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Cooking Utensils List That Every Kitchen Needs

Basic Kitchen Utensils and Chef's Tools

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11. Graters

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There are various styles, shapes and sizes of graters and most kitchens have more than one type. That's because graters are very versatile and you can use one to grate cheese (the most common use) or for other zesting/grating of hard spices, fruit rind or vegetables.  Unless you rely on a food processor to shred cheese, you'll need at least one grater. Some models (flat) will store more easily than others, but most will select a grater based on the ease of operation and the size they find most practical for their needs. There are also graters for specific types of cheese, such as a rotary model which operates better with harder cheeses such as Parmesan.  Graters will typically have more than one type of grating size/shape.

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12. Serving Tongs

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Compared to a serving spoon, a pair of tongs enables you to more easily grab and transfer larger food items, poultry or meat portions to a serving platter, to a hot skillet or deep fryer, or to a plate. It gives you a better grip and the longer the tongs, the better especially when used with a deep fryer, a large stock pot or at the barbecue. There are various sizes and styles of tongs - some have (non-scratching) heat resistant silicone for use with nonstick cookware, or rubberized handles for a better grip.

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13. Measuring Cups, Spoons

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Proper measurement of recipe ingredients is crucial to it turning out as it should. Unless you're a seasoned chef (or Grandma) that relies more on feel and taste when adding ingredients to a recipe, measuring cups and spoons can help to make a successful recipe.  Choose the style and type of measuring cups and spoons that appeal to you, then measure carefully and follow recipe instructions.

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14. Potato Masher

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You can use a hand or stand mixer, and even certain hand blenders to mash cooked potatoes, and if you want them whipped and creamy, that's a good idea.  Otherwise, the simplest tool and most economical for mashing potatoes is a hand potato masher.  There are various styles of potato mashers and it usually takes trying several models to find the one that you like best for this task.  The most popular and likely the one your grandmother probably used, is the 's' style shown in the illustration.  I have tried various styles including a plastic model and have always returned to this metal type of masher.  Some have longer handles which is ideal if you're doing several pounds of potatoes in a large stock pot, but a shorter handle is more practical for regular home use.  Potato mashers can also be used for mashing cooked turnips, carrots or other soft cooked vegetables.  Choose a stainless steel model with a sturdy handle, so you'll get several years of use from your masher.

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15. Kitchen Knives

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Often referred to as cook's or chef's tools, knives are a must for all types of kitchen tasks, from peeling an onion and slicing carrots, to carving a roast or turkey. You'll need a few different types of knives for various cutting tasks and then add specialty knives as required. Though you may need a few extras or favorites, a block set of kitchen knives is a practical and worthwhile investment.  With knife ownership comes the responsibility to store them safely, so you may want to look at knife storage, as well as a sharpener to keep knives sharp.

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16. Time & Temperature Tools

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Whether you're cooking or baking, a kitchen minute timer is a must and though many ovens now have on-board timers, having a second model is very practical.  In order to confirm that your roast, chicken or turkey is safely cooked inside, use a meat/poultry thermometer.  Follow directions on the thermometer you choose - not all models can stay in the oven with the food during cooking; some must be inserted after it has been removed from the heat source.  Ensure that you are using the proper kind of thermometer for the type of food and what you are doing, as there are several kinds.  For roasting meats, poultry - you need a meat thermometer.

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17. Seafood Serving Tools

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Though some of these may not actually be cooking tools, they are essential if you are planning on cooking and then serving seafood and you want your guests to enjoy eating it.  Seafood tools make the task of cleaning seafood and removing the shell much easier.  For cooking seafood, utensils will vary depending on what you are cooking.  Tools might include a long-handled slotted spoon if cooking clams, long tongs if boiling lobster, or a fish turner if you are frying fish filets.

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18. Colanders

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Having at least one colander is a must, but most kitchens have more and usually they are of various sizes.  Also called a vegetable strainer, a colander is not easy to store because of its shape and most will not easily nest together, but they are essential for various tasks from cleaning vegetables to straining pasta or tin contents. Either plastic or steel are practical, but with metal, choose stainless steel to reduce the risk of rusting.  Chef'n has a new breed of colapsible colanders that are easier to store and they come in various sizes.

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19. Handy Poultry & Roasting Tools

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There's a small stock of kitchen tools that are very practical and some are considered essential when roasting meats and poultry.  I have found it essential to have large forks and/or a lifter-style of poultry rack to make it easier to lift a hot roasted turkey from the roaster to the serving platter, without it falling apart.  And while many can rely on oven temperatures and cooking times followed by a simple fork test for doneness, others prefer to inset a meat thermometer in their roast and judge doneness by its reading - which is the safest alternative.

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20. Cutting Boards

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At least one cutting board is a must, but an assortment is more practical.  I like to have a few different types of boards in various sizes.  I use larger wooden ones when I have a lot of foods to slice or chop, roast to carve or simply to use as hot pads for casseroles, breads, bakings when they come out of the oven.   Smaller plastic boards are handy for cutting an onion and I find the thin plastic, flexible boards very nice when preparing a salad or slicing watermelon, because you can scoop it to transfer the composting material to a bin, or salad fixins to the bowl.  I prefer a wooden board for slicing bread.

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