Whether you’re moving into your own place for the first time, switching up your living arrangements, or just wanting to do a major clean sweep of your home, knowing what utensils are essential in a kitchen is a very good place to start. Believe it or not, you have the ability to make practically anything with just a few cooking items. Besides, you already possess the best two: your hands!
HANDLE IT : Items for the handling and cooking of food.
Metal Spatula: We’re big believers in cast iron around here, which means you’ll want to use a metal spatula. Because of its thin edge, it easily slides under food, particularly delicate foods like scallops, eggs and pancakes.
Tongs: Tongs help for turning meats, tossing vegetables, and working with any type of sautéed food and skillet. Scallop-tipped tongs have a better grip than those with a smooth edge. Locking tongs are preferable.
Slotted Spoon: A strong slotted spoon with a stainless steel handle will go along way in cooking. It’s most helpful when blanching vegetables or removing pasta without losing pasta water.
Rubber Spatula: This is the obvious choice for maneuvering doughs and batters when baking. Be sure to find one with a sturdy handle and a heat-resistant, flexible head.
Ladle: A large “bowl” ladling spoon makes for easy serving when it comes to soups and sauces.
Whisk: DUH?! How could we NOT suggest this magnificent utensil? However, the wrong choice in a whisk can be complete devastation if you’re not careful. Avoid big, clunky plastic whisks. Although they can be super cute, they’re no good when it comes to true wrist-circling, vein-popping, old-school whisking by hand. Buy a metal whisk with a solid handle, not the wire handled. It’ll get the job done and the solid handle makes for easier cleaning.
SLICE IT : Items for slicing, dicing, and prepping food.
Chef’s Knife: This will be your best friend when it comes to cooking. A good 8-9 inch knife is best determined by your own hands. Make sure the handle and weight is comfortable for you. The blade should extend all the way down through the handle, which indicate the blade has been forged from a single piece of steel. It is therefore a sturdier, stronger knife with guaranteed longevity.
Paring Knife: This a a short blade, about 3-4 inches, and makes coring, halving, and pitting fruits and vegetables a breeze.
Potato Masher: This is the quintessential Mitch Hedberg kitchen utensil: "All you do is say what it does and then add '-er'." You might not use this item on the regular, but when you need it, you need it. BTW, if you weren't sure ... a potato masher mashes potatoes ... I'm going on break.
Grater: (not pictured) There are box graters that stand vertically and usually have several different options (shredding, shaving, etc). Then you have micrograters that are long, narrow, and handheld with a super fine zesting surface. Both are good purchases, but if you’re staying as minimal as possible, opt for a box grater with all the options.
Serrated Bread Knife: Find one with a nice rigid blade that is at least 8 inches long. Too long will never be a problem, so it’s better to veer on extra length than getting stuck with a small knife that causes a hassle.
Vegetable/Fruit Peeler: Some folks are die hard fans of the Y-shaped peeler. Others like the vertical peeler . Ultimately, you just need to be stocked with a sharp peeler. It's a matter of preference. Be YOU!
Kitchen Shears: You’ll wonder how you ever made it this far without a pair of sharp, sturdy kitchen shears. Perfect to use anywhere from opening up packaging to cutting up a raw chicken breast to quickly snipping a few herbs. It's worth it to invest in a pair.
STOCK IT : Items worth stocking in your kitchen.
Corkscrew: Whether you drink alcohol or not, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll have a need to pop open a cork at some point. Don’t be that silly host who is without and has to push the cork through and into the bottle because you’re kitchen lacks this utensils.
Colanders: There are two types to have on hand. One, is your typical colander that sits on little feet (the green one pictured here) so that pasta and veggies don't sit in a mushy puddle of water. The second is a wire mesh colander (the white one) with hooks along the rim, so you can place it atop a bowl. The mesh colander is perfect for rinsing grains, smaller foods, and sifting powdered ingredients.
Measuring Cups & Spoons: You’ll never be able to bake much of anything without these. Period.
Instant-Read Thermometer: This can go either way. They are inexpensive enough that it’s worth the few bucks. It can make cooking meat much easier. However, if you’re on a tight budget, cutting into your dish with a knife to determine it’s completion is fine too.
Can Opener: Don’t go for electric. They’re clunky, loud, and never seem to work half the time. Get a smooth-edge, handheld model with a handle that feels solid to the grip. Plus, it’s a mini forearm workout when you put it to use. So there's that.