These Are the Best, Most-Useful Kitchen Utensils

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September 12, 2023

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The wooden smiling spoon and kitchen accessories in the kitchen


The wooden smiling spoon and kitchen accessories in the kitchen

Photo by: artlensfoto ©artlensfoto

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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).


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 to 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. Buy a locking pair, which will fit neatly into your kitchen drawer or utensil crock.

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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 it.

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A slotted spoon 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 from the skillet to allow extra fat to drain away.

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Two words: scrambled eggs. Opt for a large balloon whisk, which will powerfully whip your creations, whether you're whipping cream for fresh berries, aerating pancake batter or stirring cheese sauce for mac and cheese.

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There's nothing quite like a silicone 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 silicone spatula, you don't really need to double up on a wooden spoon. They're both effective ways to stir.

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Sometimes called a fish spatula, thin and flexible metal spatulas are invaluable for flipping delicate foods like scallops or for getting underneath foods that are stuck (like a batch of brownies).

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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.

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An inexpensive Y-shaped peeler is our favorite variety of peeler for quickly skinning carrots, cucumbers and beets galore.

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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.

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This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you've ever tried to open a can without a can opener, welp, you'll know they're pretty indispensable.

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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.

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Not only can you use a long-handled mesh strainer 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.

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$18.99 $12.99
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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.

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When you're baking especially, it's important to be able to measure the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon. We like sets that snap apart and are dishwasher safe.

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Make sure you buy a set of dry measuring cups and a wet measuring cup. They're different volumes, people.

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Whether you opt for a silicone 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.

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