There’s a reason why everyone stands around in the kitchen during parties or get-togethers—it’s the heart of a home, and the place where hospitality often begins. Nothing breaks down a person’s defenses quicker than being ushered into a warm, bustling kitchen and instructed to taste a garlicky spoonful of something delicious. To have every dinner party (or even solo late-night pasta adventure) go smoothly, however, you need to make sure your kitchen is fully stocked with the right tools. Here are twenty core items to get you started.
There are three basic knives you should have in your repertoire: a chef’s knife (or Japanese-style santoku) for chopping vegetables and cutting meat, a paring knife for more precise work like segmenting a grapefruit or trimming fat from meat, and a bread knife, or one with a serrated edge, for slicing through tomatoes and crusty baguettes without squishing them.
If it’s in your budget, a generously sized cutting board that can claim permanent residence on your countertop is the way to go. It doubles as decor, and the convenience of not having to unwedge it from a cabinet cannot be undersold.
This silicone spatula is slightly curved like a spoon, making it the perfect utensil for scraping batter out of a bowl or pushing scrambled eggs around in a nonstick pan.
Y-peelers, swivel peelers, your grandma’s forty-year-old peeler—whether you have one peeler or six, make sure there’s one good for peeling potatoes, apples, and the occasional eggplant.
Measuring cups and spoons
Measuring cups are not one-size-fits-all. You’ll need a liquid measuring cup for ingredients like broth and oil as well as dry measuring cups for flour, sugar, etc. A good old Pyrex has never let anyone down. Consider buying a couple sets of measuring spoons so you don’t have to keep washing them while you’re baking. You may also find it more convenient to remove the spoons from their connective ring before using them.
The safe-cut type is cheap and easy, and you don’t have to worry about cutting your fingers on the lid.
This is your sign to throw away that cheap plastic colander you bought in your twenties and upgrade to a stainless-steel version. The metal version is better equipped for draining piping hot pasta water than its plastic counterpart.
When the colander holes are too big, grab this fine-mesh strainer to rinse your rice and quinoa or strain out citrus seeds after juicing.
This kitchen workhorse is your go-to for roasting vegetables, potatoes, or even some crispy chickpea snacks. And don’t forget to spoon out some chocolate chip cookies to bake for a midweek treat.
Who doesn’t love a good pair of tongs? Use them for flipping delicate pieces of fish or chicken breasts or for dishing up creamy tagliatelle. Bonus feature: you can use them to playfully grab your sous chef’s arm.
Metal bowls are convenient for smaller kitchens because they nest easily, while Pyrex bowls feel good to mix in because of their heft. Which you choose will come down to personal taste.
There’s nothing worse than having to use a towel to pull a hot pan out of the oven. It’s much safer to have your hands safely encased in multiple layers of heat-resistant fabric. If it has a silicone grip, even better!
Microplane is actually a brand name, but it’s become synonymous with the rasp-style grater. Invented in 1991 by Richard Grace as a woodworking tool, it didn’t become popular until it was marketed as a cooking tool by the owners of Lee Valley Tools in Ottawa, Canada. This grater is a must-have for lemon zesting and grating hard cheese.
There’s a new kid on the block when it comes to garlic pressing: it’s called a garlic twister. It’s composed of two plastic cups that interlock with each other. There are teeth in both cups that grind the garlic when the cups are connected. It’s especially useful when you have a lot of garlic cloves to mash. If you are frustrated by the leftover garlic that gets caught in a traditional press, give this version a try.
A pair of sharp scissors makes quick work of chopping up herbs or trimming the fat off meat. Wash them thoroughly after each use, and make sure they aren’t used for anything nonfood related as this could make them dull quicker.
Sure, you could use a fork, but balloon whisks do a much better job of evenly mixing your ingredients. Deftly whisk up a roux, or mix a batter for a batch of pancakes.
Once you buy one of these, you’ll never want to be without it again. Just watch your temperatures, as they vary—145 degrees for fish and 165 degrees for poultry.
This tool can slice, grate, shred, dice, and pulse. It also makes quick work of grating potatoes for those 9:00 a.m. hash brown cravings.
When you want to puree the heck out of something, one of these appliances is a must. If you’re someone who loves smoothies, soups, nut butters and milks, and sauces, a high-powered blender will make your life so much easier.
Have you ever tried to make buttercream by hand? Be prepared for the arm workout of your life! Do yourself a favor and buy a stand mixer. It will encourage your inner baker when you realize how easy it is to make doughs, meringues, and batters.
These twenty essential items could easily become thirty after you throw in bakeware, cookware, and other fun-to-have appliances. And let’s not forget gadgets for making coffee! Once you have a good foundation of kitchen tools, you can add to your collection over time and figure out what works best for you. Bon appétit!