First off, let me begin by saying that I love kitchen tools. They can make your time in the kitchen more efficient and enjoyable. There are entire stores dedicated to kitchen gadgets but it can easily get out of hand! Unless you have unlimited kitchen storage, you need to simplify your life and your kitchen with this list of 10 essential kitchen tools for every home cook.
1. Chef's knife
There is a wide variety of selection when it comes to knives – including size, shape and price. You want a knife that feels comfortable in your hand and between seven and nine inches in length. You will be able to do everything from dice an onion to slice a watermelon and much more!
2. Silicone spatula
Search for a heat resistant silicone spatula. They are safe to use on non-stick cookware and are great for mixing up muffin batter, cleaning out a peanut butter jar and more. Look for a spatula made out of a single piece for easy cleaning and nowhere for food to hide when it comes time to do the dishes.
3. Digital kitchen scale
Many baking recipes provide their measurements by weight for precision and accuracy. Become a baking pro with a kitchen scale that will readout in pounds/ounces and kilograms/ grams. Choose a scale with a simple profile and one that is easy to clean in the event of a big spill.
4. Microplane or rasp
A rasp, better known as a Microplane (a brand name…like tissues are to Kleenex), is a versatile kitchen tool that won’t take up a lot of space but will get used often. It is great for zesting citrus fruit, whole spices like nutmeg, and topping your pasta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Finish off a decedent chocolate dessert with chocolate shavings or use it to grate a clove of garlic into salad dressing.
5. Kitchen shears
A pair of scissors in the kitchen may seem like a no-brainer -you can open stubborn packages, snip herbs and break down poultry. The handles also have a built in bottle opener and you can use them to crack whole nuts or shellfish. Look for a pair that disassembles for easy clean up. Also, don’t waste your time or money on a pizza wheel...scissors are the way to go!
6. Instant-read thermometer
The most reliable way to cook meat or poultry is with an instant read thermometer. It will ensure perfectly cooked chicken, steak, and more without having to cut into it to “check if it’s cooked.” If you have multiple pieces of meat, you can check the doneness of each piece individually. Once you have taken your reading, ensure you clean the thermometer in hot soapy water. BONUS – look for a thermometer with a built in timer to help you keep track of cooking times.
7. Citrus press
As a lover of citrus, I am very happy with my purchase of a lemon press. Most will also be able to press limes or small oranges as well. It allows you to get more juice from your citrus, it's fast, easy, and it catches the seeds! A helpful trick – to get more juice out of your citrus fruit, roll it on the counter top a few times, pressing gently to break down the fruit slightly.
8. Knife sharpener
Some people can be frightened by the idea of a sharp knife, but it is actually safer to use a sharp knife over a dull one, which is difficult to control and can slip easily. I invested in a knife sharpener this past summer and excitedly laid out all my knives and sharpened them one by one. It made a huge difference! I now sharpen them every 4-6 weeks. Make sure you invest in a sharpener that can do multiple types of knives (chef’s knife, serrated, and Santoku).
9. Vegetable peeler
A kitchen staple for most, a good vegetable peeler can make all the difference in food preparation. Hold the peeler in your hand before purchasing to ensure it is comfortable and easy to hold. As a lefty, I always found peelers would dig into my hands and become uncomfortable after a short amount of time. Look for a peeler that also has a potato eyer to make mashed potato prep a breeze.
10. Cutting boards
Starting with the right foundation for food preparation is key. You should have a least 2 cutting boards, one wooden and one plastic. Use the wooden cutting board for fruits, vegetables and bread. Wood is a porous material and will absorb anything and everything you put on it, so do not use it to prepare raw protein. Wooden cutting boards must be hand washed and dried well. Plastic cutting boards are durable, last long and are usually safe for the dishwasher. Use them to cut up chicken or other raw meat. Lastly, size DOES matter when picking a cutting board. Buy a big one that you can fit onto your counter space. Chopping is much easier when you have plenty of room to slice and dice.
TIP: Find your cutting board is sliding? Look for a board with anti-slip corners/edges, or place a damp kitchen cloth or paper towel under the cutting board to prevent it from moving.