There are a lot of gadgets, tools and accessories for your kitchen. From fancy stand mixers to basic knife sets, it’s not always easy to know what you actually need. The easiest way to stock your kitchen is to start with the essentials. Be ready to cook almost any meal with these eight must-have kitchen tools.
1. Chef’s Knife
A chef’s knife is one of the most important kitchen tools you’ll ever own. You can use your chef’s knife to chop, cut and slice almost anything in the kitchen. A chef’s knife can be used with virtually any recipe that involves cutting, so you should consider investing in a quality knife. A good quality knife can be expensive upfront. However, you’ll probably get years of use out of your one high-quality knife, instead of replacing a lower quality knife more often.
2. Cutting Boards
You don’t want your new, sharp knife going through your kitchen counters. Cutting boards help protect your countertops from sharp blades when you’re slicing or chopping. They most commonly come in plastic or wooden varieties.
Cutting boards aren’t only for cutting, however. They make great surfaces for prepping meals, especially raw meats or messy ingredients. Clean-up is easy with a cutting board — simply take the board to the trash to dispose of scraps, then easily wash it with soap and water. Your counter will probably only need a quick wipe and your kitchen is clean again.
3. Kitchen Shears
Kitchen shears are heavy-duty scissors that can handle most kitchen-related cutting needs. You can use them to snip off the ends of fresh herbs, open packages or even trim excess fat off of a piece of meat. Your shears are likely to become one of your favorite kitchen tools as you reach for them again and again.
Look for a pair of shears that are designed to be taken apart for cleaning. This makes it much easier to get rid of buildup in between the blades and handles. Try shopping for your chef’s knife and kitchen shears at one time and consider buying a knife set. Many knife sets come with a variety of knife types — including a chef’s knife — as well as a pair of kitchen shears.
4. Mixing Spoons
Having an array of mixing spoons will make stovetop cooking much easier. You can find sets of mixing spoons at a variety of price points to fit any budget. They usually come in plastic, metal or wooden. Try to find a set that has a stirring spoon and a slotted spoon.
Stirring spoons look like oversized regular spoons with no holes or angles cut into the curved portion. Slotted spoons have holes or rectangular cutouts in the curved portion. You can use a slotted spoon to drain liquids from solids, such as removing cooked pasta from boiling water.
5. Measuring Cups and Spoons
You might be the type of cook who likes to eyeball ingredients, but it’s still a good idea to have a set of measuring cups and spoons around. Measuring cups are ideal for larger portions or ingredients, such as a cup of flour. Measuring spoons help you get precise measurements for smaller quantities, like a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Don’t forget to grab a set of liquid measuring cups as well. These cups are designed specifically to measure liquids like water or cooking oils. You’ll need a liquid and a dry measuring cup set to get the right levels of different types of ingredients.
6. Mixing Bowls
You can mix up your favorite dish if you don’t have something to mix ingredients in. Mixing bowl sets make it easy to get a variety of preparation dishes. Use mixing bowls to combine ingredients or separate different parts of a recipe.
You can choose from metal, plastic or glass mixing bowls. Some bowls include lids that can be used to store ingredients for prepping, such as bread dough while you wait for it to rise. Most mixing bowl sets come with several size bowls that nest into one another. This makes it easy to store your bowls, even if you’re short on space.
You’ll need something to make your next meal in, and a sturdy lineup of skillets is a great option. Start by looking for a nonstick skillet. This type of skillet has a coating on the inside of the pan that helps stop food from sticking to the bottom. They’re often lightweight and easy to clean, so you save time on scrubbing once you’re done cooking.
You should also consider a cast iron skillet. Although heavy, a cast iron skillet is easy to clean and incredibly durable. Most modern cast iron pans and skillets also come pre-seasoned, which means they’re nonstick from the start. The more you use your skillet, the more nonstick it should become.
8. Fire Extinguisher
You probably spend a lot of time in your kitchen working with hot oils, grease and stovetops. All of these can be a fire hazard. You should always be aware of fire safety when working in the kitchen to help prevent kitchen fires from starting. If a fire does start, be sure you know how to properly put out the fire and when to evacuate the situation.
A fire extinguisher could be the difference between a damaged stove and serious fire damage to your home. Make sure everyone in your home who’s able knows how to use the fire extinguisher and where it’s located. You should also regularly check your extinguisher to ensure it’s in good condition and hasn’t expired.