When I moved into my first apartment, my kitchen was a sad sight and mostly included a collection of second-hand plates, glassware, cookware, and utensils from the local thrift store. I needed an essential kitchen tools guide, but the internet wasn't available back then. So I forged my way through the best I could, and eventually what started as a collection of odds-and-ends turned into a full-on, well-stocked kitchen.
With so many products on the market, it's hard to know what are essential kitchen tools and what you might only use from time to time. Below are the essentials for any starter kitchen, items that I use in my own home kitchen every day, or at least once a week.
What this list includes: Kitchen gadgets and utensils that are needed in an everyday, well-stocked kitchen.
What this list doesn't include: Cast iron skillets, dutch ovens, sheet pans, baking dishes, storage containers, paper towels, and kitchen equipment such as immersion blenders, slow cookers, stand mixers, and food processors.
Every kitchen needs three knives: a Chef's knife to do the bulk of your cutting, a serrated knife for cutting bread, and a paring knife for slicing or mincing smaller items. You can buy a knife block that has all of these, or you can opt to mix-and-match.
The Victorinox Fibrox Chef's Knife is a great budget option, with a super sharp blade and able to handle all of your all-purpose cutting needs! Victorinox also makes a very affordable, very sharp paring knife.
I wouldn't spend too much money on a bread knife, because unlike other types of knives this one can't be easily sharpened. The Mercer Culinary 10-inch serrated knife is the one I got in culinary school.
It's an excellent knife for slicing bread, as well as cutting tomatoes if your Chef's knife is dull.
If you're looking to break the bank and get all the knives, plus a beautiful knife block, this Zwilling J.A. Henckles Twin Pro S 7-piece knife set will cover all of your needs.
You'll get four top-of-the-line knives that are well respected by professional chefs, plus a set of kitchen shears and honing steel.
However, if you're a home cook on a budget and are solely looking for the basics, this HENCKELS Forged Premio Starter Knife Set has the three knives you need to start off your kitchen.
2. Cutting Boards
To go along with your new, sharp knives, you're going to need some cutting boards! They come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. I like my bamboo wooden cutting boards for veggies and plastic cutting boards for proteins.
This set of three bamboo cutting boards comes in three sizes for all of your cutting needs.
If you want to get crazy with it, order a cutting board cut into the shape of your state. Show your Texas pride with this Prime shipping item.
3. Mixing Bowls
Mixing bowls are essential kitchen tools. Just try mixing a cake without them! They come in many different materials, but I prefer my glass mixing bowls. They're easy to clean, heat resistant, dishwasher safe, and don't react to any food products.
These Pyrex glass mixing bowls come with lids, are microwave-, dishwasher-, and oven-safe. Mix, cook, and store in this set.
4. Measuring Cups & Spoons
Again, try to make a cake without measuring cups and measuring spoons. You're going to have a bad time. I look for a set that is easy to store and can be washed in the dishwasher.
Metal sets aren't as sexy as their colorful plastic counterparts, but they last longer and are easier to clean.
This metal set has a nifty ring to keep all of your measuring tools together, and they're stackable to save space.
Don't forget your liquid measuring cup. I love this Oxo Good Grips angled measuring cup with Prime shipping because you can see your measurement from above as well as from the side.
5. Can Opener
While some people favor an electric can opener, I've found that there's nothing better than a sturdy and reliable manual can opener.
You're going to have a hard time opening that can without one of these gadgets!
Some people swear by their electric can openers, but I love the OXO Good Grips Soft-Handled Can Opener.
From draining pasta to washing veggies, I use my colander almost every day. I have a plastic one for draining pasta, washing canned beans, and rinsing off vegetables because it's easy to clean.
I have a set of fine-mesh strainers for the heavy-duty straining, like getting all of the sediment out of my homemade chicken broth.
The KitchenAid Plastic Strainer Colander is classic and functional, and it has subtle notes of pistachio color! This also works just fine instead of a salad spinner.
It's a great colander that will last a long time and has handles for ease of use.
These Cuisinart Stainless Steel Strainers come in a set of three.
They're great for sifting dry ingredients, as well as straining out fine sediment. Extra bonus: They stack for easy storage!
7. Vegetable Peeler
I not only use my peeler for peeling vegetables, but I also use it for prepping salads. I love shaved asparagus on my salads! It's much more efficient than using a normal box grater.
I especially love this Precision Kitchenware Stainless peeler because it has two sides: one for peeling, and one for julienning.
You can use the julienne side to make noodles from zucchini, carrots, and asparagus.
8. Spoons, Whisks, Spatulas, and Tongs
All of these things are necessary if you're planning to cook anything. House them up in a nice utensil basket like this Mud Pie Utensil Holder.
Whisks are great for cooking roux-based soups like gumbo, or for mixing up salad dressings. I love this set of three wired silicone whisks because they don't harm my nonstick cookware, and who doesn't love a splash of color in the kitchen? While I love my wooden utensils, spatulas are always kitchen essentials.
Tongs may top the list of my favorite essential kitchen tools. Great for agitating pasta, flipping steaks, and keeping my hands at arm's length when pan-frying chicken. They come silicone-covered or stainless steel, and I prefer these steel ones because I can take them outside to the grill.
9. Meat Thermometers
I have two types of thermometers: one that I can use on-demand, and one that is useful for roasts.
This ThermoPro Digital Cooking Thermometer is easy to calibrate and quickly reads the temperature of cooked items. It can read up to 572 degrees F, which means you can use it to measure fryer oil temperatures.
This high-quality ThermoPro Digital Cooking Thermometer is one of the best purchases I have ever bought.
No more wondering if that turkey is done for Thanksgiving because with this thermometer, you can set it and its alarm will go off when the turkey is done!
10. Towels and Potholders
Don't forget these essential kitchen tools! A good towel and potholder set will make your kitchen look beautiful and protect you from burns when taking your baking sheet or casserole dish out of the oven.
These Utopia kitchen towels come in a twelve-pack and add a splash of color to your kitchen. They're not only super soft, but they're absorbent as well, making them great for easy cleanup and drying dishes.
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