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15 Essential Kitchen Tools Every Home Chef Should Have

Someone peeling a potato with the Kuhn Rikon vegetable peeler, chocolate chip cookies on a Chicago Metallic sheet pan, and four WÜSTHOF knives hanging on a rack.
Kuhn Rikon/Chicago Metallic/WÜSTHOF

If, like most of us, you’ve been cooking a lot more at home lately, you might have discovered that you actually love it! Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned home chef who could use some new tools, these 15 kitchen essentials will have you stirring and peeling in no time.

Although there are thousands of cool kitchen gadgets out there, it’s always best to start with the basics. These are the tools that every cook or resident baker should have, so peruse the list and note any that you need—or that need replacing.

Tongs

Someone flipping meat on a griddle with mint-green HOTEC tongs.
HOTEC

Tongs are a necessity, especially if you cook a lot of poultry, meat, or veggies. For just a few bucks, you can get a decent pair of metal tongs, but make sure that they have silicone tips. That way, you can avoid scraping (and scratching) the bottom of your pans.

They also come in handy when you’re serving or turning hot foods in a skillet or on the grill, so you’ll get a lot of use out of these all year.

Wooden Cooking Utensil Set

Five wooden cooking utensils lying on a kitchen counter next to a sliced lemon and a bowl of nuts.
Tmkit

A set of large wooden utensils is a necessity for most cooks. They’re super versatile and easy to clean, and, most importantly, they won’t scratch your pans.

Most sets, including this five-piece option from Tmkit, come with several spoons and scoops, each of which is designed for a specific purpose. Wood also has a sleek, natural appeal that will look great sitting on your kitchen counter.

A Stockpot

The Faberware eight-quart stockpot.
Faberware

A stockpot is deep with high sides and two small handles on opposite ends. These are ideal for making soups or stews, boiling pasta, or blanching vegetables.

They also distribute heat well, making them perfect for heating liquids evenly rather than just from the bottom. We’re firm believers in the Farberware brand, and this eight-quart, stainless-steel stockpot is a must-have for every kitchen. It comes with a lid and is safe for use at up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Oh, and even better, you can put it in the dishwasher. Talk about easy peasy!

A Saucepan

Farberware Classic Stainless Steel 1-Quart Covered Straining Saucepan
Faberware

A saucepan is for way more than just cooking sauce and is a must-have for any cook. This versatile kitchen tool can handle boiling water or making gravy or sides. It has high sides, with a long handle and straight edges.

These are meant for the stovetop, and they’re basically a smaller version of a stockpot. This one-quart stainless-steel model from Faberware also includes a straining lid and pour spout, both of which will really come in handy for anything that you whip in it.

Skillets

Two red KitchenAid Skillets.
KitchenAid

When it comes to choosing a skillet, you have many options. However, you can organize skillets in three categories: nonstick, cast-iron, or stainless-steel.

If you’re just getting started, we recommend this set of KitchenAid nonstick skillets because they’re affordable and durable. You get an eight- and 10-inch skillet, so you can fry up anything, no matter how large or small.

Down the road, if you don’t mind spending a pretty penny, we recommend investing in an all-clad frying pan set because it can last for at least a decade or two when properly cared for.

A Dry Measuring Cup and Spoon Set

Four measuring spoons.
OXO

Measuring cups and spoons are essential, especially for baking. In fact, they come in handy almost every day if you regularly follow recipes because they always include exact measurements.

This set from OXO includes 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, and 1 cup, 1/4, 1/2, and 1 teaspoon, and 1 tablespoon. They’re made of stainless steel with soft-grip, magnetic handles, so they stick together for easy storage.

A Liquid Measuring Cup

I know what you’re thinking: Are both dry and liquid measuring cups really necessary? The answer is yes. While they both measure the same volume, each cup is designed for that specific type of food or liquid.

So, when it comes to baking, you don’t want to mess with the science involved. The Pyrex Two-Cup is an excellent choice and should last you for years. The nonporous glass won’t absorb stains, and it’s also preheated-oven-, microwave-, fridge-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe.

A Whisk

A whisk will come in handy when you need to blend ingredients or incorporate air into a mixture. If you want super-fluffy scrambled eggs, for example, whipping air into them will do the trick, and that all starts with a whisk.

They’re also excellent for mixing dry ingredients or for making whipped cream, roux, or gravy. You get the picture, right? This three-pack is perfect because having multiple sizes will really come in handy.

A Strainer

Stainless-Steel Colander with fruit in it.
HiramWare

There are many types of strainers out there, including traditional-style ones, colanders, and fine-mesh sieves.

If you make a lot of pasta, all you’ll need is a simple colander with small holes, like this one from HiramWare. It’s made of stainless steel with handles, so it’s easy to hold while you drain off the excess water from your spaghetti or fettuccine. And of course, it’s not just for pasta—you can use it whenever you need to strain anything.

Spatulas

The OXO Good Grips Turner and Fish Turner.
OXO

When shopping for spatulas, there are three types that you’ll want in your kitchen. This silicone turner is perfect when you’re first starting out because it’s flexible and glides nicely under foods. You’ll use this for eggs, pancakes, burgers, and so much more.

The fish spatula is made to handle so much more than fish. It’s super thin and helps you pick up delicate foods thanks to its flexible, stainless-steel head.

If you bake or mix and fold a lot of batters, you’ll also definitely want a set of rubber scraper spatulas.

A Vegetable Peeler

Vegetable peelers are useful for conveniently removing skin from carrots, potatoes, or apples. You can either get a swivel or Swiss peeler, and we highly recommend the Swiss one.

A Swiss peeler with a carbon-steel blade is perfect for removing tough skins. Plus, it stays sharp for longer. This Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler is our favorite.

A Sheet Pan

Chocolate chip cookies on two Chicago Metallic sheet pans.
Chicago Metallic

Sheet pans are lovely to have in the kitchen because they can do so much! You can bake cookies, roast veggies, or cook potatoes on them, and so much more. There are also thousands of sheet-pan dinners available online if you need something fast and easy on busy weeknights.

Chicago Metallic Sheet Pans are the way to go. This one measures 15.75 x 13.75 inches and features turned-up edges, so your baked yummies can easily slide right off the nonstick surface.

An Instant-Read Thermometer

An instant-read thermometer is a real necessity when you’re working with meat and poultry, and you should always use them, especially when learning to work with meat and poultry.

This one from ThermoPro has a foldable probe for easy storage and will give you a temp in 3-5 seconds. It’s powered by AAA batteries (included) and will auto-shutoff after 10 minutes without use.

A Chef’s Knife

The WÜSTHOF Classic Eight-Inch Chef's Knife
WÜSTHOF

A chef’s knife is one of the most essential and versatile tools that every cook must have. You’ll use your chef’s knife for everything from chopping and mincing veggies to slicing meat, and so much more.

Chef’s knives come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and even in various types of steel. The type that you’ll need really depends on the types of food that you cook most often, but WÜSTHOF is a classic, reliable brand. This eight-inch model will get you started. 

A Cutting Board

Someone slicing roast beef on the Joseph Joseph Meat Cutting Board.
Joseph Joseph

If you plan to use your new chef’s knife to chop, mince, or slice fruits and veggies, then you’re going to need a good cutting board, too.

Steer clear of glass boards, as they can dull and ruin your knives over time. If you plan to cook up lots of meat and veggies, we recommend that you get two cutting boards.

A plastic board, like this one from Joseph Joseph, is best for meat, while a hardwood board is handy to have around for everything else.


If you’ve recently discovered the joy of cooking, this list can help you stock up on the essentials that every home chef needs. Be sure to bookmark it so that you can add a few new kitchen tools to your arsenal whenever you can spare the cash.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »

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