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8 Essential kitchen tools

We all have kitchens full of pots, pans, knives and that collection of kitchen tools you’ve used once – or only a few times – to make a particular recipe. You really don’t need every available kitchen gadget to create delicious meals, but there are a few essential tools every aspiring – and even seasoned – chef should have.

Kitchen UtensilKitchen Checklist


A knife is one of the most important tools you will ever use in the kitchen. There are three knives every chef and home cook should own that will cut everything you need.

8-inch to 10-inch Chef’s Knife: This very versatile knife will be used to cut everything from herbs to fruit and vegetables to meat and desserts. It is a general utility knife that is a default if you don’t know what knife to use. (Try these chef’s knives from Calphalon.)Serrated Knife: This knife is mostly used for cutting loaves of bread. It has teeth on the end and is great for cutting tomatoes and cakes. (Try this serrated knife from Henckels.) 

Paring Knife: This small knife is perfect for cutting smaller items and doing small details. This knife is great for cutting the tops off of strawberries and cores from apples. (Try these colorful paring knives from Kuhn Rikon.) 

Vegetable Peeler

A good sturdy vegetable peeler can be used for everything from peeling the skin off of carrots, apples, and cucumbers, to making thin strips of cheese and chocolate. A good peeler is hands-down an essential kitchen tool. (Try one of these euro peelers from KitchenAid.)


A good pair of tongs is something everyone should have in their kitchen. They can be used for tossing a salad or pasta or flipping meat and fish on the grill. Soft-tipped tongs won’t peel the skin or peel off of any foods you are flipping, and tongs with teeth on them help with gripping. (Try these nonstick tongs from OXO.) 

Box Grater

A good box grater with four sides of different size grates is probably one of the best options for a grater. It can be used for grating cheese, veggies, firm fruits, chocolate, and many other foods. You can even use the smallest side to grate fresh nutmeg, ginger and various other herbs and spices. (Try this box grater with container by Acrosteel.)

Rubber Spatula

Every kitchen needs at least one rubber spatula to mix cake batters and sauces, and to scrape down the sides of bowls. Make sure to use a heat-proof spatula so you can use it for hot items as well as cold. (Try this heat-proof spatula from Crate & Barrel.)


A good whisk is needed to make eggs, pancakes, whipped cream, sauces, vinaigrettes, and to get the lumps out of any batter. A heat-proof silicone whisk is a good bet so it won’t scratch the bottom of a pot or bowl. (Try this silicone whisk from Crate & Barrel.)


Two kinds of strainers should be in every kitchen. A fine mesh strainer to strain sauces, sift flour, or drain small pasta. A large colander can be used for cleaning vegetables and fruit or draining pasta. If you only have room for one, then a mesh strainer is the better choice, look for a large one so you can use it to drain pasta as well. (Try this mesh strainer from Polder.) 

Measuring Spoons and Cups

You will need measuring spoons and cups (wet and dry) for just about every recipe, especially baking. For precise cooking, every good cook needs a couple sets of measuring spoons and cups. (Try this wet and dry measuring cup in one from the Container Store.) 

More on kitchen tools and gadgets

Types of knives and how to use them
What’s hot in kitchen gadgets
Easy organizing: Kitchen cookware

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