Have you ever watched those mouth-watering videos of cooks preparing what appears to be the most delicious meals you’ve ever set your eyes on? Are you addicted to watching food preparations and other cooking shows? If you’ve said yes to both answers, then this post is for you: a list of basic kitchen utensils you might need.
Whether you’re building your kitchen from scratch or are checking to see what you might have missed out, or are in the process of finding out what kitchen utensils you need for university dorm, you’re sure to get some ideas from this list of essential kitchen items.
Before you start your shopping spree and get the utensils you need, however, here are some handy dos and don’ts that you might want to consider.
Check out Garage Sales and Thrift Stores
There’s this saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Some people stock up on items that they find good deals only to realize that they will never use them. Most of this stuff has been only used once or are completely brand new. Before you check out department stores and other places where they sell kitchenware, check the garage sales in your neighborhood and the thrift stores in your city. They might have the items you need that are brand new or second-hand but still fully functioning and at a cheaper cost.
Read User Reviews
When you see something you like, whether in ads or in the store, don’t buy it right away. Do some research first and find out if it is good or if it is exactly what you’re looking for. You don’t want to buy something only to find that the quality is not as good or that it does not match up to the money you paid for it. During your research, you might also be able to find items that are similar to the first one you were eyeing, but at a cheaper cost.
Don’t Buy the Cheapest Products – Set a Reasonable Budget Instead
Let’s say you’re at a store and there are a handful of can openers of different sizes and different prices. Usually, you’ll scan the different can openers until you find the one that is the cheapest and go with that. While that is perfectly normal and perfectly fine, you need to check its quality first. Usually, the cheapest items aren’t exactly made with the sturdiest materials. Chances are, you’ll buy them cheap, but they end up breaking up or wearing out after a few uses, and you’ll find yourself throwing out an item you just bought a few weeks ago. Don’t sacrifice good quality for the lowest-priced item just so you end up spending less. This doesn’t mean, either, that you should spend beyond your means. Set a reasonable budget and find the item you need with good quality for a good cost.
Don’t Buy Something Unless You’ll Use It
Let’s face it. You don’t want additional clutter in your kitchen. Sure, that high-tech waffle maker will definitely make your breakfast Insta-worthy, but if you don’t have time to prepare breakfast every morning, maybe it’s better not to get it instead. Before buying things because you think they will look great or you think you might need it in the future, ask yourself first if you will need it and what you could possibly need it for. If not, you might end up with items that you don’t need and that you’ll eventually have to get rid of because they take up too much space.
Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s find out what are some of the essential kitchen utensils that you need for your home.
Food Preparation Utensils
Knives. As there are just so many kinds of knives out there, it would be good to get the basic knives first. These would be the following:
- Chef’s knife – this is the most basic of knives and the one used to do most of your cutting and slicing. With this knife, you can slice meat and the bigger kinds of vegetables (like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes). Make sure to get one that is stainless steel so that it doesn’t rust easily. Some chef’s knives you can check out would be:
- Paring knife – this is a smaller knife you can use to peel the skin off vegetables and fruit. Because it is significantly smaller than the chef’s knife, this also allows you to cut up your vegetables and fruit with more control and better preparation. Some paring knives are specially made to double as a carving knife to cut your meat if ever you’re planning to have a fancy steak dinner at home. Check out some of the paring knives below:
- Bread knife – though you can buy readily-sliced bread at your local bakeshop or the grocery store, certain types of bread and certain stores will sell bread that will need to be cut by you. When this happens, you can’t go and cut with a chef’s knife or a paring knife which has a flat blade and will most likely squash the bread. You’ll need a bread knife as its serrated edge will allow you to cut smoothly through it. Here are some bread knives that you might want to consider:
Chopping/cutting board. You can’t have the best knives and nowhere to cut your food (and don’t cut them on your plates! It will only ruin them!). There are several cutting boards with different materials to choose from, from plastic or wood. It would be great if you could have several chopping boards for the different types of food (raw meat, vegetables and fruit, dairy), so as not to risk contaminating food that is ready to eat as soon as cut (e.g. fruits) with food that you have to cook yet (e.g. raw meat). My mother usually keeps her plastic chopping boards for raw meat and her wooden ones for vegetables, fruits, and spices (onions, garlic, etc.), but of course, that’s totally up to you. Some good chopping boards are:
- Organic Bamboo Cutting Board (3-Piece Set)
- Plastic Cutting Boards for Kitchen
- Gorilla Grip Oversized Cutting Board
Kitchen scissors. These will help you prepare your food a lot easier, as you can cut anything from strips of meat to vegetables and fruits. It’s also extremely helpful to have around when you need to open items that are still packed in their original containers. Check out some kitchen scissors below:
- MightySharp #1 Best Kitchen Scissors
- KitchenAid Shears with Soft Grip Handles
- Gerior Heavy Duty Take Apart Shears
Vegetable peeler. This can be optional if you have a paring knife, but, based on experience, this will help you peel the skin off fruits and vegetables a lot quicker and with lots of ease. See some vegetable peelers you might want to consider getting for your kitchen:
Grater. Another optional item if you want to grate cheese, vegetables, or zest the skin of citrus fruits, like lemons and oranges. There are graters that come with 4 sides and that shreds or grates in different sizes. See some below:
Or if you’re just a simple person and want just one grater, you can try out the Deiss PRO Citrus Zester and Cheese Grater.
Mixing bowls. Most mixing bowls are multi-purpose. You can use them as you prepare or even to aid you in your cooking. You can store meat that you are planning to marinate for a few hours or overnight, you can use it to whip up some eggs or pancake batter or when you’re mixing a large number of ingredients together. You can even put your pasta in it after you have drained out the water. Mixing bowls come in stainless steel, glass, or plastic. Here are some that you might want to get:
- Cuisinart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls
- Pyrex Glass Mixing Bowl (3-Piece)
- OXO 3-Piece Plastic Mixing Bowl Set
Related: Best Glass Mixing Bowls With Lids
Colander/pasta strainer. Even if you don’t eat pasta every day, a colander would be good to keep in your kitchen because it can be useful during your meal preparations. You can use the colander to strain your vegetables before you cut them up, or even your fruits before you serve them. Here are some colanders to check out:
- Qimh Collapsible Colander with Extendable Handles
- LiveFresh Stainless Steel Micro-Perforated Colander with Handles
Can opener. Unless you want to go old school with a knife and a rock, a can opener is one of the must-haves in your kitchen. While most cans come with ring pulls to open the can, some of them still require a can opener and can be extremely useful in case a ring pull snaps off! Check out some of the can openers below:
Frying pan. This is one of the most important cooking utensils as most of your cooking will be done in a frying pan or skillet. We have a whole article dedicated to cast iron skillets, and cannot stress enough how important it is to buy proper cookware. From cooking a simple egg to sautéing a simple vegetable dish to preparing a more complex steak dinner, the frying pan is something that can cook a variety of dishes. Check out some of the frying pans on Amazon:
Saucepans. While a lot of cooking will be done through your frying pan, you will most likely need a “high-sided pan”. This is where you can cook your sauces, boil your pasta and your rice, or even potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. If you ever have a night when you want to stay indoors and relax and watch a movie, you can even pop some corn in your saucepan!
Generally, the type of saucepan you get depends on what kind of stovetop you have. While most pans are suitable for most stovetops (called hobs), halogen hobs require pans with a thick based matte surface while induction hobs require magnetized metal pans. Before you buy, don’t forget to check and see! Some regular saucepans that you could get are:
- HOMICHEF Matte Polished Stainless Steel Sauce Pan with Lid
- Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel Saucepan with Cover
- Utopia Kitchen Nonstick Saucepan with Glass Lid
Related: Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets
Stirring spoons/spatulas. While you’re cooking in your frying pan or saucepan, you will need a stirring spoon or spatula. A stirring spoon will help you if you’re cooking your sauces. You can choose from wooden ones or those made of silicone or stainless steel. A spatula will help you remove food from your frying pan. You might also want to consider getting a slotted spoon, which has holes and can be used to remove food from water. Check out the different kinds below:
- StarPack Basics Silicone Mixing Spoon
- OXO Wooden Corner Spoon & Scraper
- Utopia Kitchen Stainless Steel Cooking Set (5 Spoons)
- Anolon Sure Grip Nonstick Nylon Slotted Spoon
Tongs. These are a must-have for when you need to deep fry food, lift things out of the water, or turn over thick meat or event fillets as you are frying them in a skillet. The best tongs to buy are the silicone ones that won’t damage your pans or your food and are also heat resistant. They can also be used to serve salad. Check out the tongs here:
- CHEFNENO Stainless Steel Tongs with Silicone Tips
- StarPack Basics Silicone Kitchen Tongs (9-Inch & 12-Inch)
Balloon whisk. A lot of people say this is necessary for your food preparation. If you don’t see much use for it, however, you can always use a fork to beat your egg or the other ingredients you need to whisk. While it might take double the effort, you at least get to save some in terms of expenses. Just in case you do what to get a balloon whisk, check out the ones below:
Oven gloves/potholders. Oven gloves will prevent you from burning your fingers when you remove stuff from the oven while potholders can help you remove pots from the stove, or you can use potholders to hold your frying pan or saucepan in place while stirring in them. In case you need to set down a hot pot or pan, you can place them on top of your potholders to avoid damaging your counter or tabletops. Check out some of the oven gloves and potholders below:
- HOMWE Extra Long Professional Silicone Oven Mitts
- Big Red House Oven Mitts – Silicone and Cotton
- Jennice House Pure Cotton Thread Weave Hot Potholder Set (3 Pieces)
- Airbrisk Premium Silicone Pot Holders (4 Pieces)
Soup/broth ladle. A ladle will help you scoop up soup and broth or other foods with lots of sauce. Check out some of the ladles below:
Pasta fork. Of course, you can always go with a gigantic fork, but you’ve got to admit that using a pasta fork is a lot easier especially if you are hosting a mini gathering at your place. Admittedly, the pasta fork looks more like a spoon with teeth, but that makes it easier to grip the noodles and scoop it onto your plate or bowl. Check out some options for the pasta fork below:
- Newness Stainless Steel Pasta Fork
- Joseph Joseph Nylon Spaghetti Server
- Cuispro Silicone Spaghetti Server
Pizza cutter. If ever you plan to bake and serve pizza, this is something that you might need. Or if not, you can use it to cut flatbread, too. Here are some pizza cutters you can choose from:
- Kitchen Star Pizza Cutter/Sharp Stainless Steel Slicer Knife
- GiniHomer Stainless Steel Pizza Cutter Wheel
- Kitchy Pizza Cutter Wheel Kitchen Gadget
Corkscrew/bottle opener. If ever there comes a day when you just want to put up your feet and chill with a glass of wine, you’ve got to have a corkscrew handy. While many wine bottles come with screw caps, there are still some with a plastic or wooden cork in them and you don’t want to look forward to a glass of wine after a long day only to realize that you don’t have anything to help you open your wine. At the same time, if you prefer a bottle of beer, it would also be good to have a bottle opener on hand. Check out some of these below:
- Stainless Steel Wing Corkscrew
- IPOW Wing Corkscrew and Bottle Opener
- KTOJOY WarmEcho Heavy Duty Bottle Openers
Here’s a tip: you’ll need to get a kitchen tool organizer to help you store all the utensils. There are many different kinds, from utensil holders to drawer organizers. Find something that works best for you and something that will help you remember where you placed the item so you know where to look when you need it.
You’ll also need containers that will help you store any leftover food or other ingredients that are cut but that you have not yet used. You can always get some glass containers, plastic containers, and be sure to have some zipper storage bags on hand (they’re really useful!).
If you want to store onions or other ingredients that might smell, you should make sure you follow this guide on how to store onions and other food products with no smell.
Bonus: Baking Utensils
In case your kitchen has a stove and you want to try your hand at baking some time, you will most likely need to get a measuring jug and some measuring cups and spoons to help you as you lay out your ingredients. You can use the mixing bowls to mix the ingredients together.
If you’re baking bread or a pizza or something that requires your dough to be flattened out, you might find a rolling pin very useful. If you are baking cookies, you’ll want a baking sheet and eventually get different sorts of baking pans that are good for cakes, muffins, breads, and a lot more. And as you explore and become more adventurous with the food you cook, you’ll find some recipes that show you different kinds of baked dishes and of course, you’ll need a baking and serving dish to go with it (this can double up as storage dishes too!).
Before you get pressured and head to the nearest store to buy everything on this list, don’t forget the tips and tricks we discussed at the start of the post. Take it slow, do your research, and only buy what you need. When you’re finally done, you’ll be ready to cook and now unleash that inner chef in you!