What Are the Top 12 Cooking Utensils Every Cook Should Own?
There are so many great cooking gadgets on the market and lots of options associated with each tool. What it's made of? Size? Type of handle? Weight? Design?
You may think this makes choosing the right one for you needs more confusing and it can but it also allows you to find the perfect tool to fit your needs. I love it. Without going into the minutia for each of these tools, I want to share some of my favorite cooking utensils you'll find in my kitchen.
How to Buy Cooking Utensils
If you are thinking of adding one of these items to your kitchen drawer or replacing one you purchased or borrowed from home many years ago, I suggest you go to a store where you can get several models into your hands. Play with it.
See if it feels good. Hopefully, you'll be spending a lot of time creating some incredible meals with it's help so make sure it feels good in your hand.
Everyone Needs Some Good Cooking Spoons
Spoons come in all sizes and can be made out of many different materials. Spoons are great for serving, for stirring, for skimming off fat, for tasting.
I recommend spoons that have integrated handles - ones that are made in one piece. This eliminates the chance of the handle getting loose, falling off, or getting food stuck in it.
Wooden spoons are great because you can leave them in the pot and the handle won’t get hot. Also, they won’t scratch your non-stick pans, making them a good all-around choice.
Other options include stainless steel, silicone-coated and plastic. I'm not a big fan of stainless except for serving spoons because they can get hot. I would also stay away from cheap plastic spoons that could melt, but I have some heat resistant plastic spoons that work great.
And Don't Forget Those Handy Slotted Spoons
Like their solid-bowled cousins, slotted spoons come in a wide variety of materials and sizes. Slotted spoons excel at removing solid foods from liquids. You can even use one as an egg separator. Again, look for all-in-one models to reduce the chance of breakage.
The Ever Handy Spatulas
When I think of “spatulas,” three types come to mind: the kind with long, thin metal blades for spreading icing, the plastic or metal kind for turning hamburgers and the kind with rubber or silicone blades for folding ingredients or scraping bowls.
I recommend an offset spatula for spreading icing. This design keeps your knuckles out of the way.
For hamburger and grilled cheese turning, find a spatula that will fit easily in your pan and mirror the shape of the food you are turning. You might do well to have a large and a smaller version of a hamburger spatula for use in different pans. Purchase thin-bladed models that will easily slide under the food you are turning.
When purchasing a rubber spatula, do find one with a silicone blade. This way, you can use them when scrambling eggs. Also, silicone blades are not as prone to discoloring as rubber/plastic models.
For all three models, if you cannot find a design with an integrated handle, look for spatulas whose handles are firmly affixed.
Let's Not Forget the Useful Fish Spatula
Yes, it is a a pretty specialized piece of kitchen equipment, a fish spatula generally has a metal blade with many long slots cut out. These cut-outs decrease drag and make it easier to turn a delicate fish fillet.
If you have the space, or cook a lot of fish, they are nice to have. If you can find one with an integrated handle, get it. Otherwise, do look for one that has a riveted handle.
You May Call It a Skimmer, But It's a Spider
Also called a ‘skimmer,’ a spider is a shallow mesh basket, usually attached to a bamboo handle. A spider is the tool to use to remove delicate foods from boiling liquid, such as wontons or ravioli.
I’ve seen ones in professional kitchens up to 8” in diameter, but a 4” bowl works nicely in a home kitchen. While not a necessity, if you have the space, a spider can come in quite handy.
The All Important Kitchen Shears
In my opinion, not enough people use kitchen shears. They make short work of everything from taking the backbone out of a chicken to cutting up sticky dried fruit. I like the models that come apart in two pieces to ensure that you can thoroughly clean them.
I would not trust a pair of kitchen shears that don’t come apart—too much opportunity for food to get stuck. Look for stainless steel models that you can get sharpened when they get dull.
The Most Important Kitchen Item - Tongs
Tongs are another kitchen utensil that get under-used in many kitchens but not mine. I have three pair because I use them often when cooking, cutting, serving, you name it.
Tongs are great for turning meats without piercing or keeping a piece of meat steady when slicking. You can use tongs to slide out your oven racks when the oven is hot or grab a piece of food that's fallen out of the fry pan and into the stove top.
How about serving foods from a pan to the plate like steamed vegetables or baked potatoes. You can even serve pasta like spaghetti with your tongs. And if you're playing music while you are cooking and have the beat, tongs are great for playing like a pair of hand held castanets.
I like the spring-loaded tongs although some people complain they make your hand tired. I don't find that a problem but you can find versions that don't have the spring or ones that can be locked into different positions.
All of my kitchen tongs are stainless but you can find them with silicone handles that insulate the handle so you can leave them in a pan without burning your hand. I prefer not to leave them in a pan. And you'll find tongs come in all sizes and lengths.
For cooking indoors, I prefer 8" to 10" tongs but for grilling, I own some 12'-14 inch versions so I don't have to get my hands too close to the heat.
Whisk It - Whisk It Good
A most useful piece of kitchen equipment, whisks come in many shapes and sizes and are designed for everything from whipping meringues to making vinaigrette and gravies. And there are all sorts of whisk styles and sizes, each for a specific type of whisking.
Whisks seem to come in many shapes and sizes and it is easy to get confused when trying to figure out which one is right for our own personal cooking needs. Do I need a balloon whisk, straight whisk or one of those weird looking ball-in-ball whisks?
For a comprehensive look at whisks.
What About A Trusty Citrus Reamer
Citrus reamers are generally made of wood or plastic. They are compact utensils designed with a conical head to insert into a citrus half to extract the juice.
Do not get one with too much of a point on the end, or it could pierce through the skin of the fruit and stab you in the hand while you’re reaming.
The All Important Peeler
I cannot believe how many different types of peelers there are on the market—you can find them for prices ranging from $1.00 to $15+. Despite the wide variety out there, they can generally be grouped into one of two types, the in-line peeler and the “Y” peeler.
The in-line peeler has been around for years, but the “Y” peeler is relatively new. I have used both and have not developed a strong preference one way or the other. The one you choose depends completely upon your own preference.
Do get a fairly hefty model with an ergonomic handle to make it easy to grip. Also look for a sharp, stainless steel blade, because there is nothing worse than trying to peel potatoes with your grandmother’s dull peeler.
The Handy Garlic Press
Made like a small potato ricer, a garlic press can turn a clove or two of garlic into a paste in no time flat. If you are going to use a garlic press, know that this method of preparation will yield the most pungent garlic flavor since it will extract more volatile oils than simply dicing or mincing with a knife.
Purchase a substantial model with a sturdy hinge. A handy feature is an integrated cleaner that can clean out the garlic that inevitably gets stuck in the tiny holes of the press.
Here’s another useful tool to have in your utensil drawer. Used to slice thin pieces of cheese with minimal drag, there are two basic kinds.
One is a “Y” slicer that uses a wire and a rolling metal cylinder to slice through semi-soft and firm cheeses. The other has a broad metal blade with a sharpened slot towards the handle. Use this style with harder cheeses.
Of the two, the second type is my preference. I think they are easier to clean. Whichever type you prefer, purchase one with either an integrated or riveted handle.
Have You Ever Used a Potato Masher
Potato mashers can be made out of plastic or metal. I recommend a metal version as often the plastic versions can break easily, become discolored or even melt in a hot pan.
Buy a sturdy masher built for the kind of mashed potatoes you like. Get one with many holes if you like smooth potatoes.
If you are more a fan of chunky mashed or smashed potatoes, get the kind that mashes with one continuous thick wire. Since a masher is used pretty vigorously, get one that feels comfortable in your hand and one with an integrated or riveted handle.
The Ladle - A Favorite of the Professionals
Ladles aren’t used as much in a home kitchen as they are in professional kitchens, but they do have a couple of advantages over spoons. You can get calibrated ladles to dip out any amount from an ounce to 8 ounces.
Also, ladles have very long handles and can keep your hands out of the way of very hot liquids. With their handles perpendicular to their bowls, they are made especially to fit down into large, tall pots. Get a ladle with an integrated handle that is a comfortable size for you in your kitchen.
onlinesources: Cooking Utensils
There are lots of sources for purchasing quality Kitchen Gadgets and Housewares including whisks, spoons, measuring devices and all the fun gadgets we home cooks have come to love. I suggest you check out your local department stores and kitchen supply shops but if you're looking for a wide selection of products and prices, you may want to check out Amazon.com where I buy many of my favorite pieces of cookware.
Amazon.com - Kitchen Gadgets
- Started out in the book business but now they sell just about everything. Good prices, ok service, these are the folks many of have done business with and feel comfortable with.