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Kitchen Basics: Ten Essential Tools Every Kitchen Needs

Beyond the basic pots, pans, bowls, plates, forks, spoons, and knives, every kitchen needs ten essential items to function. Check out our list below, plus suggested options that are sure to help boost your culinary prowess. 

  1. Chef’s knife

The true workhorse of the kitchen, a good chef’s knife is necessary for all the slicing, dicing, and chopping required in prep work. The standard size is 8 inches for ease of movement.

Recommended: Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch

  1. Spatula

A non-stick silicone spatula is what you need to keep things safely moving while cooking. Use it to stir sauces, check the underside of meats, flip pancakes, and scrape your mixing bowls clean.

Recommended: OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set

  1. Tongs

Another all-important utensil, tongs can do everything on the stove top that the spatula cannot: pick up heavy cuts of meat and move slippery strands of spaghetti out of a pot of boiling water. 

Recommended: OXO Good Grips 12″ Tongs with Silicone Heads

  1. Kitchen Shears

A dedicated pair of sharp shears can help break down a raw chicken, snip delicate herbs, or cut a length of butcher’s twine. An ideal pair can be separated in order to thoroughly clean the blades.

Recommended: Zwilling Twin L 20 Cm Multi-Purpose Shears

  1. Colander

Wash and drain with an easy-to-clean colander. Don’t forget to save that pasta water! Stainless steel is best, but enamel ones can pull double-duty as display bowls.

Recommended: Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel Colander-Dishwasher Safe (5-Quart)

  1. Vegetable Peeler

Remove potato and apple skins with ease. Turn carrots and zucchinis into tasty ribbons. A Swiss-made, Y-shaped peeler is your go-to.

Recommended: Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler

  1. Chopping Board

A good chopping board should be large, lightweight, and easily washed. Get two if you have space for it: one dedicated to raw meat and another for everything else.

Recommended: Joseph Joseph Chop2Pot™ 2-Piece Plus Chopping Board Set

  1. Instant-Read Thermometer

Avoid dry, overcooked meat (or worse — undercooked!) with an instant-read thermometer that will tell you when your dish is done.

Recommended: ThermoPro TP15 Digital Waterproof Instant Read Meat Thermometer

  1. Kitchen Scales

Useful for exacting measurements in tricky recipes and general baking, a dependable kitchen scale can also help with portion control. Get one with a slim profile for easy storage.

Recommended: Escali Primo Digital Scale

  1. Can Opener

There is virtually no (safe) substitute for a can opener. Crack open soups and stews, syrup-soaked fruits, and more with a reliable one. Go electric if you’re feeling fancy.

Recommended: Good Cook Can Opener

Rose Ho | Staff Writer

Summer 2024

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