We’ve put together a useful list of all the basic tools you need for a fully stocked kitchen. Why? Because acquiring the right kitchen tools can usually be an inconvenient and confusing process. You’ve decided to cook a delicious new roast chicken recipe and halfway through realize you’re missing a basting brush. The recipe says to use a rubber spatula but you only have a metal one. Does it really make a difference? Yes!
Not all tools are created equal. Having the right tool at the right time makes life so much easier. Why not save yourself from a future cooking disaster and stock your kitchen with the most essential tools you need a head of time? While this isn’t a list of ALL the kitchen tools you’ll ever need, it’s a great place to start.
You don’t need to buy your new kitchen tools from a trendy home goods store either. While stores like Crate and Barrel are beautiful to browse through, the truth is you can get the same basic tools for half the price elsewhere. Spend on items like knives and food processors and save on items like measuring cups and tongs. A great place to find deals on quality kitchen tools is restaurant supply stores. Don’t rule out the dollar store for basic white dishes either.
1. Food Processor
While you might think this kitchen tool will collect dust in the corner, I guarantee it becomes your most used item. Whether you’re a culinary master or just too lazy to ever chop vegetables, a food processor will come in handy. You can whip up a morning smoothie, puree a soup and blend a guacamole with ease.
While you can find decent food processors for under $40, I recommend splurging on this tool. A good food processor like the 14 Cup Cuisine Art version can last a lifetime. And if it doesn’t many of the quality ones come with lifetime warranties.
Cuisine Art DFP-14BCNY 14-Cup Food Processor: Cost $200 to $250
Hamilton Beach 10-Cup FoodProcessor: $40-$55
2. Immersion Blender
Immersion blenders make life so much more convenient! It’s also known as a stick blender and is used to blend ingredients in the container they are already in. A good immersion blender will save you time and the headache of washing extra kitchen tools.
You can use it to puree soups, get lumps out of mashed potatoes, or whip up your own baby food. I use mine all the time! It’s also great for baking. Try using one to make homemade whipped cream.
KitchenAid 2-Speed Hand Blender: $45-$60
3. Stock Pot 16-Quart
A stock pot is a large pot that’s used to make homemade broths, large portions of soup, and even boil pasta. Look for a 12-16 quart stock pot. While there are smaller sizes, a 16 quart stock pot will have you covered even when you’re feeding a crowd.
Look for a stock pot made from stainless steel or enamel. If you’re a fan of meal prepping or throwing dinner parties, this kitchen tool will get a lot of use. Don’t forget the lid!
4. Cast Iron Skillet
Did you know people have been cooking with cast iron skillets for over 2,000 years? A cast iron skillet is sure to become one of your most used kitchen tools. It will also last you a life time.
Cast iron skillets are extremely durable and can cook almost anything. You can use it on the stove or throw it in the oven. Look for a cast iron skillet that’s pre seasoned and made with heavy cast iron like this one from Lodge.
5. Baking Dish
Here’s another great kitchen tool to have if you meal prep or cook for more than one person. Baking dishes are great for casseroles, baked goods and even roasts. If you’re a fan of comfort foods you’ll get a lot of use out of it. Baked ziti or mac and cheese anyone? Yum!
Look for a ceramic or glass baking dish. A good size to go for is 13 inches x 9 inches. If you cook a lot opt for a set of baking dishes so you always have the right size on hand.
Staub 13 x 9 inch Baking Dish: $70-$90
6. Sheet Pan
A sheet pan is usually the one item almost everyone has in their kitchen. Like a cast iron skillet, you can cook virtually anything on it. It’s also perfect for warming up leftovers or even cooking that frozen pizza.
Look for an aluminum sheet pan that’s large enough to fit enough food for at least four. A good sheet pan should be light weight, sturdy and not easy to bend. I recommend stocking up on at least two sheet pans.
7. Slow Cooker
This is kitchen tool is one of my favorites to use. A slow cooker can make life so much more convenient if you love to cook but don’t have a lot of time. Slow cooked recipes are full of flavor and deliver tender, juicy meat that melts in your mouth and you can read our slow cooker reviews to choose the best one for your needs.
The best part about a slow cooker is that you can simply dump the ingredients in and walk away! There is so little effort involved. Most slow cooker recipes take about 8 hours to fully cook. Put the ingredients in before work and voila, you can come home to a delicious meal!
8. Sieve or Colander
A colander or sieve comes in handy when you need to drain pasta or wash vegetables. This is a kitchen tool you can buy once and never have to purchase again. It should last you forever.
Look for a colander with easy grip sides and “feet” to help keep it in place. I recommend getting at least a 5 quart colander but a bigger one might come in handy if you feed a crowd. You can also find collapsable colanders if you have minimal space for storage.
5 Quart Colander: $15-$20
9. Wine and Bottle Opener
Even if you don’t cook, you need this one kitchen tool! Maybe even more than one. There’s nothing more annoying than coming home after a long day and not being able to open the wine or crack a beer!
Even if you don’t drink alcohol you’ll still get a lot of use out of a good bottle opener. Look for one with a cork screw, collapsable side knife and can opener. While there are a lot of fancy bottle openers out there, a standard stainless steal one is a great place to start.
10. A Great Chef’s Knife
Here’s one kitchen tool you definitely want to splurge on. While most knives might look the same, they’re not all created equal! A cheap kitchen knife will wear out quickly and you’ll be left with mushy looking edges when you’re trying to cut soft vegetables like tomatoes.
While a professional set of chef knives can run you upwards of $200+, you really only need two type of knives, a chef’s knife and a serrated knife. Stick to a classic 8 Inch chef knife that you can use to cut almost anything. If it doesn’t come with a sharpener you should definitely pick one up!
11. A Serrated Knife
Along with a chef’s knife, a serrated knife is essential. While you can cut almost anything with a chef’s knife other delicious foods like bread are better cut with a serrated edge. Look for a good quality, stainless steel serrated knife that’s at least 5 inches long.
Feel free to pick this kitchen tool up from the dollar store! You’ll need a pair of tongs to easily flip meat and vegetables, or transfer food. Look for stainless steel tongs that can handle high heat.
If you want to get an upgraded pair of tongs look for ones with a silicon tip and features that make it easy to grip with one hand. You can’t go wrong with the pair below though.
13. Can Opener
Have you ever tried to open a can in the middle of cooking with no can opener in sight? You need this kitchen tool. Trying to open a can without a proper can opener is a nightmare! Not to mention next to impossible.
A good can opener should be stainless steel and have a comfortable rubber grip. If you’re looking for an upgraded version try an electric one. You’ll never have to struggle over opening another aluminum can yourself!
Manuel Heavy Duty No Rust Can Opener: $9.00-$12.00
14. Citrus Squeezer
This kitchen tool comes in handy when you’re making cocktails. While it sounds easy enough to squeeze a lemon on your own, it can be extremely messy. You also have to deal seeds trying to sneak their way into your concoction.
To make life easier get yourself a citrus squeezer. You’ll end up using it more often than you think. A hand citrus squeezer does the trick put you can also find larger ones that come with splash shields.
Citrus Squeezer: $15-$20
15. Meat Thermometer
This is one of those kitchen tools most people don’t think they need until they use one for the first time. The key to making perfectly cooked meat every time is a thermometer. Every chef I know has one and uses it all the time!
A standard meat thermometer will give you an accurate temperature in as little as 4 seconds. Make sure you stick it right in the middle! If you have no idea what temperature your meat should be check out this guide from Real Simple. Look for a waterproof, digital thermometer like the one below.
16. Rubber Spatula
A rubber spatula is an essential kitchen tool. You’ll need a spatula for flipping ingredients, frosting cakes, and even making scrambled eggs. If you’re only going to buy one spatula make sure that it has a flexible, silicon blade that can withstand high heat. A metal spatula can ruin non stick and ceramic pans.
Silicone Spatula $5-$10
17. Tasting Spoon
A good wooden spoon is a cooks best friend. Tasting as you go is important because it helps you make sure seasoning and flavors are just right. You’ll use this versatile spoon for stirring soups, tasting sauces, and smoothing out mashed potatoes.
If you’re only going to buy one wooden tasting spoon choose a rounded spoon. Rounded spoons are ideal for stirring and tasting, while flat edged spoons are better for scrapping food from tricky corners. The best is to buy a set that includes: a rounded spoon, a flat edge spoon and a slotted spoon. Slotted spoons are great for lifting pasta out of water to test for the perfect al dente firmness.
Wooden Corner Spoon: $5-$10
A ladle comes in handy when you’re dishing up liquid recipes, like soups, stews and sauces. A ladle has a long handle with a “bowl” at the end. While it might seem just as easy to use a large spoon, a ladle makes it much easier to serve liquids in one swoop.
Look for a non stick ladle with a combination of stainless steel and silicon. It’ll also be convenient to opt for one with a bent handle at the top. You’ll be able to hook the ladle on the side of a pot without it falling in.
Non Stick Ladle: $10-$15
19. Fruit & Vegetable Peeler
Peeling fruits and vegetables with just a knife is a move that should be left to top chefs. It can be dangerous and extremely messy. Save yourself the hassle and get a stainless steel vegetable peeler with a silicon grip.
You’ll use this versatile tool to peel apples for pie, get the skins off of carrots for a tasty soup, and even shave parmesan on top of pasta! It’s as essential as a can opener if you love to cook. Look for a peeler with a “Y” grip to prevent slipping.
OXO Good Grips Y Peeler: $10-$15
20. Microplane Grater
This kitchen tool is also known as a zester and comes in handy when you need to grate smaller ingredients. Lemons, limes, garlic and hard cheeses are all easier to grate into a fine “zest” with a micro plane grater. Look for a razor sharp stainless steel zester with a rubber grip.
21. Basting Brush
Why do you need a basting brush? Because the difference between a perfect buttery, flaky pastry and dry one is a basting brush! How do you get a perfectly juicy roast chicken with crispy, flavorful skin? A basting brush!
So much flavor and texture is owed to this little brush. Get one! Look for a silicon basting brush that’s easy to grip and can withstand high temperatures. You’ll use it when you’re grilling, baking and roasting.
Basting Brush: $6-$10
22. Metal Skewers
If you love to grill a set of metal skewers will be life changing. You don’t have to be a grill master to get a lot of use out of metal skewers though. You can just as easily use them in the oven for roasting.
Look for stainless steel metal skewers that are around 12 inches long and come in a set of at least six. Skewers with an easy grip at the end will make flipping kebobs a lot less messy. Metal skewers are the perfect kitchen tool to pick up for the summer season. Happy grilling!
BBQ Skewers: $5-$10
23. Wooden Cutting Board
One of the most basic kitchen tools you need is a cutting board. You will literally use this kitchen tool everyday even if you’re a lazy chef. Why wood? It’s a better investment than a plastic cutting board because it serves more than one purpose.
You can use a wooden cutting board to chop ingredients and as a serving platter. Use a wooden cutting board to serve a charcuterie platter or sliced bread as a side dish. If you’re only going to buy one wood cutting board, opt for a larger one around 15 x 21 inches. You’ll be able to use it when cooking for larger crowds too.
Organic Bamboo Wood Cutting Board – $30-$40
24. Measuring Cups
Adding the accurate amount of ingredients to a recipe makes all the difference in how your dish turns out. Measuring cups are one of the most essential kitchen tools to own. You’ll use them to measure flour when baking, adding the right amount of water to rice, the list goes on and on.
If you’re a fan of meal prepping, you won’t be able to survive without your measuring cups! Look for a set of measuring cups that includes, 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup. Or for easy storage get one big measuring cup with several measurements written on the sides.
25. Measuring Spoons
Measuring spoons are just as essential as measuring cups. You’ll get the perfect measurements for spices and add just the right dash of salt or pepper. This kitchen tool is one of the first things you should buy!
Look for a set of stainless steel measuring spoons with easy grips like the one from OXO Good Grips below.
Buy These Measuring Spoons: $10-$15
26. Scissors or Sheers
A pair of kitchen shears will make cooking a breeze. While a knife can handle a lot of cutting work, a pair of kitchen shears will make cutting raw meats a lot more efficient. You’ll also love having them around to open up those Fedex packages or cut tough plastic off of new appliances.
Many kitchen shears also come with built in screwdrivers and/or bottle openers. You definitely won’t regret having this multi use kitchen tool lying around.
Classic Shears w/ Soft Grip – $7-$12
27. Salt and Pepper Grinder
A salt and pepper grinder can make a big difference in the taste of your food. This kitchen tool allows you to get freshly ground salt and pepper every time. You’ll also be able to go from coarse to fine grain size if you opt for a grinder with adjustable settings.
Buy: Premium Salt and Pepper Grinder – $28-$35
28. Set of Mixing Bowls
Yes you might already own a few bowls, but mixing bowls are still a kitchen tool you need if you cook often. Mixing bowls have an easy pour spout and a flat “handle” to make transferring liquids so much easier. You’ll use your set of mixing bowls to throw together salads, bake delicious cakes and even whip up spice rubs and sauces.
While you can find much larger sets, a set of 3 mixing bowls in different sizes is a good place to start. You’ll see a lot of glass mixing bowls in product shots and on T.V, but it isn’t because they’re better. It only because glass and ceramic materials reflect less light. Metal or silicon mixing bowls actually works best.
Here’s a kitchen tool that will make you feel a little more like a chef even if you’re a novice cook. No more ruining your clothes while you cook. Get a dark colored apron and that will protect you from splatter while you’re doing all that taste testing!
Buy: Syntus 2 Pack Adjustable Aprons – $11-$19
30. Kitchen Towels
Last but not least, you definitely want to own a few kitchen towels! This kitchen tool cleans up messes along the way, helps wipe up leftover messes after cooking and gets perfectly clean edges around your plates and bowls when serving. The kitchen towel is a kitchen essential.
Get a set of at least five because you’ll probably be using them all of the time. Even for messes outside of the kitchen. I suggest dark colors so stains aren’t as obvious between washing.
Premium Kitchen Towel – $22-$30
Looking for more kitchen tips? Check out these 25 Time Saving Cooking Tips that Will Change Your Life Forever.