Whether you are engaged and wondering what to register for or are looking for some help in the kitchen, here are my Top 10 most recommended kitchen tools to help you become a great cook (or at least seem like one)! I use the term “tools” instead of “gadgets” because gadgets are usually unnecessary clutter (think egg slicer). The below items are what I consider necessities in any kitchen; no matter how talented you are!
- Chef Knife: I have the Shun 8″ Chef Knife below. I never have to sharpen it, and it makes the task of chopping so simple and quick! Chop like a pro by keeping the tip of the knife on the cutting board (and pretend you’re on Chopped if you’re like me). I always say that this is one of the best Christmas gifts I ever received!
2. Immersion Blender: Also a Christmas gift, I use this at least 1x a week. You can blend soups (put the stick right in the pot), make raw tomato sauce for pizza (blend one can of whole San Marzano tomatoes with 1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil), make homemade mayo, veggie puree, etc. Also a good replacement for a blender if you don’t want to buy too many kitchen gadgets (I didn’t even have a blender until I got married and this worked for everything)
3. Silicone Spatula: I must have at least 10 of these in my kitchen, and I rarely use anything else for stirring, flipping, etc. Silicone is important (don’t buy plastic) so that they don’t melt if you forget them on a hot pan for a minute. Completely heat resistant and flexible, easy to clean, and they last forever! I have a lot of different styles, but my favorite is a guitar-shaped spatula (below) that my sister bought me for, yes, Christmas!
4. Ceramic Frying Pan: No, this one wasn’t a Christmas gift 🙂 I got this one from a Fissler rep that I planned a meeting for in Chicago. I expected it to be just so-so, as I wasn’t very happy with my current frying pans because I had either nonstick or some old Ikea pans that had seen much better days. If I could tell you to buy just one thing from this list, it might be this pan. It acts as a kind of non-stick pan (we make Tortilla Espanola a lot in this and it never sticks), but gives you a really good crust that non-sticks always lack. It also retains heat really well, and keeps food hot, long after you’ve turned off the burner.
5. Dutch Oven: I’ve wanted a Le Creuset since I was like 12; besides being ridiculously beautiful, they are super versatile and are perfect for roasting, braising, and even making bread! I make Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread about 1x a week in this; it’s so good that it’s worth the cost of the Le Creuset alone. Get a fun color to add a pop of personality to your kitchen (I have the deep blue Marseille).
6. Dinnerware: Invest in nice dinner plates, salad plates, and those low bowl/plate things (perfect for pasta or soups). These items aren’t really kitchen “tools”, but presentation is important too! People eat with their eyes first, and if you’re serving a great pasta in a styrofoam bowl, it takes away from the overall experience. I like a neutral palate so the food doesn’t have to compete with the dinnerware; it should be all about the food! When I was deciding what to register for, I remembered what someone had told me about square plates/bowls not fitting very well in the dishwasher; I decided to go for a more classic round design since my dishwasher and I are very good friends 🙂 We have the Graeden Dinnerware from Crate & Barrel (dinner plate, salad plate, and low bowl). I have some latte bowls in fun colors from Anthropologie for cereal, etc.
7. Glass Mixing Bowls: I remember watching Emeril on TV (wasn’t he kind of the first “celebrity” chef), and I loved how he used all those little glass bowls. Each ingredient had a bowl, and it was always so visually appealing to watch. While these bowls look pretty, they also help you to prep your ingredients and ensure you have everything you need, especially if you’re making a dish that requires speed and prep (think stir fry).
8. Trigger Ice Cream Scoop: Obviously for ice cream, this one has a lot of hidden uses too! Use it to scoop even amounts of cupcake batter, make bakery-like cookies, use the scoop to make meatballs, etc.
9. Silpat Baking Mat: Lay on any cookie sheet or jellyroll pan and instantly have a non-stick surface. Cookies slide right off after baking, roasted veggies caramelize but don’t stick, and you can even make parmesan frico to garnish your Caesar Salad while impressing all of your dinner guests.
10. Digital Kitchen Scale: Perfect for baking; get exact measurements every time (no more janky almost 1-cup measurements). A lot of bread recipes I find online are in grams (which makes sense since the rest of the world uses the metric system), so this is a lifesaver so I don’t have to use my poor math skills to convert quantities 🙂 A lot of people use these for portion control too.
#11. Always have someone else do the dishes. Husbands are good for this 🙂
There you have it! 10 Kitchen Tools that don’t look like they’re from outer space. If you have these, you’re well on your way to having a well-stocked kitchen!
What is your favorite kitchen tool?