a set of 3-8 of these in varying sizes and you will be so happy with all the uses they have. Mixing everything, tossing salads, marinading meats, use it as a double boiler and for storing leftovers. Another use is to have one on your prep station as a garbage bowl. There are many options, I love my stainless steel bowls from the food supply store, they are inexpensive and can be perfectly grouped from 3 to 20 bowls. I also have a few glass bowls which are microwave safe. Forget the plastic bowls they retain color and smell of previous foods and they also breakdown in the dishwasher.
Small mis en place bowls
A must have to organize the smaller portions of prepped food. Separate each item needed for your recipe to make your cooking flow smoothly. It’s great when making a new recipe or one with lot’s of ingredients and heating small items in the microwave.
A must have in my kitchen, Im a huge zester, it adds so much quick flavor to so many dishes. This is also great tool to mince garlic, ginger and even shallots
Glass/Pyrex measuring cup 2 cup
This item must be clear and heatproof. Have several as you will use them all the time.
If your baking you definitely need these. Baking is a science and you can’t pinch this and that, it must be precise.
A must for salad dressing. It is so easy to make your own, check out my dressings tab. Also a good tool for finishing a sauce with a touch of butter or cream, making a roux or a béchamel. Purchase one with thinner wires that is balanced in your hand. Again, go to a gourmet kitchen store before you buy to try these items in your hand. You can also purchase silicon coated whisks to avoid scratching your non stainless pans.
Definitely my go to, you have to have these. They are an extension of your hand. I use mine everyday. Don’t worry about all the different sizes the best ones are the 9 inch OXO. I have about six pair because I use them for everything.
Heat resistant rubber spatula
Perfect all around kitchen tool, use it to cook with, clean the edges of bowls, get things our of the Cuisinart. The heat resistant brands are great to use while cooking. Who needs all those wooden and plastic spatulas!
Ok this is a must for cooking specific foods that need to be removed from liquids.
I love this kitchen utensil when I’m frying or removing blanched vegetables. Actually anything you need to strain is a great use of this tool.
I wash my rice in this. Its also great for rinsing canned goods and draining small kitchen jobs and sifting dry ingredient. You can purchase one in bowl form or one with a handle. I like to have several sizes because there are so many uses for this tool. I like the small size to squeeze lemons as it keeps the seeds from getting into my recipe.
Obvious uses are draining pasta, washing vegetables but this is also a great way to store fruits, potatoes, garlic and shallots on your counter. It helps to circulate the air which will help the items last longer and stay fresh. Keeping your summer garden tomatoes in a colander is a great way to get the best flavor, storing tomatoes in the fridge takes away their flavor
Plastic Cutting Board
Use this board for raw meats only. It’s great because it can be sanitized in the dish- washer.
Wood Cutting Board
I have several but I’m also crazy over cutting boards. I keep one for slicing finished meats, this board has a beveled edge for preventing meat juice from rolling off. I also have a big one on my counter which I use for veggies and anything else I have to portion. Keep a small one for stinky jobs like chopping garlic and anchovies. The small size makes it easy to clean since garlic is something your going to be chopping all the time.
I keep one for just baked goods, one for meats and one for veg. I actually have tons of these because I also love to place my mis en place bowls on them so I don’t have to move 10 bowls from one counter to the next. It’s a time saver. Another tip is line these with parchment paper when your in a hurry to save on clean up time.
Not just for cooling cookies. Use to cook bacon in the oven without having to turn. It’s great for getting meat crispy on both sides when you are cooking breaded chicken in the oven. Or for dry aging meats in the fridge.
This versatile tool is great for delicate fish and sturdy enough to flip a hamburger on the grill. It fits in your hand perfectly, it’s light and perfect for all cooking jobs. It is in my top 5 must haves.
Y Shaped Peeler
A much better alternative than the traditional peeler. It’s easy to use and is er gonomically made to fit your hand. I like the OXO brand.
Obvious use, to slice eggs but turn the sliced egg around and slice again and you have perfectly diced eggs for egg salad in no time. Its also great to slice mushrooms like a pro (however the mushrooms must be fresh)
People this is a must have if you want to cook meats properly. Chefs use them all the time in fact you will usually see one sticking out of a pocket, they are that important. Get the basic easy to read and shatterproof version. They are inexpensive and super important. Forget the expensive versions of meat thermometers unless your a techie an must have the latest coolest tools.
If you want your food to turn out correctly then use a timer.
If you love Salads and leafy greens like I do, then you have to own one of these. I spin my kale for the week and leave it in the spinner to use as needed. It’s a great way to also store cleaned greens, it keeps them fresh.
This tool is great for making quick precise cuts, dough, pesto’s, and my favorite, dressings. If your are uncomfortable emulsifying (big word for incorporating oil into another liquid) then the food processor is going to be your BFF. There are so many different va-rieties to choose from. I love CuisinartCuisinartCuisinartCuisinart but I understand from Americas Test Kitchen that Kitchen Aid got the best rating. Can’t go wrong with advise from ATK. Another note if your break pieces of this machine you can order specific parts from the website.
Perfect for pureeing soups and sauces.
If you want the perfect light fluffy potatoes like in fancy restaurants , this is the only way to make them. This tool incorporates air into your mashed potatoes keeping them light. It’s quick and easy to use.
Super helpful in when you have lots of ingredient. You use it to scoop up your chopped items and easily put them into a mis en place bowl or strait into the pan. It’s also great to clean off the work station. I use mine everyday.
Pot and Pans
Non-stick 10-12 inch with lid, Stock pot with lid
6-10 inch with lid
Cast Iron 10 inch
14 inch Enameled dutch oven