10 Essential Tools for the Home Chef
I was doing a little kitchen cleaning the other day and realized that I have so many tools that I rarely use at all. Avocado slicers. Eight different styles of knives. Egg separators. The list goes on and on.
The thing is, we really don’t need that many tools to make simple and delicious meals at home. And half the time, the fancy gadget-y type tools that are supposed to make cooking easier actually end up being more cumbersome and fiddly than just doing things the traditional way.
So today, I wanted to share my favorite kitchen tools with you—the only 10 tools that a home chef really needs. None of these are life-shattering or out of the ordinary, but they are tools that I reach for time and time again and that help me get dinner on the table after a long day at work. I’d love to hear what your favorite tools are too—be sure to share them in the comments section!
1. Wooden Spoon
This may seem obvious, but I’m surprised by how many kitchens are lacking in wooden spoons! It really should be one of the first things you stock up on—not only can you use it on all of your non-stick pans without scratching the surface, but it’s the perfect tool to deglaze a pan and scrape up all those yummy bits of flavor when cooking.
2. Handheld Citrus Juicer
I love using fresh citrus juice when cooking—in salad dressings, over pasta, or simply mixed with sparkling water for a refreshing drink. Having a handheld juicer makes this super easy, and the nice thing is it doesn’t take up a lot of room in my tiny kitchen. Although these are sold in three sizes, I would just go for the largest size and use it for all your citrus. Fresh margaritas anyone?
3. Oven Mitts
As someone who has far too many burns from reaching into a hot oven unprepared, I cannot emphasize enough how important a good pair of oven mitts is. Reach for these next time you go to grab something out of your oven and save yourself the scarring later on. Plus, they add a fun splash of color to drab kitchens!
4. Salt & Pepper Grinders
There’s something about freshly ground salt and pepper that just adds an extra oomph to your meal—the texture, the aromatics, and that just-finished look a few grinds adds to the top of a dish.
The lowly spatula. Again, this may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s the perfect tool for continuously stirring your scrambled eggs without making them tough, for scraping every last bit of brownie batter from your mixing bowl, or for mixing together a pasta dish or casserole.
A pair of kitchen tongs will give you so much control over what you’re cooking—whether it’s flipping meat, draining cooked spaghetti from boiling water, tossing salads, or sautéing veggies over the stove, this is one tool you’ll find yourself reaching for time and time again.
Yes, essentially this is the same thing as a grater, but it’s so much faster and easier to use. I store mine in my utensils pot next to my stove and find myself grabbing it anytime I need to zest a little lemon, grate some Parmesan cheese over a dish, or add a cloud of chocolate shavings to a dessert.
8. Chef’s Knife
I own many knives, but this is probably the one I use the most, as it’s so versatile. Whether you’re chopping herbs, slicing through meat, or cutting up veggies or fruit, you’ll become a chopping machine once you own one of these.
9. Wire Skimmer
I love my wire skimmer! I use it to quickly remove pasta, veggies, or eggs from boiling water without having to grab my big, bulky strainer from the cupboard. Plus, it’s so easy to clean and doesn’t take up a lot of room in the dishwasher.
10. Rubber Gloves
If you’re like me and hate doing dishes, you need a pair of rubber gloves. They’re like the home cook’s version of Superman’s cloak. Er, well, maybe that’s talking these up a tad too much, but seriously, they make doing the dishes that much more bearable. For one, you don’t have to physically touch everyone else’s leftover food (ew), but you’ll also protect your hands so your skin stays silky soft.
Bonus Tool: Screwpull Champagne Popper
Okay, so this isn’t an absolute necessity, but it does make opening a bottle of bubbly a whole lot more fun. You place this over the champagne cork and twist slowly so the cork starts to loosen and then suddenly comes free. Since the popper will catch the cork, no one will be in danger of losing an eye because of your champagne-opening skills (or lack thereof). And, you still get to experience what I consider one of the best noises on earth—the pop of a champagne cork at the end of a long day!
Tell us! What tools do you reach for time after time?
Photos courtesy of Niki Lowry.
Niki comes to us from the financial world, but she’s an online girl at heart. After graduating from Cal, she spent a couple of years traveling and working (Ireland – NY – OC) before finally making it back to San Francisco to pursue a career in business and marketing. An avid fan of handwritten thank you notes, Niki also loves fresh flowers for any occasion, the sound of being underwater, and she firmly believes ketchup bottles do not belong on the breakfast table. When she’s not Musing, you can find her on her blog, wandering around the Ferry Building in San Francisco, or with her nose in a ridiculously addicting YA book.More from this Author