Are you moving out on your own for the first time? Are you about to get married and start a new home with your spouse? Is your new kitchen all stocked and ready? Maybe none of these exciting life changes apply to you and you are just looking forward to maybe updating your old kitchen. Whatever the situation, here are 17 kitchen utensils you must have to make your life in the kitchen much more efficient and enjoyable.
There are some persons who just love the kitchen. They will spend the whole day in that space preparing all kinds of tasty foods. Then there are those of us who would be happy if we could employ a full time cook. We certainly enjoy delicious, healthy meals but we are not necessary overjoyed with the idea of spending hours in the kitchen every day. But here is the reality we have to face.
- We are not all rich to be able to afford a cook.
- If we don’t eat, we will die.
It would seem then that we have no choice but to spend time in the kitchen. If that is the case, we need to ensure that we have the correct tools and equipment so that our kitchen chores will be less tedious. Let’s take a look at 17 such utensils.
Make sure you can find the following items in your kitchen.
What’s a kitchen without knives? Just about every thing you prepare will require some cutting. Some things are hard, some are soft, some are in between but no matter what the texture, you will need a knife to cut it and the knife needs to be sharp. You might think that you only need a sharp knife when cutting hard stuff but that is certainly not the case. You try cutting a tomato with a dull knife and see what happens. You will end up with a soggy, squashed up mess.
So now we know that knives are essential but what type of knives should you get.
There are many different types of knives but you should start out with these three.
This is a multipurpose knife which you will use for maybe 90% of your kitchen tasks. You will use it for all your slicing, dicing, mincing, chopping of your fruits and vegetables and whichever other food your are preparing for cooking.
This is useful for when you want to slice things like bread.
It is also very great for when you want to cut food with slippery surfaces like the tomato. The serrated edge grips the tomato and allows you to slice it easily where other smooth edged knives would tend to slip.
As the name suggests, this knife is ideal for peeling or paring fruits and vegetables. It is the blade of choice for intricate work such as cutting small garnishes, hulling strawberries, removing the seeds from peppers. The paring knife can also be considered an all-purpose knife. You could probably think of it as a baby chef knife.
2. Cutting Board
The topic of knives naturally leads to another must have and that is a cutting board. Every kitchen needs at least one. We know of the importance of the chef knife, the serrated knife and the paring knife but you won’t be able to use them effectively without a cutting board. There are different types of cutting boards made from different material. Just choose the one that is best for you.
3. Vegetable Peeler
What would life be like without the vegetable peeler. It is so easy to peel your carrots, potatoes, apples, pears, cucumbers, broccoli stalk….you name it. I would be less inclined to cook some of my vegetables if I had to peel them with a knife. Although it is called a vegetable peeler, as you can see it is not restricted to vegetables. Take cheese for example which is neither a fruit nor a vegetable. The vegetable peeler makes nice, even shreds of cheese to use in your various cheesy dishes. We can say without reserve that the vegetable peeler, although a simple tool is a very important one in your kitchen.
4. Large Pot with Lid
You need this for your soups, stews, pasta, as well as for boiling potatoes and other root vegetables. It is also good for making stock and is sometimes referred to as a stock pot. If you are cooking for a large group like 8 or so persons, this is your “go to” pot.
5. Saucepan with Lid
The saucepan is very versatile. It can be used to cook your vegetables as well as saute your onions, scallions and garlic. It can be used to prepare food that require very little liquid such as stir-fry mushrooms or lots of liquid such as quinoa.
6. Non-stick Frying Pan
The name says it all. This pot is for all things fried and the non-stick property not only saves you from certain culinary disasters (translated burnt dinner), but washing up is a breeze. Fried potatoes, fried plantain, veggie burgers, even pancakes can be prepared in this frying pan.
Try to purchase stainless steel or iron pots. There are other choices as well but try to stay away from aluminium pots.
7. Mixing Bowls
They are made of many different types of material but stainless steel or glass are good choices. You can start with either one of them. Again, as the name suggests, the mixing bowl is used to mix your ingredients together.
Are you preparing a salad? Cut up your vegetable and mix all together in a mixing bowl.
Are you making pancakes? Mix up your batter in the mixing bowl.
Want to make a punch? No problem. Bring out the old mixing bowl.
You will realize very quickly that you have to take out your mixing bowl almost every time you are preparing meals in the kitchen.
8. Measuring cups and spoons
It goes without saying that you definitely need these tools in your kitchen. Even the most experienced chefs need to use measuring cups and spoons. How on earth will you be able to follow the recipes (like these top 10 vegetarian recipes), if you are not able to measure out the ingredients? Make sure to get your measuring cups and spoons. It may be glass, it may be plastic or even metal. It doesn’t matter which you choose as long as you choose one.
9. Wooden spoon
You will need a spoon to stir your soups and sauces and mix up your ingredients. A wooden spoon is preferred as it will not be affected by the heat or hot oil in your pot. Some plastic spoons might actually start to melt if you put it in oil that is too hot. Also, a wooden spoon will not damage your non-stick surfaces like a metal spoon will.
Ever tried pouring the water off your pasta after you have finished cooking it and trying desperately to keep the pasta in the pot? It’s not an easy task. The pasta keeps slipping out. Well that’s where your colander comes in handy. With this tool, there is no more problem separating your pasta from the cooking water. Of course, it is not only used for pasta. You can use it for any food you want to separate from the liquid it is cooked in.
You also need the colander so that you can easily wash your rice, beans, and also your vegetables.
The strainer is used to separate smaller particles. If you were making fruit or vegetable juice for example, you would use a strainer to separate the pulp or the trash. You would be squeezing the pulp very hard against the strainer to remove all the juice. If the strainer has larger holes like the colander, the pulp would pass right through. You can also use this utensil to sift the lumps out of flour when you are baking.
Do you like soup? You need a ladle to serve it to your bowl. And even if you don’t like soup, you are going to need it for your sauces, stews, liquid and semi liquid foods like porridge.
On the safety side, the tongs put a little distance between you and whatever hot liquid you are dealing with.
A word of caution: when you are frying food (for example) and using your tongs to put the food in the frying pan, please pay attention to what you are doing and do not allow the food to fall out of the tong and into the hot oil. The oil will splash up and out of the frying pan and the end will not be good. I have the scars to prove it.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk more about this tool.
The tongs are used to grip and lift food. They are great for turning tofu and fried plantain. Sometimes when you try to use a spatula to turn the food you are frying it is quite a challenge to get the spatula under the food to flip it but with the tongs, that process becomes easy cheesy.
14. Slotted spoon
The slotted spoon is used to retrieve items from the liquid when you do not want to discard the liquid at that time.
- You can use it to remove french fries from the oil.
- It is used for separating pasta and noodles from boiling water.
- Also, for separating vegetables from broth, gravy, and water.
- Removing foods from sauces.
- For removing canned fruits from sugar syrup
- Removing ice cubes from drinks
This is a utensil that you use to grate food into smaller pieces. The smaller the hole used, the smaller the pieces.
It’s great for shredding raw vegetables such as carrots and beets. This makes a lovely addition to your salads.
It can grate hard things such as coconuts or soft things such as cheese. It can zest your citrus or slice your apples. If you only have one grater, it is best to get the one with the four sides. This will allow you to have multiple functions with just one utensil. Watch out for your fingers though when the food you are grating becomes small in your hands. In your enthusiasm, you might end up grating your fingers.
16. Sheet pan
I don’t know how I would manage without my sheet pan (sometimes called a baking pan). If you have an oven, you are going to need one.
These are some of the things I do in my sheet pan:
- I make my cookies
- I roast my vegetables
- I roast my nuts
- I make granola
- I make potato wedges
You will probably do all of this and more.
17. Pot holder
Last but certainly not least is a pot holder. It might seem like a simple thing and not worth including in this list but you will quickly realize how important it is. Oh yes. The first time you accidentally pick up a hot pot cover or grab a hot pot handle with your bare hands you will certainly know the importance of the humble pot holder.
There you have it. With these 17 “must have” kitchen utensils, you are well equipped to face any cooking challenge which may come your way.
Can you think of others which should be added to this list? Tell us about them in the comments section below.