One of the basic premises of living a simple, frugal lifestyle is learning how to cook. And cooking well can be full of fun and a great experience. But you can’t do much cooking without the best kitchen tools for the job.
Using a small bowl for mixing up a cake can be messy. There isn’t enough room to blend, stir, and mix without at least half of your batter landing on the counter. And grabbing a hot dish out of an oven without protection will result in serious burns.
Instead of just ‘winging it’, start stocking up with the best kitchen tools you can find. But don’t worry. You don’t have to drain your savings account and rush out to buy all of the items on the list.
All you have to do is use these tips and lists to help you slowly and surely build your collection of the best kitchen tools for the way you cook!
Just so you know: This post contains affiliate links; if you click on a link and make a purchase I might make a small commission, but it does not affect the price you pay!
Tips for Stocking up with the Best Kitchen Tools for the Job
Before we go into which are the best kitchen tools for the job, consider these tips on stocking up:
Take an Inventory of What you Have
Knowing what you already have will prevent you from duplicating items. In the case of rarely used or obscure items, this may mean searching your drawers and cabinets.
Create a list of what you do have, then compare it to the lists below. Use highlighters in different colors to help differentiate between what you have and what you want.
Need a little help with that? I have your back! I have created a free downloadable set of lists of the best kitchen tools for the job. Just click HERE!
Grab a Cup of Coffee, Sit a Spell and Think About It
All cooks have a ‘required’ item, and that item may not be necessary for another cook. To begin, purchase only that which you use on a regular basis and need. Add to it as you go along.
You don’t have to purchase some of the smaller items. Consider thinking outside the box. I have a collection of small Pampered Chef measuring bowls. But at times, I also use a selection of vintage individual creamer bottles. These are a perfect size for measuring out spices for my Spice Mix recipes. If you have it, use it.
Consider not only what you cook, but how you cook. Since most of our meals are from scratch, we do a lot of dicing. Fresh herbs are chopped, mixes are stirred, dough is mixed and kneaded, and the cookie cutters get a lot of action.
Because of this, I choose the best kitchen tools and opt for the best quality I can afford. When available I choose stainless steel. Stainless steel is better than aluminum. It is also recommended for certain jobs, such as cheese making and canning tomatoes, as it is non-reactive.
If you use wooden spoons, opt for heavier ones. The inexpensive ones have a tendency to break. If necessary, purchase what you can afford. As you go along, replace one item at a time with a better-quality piece. Help them all last longer by occasionally wiping them down with Spoon Butter.
Consider the Future
One of my goals is to learn how to make my own pasta, including ravioli. Over the course of time, I have purchased (or received as a gift) several of the kitchen tools I need to do so – a pasta maker, a ravioli pan, small rolling pin, and plenty of recipes.
I now have everything to get started, even if it took a few years to do so. By thinking about what you may want to learn to prepare in the kitchen, you can make your own list of the best kitchen tools to use and work on obtaining what you still need.
Don’t Forget the Gift List!
There have been many times I have wanted to learn something new, but the list for the tools was long. When I decided I wanted to learn to make cheese, I made a list of all the things I would need. From there, I searched websites to find them.
Cheesemaking.com was not only a wealth of information, but also carried all the tools, supplies, and ingredients I would need. So, I simply made a list of everything I needed and wanted, and made a note on the list of the website.
For several years, I was able to build up the best kitchen tools for cheese making, thanks to the generosity of family members at birthdays and Christmas. I was able to use my money to invest in the different cultures and ingredients I would need to move forward.
The Best Kitchen Tools for the Job
The following lists are divided into several categories. The first one is a list of just the basic tools needed in most any kitchen.
These are also lists of the most used items. They are by no means a complete list, especially items on the ‘Luxury Items’ list. There may be tools for other baking or cooking that you are wishing for. If that is the case, just add them to your own personal list!
(Note: The links below are from both Amazon and Etsy. Whenever possible, I use Etsy or our local kitchen shops, as I strive to support small businesses!)
Basic Kitchen Tools for the Job
- Large Mixing Spoon
- Large Slotted Spoon
- Spatulas (small, medium and large)
- Wooden Spoons & Wooden Spoon Butter
- Whisk (at the least a small one and a larger one)
- Meat Fork
- Mixer – Hand & Stand
- Wet Measuring Cups
- Dry Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons (two sets – one for wet / one for dry is optimal, but not required)
- Flour Sifter
- Mixing Bowls – from small to large (and in some cases, even extra-large!)
- Cutting Board
- Knives & Sharpeners (see a list of these below)
- Meat Tenderizer (hand-held)
- Can Opener – manual
- Church Key (a type of can opener that has a triangle point to open juice cans)
- Cooling Racks
- Thermometers (meat, candy & oven)
- Rolling Pin
- Cheese Grater
- Lemon Juicer
- Canisters/Containers (for dry goods)
- Dish Towels & Cloths
- Hot Pads
Luxury Kitchen Items
This is a list of things that are great to have, and can make your life easier in the kitchen. However, most of them are ‘extras’. There is probably a basic kitchen item you can use instead.
- Danish Dough Whisk
- Linen Bread Couche
- Banneton Bread Basket
- Stoneware (Be sure to measure the interior of your oven before purchasing stoneware)
- Baguette Pan
- Kitchen Aid Mixer & Attachments
- Garlic Mincer
- Ulu Cutting Board & Knife – (this is my favorite kitchen tool yet. I have purchased Ulu sets as gifts, and recommended them to others who also now swear by them!)
- Nutmeg Grater
- Pasta Maker
- Pasta Drying Rack
- Ravioli Form
- Zoodler (used for cutting vegetables in ‘curls’)
- Cookbook Stand
- Marble Board
- Pizza Peel (some folks refer to this as a Pizza Paddle)
- Kitchen Shears (a quality pair!)
- Meat Grinder (for small to medium jobs – larger projects require an industrial grinder!)
- Meat Tenderizer (to use for processing or freezing larger quantities)
If you do any cooking at all, you more than likely have a set of kitchen knives. But not all knives are alike, and the less expensive ones usually don’t do a great job or stay sharp for very long.
Knives are by far the most used and best kitchen tools you will use. Rarely do you do any cooking or baking that doesn’t require at least one. They slice, dice, chop, bone, peel, core and do many other jobs in the kitchen.
Do yourself a big favor – start searching for and stocking up on quality knives. You don’t have to purchase an official set of chef knives, but high-quality ones are truly the best kitchen tools for the job!
The Knives You May Need
Paring – Usually 3” to 4” in length. Use this knife for small jobs, such as peeling fruit, hulling strawberries or other thing a chef’s knife is too large to do.
8” to 10” Chef (also called a ‘clip point’, cook or kitchen knife) – This is the one knife you will use the most for prep work. It is used for chopping fruits, vegetables, herbs and meats. The length and width may be unwieldy at first, if you have never used one. But because of the size, it is relatively safe to use. Do not use this knife to peel hard rind vegetables, such as winter squash, as a carving knife, or to debone or cut up chicken.
Serrated / Bread – Usually 6” to 10” in length, this blade has a ridged (or almost scalloped) edge. Because it is normally associated with slicing bread, it is referred to as a bread knife. But it is for more than bread. We use ours to slice tomatoes, larger fruits such as watermelon, and for hard rind vegetables such as squash. Rather than the chopping a Chef’s knife is used for, this knife requires a sawing motion.
Ulu – This is our go-to blade when it comes to dicing vegetables and chopping fresh herbs. The knife itself has a curved blade, which works beautifully with the shallow bowl in an Ulu cutting board.
Boning – A boning knife is usually has a thinner blade with a curve toward the handle. It has a sharp point and is used for cutting the meat around the bone. Do not mistake this as a cleaver, which is used to chop through the bones. However, it does give you the ability to cut through the cartilage between the bones.
Cleaver – You probably recognize this as one a butcher would use, but it isn’t the same thing as a ‘butcher’ knife. A cleaver is a large rectangular knife with a short handle. It is used to cut through bone and meat with relative ease. In spite of their size, they are fairly lightweight.
Butcher (round end/carving) – This has an appearance similar to a chef’s knife but is a bit sturdier. It is used to cut thick meats and bones. It is not, however, for precision cuts. Once your meat is cut, use a chef’s knife for the precision work.
Sharpening Your Knives
All knives are great until they lose their edge. A dull knife is useful for nothing more than mangling whatever it is you need to cut or chop. Always sharpen your knives before you use them. Once they are sharpened, rinse them off and dry them thoroughly.
A honing steel looks like a long steel rod with a handle attached. It is rough, and designed to sharpen your knives. With the honing steel in one hand, grasp your knife by the handle. From the handle to the tip of the knife, slide the edge of the blade along the steel in a slightly upward motion. Do this on both sides of the blade until the knife is once again razor sharp.
If you use a sharpening stone, the process is basically the same. However, some stones require you to use a food grade oil. If this is the case, thoroughly wash your knife before using it for food preparation.
Caring for your Knives
Other than sharpening your blades on a regular basis, there are only two other things you need to do. The first is to make sure you wash your knives thoroughly after each use. Hand wash them in hot water, and dry thoroughly. Dried on food would have to be scrubbed off, and it is not advisable to use stainless steel pads on them. It can cause scratching.
Secondly, if your knives have wooden handles, give them a good coat of Spoon Butter occasionally. This keeps the wood from drying out. Be sure to let the butter sit overnight, then wipe your knife handles clean the next morning. Never put wooden handle knives in the dishwasher, as this will dry out the wood.
With all things canning, be sure you use proper canning procedures. If you are not sure what those are, consult your local Extension Agency, the Ball Blue Book, other reference book, or speak with someone who is knowledgeable. Improper canning will result in foods containing Botulism, which can cause severe illness and death.
(If you need to know more, you can read The Basics of Canning here!)
One of the best ways to ensure your canned food turns out safe is by using the best kitchen tools for canning. This is a basic list of supplies and equipment you will need:
- Water Bath Canner
- Pressure Canner
- Jars – Specifically designed for canning (1/2 pint; pint; quart – regular and/or wide mouth)
- Flats & Rings – to fit jars (use new or reusable, such as Mountain View Designs. Rings can be reused. Single-use flats cannot. Be sure all rings and flats are free from rust and damage)
- Jar Lifter
- Hot Pads
- Clean cotton cloth (to use when cleaning rims)
- Stainless Steel (non-reactive) cookware (pots, spoons, etc.)
- Canning Funnel
- Bubble Popper – Thin plastic piece to remove air bubbles from filled jars
Although Salt is actually an ingredient, I still want to make a few notes on what to use.
- Canning Salt – the purest form of salt, (no additives) which is better suited to canning.
- Table Salt – can be used in canning in a pinch, but it will discolor and cloud the liquid.
- Sea Salt – can be used, but requires grinding and measurement conversions. I recommend only using Canning Salt (also called ‘pickling’ salt)
Just a Note: These lists are nowhere near all the best kitchen tools you may need or want. If I listed the all, there wouldn’t be enough paper to print the lists! If you think or see something you may need or want, but just aren’t sure, talk to someone who loves to cook. They can offer their opinion and guide you towards the best kitchen tools they use for their cooking style!
Another option for finding the best kitchen tools is to shop local. I have my favorite kitchen shop – Cane River Kitchenware in Natchitoches, Louisiana. I can find specialty items that are unique, and not always available in other stores. I love their specialty oils and flavored vinegars especially, but always leave with something else I just couldn’t live without.
Not only do I find great items, but by shopping locally I am supporting my community and small business owners. It’s a win/win for everyone! And many of them have websites for your convenience!
Stock Up with the Best Kitchen Tools for the Job!
I don’t know about you, but just thinking about all of the best kitchen tools available and what they are used for is making me want to go to the kitchen and start cooking! Knowing I already have several of the items on the lists helps me to know my time whipping, chopping, dicing, blending and mixing will be much easier and a great way to spend a pleasant afternoon!
What’s on your Best Kitchen Tools list? Don’t forget to download your printable copy to get your list making started. To keep you from scrolling back up, here it is again!
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