I’m a believer in having the right tools on-hand for whatever you’re doing, whether it is cooking, baking, or cleaning up. Firstly, it makes things easier, but more importantly, there is just more fun to be had in the kitchen if you’re not struggling along the way.
Here’s a little list of ten things I’m appreciating in my kitchen. These are all things I own and sometimes I gift these very items to other cooks in my family because I love them so much.
Note: The links here-in will take you to where you can purchase these items that I love. If you use my links to purchase, I will receive a small commission, which helps support this blog.
- Jar Spatula – If you don’t have one of these, you’re missing out on the last of the mustard, mayonnaise, jam, etc! Sure you can use a regular rubber spatula, but it is messier and less effective. This spatula comes in handy for all kinds of other little things too. Inexpensive and yet very impressive. You can even get a set of four for under ten bucks if you’re thinking about stocking stuffers or kitchen-themed gift baskets.
- Reusable Parchment – I use my reusable parchment almost every time I cook or bake. I got sick of the feeling of waste and always running out of parchment paper. I hesitantly ordered a reusable parchment sheet thinking it would probably be a bust, but I was wrong. Easy to clean, this little flimsy (in a good way) replacement for parchment paper is also dishwasher safe and works just as well as parchment. Here’s a set of three, again for under ten dollars, making it easy to even consider cutting them into different shapes to fit your different pans.
- Small Cutting Board Set – I’ve written about these before in my post about knives and cutting boards. But I’m mentioning them again here because they make my work so much easier. Great for when you’re cooking a lot of dishes and don’t want to take time to keep washing other larger cutting boards as you work. They’re dishwasher-friendly, don’t take up much room, and even come in sets (yes I like to have duplicate tools in case something is in the dishwasher while I’m cooking). This set is very much like the one I have (I bought mine twenty plus years ago) and is in the ten dollar range for four boards. I’m liking this one with a bamboo board that stores multiple flexible food mats that are coded with icons for what to use each one for. It is a little pricier but looks very reasonable for what it is.
- Cast Iron & Cleaning Tools – If you have only one cast iron pan, I recommend the ten-inch skillet for around fifteen dollars. If you add another, get the ten-inch Dutch oven for about forty bucks (they can share the same lid). This Dutch Oven even comes with a lid that converts into a skillet so you get both for around fifty dollars. Clever and economical! Learn to work with cast iron and see if you fall in love. I personally adore cast iron, but some people might find it difficult to store, handle (it is heavy), and might be afraid of the whole seasoning thing and cleaning without soap thing. I suppose I need a whole post about cast iron, but two game changers for my willingness to frequently use it are this cool chainmail scrubber (it removes all kinds of things including the dreaded stuck-on egg residue). Note that if properly seasoned, you shouldn’t have much sticking, but sometimes it happens. Then, I discovered this soap that is just for cast iron. I still barely use it, but especially after cooking fish (even with parchment) I just want that odor all the way gone. For personal cheffing it also allows me to feel comfortable using cast iron for clients’ food.
- Vertical Knife Set – As a chef and an avid home cook, I am often asked about knives. I wrote a basic post about what I use in my kitchen here. But in a nutshell, I like a few great and moderately pricey chefs knives, but I also have this inexpensive yet impressive set (around forty dollars) for when there are multiple cooks in my kitchen and/or I just want to grab a knife when my other knives are in use. It isn’t fancy, but it is effective, easy to clean, and doesn’t take up much space at all while retaining a stylish look in my kitchen.
- Spider Strainer – Cool name for basically a mesh spoon kinda thing that is used for frying and skimming predominantly, but I use mine for all kinds of things including most notably, lifting hardboiled eggs from boiling water and placing them in an ice bath. I tend to notice when I’m on to something when my friends or family watch me in the kitchen and see me using one of these tools in a way that inspires some level of awe that I’ve already forgotten about. When my parents saw me using my spider strainer, I realized I needed to share it with my readers. Again, in the ten dollar range, this is worth every penny.
- Spice Spoons – Simply put, they’re narrow enough to slip into the top of a spice jar. How clever is that? Another one I tend to stuff into stockings, suggest to others, and keep within reach. Let me also mention that I always have two sets of measuring spoons when I cook and bake because one is for liquids and one is for dry ingredients. Just let that sink in. If you haven’t stumbled on to that idea yet, you’re welcome! This is the exact set I have gifted to my friends and family. Very high quality and attractively simple.
- Multiple Tongs – Tongs are the undersung heroes of my kitchen. I actually believe I may have reached saturation with the number of tongs I have. First, I want multiple sets for my typical mention of not having to wash the one set while I’m busy with other stuff. If you have a potluck or entertain people or serve holiday dinners…guess what? TONGS RULE! But beyond that, there are ice tongs, small tongs, medium tongs, large tongs, tongs for the grill, salad tongs, tongs with different shapes, ALL THE TONGS! I’m not a minimalist, so if you are, pick one or two with different features. I’m not trying to push my tong habit on anyone. Or am I? I have to mention that now I’m having that thing where a word starts seeming really strange after you say it too many times. Moving on.
- Joyce Chen Scissors – Back in the dark ages when I was young, my mom introduced our household to the magic of Joyce Chen scissors. I recall hearing they could cut through a penny. Pretty sure my brother and I did NOT resist doing that when out of sight of the rational adult people in the house. Really they’re amazing for gardeners, crafty types, sewers, knitters, quilters, but naturally to me they’re the ideal scissors for the kitchen. Trust. And guess what? I have more than one pair. Shocker. They also wash beautifully in the dishwasher.
- Countertop Compost – I am a gardener, and I don’t like wasting anything. So whatever vegetable in my kitchen that doesn’t go into stock, that is also compostable becomes gold for my greenhouse and garden. Here’s what I have on my countertop. And these are the compostable liners I use.
So…what things do you find extra useful in your kitchen? I hope something here helps you!