12 Essential Kitchen Tools
If you’re a beginner cook, these are the 12 tools you need to get started. Or if you’ve been cooking a long time, you may want to simplify and pare down to these basics.
The chef’s knife (along with a cutting board) is the workhorse of the kitchen. It’s ideal for slicing and dicing, chopping herbs, onions, garlic, fruits, and vegetables, cutting boneless meats, and general cutting tasks. It even cuts through small bones in chicken and fish.
Colanders and Strainers
Metal and plastic colanders come in a variety of sizes. A large colander works well for draining pasta and salad greens and rinsing vegetables. A small strainer is great for separating fruit juice or pulp from seeds. Mesh strainers are the most versatile because nothing can get through the holes except liquid.
Whether you use a wooden or plastic board, always wash it thoroughly to prevent food contamination. Wipe wooden boards with diluted bleach, and wash thoroughly. Sanitize plastic boards by washing them in the dishwasher.
Use an instant-read thermometer to check meringues, meat, and poultry to be sure they’ve cooked to the correct temperature. Don’t leave the thermometer in the oven while the food is cooking; remove it from the food after you read the temperature.
Keep kitchen shears handy to mince small amounts of herbs, chop canned tomatoes, trim fat from meat, trim skin from poultry, and make slits in bread dough.
Watch our how-to video on using kitchen shears.
Dry measuring cups, available in metal or plastic, are flat across the rim and used for ingredients such as flour, grains, and cereals. Liquid measuring cups, sized from 1 cup to 4 cups, are available in clear glass or plastic so that you can see the level of liquid through the cup.
Sometimes a “pinch of this” and a “dash of that” results in less-than-desired flavor. Measuring spoons ensure that your recipes come out just right.
Use a peeler to remove the skin from both vegetables and fruits. Select one with a comfortable grip and an eyer to removed potato eyes and other blemishes on vegetables and fruits. It’s also handy for making Parmesan cheese shavings and chocolate curls.
See our how-to video on shaving chocolate.
Give your food a bit of pungent flavor with a sprinkle of cracked or freshly ground pepper from a pepper mill. A variety of pepper mills are now readily available in the spice section of the supermarket or in the kitchen wares department of discount stores.
Stainless Steel Box Grater
A box-style grater gives you a choice of hole sizes. Use the smaller holes for grating hard cheese or chocolate and the largest holes for shredding foods like Cheddar cheese or carrots.
Whisks in assorted sizes are ideal for beating eggs and egg whites, blending salad dressings, and dissolving solids in liquids. They are essential for making creamy sauces. Whisks are available in both stainless steel and nylon; the nylon ones won’t scratch nonstick surfaces.