10 Kitchen Tools You Need to Be Considered an Adult

You finally have a real kitchen (see ya, hot pot and mini fridge). Now it's time to stock it. Here are the next-level essentials that will allow you to cook, eat and entertain in style.

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The Kitchen Toys Every Real-Live Grownup Needs

What we're not talking about: pricey stand mixers, knuckle-grazing slicers and matching old-lady china (though if you're into that stuff, more power to you!). What we do mean: a few key pieces that will help you escape from the makeshift-kitchen-zone into the world of sane, enjoyable cooking.

Cast-Iron Skillet

Chic, sturdy and incredibly versatile, this is the pan you'd want to own even if it costs $250 instead of $25. Dutch babies, shakshuka, roast chicken, burgers — almost anything worth cooking is better in cast iron, thanks to its heat-retaining heft and nonstick surface. Plus, it's good looking enough to go from oven to table. And when you consider it'll last you well into your retirement, the cost-per-use over a lifetime makes it practically free.

Long-Handed Mesh Strainer

Another multitasker that makes life that much easier and food that much better is the mesh strainer. For starters, you can use it to rinse fruit, but its real genius lies in the fine mesh of its bowl. A strainer makes a great flour sifter for baking fluffy birthday cakes. Use it to dust confectioners' sugar in a perfect shower on pancakes. You can line one with cheesecloth or paper towels to drain ricotta and yogurt. And it's great for catching lumps in puddings, custards and purees — even your Thanksgiving gravy.

Cocktail Shaker

Hacking around this one is a toughie. When you're old enough to serve mixed drinks, you're going to want to make them in the right vessel. (Insert your own shaken, not stirred joke here.)

Set of Wine Glasses

We use this term loosely — practically any coordinating collection of glasses will do (whether they have stems or not). Juice glasses, clear water tumblers, vintage highballs are all perfect — the idea is that you should be able to set a table for a few friends without having to rely on plastic cups or a random assortment of beer glasses left by your old roommate.

Salad Spinner

The secret to a great salad is dry lettuce. The dressing can adhere evenly to the leaves and there's no risk of diluting the flavors with excess water. If the prospect of perfect greens doesn't convince you, here are some other ways a spinner will earn its keep: you can wash and dry delicate berries and herbs in it, the insert can do double duty as an extra colander and a good spinner works as a greens keeper in the fridge, so you can always have fresh, clean salad at the ready.

Tongs

This underrated kitchen tool will be your new best friend. Tongs are ideal for turning meat and chicken (fork pricks just let out all the juices). Use them to toss salad for perfectly coated leaves. And when you wield a pair to stir pasta, you never have to worry about noodles sticking together (or to the bottom of the pot) again. Plus, tongs are handy for grabbing baked potatoes from the oven, turning roasting vegetables and even scooping out an avocado. Buy a locking pair so they fit neatly in your drawer.

Instant-Read Thermometer

It's a fact: oven thermostats vary. If you only rely on the time recommendations in a recipe to know when your dinner is done, you're playing a game of chance. The only surefire way to know if your chicken breast or turkey burger is perfectly cooked is by temperature. An instant-read thermometer will let you check the progress of your dish without having to cut into it (and losing all those tasty juices). Some numbers to write down and remember: 165 degrees F for chicken, 145 degrees F for pork,  160 degrees F for ground beef and lamb, and 165 degrees F for ground poultry.

Large Platter

When you're cooking for more than two people, it's nice to have a serving plate that's large enough to actually hold the food without crowding. Oval or round, the shape's up to you. You'll also find it handy as a cheese board, dessert tray, pancake warming plate and more.

Pepper Grinder

Yes, you can buy a plastic jar of peppercorns with a built-in grinder at the supermarket. And you'll be happy to have it on your next camping trip. But when it comes to cooking and the pleasures of eating, it's hard to beat a simple, refillable wood grinder. You can adjust the consistency of the grind: fine for eggs, coarse for steak. You can fill it with different kinds of pepper and, just as important, a real grinder feels good in the hand and is satisfying to use. You wouldn't put a bottle of salad dressing on the table at a dinner party, why not think of pepper in the same way? No need to spring for a matching salt shaker. Do like your favorite cafe and fill a small bowl with kosher salt instead.

Rasp Grater

"Freshly grated" is the mantra of Food Network Kitchen chefs when it comes to infusing food with the brightest, purest flavors. This razor-sharp gadget is what they rely on — and you should, too. With a rasp grater you can quickly transform a hunk of Parmesan or chocolate into a fluffy pile of shavings, extract the fragrant zest and oil from lemons, reduce a clove of garlic into a pulpy mass for dressing and turn a whole nutmeg into a fragrant powder that far surpasses what you'd get in a shake bottle at the store.