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The 6 Kitchen Essentials Everyone Forgets to Upgrade

A rice cooker, a silver wok, and a wooden cutting board with veggies on top
Aroma Housewares/Craft Wok/Sonder Los Angeles

Many cooks have been using the same scratched-up cutting board and rusted stirring spoons for decades. Most of us just don’t think about replacing or upgrading these tools until we have to use them again. But why wait until the next time you have to do math in your head because you still don’t have a kitchen scale? It’s time to upgrade these kitchen essentials.

Experienced cooks know that you’re only as good as the tools and supplies that you use. If you’ve gone way too long without a decent basting brush, it’s time to stock up on a few of those, along with these other kitchen necessities.

Wooden Cooking Spoon Set

Three wooden spoons of increasing sizes
Scanwood

Spoons made of metal or plastic might work fine for most recipes, but they both have their downsides. Plastic isn’t very durable and breaks down over time.

Metal spoons are more likely to scratch your pots, pans, and bowls. Certain metals can also react with the ingredients in sauces and leave a bad taste in your food.

That’s why some well-made wooden spoons are handy to have around. This olive-wood spoon set from Scanwood offers three different sizes. They’re sturdy enough to stand up to anything from sauces to stiff batters.

Just remember, you should never put wooden spoons in the dishwasher—you should always wash them by hand.

A Kitchen Scale

A white kitchen scale on a wood counter with apples in the background
Escali

Many recipes now cite the weight of ingredients rather than using the imperial system of measurement used in the United States.

In many ways, this is helpful, as one cup of flour might vary based on your location. How tightly the flour is packed, if it’s heaped up, or if there’s an empty pocket somewhere, can also affect the measurement. The weight, however, is always the same.

This is why a reliable kitchen scale can be a huge help on your cooking adventures. This one from Escali is easy to use and will give you measurements in ounces or grams. You can also choose from a variety of colors to match your kitchen décor.

A Wok

A silver wok with a rounded hande on one side and a wood handle on the other
Craft Wok

Yes, it really does make a difference to cook (especially stir-fry) in a wok. The high sides of the pan make it more useful than your all-purpose frying pan, especially for cooking at high temperatures with a lot of stirring and flipping around.

You can’t go wrong with this traditional option by Craft Wok. The pans are handmade by Chinese craftsmen from sturdy steel that conducts heat especially well. The only trick is that this pan doesn’t have a nonstick coating, so it must be seasoned before use.

A Rice Cooker

Silver and black rice cooker sitting on a white countertop
Aroma Housewares

Cooking rice on a stove is fine, but upgrading to a rice cooker can make cooking your grains easier and more consistent.

One of the best things about a rice cooker is that you don’t have to keep an eye on it the whole time. It cooks on a timed setting, so no more peeking into a pot of cooking rice and letting out valuable steam.

This Aroma Housewares rice cooker has multiple settings that allow you to set cook times and temperatures for different grains.

Silicone Brushes

Two black-handled silicone pastry brushes
OXO

If you’ve ever baked pastry or used a marinade, there’s a good chance that you’ve bought some sort of pastry brush. It’s time to upgrade from traditional bristles to silicone brushes.

A silicone brush offers a more even texture for applying egg washes, glazes, and marinades, without you having to worry about the liquid soaking into the bristles and lingering.

The OXO line pairs a well-designed handle that’s easy to grip with multilayered silicone bristles. They’re even dishwasher safe, so you’ll never have to worry about yesterday’s barbeque sauce getting into today’s pastry.

A Wooden Cutting Board

A chef cutting veggies on a wood cutting board
Sonder Los Angeles

Contrary to popular belief, a wooden cutting board is no more likely to hold bacteria than a plastic one. In fact, wood is actually much easier on your knife blades. Trust us—you (and your knives) will notice the difference, especially if you care for the board (Wash it with soap and water.) and oil it monthly!

Grab one made of nice walnut or cherry wood, like this one from Sonder Los Angeles. Although it’s a bit pricier, it can also double as a charcuterie board. Also, if you have two cutting boards—one for raw meats and another for other foods—it adds an extra layer of food safety.


You don’t have to be a master chef to appreciate the difference that some really nice kitchen tools can make. If you upgrade just a few of your older, well-used items, you’ll be thankful when you remember that you don’t have to use that crusty, rusted metal stirring spoon anymore.

While you’re at it, if your kitchen could use a good tidying-up, you might want to add a few handy organizers to your cart.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »

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