Beyond the basics of fork, knife, and spoon and no-brainers like pots and pans and cutting boards, what does one truly need in order to fully stock his or her kitchen? Which tools, utensils, devices, gadgets, and doodads are essential for keeping a kitchen functioning smoothly?
Over a decade, five years, or even just a few months, your kitchen can start to accumulate a whole mess of useful and useless items. Forks, for instance, are obviously useful – they allow you to pick the salty, crunchy skin off of your wife’s infamously succulent roasted pork loin without getting grease on your fingers. No grease, no proof. And spoons, well, spoons are obviously necessary. How else would you eat your Chinese takeout? Is it possible to eat fried rice with chopsticks?
We’ve compiled this list of nine kitchen utensils you definitely need and 13 that you definitely don’t in order to keep your kitchens neat and tidy and your wallets pleasantly plump.
So here’s what you need:
You’re going to want to flip things as you cook, and you’ll probably be deathly afraid of damaging those nonstick pans you just spent mounds of money on. Don’t flip things with a fork, use a silicone or rubber spatula instead.
If you have a cast iron skillet you cherish, invest in a metal spatula or a fish spatula. Use it to scrape up bits of leftover meals from your cast iron without ruining that precious seasoning.
2. Slotted spoon
The slotted spoon can be used in so many ways. Anything you make that involves boiling or steaming can be readily handled using the slotted spoon.
It can also work double duty while serving on a dinner table, helping to remove some excess liquid from bowls of foods such as beans or corn.
3. Can opener
Whether you’re busy, you’re lazy, or you just have an affinity for canned albacore, you will inevitably use your can opener semi-frequently.
Canned fish, legumes, vegetables, soups, and more are all quick and easy meals that should be readily available in any home kitchen.
4. Measuring cups
Aspiring and experienced chefs alike need to measure things every now and again, making measuring cups a simple must-have for all kitchens. If you want to get a better handle on your nutrition in order to meet new fitness goals, measuring cups will become the most used weapon in your muscle-building, fat-burning arsenal.
We’ve all been there: you arrive at your friend’s new apartment, bottle of rosé in hand and a smile on your face, only to find that she doesn’t have a corkscrew.
You put the bottle in a shoe and bang it on the wall, hoping to jettison the cork out in a moment of primal desperation. What you wind up with is not wine. Rather, it’s a hole in the wall. Buy a corkscrew.
In an active kitchen, things tend to get hot. What better way to grip, flip, turn, and move hot food than with a sturdy set of tongs? We know you want to use your fingers, but please resist the urge.
7. Silicone oven mitts
You really want to use your hands, don’t you? We’ll allow it, but only if you use oven mitts. They’re true paw-savers.
Spoiler alert: You probably won’t be making as much homemade pasta as you once thought you would. What you will do, though, is buy a box of Barilla whole grain angel hair pasta, cook it (al dente, or at least you think this is what al dente is), and need to drain some water.
Wire mesh colanders with feet work well, allowing your pasta completely.
From margaritas to green smoothies to mint chocolate chip milkshakes, you’ll get a lot more use out of a blender than its bulky, trendy cousin…
And here’s what you don’t need:
…the juicer. They take up a lot of space, they can remove some amazing nutrients contained in the skins of the fruits and vegetables you’re juicing, and they’re just not that cool.
2. Pasta maker
What you will do, if you remember, is buy a box of Barilla whole grain angel hair pasta, cook it (a little pasta al dente, if you had to guess), and remove the excess water with your wire mesh colander.
3. Avocado tool
They’re neat to look at, they exude healthiness (or something like that), and they come in a few varieties. What they don’t do, however, is work very well. You’re better off with a knife.
4. Waffle maker
When you ship your children off to college, their dining hall is guaranteed to have a waffle maker. There, they will witness endless amounts of young men and women triggering the fire alarm after leaving the waffle maker unattended for far too long.
You don’t want those waffle-fueled plumes of black smoke twirling around your own home, trust us.
5. Apple-slicing device
They’re handy – they remove the core and slice your apple up quite nicely. The original apple separator, the knife, functions just as well and allows you to customize your slice sizes.
6. Hand mixer
If you’re an avid baker, mixing up recipes constantly, you will probably want to buy a good stand mixer. Otherwise, if you don’t think you need a stand mixer, you don’t need a hand mixer. Bottom line.
7. Rolling pin
Again, avid bakers may be dismissing this entry, but the average cook won’t need a rolling pin. If you do wind up needing one, grab the corkscrew you should have, open a bottle of wine, finish it, and use it as a stand-in rolling pin.
You can do this without opening the wine, but where’s the fun in that?
8. Panini press
The panini press is a great idea. It’s great to take your sandwiches, make them hot, and flatten them, if that’s what you’re into, but the device will take up a huge chunk of your counter space.
Anything you can do with a panini press can be replicated in a hot pan with the assistance of one of your heftier spatulas.
9. Grapefruit spoon
Similar to the avocado tool, a grapefruit spoon seems very cool at first glance. If you receive one as a gift, don’t go throwing it away; it can sit in the back of the drawer with your corn-eating tools after you use it for a week. If you’re planning on wasting money on one, though, consider using a knife and a small spoon that you already have handy instead.