These Are the Best, Most-Useful Kitchen Utensils
Do you own everything on this list?
By Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen
Stocking a new kitchen can be daunting. Which tools should you get? Which ones should you save on and which are worth the splurge? (Our advice to you: Skip the fancy, expensive utensil sets. They often come with unnecessary tools. You don't need three sizes of spatulas and a pizza cutter that you may or may not use once every two years.) Instead, heed our concise and specific list below of the most-useful kitchen utensils to buy (not included: all of the knives you should own).
Buy a locking pair, which will fit neatly into your kitchen drawer or utensil crock. Tongs are great for flipping heavy pieces of meat or tossing salad. When you wield a pair to stir pasta, you never have to worry about noodles sticking to the bottom of the pan. And you can use them twirl and elegantly plate your noodles. Plus, tongs are useful for removing baked potatoes from the oven, flipping roasted veggies or even scooping out an avocado.
Trust us, there are myriad uses for a large metal spoon, such as basting steak in a big wave of butter or dolloping out a big helping of mashed potatoes to go with.
This is imperative for lifting foods out of liquid — think: fried food out of oil or veggies out of blanching water. They’re also great for removing greasy foods like bacon out of the skillet to allow extra fat to drain away.
There’s nothing quite like a rubber spatula when it comes to neatly scraping batters out from bowls. It’s also great for nonstick skillets because it won’t scratch the surface. At the end of the day, if you own a rubber spatula, you don’t really need to double up on a wooden spoon. They’re both effective ways to stir.
Sometimes called a fish spatula, thin andflexible metal spatulas are invaluable for flipping delicate foods like scallops, or getting underneath foods that are stuck (like a batch of brownies).
For starters, a sturdy pair of kitchen scissors is useful for opening up packages of food or cutting parchment paper. You can also use them in cooking, like clipping the wings off a chicken or removing its backbone.
An inexpensive plastic Y-shaped peeler is our favorite variety of peeler for quickly skinning carrots, cucumbers and beets galore.
Also known as a rasp grater, a microplane is a versatile tool you can use to quickly zest citrus, transform a hunk of Parmesan or chocolate into a fluffy pile of shavings, reduce a clove of garlic into a pulpy mass for dressings and turn a whole nutmeg into fragrant powder that’s far better than the pre-ground stuff you get from the store.
Wine drinkers, this is our favorite variety of wine opener. It’s probably the least-expensive type of wine opener on the market, but in our opinion, the most-effective. Bonus, wine keys have built-in bottle cap removers for beer.
Not only can you use it to rinse fruit, but also you can sift flour with it for baking fluffy birthday cakes. Use it to dust confectioners’ sugar over pancakes. Drain pasta. And if you want to get fancy, use it to catch lumps in puddings, custards, purees and Thanksgiving gravy.
Fact: 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. Oven temperatures vary, as do the sizes of cuts of meat. The only way to be positive that your steak or chicken breast is perfectly cooked is by temperature. An instant-read thermometer will let you check on the progress of a dish without cutting it open and losing tasty juices.
When you’re baking especially, it’s important to be able to measure the difference between a teaspoon or a tablespoon. We like sets that snap apart and are dishwasher safe.
Make sure you buy a set of dry measuring cups and a wet measuring cup. They’re different volumes, people.
If you’re making mashed potatoes, a potato masher is a must. Ricers yield far fluffier, smoother and airier results than hand mashers. You can also use them to make other types of purees (bring on the sweet potato and parsnip mash), wring water from defrosted frozen spinach and puree tomatoes into sauce.
Whether you opt for a rubber brush or one with natural bristles, it’s important to have some sort of brush in your kitchen for spreading thin layers of oil onto pans and meat or brushing desserts with egg wash. Nothing else can really replicate what a brush can do for you.