What kitchen tools should I buy to cook better?
I get asked that question a lot. Anyone who has been in one of my classes will have heard me tell why I’m a tough customer when it comes to gadgets and kitchen tools. So I decided to write my essential kitchen kit list of the pieces of equipment I can’t live without.
How to use this kitchen tools list
I’ve split the list into my absolute essentials, nice to have, baking kit and investments. Just click on the red links (double tap if you’re on a phone or tablet) and you can add the item straight into your Amazon cart to buy later.
Use this as an opportunity to have a good clear out of old, useless kitchen tools. Donate them to charity or sell them on eBay. Read my post about how to organize your kitchen here.
How buying from this kitchen tools list helps
Full disclosure – If you buy these kitchen tools through the Amazon links below, the price you pay doesn’t change, but I get paid a small fee. This helps fund the time I spend recipe testing and writing and keeps my meal plan service and event prices down. I will never ever recommend any kitchen tools I don’t love.
If you’re debating a big purchase just let me know and I can help you find the product for what you need.
The top 10 kitchen tools I use every day
These are the kitchen tools I cook with every day. They make me quicker and they mean I can get maximum flavour into food in minimum time. I even take some of these with me when I travel! You can watch me talk about some of them here.
- Microplane fine grater/zester For zesting citrus, mincing garlic. I’ve had my Microplane for 16 years and it is still sharp. There are lots of other brands making similar zesters but none are as good. Buy them here
- Microplane coarse grater For grating ginger, Parmesan, carrots and apples. Don’t buy the plastic handle version as it tends not to last as long. Buy them here
- Silicone spatulas I have 8 of these as I use them for everything – don’t just keep them for baking as I know many people do. They don’t absorb smells like wooden spoons do, can go in the dishwasher and can be used at super-high temperatures so they are great for stirring food in a pan. They get every last bit out of your pans and bowls so you don’t waste a spot of food, making clean-up easier. Buy them here
- Mini silicone spatulas These get every last bit out of the jar. Immensely satisfying and thrifty. Buy them here
- The best pepper grinder Ditch ready ground pepper and always grind your own from whole peppercorns for the best flavour. This is probably the thing most of my students rush to buy after class. I love how easy it is to refill – just pour your peppercorns through the wide chute, instead of them scattering everywhere. It grinds a ton of pepper in one go, making you quicker in the kitchen. Buy them here
- Citrus juicer A hit of lemon or lime at the end of a recipe is essential for brightening flavours. This gets the most juice out of your lemon and lime with the least mess. there is no need to buy separate lime and lemon squeezers, just buy the lemon one and limes fit in it too. Buy them here
- Maldon salt Another one of my obsessions, and one that my students love and quickly adopt. The texture and flavour is amazing. Buy it here
- Onion goggles They may look weird but they are my lifesaver because I bawl when I chop onions. These are the only things that have ever worked and I have tried EVERYTHING! Buy them here
- Metal tongs These should feel like an extension of your hand and essential for lifting and flipping things in pans or on trays. I have 4 pairs because I like to use one pair when I’m handling raw meat or fish and then switch to a clean pair when I’m handling the finished, cooked item. Buy them here
- Pyrex storage containers I avoid storing food in plastic, especially when I’m freezing. These containers come in various sizes but can go straight into the freezer and can also be used to cook in. Ditch your plastic containers and re-stock in a range of sizes, you’ll find leftovers more inspiring and will fill your freezer with goodies. I have most sizes from 1 cup size for leftover sauces and pesto all the way through single serving soup and curry sizes (about 2-3 cup size), up to containers big enough to hold a family-size lasagna or shepherds pie. Buy them here
You only really need three knives; a chef’s knife, a paring knife and a serrated bread knife, maybe a smaller knife for children to use too. The blocks with loads of knives in only really serve to make the knife companies lots of money rather than to help you. I’d much rather you use a good chef’s knife for most jobs and really get used to using it confidently.
My favourite knife manufacturer is Global as the handle and blade are all from one piece of metal so are not going to break. They are pricey but will last a lifetime. At a lower price point I like Victorinox. I’d spend money on a Chef’s/Cooks knife and spend less on the bread and paring knives rather than but a cheaper set of all 3.
These are the 4 knives I’d invest in…
- Cook’s or Chef’s knife (at least 8-10 inch) To chop and slice meat, fish and vegetables. I use this knife for 90% of the jobs in my kitchen. Buy them here
- Paring knife To cut smaller, more fiddly things Buy them here
- Serrated bread knife To slice bread, cakes, tomatoes and peppers and to carve joints of meat. Buy them here
- Children’s knife This tomato knife is what my children have used from being toddlers. The round ended knife in particular is great for little hands and gets them used to using knives safely. I also use this to cut tomatoes. Buy them here Once my boys got to be around 6 years old, I bought them one of these knife and peeler sets to use. They encourage the same chopping action as a real chef knife and are properly sharp but designed to be as safe as possible. Buy them here
Knife sharpener Technique aside, the biggest impact you can have on your knife is to get it sharpened regularly. And please don’t put knives in the dishwasher as it blunts them really quickly. I use this sharpener every week. Buy it here.
Peeler I use this to peel vegetables but also to create long ribbons of carrots, cucumbers and other vegetables to add a nice texture to salads. Buy it here
Scissors I use these to snip bacon, sausages and chicken into a pan rather than a knife and board. I also use them to snip herbs or salad greens. I buy multiple pairs as they always seem to disappear. Buy them here
Cutting/chopping boards I don’t like to use wooden boards as I find them hard to clean. I also don’t like glass boards as they blunt knives. I buy 2-3 of these inexpensive plastic boards and change them every 6-12 months when they start to stain or scratch. They can go in the dishwasher which is the best way to get them clean. If you are in Ikea any time soon, theirs are also brilliant and cheap as chips. Buy them here.
I use this board when I’m carving a joint of meat or a chicken or cutting crusty bread. It handily catches any juices and crumbs and holds the meat in place. Buy them here
Frying pans Scanpan pans are all I use and well worth the investment and have a lifetime guarantee. They are great to cook with, so easy to clean, they work on induction as well as gas and electric.
Because they aren’t coated in Teflon, you can use metal in them without the non stick surface being affected. I use mine every day. I use a bigger one for meals for our family of four – stir fries, meat and fish with pan sauces, eggs, pancakes etc. I use a smaller one for cooking smaller amounts, or when I need two pans on the go.
If you are just getting one, get the bigger one. Be sure to buy the ones with metal handles so that you can brown something in the pan and then put it in the oven or under the broiler [grill] to finish off cooking. Buy them here
I also love the lidded chef pan they make and use this to cook bigger quantities, or instead of a wok, or for stews and braises in the oven with the lid. Buy it here
Saucepans I like stainless steel pans with a nice heavy bottom, metal handles and lids so I can put them in the oven. Even with all the cooking I do, I only have 4 mismatched saucepans – a small, a medium, a large and a pasta pan which I also use for soups. I got mine at TK Maxx (TJ Maxx in the US), I find they always have the best quality at the best prices and I usually mix and match between ranges to get what I need. Be sure to check yours are induction compatible if that’s what you cook on. If you would rather buy online. This is a good inexpensive set Buy them here
Dutch oven or cast iron pans I love my enamel-coated, cast iron Le Creuset pans. They are one of the most expensive items in my kitchen but the quality is unbeatable and I will have them forever. They work on induction as well as gas and electric. I don’t have a crockpot [slow cooker] so I use my Le Creuset pans to cook stews and soups low and slow in the oven while I go off and do what I need to do.
Buy the biggest you can afford – round or oval doesn’t make any difference. Be sure to buy the cast iron enamel rather than the stoneware/ceramic pans as Le Creuset make both. I’ve bought all of mine by being lucky (and not fussy about the colour) in the sales and at If TK Maxx (TJ Maxx in the US) or at a Le Creuset outlet.
If you can’t wait to lurk in the sales or need a certain colour, Buy them here
Roasting pans I like to have a sturdy metal deep sided roasting pan for roasting turkey, chicken or other meats. I like metal because I can use it on top of the hob/stove too, usually to make a pan sauce after the meat has finished roasting. You can also use it to bake a lasagna. As always, check the size of your oven before buying one! Buy them here
I also have ceramic roasting pans in various sizes which are great for any foods you want to make and freeze, or to bake in the oven and then serve straight to the table in the same pan. Buy them here.
Cookie sheet/baking tray I use this really sturdy baking tray for much more than baking. I mainly use it to roast vegetables or other one-pan meals as it copes well with high temperatures and doesn’t buckle like cheaper ones can. But it is also great for all kinds of baking and is a handy pan lid for lidless pans! I often use mine to transport food around instead of a tray too. Just be sure to check that this size will fit in your oven as ovens vary. Buy them here
Silicone liners I usually line my baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat reusable silicone liner to make clean up easier and to avoid things sticking. Again, check you are buying the right size liner that fits your tray. Buy them here.
The best kitchen equipment for measuring
Digital scales Weighing is more accurate and less messy than using volume cup measurements; meaning you’ll get much more consistent results when you bake. They are also a brilliant way to get children to practice their numbers. Just put any bowl on these scales. Press the re-set button to cancel out the weight of the bowl then add your ingredients. Zero out (or re-set) after each ingredient and add the next. Simple. Buy them here
Measuring cups Because so many US recipes are in cups, I keep a set of these on hand. They work best when recipes are less precise or less fine-tuned. Think rough and ready cookies rather than recipes that require more precision. They’re also handy a mini ladles when making pancakes. Buy them here
Measuring spoons This set is brilliant as the shape means it will fit in even narrow spice jars. Buy them here
Measuring jugs I love the way these jugs have the measurements on the side but can also be viewed from above, meaning you’re not always bending down to see how much something measures. I have them in various sizes as I cook a lot. If you’re just buying one, get the biggest size. Buy them here If you prefer a glass measuring jug, Buy this one
The best kitchen equipment for everything else
Potato masher I use this for potatoes but also for mashing other veggies and beans and for mashing soup when I want a chunkier texture. I’m a mashed potato addict so trust me that I’ve tried all sorts of mashers to come to this verdict. Buy it here
Or if you want to be super fancy and for the smoothest mash (but more faff washing), buy a potato ricer. I use my ricer for fancy dinners and Christmas and Thanksgiving as it takes more effort but the results are restaurant quality. Be sure to add plenty of warm butter too to get that restaurant effect. Buy them here.
Slotted spoon Essential for poached eggs. I use this to pull things out of pans when you want any cooking liquid or fat to be left behind. Buy them here.
Can openerIt is amazing how complicated and tough to use many of these can be. This one isn’t. Buy them here.
Box grater Most people only use these to grate cheese. I use it mainly to get my raw veggies into chewable sized prices. The more work the grater does, the less work my jaw has to do! Use the slicing side (two, horizontal blades) to shred fennel and cabbage for slaw. When my boys were younger, I used it to grate raw apple into their oats in the morning too, easier than using apple sauce. Be sure to buy one that is sturdy and ideally has a rubber anti-slip base. Buy them here.
Colander To drain pasta, boiled vegetables and potatoes. Also to wash lettuce, berries and other fruits and vegetables. I like to have a bigger one and find them easier to clean when they have slightly bigger holes Buy them here.
Whisk I use this to mix sauces to get rid of lumps. I also use it to whisk dry ingredients together when I’m baking instead of sieving them. The bigger the whisk, the quicker you incorporate air. Buy them here
Glass mixing bowls To use when microwaving, prepping or baking. You can also use them to serve salads or other sides or to store things in the fridge. Buy them here.
Salad servers I love these ‘hands’ for tossing and serving salads and roasted veg, and other dishes where large quantities need mixing well, such as granola. Buy them here.
Food processor My advice to buy the one with the biggest bowl capacity and highest powered motor you can afford. I tend to only use a couple of the blades my Magimix processor came with – the grater and the standard chopper but I think it is by far the best brand and has so far survived almost daily use for 10 years. Before I had it I had a really inexpensive one which was fine but the motor power meant I could only process things in quite small batches and I don’t think it would have lasted me 10 years.,
Don’t be swayed by food processors with multiple blades as you won’t really need them for most recipes. the bowl size and motor power is the decider.I use my processor at least five times a week to make pesto, bread crumbs, curry paste, cauliflower mash and this lifesaver cake.
Here are US links to buy Cuisinart.
Nice to haves
Nutribullet I only bought one of these recently, mainly for smoothies, but, I’ve found it so useful for making small quantities of quick pestos and for grinding breadcrumbs and nuts for my dukkah. Because it is so small, it is easy to grab out of the cupboard and can be washed very easily. If I had to only have one food processor I’d still go with a bigger one but if you can fit two in your life this is really handy. Buy them here
Immersion blender I use my Braun blender so much and have had the same one since I was at university (20 years ago). It is the easiest way to blend soups in the pan you cooked them in. It is so easy to wash. I also use mine to make speedy homemade mayonnaise and smoothies. You don’t need to buy one with lots of add ons. Buy them here
Steamer I tried bamboo and metal steamers in the past but never got along well with them. Then I found this brilliant silicone one. The feet sit on the bottom of any pan and the flexible shape bends to fit inside any size pan. And it goes in the dishwasher and doesn’t absorb smells making it wonderful for spicy foods and fish. I have both the large and small, but if you’re just getting one I’d get the large. Buy them here
Jam funnel If you’re making jam or a sauce, or anything that needs transferring to a jar without making a mess, these funnels are so helpful. Buy them here.
In addition to the spatulas, whisks, bowls and scales I’ve included in the list above, these are my top bits of baking kit:
Stand mixer I use my Kenwood Chef stand mixer to make cakes, cookies, bread, ice cream and to whip cream and egg whites. My grandma and mum both had a Kenwood so it was not even a question what I’d buy when I got married and finally had the budget for one. Alternatively, you can buy the American classic, Kitchenaid, stand mixer. If you are a keen baker it is well worth investing in a spare mixing bowl, particularly if you are making recipes that involve egg whites to be whipped separately from other ingredients. Buy a Kenwood Chef here or Buy a Kitchen Aid here
Cooling rack This will help you cool your creations without the dreaded soggy bottom! Buy them here
Disposable piping bags I shy away from disposable things, but if you’ve ever tried to clean a piping bag you’ll understand why I will break the rules and buy these! Buy them here
Rolling pins These are not just for rolling dough. I use mine to bash meat to make it thinner. I use it to crush ice cubes or cookies for crumbs. My sons try to use them as weapons. The list goes on. Buy them here
Sturdy muffin pans For, well, muffins and small tarts. I can’t really say much more than that. Buy them here
A non stick spring form cake tin This will enable you to easily remove your cakes and cheesecakes from the pan with minimal sweat. Buy them here
Spring form/loose bottom tart tin I use these loose-bottomed 25cm/10 inch tins when I’m making tarts. Buy them here.
Pastry or basting brush If you want to brush egg wash onto your bakes, or brush oil onto your equipment, these silicone brushes are the hygienic, easy to clean way to go. Buy them here
Scone or cookie cutter set For perfect scones and cookies use metal rather than plastic. Buy them here
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