Essential Kitchen Tools Checklist

Cooking is easier and faster with the right equipment. Stock your kitchen with these basics.

Spoons, Ladles, and More

  1. Check Ladle

    Look for a large “bowl” that makes it easy to serve soups. Also, a bent handle at the top allows you to hook the ladle on the side of a pot without it falling in.

  2. Check Locking tongs

    Select a style with nonslip handles and scalloped tips for a firm grip. Use for turning meats and tossing vegetables in a skillet.

  3. Check Metal spatula

    An offset thin blade will allow you to get under delicate items like cookies and pancakes. A medium-length blade will prevent flipping or picking up foods at an awkward angle.

  4. Check Rubber spatula

    Should be sturdy enough to maneuver heavy doughs but flexible enough to get into jar corners. Silicone models are heat-resistant and can be used in pots.

  5. Check Slotted spoon

    Pick a sturdy spoon with a stainless steel handle that won’t get too hot.

  6. Check Whisk

    A solid rather than a wired handle will prevent food from getting stuck inside. Buy one with thin wires (not thick, heavy ones) to make sure it’s well-balanced when whipping egg whites or cream.

For Slicing

  1. Check Chef’s knife

    Opt for an 8- to 9-inch blade with a thick bolster, the metal that extends from the handle to the edge of the blade and acts as a finger guard while you’re chopping. This knife should feel comfortable in your hand.

  2. Check Garlic press

    A nice shortcut while chopping: one that works on unpeeled cloves and is dishwasher-safe.

  3. Check Grater

    A box grater is the most versatile with six different grate options to shred, shave, dust, and zest. Choose one with a sturdy handle.

  4. Check Kitchen shears

    Invest in a sturdy pair with tapered, fine tips and roomy handles.

  5. Check Lemon press

    The best models are big enough for both a lime and a lemon and have ridges to grip fruit better.

  6. Check Microplane grater

    For small tasks that require a fine grater—zesting lemons and grating Parmesan, garlic, and nutmeg—use a razor-sharp, stainless steel model.

  7. Check Paring knife

    The blade should fall between 3 to 4 inches for small, fine cuts like coring tomatoes and peeling fruits and vegetables. A sturdy model’s blade will extend through the handle.

  8. Check Potato masher

    A curved head will let you get into corners of bowls and pots.

  9. Check Serrated bread knife

    You want a rigid blade of at least 8 inches and an offset handle, which will let you slice through sandwiches without banging your knuckles on the cutting board.

  10. Check Y-shaped vegetable peeler

    This will give you a better grip than a traditional swivel model for hard-to-peel foods like mangoes and butternut squash.

Other Equipment

  1. Check Can opener

    A safe-cut, or smooth-edge, model cuts around the outside of the can, rather than the lid; produces smooth edges; and will never lower the lid into your food.

  2. Check Corkscrew

    A standard waiter’s corkscrew will open both beer and wine and take up much less space than a two-armed model.

  3. Check Instant-read thermometer

    Find one that is easy-to-read and shatterproof.

  4. Check Measuring cups

    You’ll want measuring cups for both dry and wet ingredients. For dry ingredients, you’ll need at least 1-cup and 4-cup measuring tools on hand.

  5. Check Measuring spoons

    Oval models are more likely to fit into spice jars.

  6. Check Peppermill

    An easily adjustable grind setting will let you go from coarse to fine. A large hole allows easy refilling of the peppercorns.

  7. Check Salad spinner

    You can use one with a solid bowl for both swishing greens clean and serving them.

  8. Check Timer

    Some digital models allow for multiple timekeepings, so you can track a roast in the oven, potatoes on the stovetop, and dough in the refrigerator—all at the same time.

  9. Check Wire mesh colanders

    Buy one with a foot at the bottom to ensure your pasta won't sit in the residual puddle in the sink. You can use a small one as a flour sifter in a pinch.