When you are getting started as a beginner cook, you might be confused about which kitchen tools are essential for getting the job done. Kitchen stores are full of single-purpose gadgets that promise to solve your problems, but these tools are generally a waste of money.
Instead, spend your money on the kitchen basics that will help you with any recipe from fried fish to birthday cake. This is not an exhaustive list, but it will give you a boost in stocking your kitchen, so you can cook with confidence.
A good set of spatulas helps with nearly every recipe. Start with turners, a type of spatula made for flipping and serving food. Choose turners made to be used in high heat situations, with sturdy metal or silicone. These are great for flipping fish in the pan or for scraping the bottom of a pan.
Use rubber or silicone spatulas for scraping mixing bowls and jars. These are especially great for baking, where they can be used for mixing soft batters.
It is better to spend more to get a few essential knives than to buy a cheap set of knives. Some beginning chefs may be intimidated by using “real” kitchen knives, thinking that they are more dangerous, but more people cut themselves on dull knives than on sharp ones.
A chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife are three essentials. Add more over time as your cooking skills develop. When you are shopping, look at the best knives reviewed.
- Cutting Boards
Along with knives, cutting boards are one of the kitchen tools you will use the most often. It pays to have a variety of cutting boards in different materials and sizes. Many people like to have cutting boards that are reserved for meat and poultry, using the rest for vegetables and fruits. Sturdy acrylic cutting boards can go in the dishwasher to be sanitized.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
Every chef needs a good set of measuring cups and spoons. Get measuring cups for dry ingredients and wet ingredients. Glass or plastic measuring cups are best for wet ingredients – these have measurements marked on the outside. A graduated set of measuring cups is best for dry ingredients. Measuring spoons should go from 1/8 teaspoon up to 1 tablespoon. They should be well marked and easy to use.
While many ovens and microwaves come with timers, it pays to have a reliable stand-alone timer. Timers should be easy to set and reset and should have an audible tone to tell you when food is ready. Digital kitchen timers are a good purchase, but for short time periods, some people still like to use the traditional wind-up timer with a knob.
- Instant-Read thermometer
If you want to cook meat or poultry, an instant-read thermometer is a great purchase. Simply cooking meat with a timer often means that your food will be undercooked or overcooked. An instant-read thermometer works by simply sticking the thermometer directly in the food. Check meat at its thickest point.
- Locking Tongs
One kitchen item that you will use as often as you use knives is a set of locking tongs. Tongs are good for picking up small and delicate foods as well as helping you wrangle large cuts of meat. Choose tongs with scalloped points and non-slip grips. Locking tongs are a kitchen item you will use almost daily, so be sure you pick the best quality possible.
A box grater helps you grate large quantities of cheese or vegetables. This is great for recipes like macaroni and cheese. Grating cheese yourself presents a huge cost savings when compared to pre-grated cheese. A quality box grater will get the job done quickly.A microplane grater is good for grating citrus peel and chocolate. You might find that you don’t use the microplane grater as often as the box grater, but both are good to have in the kitchen.
- Cast-Iron Skillet
An essential pan to have in your kitchen is a cast-iron skillet. This is a versatile tool that helps you cook everything from frittatas to cornbread. You can even deep fry food in a cast-iron skillet. Cast-iron skillets heat evenly and keep their temperature constant, making them perfect for any frying or sautéing task. Taking care of a cast-iron skillet can be time-consuming, but their advantages outweigh the inconvenience.
- Enameled Dutch Oven
An enameled Dutch oven is a great companion to the cast-iron skillet. They heat evenly and keep their temperature as well as a cast-iron pan. They are perfect for soups and stews, and you can also deep-fry in them. In a pinch, you can use them as a stockpot for boiling water. The enameled surface makes them much easier to clean than cast-iron.Use our ten essential kitchen tools to help you get started on the road to be an accomplished cook. Buying good quality utensils will save you money in the long run and will eliminate frustration from using subpar items.