I have compiled a list of kitchen tools and equipment for you. In my opinion, these are absolute essentials in any kitchen. As you can see you do not need to have tremendous amounts of items in your kitchen to make a good meal. I will put these in alphabetical order and not in order of importance. I will assume you own at least one pot and a frying pan so I will not list these.
Blender – If I would have to choose only one electric appliance for my kitchen it would be a blender. It is essential in making sauces, smoothies, baby food, soup creams and much more. You can also make salsas in one of these. Blenders are cheap and extremely useful in the kitchen.
Bottler Opener – If you ever have to open a bottle you will wish you had one of these if you don’t!
Bowls – You should have a least two bowls in your kitchen. You will need a small to medium one to mix small amounts of food such as salad dressings. You will need a larger bowl to make things like meatballs or toss salads.
Can Opener – You really need to have a can opener in your kitchen. Even if you cook most of your meals with fresh ingredients there are times when you need to open a can of beans or tomato paste or tuna.
Cutting Boards – I always have 3 cutting boards to work with. I use one for cutting meats, one for vegetables and one for fruit and bread. The reason I have a specific one for fruit is because I chop onions and garlic on the vegetable one and I do not want to have my fruit acquire those flavors. I wash all of them thoroughly – especially the meat board. I scrub them with soap and hot water and then use a diluted bleach solution on them to kill off all the bacteria.
Cutting boards – mainly wooden ones – can be a breeding zoo for bacteria. If your board is full of carvings and cuts it is time to get rid of it. You need to make sure you always, always put your board away dry. Moisture will help those nasty little creatures to breed and can make you sick.
The size of cutting board you decide to buy will depend on the size of your kitchen counter. It is highly recommended that you get a non-porous plastic cutting board as a safety measure. However, I confess I have both. I think that as long as you are careful and handle your wooden board safely you should be just fine. Whatever you decide, it is important to have at least one cutting board in your kitchen. It is more sanitary to use than your kitchen counter and it will help you preserve your knives in better condition.
Grater – Any grater will work but I think the best is a box one. This kind of grater allows you to choose the size of grating you want as they have three grating sizes and a slicer. This way you can zest citrus or shred cheese or thinly slice a peeled potato with just one tool.
Kitchen Fork – These forks have two long tines and are used to test doneness of vegetables and meats. They are also great for moving meats from the pan to the carving board.
Knives – Owning a couple of good knives is an absolute must. Nothing is more painful than trying to chop vegetables or cut a piece of meat than a dull knife. OK, maybe it is not the most painful thing in the world but it certainly is extremely frustrating. When you have a sharp knife you can do a neater job and you can work faster. Believe me, it is totally worth it.
If you are going to own only two knives, I think the ones you need are a Chef’s or French knife and a utility knife. The first ones are between 8 to 12 inches long and are great for all kinds of things like chopping, mincing and slicing. The latter is a little smaller, between 5 and 8 inches long, and is great for light cutting chores. If these are both kept sharpened you will be perfectly fine.
Try and purchase a good quality, high-carbon stainless steel knife. I am not suggesting you go out and spend hundreds of dollars. However, if you buy a super cheap one you will get what you paid for. Carbon blades tend to get dull faster; stainless steel ones generally do not have a good edge. So, look for a combination of both for your ideal knife. Try to also purchase a sharpening stone or steel. Your knife, no matter how perfect, will eventually get dull. By having the proper tools you can take care of the problem as needed.
Treat your knives with respect. Be safe and handle them with common sense. You can get very hurt if you do not practice basic safety guidelines such as holding the knife straight down at your side with the sharp edge facing behind you, when you need to walk around the kitchen with it.
Don’t cut anything directly on marble, metal or glass. This will damage your knives’ blade. Use the proper cutting surface when you are using it. Even if your knife is top of the line, it can get damaged if you are not careful. Always wash it by hand and immediately after using it. Wash the whole thing – blade and handle – to prevent cross-contamination of food. Do not wash them in the dishwasher as this will make them dull very quickly. Finally, store your knives appropriately and safely. Don’t place it in a drawer without protection so as to lose a finger when you go and open it. If you do not have a rack or slot or cover for it, wrap it in a good, thick dish rag before you store it.
Measuring Cups & Spoons – These are essential when baking. When you are cooking you can go ahead and eye-ball your ingredients; however, you need to be exact when you are baking. Without the proper equipment you will not have perfect results. You can find measuring cups in different shapes and materials. Unless you cook large amounts, a two cup one should be sufficient.
Meat Thermometer – These are great to have handy to be able to determine if meats are cooked through and safe to eat. You do not need to purchase a super expensive thermometer. A simple instant read thermometer will do.
Metal Skimmer – This is essential for making soups. If you never do, forget about it!
Rubber Spatula – You need at least one good rubber, heat-proof spatula in your kitchen. It is great for cooking things like eggs, but essential when cleaning out bowls. You will be amazed at the amounts of food that you can recover from a bowl with a good spatula.
Oven — You will only need an oven if you are interested in baking or roasting foods. It is not an essential part of the kitchen but it certainly is nice to have around. Most stoves come with a built-in oven. These days you will find quite a selection in ovens. They can be electric, gas, conventional, built-in,double, convection, wood fire, brick or stand alone.
Of course you also have the microwave oven which will cook everything for you in no time. Personally, I do not use one. I do not like how it treats my food. Some people can not live with out their’s.
Oven Mitts — Oven mitts are a great aid in your kitchen as they will prevent you from getting burned when grabbing hot pots and pans. My husband likes to make fun of me and says a good tea towel is enough. It can be but I have burned myself more than once using a kitchen or dish towel.
Oven Proof Pans — If you are going to be using an oven you need to have oven proof pans or you will have a disaster on your hands. You don’t need a bunch. A good 9×13 inch Pyrex pan will be great for all kinds of endeavors.
Of course, if you are baking you need the proper equipment for that as well.
Refrigerator — This is also an absolute must in any kitchen if you are going to be keeping food safe. Unless you purchase all your perishables on a daily basis you will need a refrigerator.
Most refrigerators have a built-in freezer. Freezers are great for preserving food for a longer time. Unless you are feeding a small army or like making all your food in advance you will not need a very large freezer. I find that when you do have the extra space you tend to forget what you purchased as it gets buried somewhere in the vastness of your appliance.
However, a freezer can be very useful. Especially for time management. Many meals on this website will freeze beautifully so you can make them in advance and have them ready when you are. And, of course, there is an advantage to not having to go to the grocery store and purchase things like meat or fish every time you want to have some.
Sieves & Strainers – You will need at least one of these for sifting dry ingredients when baking, straining sauces and soups, removing impurities from food and draining pasta. Make sure you have a sturdy metal one for using with hot liquids.
Stove — Unless you are on a raw food diet, you will need a stove to cook your meals. Or, at the very least, electric pans and pots. One can’t always pick the type of stove that one has to use but if I have my rathers I always go for a gas stove.
Stoves come in all sizes.
Spatula – Perhaps the most useful spatula you will find is a chef’s spatula. It is elongated and has three long air vents. These are also known as fish spatulas. They are great for flipping meats and pancakes. They are not expensive and are a great tool. However, if you cannot find one, or do not want to buy one, it is essential that you have a good, large grip spatula in your kitchen to flip foods without destroying them.
Tongs– Although these are not really essential, a good pair of tongs will not cost much and are great for everything from cooking meats to tossing salads.
Vegetable Peeler – These little peelers are used to peel the skin of vegetables and fruits. They work better than a knife because, if used properly, you will only remove the peel and not a bunch of the flesh. They are also safer to use.
Whisks – I think every kitchen should have at least one whisk. Whisk are essential to make sauces, salad dressings, scrambled eggs, pancakes, cakes, muffins, cookies, mashed potatoes and everything else that needs to be beat, blended and whipped. Whisks are not expensive items and they will last for a long time.