I’m occasionally asked what “must-have” kitchen tools are necessary for setting up a functional chef’s kitchen. In this post, I’ll try to tackle that question, but first, you and I need to understand that anything I say is highly subjective, and one size rarely fits all. It’s no more than a quick inventory of my own kitchen, and my needs may (and probably will) differ from yours. So with that said, let’s just use this list as a starting point for your own kitchen; be prepared to fine-tune my selections to your own budget and needs. By the way, this certainly qualifies as the longest disclaimer I’ve ever written…
Above, I mentioned budget – one of the most important considerations you’re likely to have. In a previous post, I talked some about buying the best you can afford. I stand by that statement today. By no means do I advocate going crazy with purchases, but try to buy things that will last – there’s no value in going the cheap route if the tools don’t perform to your satisfaction, or you end up replacing things that soon wear out and break. My advice was, and still is, if you can’t afford something, put it on your wish list and save until you can reasonably afford it. Don’t rush out and purchase something you can’t afford. Consider also the amount of use an item will receive – for example, if you only use a meat roasting pan once or twice during the holidays and store it the rest of the year, don’t buy a $250 All-Clad® roaster – a cheap one is a much better value.
So, here’s my list:
– Measuring cups (Pyrex®) 1-cup, 2-cup, 4-cup, and 8-cup
– Measuring beakers (Pyrex®) 5-oz.
– Measuring spoons – at least three sets, since they always get misplaced. Dishwasher-safe plastic is fine.
– Prep cups (ramekins) – Use them for holding items you’ve measured out. I got mine for 88 cents each at Walmart.
– Can opener – get a good one that’s dishwasher-safe.
– Rolling pin – regular or French. Wood is the least-durable material; steel or marble is better.
– Flour sifter
– Vegetable peeler
– Potato masher
– Pastry blender
– Dough scraper/cutter – stainless steel
– Cutting boards – at least three of varying sizes. Resin boards are easiest to sanitize, but maple wood looks cool.
– Knife block with sharpening steel – make sure you get (at the very least) a butcher knife, serrated bread knife, and paring knives in the assortment.
– Kitchen timer – a digital model that’s easy to program is best.
– Wire whisks – small and large.
– Silicone spatulas – at least two each of narrow and wide.
– Funnels – small and large
– Graters – flat, box, and zester
– Mixing bowls – stainless steel, at least three sizes (four sizes are even better).
– Piercing fork
– Wooden spoons – at least three
– Mixing spoons
– Slotted spoons
– Turners – Wide-blade, solid or slotted, at least two.
– 12 qt. covered stock pot
– 2 qt. covered sauce pan
– 4 qt. covered sauce pan
– 5 qt. covered Dutch oven
– 10” sauté pan
– 12” sauté pan
– 14” rounded-side wok/skillet
– Baking pans – glass, 13”x9”, 8”x8”, 9”x9”
– Round cake pans – 8”
– Pie pan – glass, 9”
– Loaf pan – glass or nonstick metal, 9”x6”x3”
– Baking sheets – nonstick, at least three sizes
– Wire cooling racks
– Muffin pans
– Covered casserole dishes – oven-safe
– Instant-read digital thermometer (probe-type)
Once again, this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, just a starting point. You’ll notice also that I didn’t include appliances in the list – I’ll follow up with kitchen electrics in a later post.