If you’re trying to expand your kitchen arsenal, I’ve pulled together a list of what are (in my opinion) the best kitchen tools that every home cook should own. While it doesn’t cover all of the tools I recommend, this is a list of kitchen items that I use on a regular basis, and they’ve made my life so much easier!
Let’s dive right in. I’m not going to cover the most basic items like measuring cups and spoons. If you’re reading this, my hope is that you already have the essentials. I’m also not covering kitchen equipment like skillets, saucepans and blenders (I’ll get to those another time).
Instead, I’m sharing a list of 15 kitchen tools I think you should own because they’ll enhance your cooking skills. Not only do the right kitchen tools improve your capabilities, they make cooking easier and more fun.
The Best Kitchen Tools
Please Note: None of the items here are sponsored, but I have included affiliate links. This means I get a small percentage if you decide to purchase through my links, at no additional cost to you.
1. A Sharp, Solid Chef’s Knife
My Recommendation: Wüsthof Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
Having a well-made, sharp chef’s knife is extremely important. Sharpness is critical, because it will help you avoid injuries. People are confused by this idea, because wouldn’t a sharper knife lead to a more severe injury?
Think of it like this: a sharp knife will slice through a firm carrot like it’s a tomato. A dull knife is more likely to get stuck, forcing you to press harder and possibly causing a slip. This is when things go horribly wrong.
Unfortunately, you’ll never get the same quality and sharpness from a $20 chef’s knife as you will from a high-end brand, which can cost you up to $100 or more. However, it’s one of the best kitchen investments you’ll ever make. There are plenty of other great knives worth investing in (paring knives and serrated bread knives, for example), but none are more all-purpose than the chef’s knife.
While I’m recommending a Wüsthof knife because it’s a great brand, I’m also a fan of Global and Hammer Stahl knives. Different brands have different weights and feels to them, so I recommend visiting a kitchen supply store and trying some out before making the investment.
2. A Digital Kitchen Scale
My Recommendation: OXO Good Grips Kitchen Scale
If you love to bake, a kitchen scale is extremely important, and it won’t break the bank. You can’t get reliable and consistent results in your baked goods if you use cup measurements. You want to weigh things like sugar and flour by weight. I have an entire article devoted to why this is so important: How to Measure Flour Correctly.
3. A Digital Thermometer
My Recommendation: Polder Digital In-Oven Thermometer
Want to make sure your steak cooks perfectly every time? Tired of worrying about whether your chicken is safely cooked? Take away the guesswork and buy a digital thermometer.
There are all sorts of kitchen thermometers available, but I’m partial to the probe versions with built-in alerts. You can set the temperature to 165 degrees F (the correct internal temperature of cooked chicken), and then walk away. It will tell you when the chicken is ready.
I also use this in place of a candy thermometer, which I need for making my Italian Meringue Buttercream.
4. Kitchen Tongs
My Recommendation: OXO Good Grips Locking Tongs with Nylon Heads
Kitchen tongs are a great multi-purpose tool. I use them constantly- for turning meat and vegetables as they cook, tossing together salad and pasta ingredients, removing vegetables from boiling water, and more. Think of them as your second pair of hands.
5. Kitchen Shears
My Recommendation: OXO Good Grips Multi-Purpose Kitchen & Herbs Scissors
I’m recommending scissors? Yes, yes I am. Not a day goes by where I don’t use them. For opening difficult packaging, quickly trimming fat, snipping fresh herbs, etc… While you can technically use any scissors to do these things, kitchen shears can be easily taken apart for a more sanitary cleaning.
6. A Microplane Zester
My Recommendation: Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater
This is another tool I constantly use. It’s great for zesting citrus, but microplane zesters have many uses. If you want to grate cheese so finely that it melts into pasta, you need this. Use it for whole spices like nutmeg, finely grating chocolate over a dessert, or creating a paste out of aromatics like garlic and ginger.
7. A Slotted Spatula
My Recommendation: Berndes Slotted Spatula
Once I discovered this particular spatula, I was hooked. It’s perfect for caramelizing onions, as well as any other technique where you need to deglaze a pan. Use it for flipping ingredients, sautéing, stews, and more.
The slots are an added bonus if you need to lift something out of a pan while leaving the liquids behind (a chicken breast, for example).
This is not the only spatula I own, but it’s the one I use the most. However, I also use a fish spatula (the thin stainless steel end makes it easy to lift up a delicate filet without damaging it), and a heatproof silicone spatula for scraping bowls and stirring sauces (I rarely use wood spoons). There’s also the offset spatula, which I’ll cover below.
8. A Silicone Whisk
My Recommendation: Cuisinart Silicone Whisk
I prefer using silicone whisks for many reasons. Mainly, I like that I can push the whisk firmly against the bottom of a saucepan while stirring without any concern about damage.
Sometimes ingredients can start cooking onto to the bottom of the pan, and you won’t notice they’re burning until it’s too late (for example, this could happen while making homemade pudding or vegetable soups). Using a silicone whisk makes it easier to prevent this. Also, if ingredients gets stuck inside the whisk, it’s easy to separate the sections to remove them.
9. A Sharp Vegetable Peeler
My Recommendation: Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Peeler
Do you have trouble peeling tough-skinned vegetables because your vegetable peeler keeps getting stuck? Do you have to press so hard it feels like a safety hazard? Toss that thing and get a new, sharp vegetable peeler. A good peeler should work effortlessly, even on extra firm peels like winter squash.
10: Fine Mesh Strainers
My Recommendation: Cuisinart Fine Mesh Strainer Set
Fine mesh strainers are good for so many uses, such as straining soups and sauces or quickly removing seeds and pulp from citrus. You can also sometimes use them in place of a colander.
11. Citrus Juicer
My Recommendation: OXO Good Grips Citrus Juicer
A citrus juicer is a time saver, and it prevents ingredient waste. I can get so much more juice out of a lime if I use this tool. Citrus juicers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but I prefer the ones with a container to catch the liquid.
The juicer I’m recommending from OXO also includes measurement lines on the side so I can see when I’ve reached the exact amount of liquid I need for my recipe.
12. Fitted Oven Gloves
My Recommendation: The Ove Glove
Having a heat-resistant oven glove that shapes to my hands and fingers gives me so much more control than a classic oven mitt. My personal favorite, The Ove Glove, also has a nonstick grip.
13. Ruled Bench Scraper
My Recommendation: AmazonBasics Stainless Steel Bench Scraper & Chopper
A bench scraper is mainly useful for bakers, and I consider it an essential baking tool. Use it for cutting, lifting and moving dough around the counter, scraping away excess flour or other assorted messes, and cleaning excess dough off your rolling pin.
The ruler is an added bonus, since many recipes list specific size measurements (cookies, vegetables, meat, tofu, etc).
14. Offset Spatulas
My Recommendation: Wilton Offset Spatula Set
Anyone who likes to bake on a regular basis should really consider this magical tool. Use it to smooth and level batter in a pan before it goes into the oven, quickly separate ingredients that stick to the sides of bakeware, and perfectly frosting a cake.
15. It’s a Tie: Cookie Scoops and Round Cookie Cutters
My Recommendation: Norpro 1-Tablespoon Stainless Scoop Set
If you want perfectly round, portioned cookies, use a cookie scoop instead of a regular kitchen spoon. You can also use it to portion out muffin batter or any baked goods that need to be evenly divided.
My Recommendation: K&S Artisan Round Biscuit Cookie Cutter Set
Cookie cutters are useful for a variety of baked goods, not just cookies. For example, use them with my buttermilk biscuits.
I hope this roundup of the best kitchen tools has been helpful! If I could go back in time, these are exactly the tools I wish I had known about in the beginning. You don’t have to purchase everything at once. Build up your kitchen arsenal over time at a pace that’s reasonable for your budget.
You can find more of my favorite kitchen tools and equipment in my online shop.