Wooden Spoon from 25 Essential Kitchen Tools

25 Essential Kitchen Tools

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wooden spoon

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Wooden Spoon

The OG of all kitchen tools. Every good chef needs to stir things, and nothing works better than a wooden spoon. Plus, it doesn’t bring any metallic taste into the food.

off-set spatula

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Off-Set Spatula

This tool is great for all things breakfast and also for sautéing vegetables. It’s an all-purpose utensil that cooks and flips everything with aplomb. As a brunch-lover, I can’t omit the godfather of breakfast tools.

rubber spatula

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Rubber Spatula

This tool is vital for baking especially and also for all sorts of semi-solid things. Think of those early childhood baking memories — where would you have been without one of these? It mixes things, it scoops it out of the bowl, and it’s easy to wash — after you lick it clean, of course.

Tongs

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Tongs

There are three basic movements that you’ll need in a kitchen: stirring things, pouring things out, and grabbing things. You can’t grab anything without tongs; it’s so incredibly important to have a decent pair of grabbers for basically every situation.

whisk

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Whisk

This falls into the aforementioned stirring/mixing category of things. Sometimes, a spoon just doesn’t cut it. There are lumps in that mix, and a spoon doesn’t break it up, or mix it well enough. Enter whisk: It’s perfect for everything from eggs to batters to…why do you need another example? This is a total no-brainer.

rolling pin

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Rolling Pin

If you don’t bake, you don’t need a rolling pin. But then again, if you do bake, rolling pins are super helpful. Even if you never use it, it can still be repurposed in a bunch of ways.

Food Processor

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Food Processor

On to the electric items: The food processor is a big one, because when you need to quickly chop a lot of things, or blend things to make a sauce, a food processor will save you a lot of time and hassle. Some would put a blender here, and that’s a fair option — but in this slot, it’s one or the other, and a food processor is simply way more versatile than a blender, which can only, well, blend things. Can’t make coleslaw in a blender.

stand mixer

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Stand Mixer

A stand mixer is another vital electronic tool to have in your kitchen equipment arsenal. If you’re committed to baking (to which you say “yes” or you’ve answered incorrectly), then you will need one of these. It helps create dough for anything you’ll ever bake. Super helpful and another featured kitchen item in childhood kitchen memories. 

scale

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Scale

In a kitchen, you have to measure things. It’s one of those irrefutable laws until you get good enough to do everything in dashes and handfuls. Cup measurers are great for liquids, but how do you weigh solids? That’s right, a scale. Bam. Usefulness. 

Sauteé Pan

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Sauté Pan

This one is pretty self-explanatory in terms of the essentialness of this pan. I mean, sautéing ingredients is one of the bedrocks of cooking — you can’t get anywhere as a chef in your kitchen without knowing how to sauté and having a pan to do it in.

Cast-iron skillet

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Cast-Iron Skillet

Disclaimer: a cast-iron skillet is, to me, the most useful and versatile thing on this list. Its combination of non-stick and equal distribution of heat makes it ideal for just about anything. Plus, you can pop it in the oven to create treats like skillet corn bread. Even if you were limited to this pan alone, the possibilities would still be endless.

Stock Pot

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Stock Pot

Some believe that a stock pot isn’t entirely necessary; I couldn’t disagree more. A stock pot is a must-have for boiling water — anytime you need to poach vegetables or make pasta, this is what you need. Plus, if you want to make homemade broth with leftover bones (or any other type of broth/sauce/stock), then this is perfect.

colander

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Colander

If you’ve ever had to cook on a hiking trip without a colander, you’ll know exactly how useful this is. Picture trying to drain a dish of its water while keeping your food intact and out of the sink. Having a colander to strain food in doesn’t just make life so much easier, it forces a chef to question how cooking without one was ever possible.

Dutch Oven

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Dutch Oven

The Dutch oven is for pots what the cast-iron skillet is for pans. Allow me to explain: Its thick base ensures even heat distribution, while the lid keeps heat and flavor locked in. It’s perfect for browning meat, making stews (or chili), and can be used to cook vegetables and rice. Plus, similar to the cast-iron skillet, it’s oven friendly, which means that it’s quite easy to make a roast in there, too.

metal baking pan

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Metal Baking Pan

At some point, you’ll want to bake in your kitchen. When that time comes, you’ll need a metal baking pan because it’s the best way to do cakes, cookies, and other baked treats. (For what it’s worth, I’d use the cast iron skillet for bread and some other baking projects.) Simply put, you need a baking pan. Period.

nesting set

Nesting Set

Now we get to the “food prep” section. One of the most important things on that list is a nesting set — a series of different-sized bowls. These bowls are incredibly helpful for mixing things and making things in a bowl. That seems really obvious, but nesting bowls have so many uses that it’s hard to enumerate. 

cutting board

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Cutting Board

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a billion different cutting boards of all sizes for all your cutting needs. All you need is one big, sturdy cutting board. Make sure there’s enough room on the board to move veggies away from the “cutting” area while still remaining on the board. Seriously, get a big cutting board.

measuring cups

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Measuring Cups

As I said with the scale, you need to measure things in the kitchen, especially if you aren’t a master chef quite yet. And in order to measure things, you’ll need measuring cups…

measuring spoons

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Measuring Spoons

… And if you’re going to need measuring cups, you’ll also need measuring spoons.

Chef's Knife

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Chef's Knife

And now, the essential sharp things you’ll need. This list starts with the versatile chef’s knife. It’s got a wide range of uses, and it feels great to cut with. A couple of tips: When you first get the knife, hold it with your middle finger at the end of the handle, with your thumb and the top joint of your pointer finger pinching the blade. It gives you more control over the blade, and uses the natural balance of the knife to your advantage. Also, when getting this knife, go for a made-in-Japan option. When samurai swords fell out of favor, the sword makers turned their skills to knife-making, and as a result the workmanship and quality are unparalleled.

paring knife

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Paring Knife

A paring knife is the yin to the chef knife’s yang when it comes to cutting things. One is big, one is small; the chef’s knife cuts away from you, the paring knife cuts toward you. This is great for taking the skin off of oranges or making any smaller and more intricate cuts. Most importantly for you, though, is that it’s super versatile; basically a smaller chef’s knife. 

bread knife

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Bread Knife

A bread knife is the result of someone bringing a saw into the kitchen and giving it the appropriate handle. Specifically, the bread knife has a bunch of teeth on the blade, giving it more traction in whatever you’re cutting. It “rips” more than it “slices” or “chops,” making it perfect for bread.

Y-shaped Vegetable Peeler

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Y-shaped Vegetable Peeler

One guy devoted a bunch of time to explaining why a Y-shaped peeler is so essential and perfect, so I’ll just summarize here: Peeling vegetables is essential for everything from actually cooking vegetables to peeling apples or getting orange zest for some fancy project. When it comes to peeling vegetables, the Y-shaped peeler is king for its forgiving handle, versatility (it can be used with both hands), and simple effectiveness.

Kitchen Shears

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Kitchen Shears

At some point in the kitchen, you’ll need to cut things. These can be used for mundane tasks like a pair of scissors, but what makes these different is their extra oomph! in cutting anything from string to skin. Plus, they can be used with either hand, and some models come apart to make cleaning and sharpening each blade that much easier.

Honing Steel

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Honing Steel

With all of your kitchen equipment, it’s important to keep things in good shape. Making sure that everything stays clean and in good working condition is a great way to ensure the longevity of your gear, and that’s more important with knives than any other piece of equipment. Your knives will lose their edge quickly and start to dull, rendering them practically useless. So, when you use your knives, give them a couple runs at the honing steel first. It’ll keep your knives sharp and your cuts more enjoyably smooth.

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Stock Pot

25 Essential Kitchen Tools

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