The Definitive Essential Kitchen Tools List
Restauranteur or Amateur
Set Standards for Your Essential Kitchen Tools and Equipment
Well-designed tools and equipment have characteristics that you want to look for that aid in overall efficiency. These are some great guidelines to follow when selecting your kitchen tools and equipment.
- Equipment must be easily cleaned
- Anything that contacts food must be nontoxic, nonabsorbent, corrosion resistant and nonreactive
- All food contact surfaces should be smooth to avoid bacterial growth
Essential Kitchen Tools Starters
Hand tools are designed to aid in cutting, shaping, moving or combining foods. They have almost zero moving parts. Knives are the most important hand tool you can buy. Others are metal or rubber spatulas, spoons, whisks, and tongs. They are essential kitchen tools nonetheless and every kitchen must have a variation of each.
Serving spoon that allows for liquid to pass through.
Allows more liquid to pass through than the perforated spoon.
Used to peel vegetables and to ribbon cut vegetables.
Incorporates air quickly into a food.
Much more slender, a French Whisk is used to mix products quickly.
There are two types of rubber spatulas. The white handled spatula is for low heat, and the red handled spatula is for high heat. Many restaurants stock the high heat spatula exclusively, but it is a bit more rigid.
Used instead of a metal spatula. Retains its stiffness as opposed to a rubber spatula and does not scratch non-stick or aluminum surfaces.
Used on a flat top grill for managing food. The common ‘burger flipper’ tool.
The melon baller (and opposite Parisienne scoop) is used to scoop and ball products such as fruits and vegetables.
zesting fruit skins is an important procedure when infusing essences into recipes, especially in baking.
Table Mounted Can Opener
You will find one of these in almost every kitchen. Not difficult to operate. If you are a new kitchen, you need one of these. If you are a home chef, you can go for a smaller option.
Second to the chef knife for importance in the kitchen. If you are using non-stick, be sure to get silicone versions to save your cookware. Always have a few on hand as you will use some for raw foods as well as cooked.
Tenderizes and flattens meats.
A versatile tool to use when carving or retrieving food from grill or flat top.
Used in baking for icing cakes to produce a smooth finish.
A good chef knife begins with a single piece of metal, stamped, cut, or best of all forged and temperated into a blade. Listed here are the materials typically used with most kitchen knives. The most essential kitchen tool is arguably the knife selection available. This is where many cooks and chefs invest the most into, as they are used daily.
An alloy of carbon and iron. This was traditionally used for blades as it was soft enough to be sharpened easily. It corrodes and loses color easily, especially with acidic foods. These types are not recommended for restaurants and require great care.
This blade will not rust, corrode or discolor. It is extremely durable, but it is much more difficult to sharpen. Once an edge is properly established, it keeps much longer.
High Carbon Stainless Steel
This knife contains the best feature sof the carbon steel and stainless steel varieties. It neither corrodes or discolors, and can be easily sharpened as a carbon steel knife. It is now the most frequent metal used for knives.
Essential Kitchen Knives
Your most important tool in the kitchen, and one you should not cheap out on. We recommend a Wusthoff 8″ for a good German steel knife, but others such as Shun, Henckels, Global, Caphalon, and Victorinox are good options as well.
Used when needing more precision or working in a smaller space.
Used for deboning poultry and fish. Flexible but strong blade. Highly recommended to use and get to know this knife.
To be used sans thumb and with four fingers for peeling or carving fruit and vegetables.
Used to create a turning cut, or tourner (French). Specialized tool for advanced cooks.
Used to cut through bone and meats. Not used much in the kitchens outside breaking down full carcasses.
Used to slice finished meats cleanly and with precision. Kept extremely sharp.
Used to slice through meats effectively from larger cuts and smaller bone.
Oyster and Clam Knives
Cleans and shucks.
Homemade solution for honing and sharpening your own blades.
Hones and maintains edges.
Measuring & Portioning Tools
In order to be as accurate as possible, owning the proper measuring tools is a vital component of your kitchen tool essentials. These come in many variations including temperature, time, volume, and weight.
Weight is a preferred method for scaling recipes as it provides a consistent measurement. This is especially important when dealing with recipe formulas (high end baker’s recipes). Many recipes call for volume measurements, which for practical purposes is just fine. It is always important to keep a weighted scale in your kitchen.
Baker’s Scale (Balance Scale)
Rarely used anymore outside old school bakers, this is a weighted scale that will not change over time and provides the most consistent measurements.
Used primarily to portion out food product before serving and not as a recipe scale. Some restaurants portion out everything to maintain food costs, and some don’t.
Digital Scale (Electronic Scale)
The most common weight scale. Uses digital readouts and can handle large weights, but can erode in accuracy over time.
Volume measurements are designed for liquids primarily, but can be used for dry goods as well.
Dry Measuring Cups
Liquid Measuring Cups
For greater liquid measurements over a cup, using liquid measuring cups is important. Glass isn’t used in commercial kitchens so you will see many plastic measuring cups instead.
Measuring Spoon Sets
Small scale liquid measurements.
Portion control for liquids and used in commercial setting for ensuring accurate volume when serving soups or sauces.
Quick volume portion scoops for measuring soft malleable products such as ice cream, muffin batter or mashed potatoes.
Temperature is an important measurement and is vital in any kitchen to have a variety of options. Many chefs keep their own personal instant-read thermometers on their coats for easy access.
Simple probe thermometers that give instant digital read outs.
Not practical in every day kitchens, but can be used to quickly judge a surfaces temperature (such as deep fry oil temp, flat top temp, grill temp, etc).
High-temperature thermometers are useful when cooking with sugar as sugar has several states that can change quickly.
Time management is an important skill that all cooks must develop and there is nothing wrong with ensuring that you have the proper tool available to assist in that ability.
Simple analog timers designed to be used quickly and effectively.
Some chefs have multiple timers to keep them on track.
Cookware includes sauteing pans and stockpots used on the stovetop as well as roasting pans, hotel pans, and specialty molds for inside the oven. Select your kitchen cookware based on its size, shape, ability to conduct heat evenly and quality of construction.
Types of Cookware Materials
Stainless steel conducts and retains heat poorly. It is a hard, durable metal which makes up for some of its shortcomings. Stainless steel is great for holding foods and for low-temperature cooking. This helps where hot spots or scorching are not problems. Many essential kitchen tools guides include stainless steel pots and pans. Stainless steel pots and pans can be had with aluminum or copper bonded bottoms or with an aluminum layered core. Such cookware gives the rapid, uniform heat conductivity of copper and aluminum. It also gives the strength and durability of stainless steel.
Cast-iron cookware distributes heat evenly and holds high temperatures very well. Use it often in griddles and large skillets. Although inexpensive, cast iron is heavy and brittle. If using in a commercial kitchen, keep it properly conditioned and dry to prevent rust.
Glass retains heat well but conducts heat poorly. It does not react with foods. Tempered glass is suitable for microwave cooking, as long as it does not have any metal on it. If you are in a commercial kitchen, you will want to avoid glass. These are not an essential kitchen tool as much as they are essential for a home chef. Thorough cleaning and total shut down occurs if glass breaks in a commercial kitchen.
Use ceramics, including earthenware, porcelain, and stoneware. Using them primarily for baking dishes, casseroles, and baking stones. This is because they conduct heat uniformly and hold temperatures well. Ceramics are nonreactive, inexpensive and suitable for microwave use. Cermicas are easily chipped or cracked and should not be used over direct flame. Quick temperature changes can cause the ceramic cookware to crack or shatter.
Plastic containers are used frequently for food storage or service. They cannot be used for heating or cooking, except in a microwave oven.
Do not use pans lined with enamel for commercial cooking. In many areas, their use in commercial kitchens is prohibited by law. The enamel can chip or crack easily, providing areas for bacteria to grow. Also, chemicals used to bond the enamel to the cookware can cause food poisoning if ingested.
Without affecting a metal’s ability to conduct heat, a plastic known as Teflon and Silverstone may be applied to many types of cookware. It provides a slippery, nonreactive finish that prevents food from sticking and allows the use of less fat in cooking.
Do not use non-stick cookware on high heat and be mindful not to use metal utensils as it can scratch or chip the coating.
Essential Kitchen Tools: Pots and Pans
Rondeau or Brazier
Essential Kitchen Tools: Strainers and Sieves
Used in almost every high-end recipe involving soups and sauces. Strainers and sieves provide an essential role as a tool in the kitchen. Many restaurants have several strainers on hand and readily available and it is advisable that any home setups have proper strainers and sieves.
Processing equipment includes both electrical and nonelectrical devices that slive, chop, puree, grind or mix foods. These devices are designed for precision and are time savers. A commercial kitchen will spend heavy on high-quality commercial versions of this equipment. Home chefs would be served for decades with such products if under proper care.
Food Chopper or Buffalo Chopper
Heavy Duty Blender
Most heavy equipment is purchased and installed during the construction of a kitchen and with proper care can last many years. They can sometimes be leased or purchased used to save money. There are always home versions of the heavy equipment and they tend to be fairly cheap and inexpensive.