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The Baker's Dozen Essential Kitchen Tools: Kitchen Cookware and Supplies EVERY chef needs!

Updated on March 22, 2011

A Baker's Dozen of Essential Kitchen Tools, Supplies, Utensils, you must have!

Essential Kitchen Tools Overview

This article will focus on the baker's dozen (13) most essential Kitchen Tools and Cooking Utensils everyone must have. There are some basic Kitchen supplies even the most innovative chef cannot do without. These Kitchen tools represent the first things you should buy when you decide to start preparing your own recipes.

Cooking can be a very fun activity, but without the proper Kitchen tools, it can become quite tedious and difficult. This is surely not a statement designed to imply you should buy every Kitchen gadget out there on the market. While some Kitchen Gadgets are great, there are some essential Kitchen tools you must have.

With just a few Kitchen supplies, you will find you can prepare a vast variety of recipes with ease. Having the right Kitchen tools will save you time in preparation and also allow you to properly cook a dish to achieve its maximum flavor potential.

With this group of 13 essential Kitchen tools, you can turn yourself from merely a cook, into a full on chef!

Kitchen Knives

This one should be obvious.  In order to cook anything you need some kitchen knives for cutting.  There are thousands of different brands of kitchen knives and many different types of kitchen knives.  A kitchen knife is something you should not be afraid to splurge a little on.  The Best quality kitchen knives will literally last your entire life.  Sharpening a kitchen knife is easy, so if you start off with a quality knife, it will be a useful kitchen tool for years to come.  

While there are many types of kitchen knives you should consider, these are the MOST essential kitchen tools everyone must have.

  • Chefs knives: A must have.  If you purchase no other kitchen knife, you must have a good chef knife.  Measuring around 10" or so, a good sturdy chefs knife can be used for chopping, cutting, slicing, dicing, and just about anything else.  Professional, quality chefs knives make cooking a real pleasure.  
  • Paring knife: For tasks chefs knives are simply too big, a small paring knife can be just great.  Coring or peeling an apple are two examples of tasks for which a paring knife is essential. 
In addition, you may want to consider other Kitchen knives such as a carving knife, butcher knife, or a serrated bread knife, but with a good chefs knife and paring knife you will have what is most essential to your kitchen tool kit.  If you invest in some quality kitchen knives, make sure to get a good knife block to protect and store them.


Tongs are one of the most useful kitchen tools available. They allow you to easily grab hot food and flip it over in a pan. You can purchase bamboo tongs, stainless steel tongs, wooden tongs, or even plastic tongs - just look for a sturdy, well made product. Quality kitchen tongs will last forever if properly cared for.

Normal Kitchen tongs of a sturdy build can be used for all kinds of things. Kitchen tongs are good for sauteing in hot pots and pans, then transferring food to serving dishes. You can use them as salad tongs, serving tongs, BBQ grilling tongs, or just as normal cooking tongs. Tongs are also great for serving hot pasta straight from the colander to the plate.

A scalloped edge makes it easier for your tongs to grip the food, but you could also consider silicone tongs for this same reason. Standard Kitchen tongs are an essential item for any chef.

If you want to get a bit more fancy, look into special salad tongs, ice tongs, sugar cube tongs, toaster tongs, escargot tongs, spatula tongs, asparagus tongs, etc. - The number of specialized options should give you a good idea about how many uses kitchen tongs have to offer you.

Cutting Boards

Along with your Chefs knives you will definitely need a cutting board.  Cutting boards come in many different styles, however without one you will definitely be missing an important kitchen tool.  Trying to cut vegetables or meat without one is a nightmare.  

There is some debate as to whether plastic cutting boards, wood cutting boards, bamboo cutting boards, glass cutting boards (yes they do exist!), or granite cutting boards are best.  The main thing required of a cutting board is that it be flat, and easy to clean.  

You may want to purchase two cutting boards, one for meat, and one for everything else to prevent possible contamination.  Also, if you like to cook with friends or family, having two makes it possible for more people to get involved!  

A chopping block or chopping boards are a great option as this style of cutting board is generally thicker wood, allowing you to put your kitchen knives to good use.  Sometimes this style of cutting board is referred to as a butcher block.  

Butchers blocks are usually made of a heavy, solid wood (such as maple) and are functional as well as beautiful.  These sturdy wooden chopping boards give you a stable surface to cut on.

Bamboo cutting boards are a newer idea, but have some great features.  A bamboo cutting board has a nice appearance, rivaling that of a wood cutting board.  A bamboo cutting board has the advantage that it is much lighter and easier to maneuver than the comparable size wooden cutting board.

A bamboo cutting board is also generally considered to be more effective against bacterial growth.  This is also a great feature offered by plastic cutting boards.  Bamboo cutting boards offer a much more appealing design when compared with your standard plastic cutting board.

A good quality butcher block or chopping board, constructed of a solid piece of properly treated wood is equally effective at fighting bacterial.

Whichever styles of Cutting boards you are considering, it is unarguably an essential kitchen tool everybody must have. 

Wooden Spoon

A Wooden Spoon is truly an essential cooking tool. Wooden Spoons are great because you can use them for frying, stirring sauces, mixing cake batter, and more!

A Wooden spoon does not conduct heat, a very important property. If you happen to rest your wooden spoon on the side of the frying pan and then pick it up again, it will not be hot the way a metal spatula would.

Additionally, a wooden spoon is great for use with a non-stick pan. The nature of the rounded, smooth wooden spoon will prevent it from scratching the non-stick surface.

Wooden Spoons are sturdy and effective.  Therefore, Wooden Cooking Spoons are essential Kitchen tools for every chef's arsenal.

Saute Pan, Skillet, or Frying Pan

There are some technical differences between a Saute pan, skillets, and a frying pan. Generally speaking, they do basically the same thing. This is about the most important kitchen tool, as once you have used your kitchen knives on your butchers block cutting board and finished prepping everything, now it's time to cook!

You need the necessary pots and pans and other cookware to get the job done right. High quality frying pans, saute pans, and skillets can all accomplish the task, but what's the difference?

  • Frying Pans: Usually a frying pan is a round pan with a flat bottom and a long handle on the side. The walls will normally be slightly sloped, preventing the food from steaming. Frying pans are designed to cook food over a high heat.
  • Saute Pans: Typically have straight, vertical sides which prevents ingredients from jumping out as the pan is jerked and stirred. The walls are typically a bit higher than a frying pan. The base of a saute pan is flat and there is a long handle on the side, making it easy to lift.
  • Skillets: This term is often used interchangeably with frying pan or fry pan. In fact, skillets are very similar. A skillet is kind of in between frying and saute pans. Some skillets will have quite rounded edges at the top, and the walls are often a bit more shallow than a frying pan.

There are many varieties of Frying pans, Skillets, and Saute Pans. For example, popular items such as an electric skillet or a cast iron skillet are great. A see through lid is a great addition.

Whether you want to make a sauce, sear a steak, fry a fish, stir-fry some vegetables, cook some eggs, or thousands of other tasks, you will require a kitchen tool like a frying pan, skillet, or saute pan.

Potato Peeler

A Potato Peeler or Vegetable Peeler is another essential kitchen tool. Sure you can use a kitchen knife to accomplish most potato peeler type tasks, but if your knife skills are not so great, you might end up wasting a lot of the vegetable. Even worse, you might get cut.

There are all sorts of fancy potato peelers on the market. There are automatic potato peelers and electric potato peelers. You can find a Shrimp peeler, asparagus peeler, mango peeler, orange peeler, apple peeler, egg peeler, ceramic peeler, garlic peeler, julienne peeler, and many more.

The essential kitchen tool however, is just a standard potato peeler. Old fashioned, like the one you have to use if you get in trouble in the army.

Mortar and Pestle

A Mortar and Pestle may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an essential kitchen tool, but having one around can be extremely useful.

For years, Mortar & Pestle sets made from the wood of old grape vines have proved reliable for grinding salt & pepper at the dinner table.

When developing flavors, a mortar and pestle can't be beat. If you look at thai cuisine, indian cuisine, mexican cuisine, and other, very flavorful groups of food, you will consistently see the use of a mortar and pestle to develop flavor.

Remember, this article focuses on essential kitchen tools. A mortar and pestle can take the place of an expensive blender or food processor and really help you grow as a chef.

Check out some great mortar and pestle recipes online and you'll see the vast variety of things you can do with one of this useful kitchen tool.

Mixing Bowl

A mixing bowl is an important kitchen tool as many recipes require different ingredients to be blended together.  

Whether you are mixing ingredients for baking, making a salad, serving pasta family style, or just watching a movie with a bowl of popcorn, a mixing bowl is key.

Mixing bowls should generally be large enough to accommodate whatever you might require.  There are plastic mixing bowls, stainless steel mixing bowls, glass mixing bowls, ceramic mixing bowls, melamine mixing bowls, pyrex mixing bowls and many more types.

In the end, for a mixing bowl to serve as an effective kitchen tool, it must be study and strong - no matter the material.  Especially if you plan to use some kind of electric mixer or hand blender, having a quality bowl will make your life a bit easier.


As far as kitchen tools go, a Colander may be more useful than you think.  Colanders are typically made of metal with two handles on either side and a pattern of holes punched through the bowl for liquid to drain through.

A Colander can be used as a strainer for pasta. A colander can also be used for rinsing fruit or vegetables under the faucet.  It's particularly great for washing leafy vegetables like spinach or lettuce, helping you easily remove any dirt/soil particles that may be there.

Colanders are also useful for draining and rinsing off canned vegetables, or for cleaning raw legumes, lentils, or beans.

Another use for a colander is to steam vegetables.  Simply place the vegetables in the colander and then place it in a frying pan with water.  

There are many types of colanders available.  Consider a collapsible colander for easy storage.  Or what about a stainless steel colander, a copper colander, a plastic colander, a scoop colander, or one of the many other varieties.

A colander, with its many uses definitely makes it a very useful kitchen tool everyone should own.

Stock Pot

A stock pot is a kitchen tool every one needs. You can use a stock pot for a large variety of tasks in the kitchen.

Paired with a colander, you can boil pasta, steam vegetables, make and strain your own soup, and more!

Stock pots are deep, with straight sides, and two handles. They come in a variety of sizes ranging from a 6 qt stock pot to a 20 qt stock pot.  Learn about Bain Marie - French water bath cooking pots.

You can also purchase a stock pot in a variety of materials. A stainless steel stock pot, aluminum stock pots, cast iron stock pot, or even a copper stock pot. The main issue is conductivity of heat. Higher quality stock pots transmit heat evenly and effectively from the bottom of the pan to the contents.

As a rule, higher quality kitchen tools last longer, and help you achieve what you want with more ease. A good stock pot is an important addition to any kitchen!


Another kitchen tool your should definitely have is a grater.  Whether you choose a microplane grater, a box grater, a rotary grater, or another style, you should definitely own one.

A solid grater can be used for many things.  It can be used as a potato grater, a garlic grater, a cheese grater, and more.  Grating your own cheese for tacos, nachos, pizzas, lasagne's, and more can save you from buying more expensive pre-grated cheese.

A microplane grater is great for fresh parmesan, or can be used as a nutmeg grater.  A microplane grater doubles as a zester.  You can easily obtain the zest of a lemon or another citrus fruit to add a lot of flavor.

A grater is an important time saving kitchen tool which performs many tasks that are very difficult with a knife alone.  Add a high quality, dishwasher safe grater to you kitchen tool set and you won't regret it.

Can Opener

A Can opener is another important kitchen tool since there is really no substitute.  It is extremely dangerous to use your kitchen knives to cut into a can and other methods to open a can without a can opener like banging it with a rock or sawing it in half are not really practical.

Although eating canned food regularly is not necessary the healthiest choice, for certain things it makes a lot of sense.  Especially time consuming to prepare food items such as beans are arguably just as good from a can.  If there are no additives, canned food can be a good option.

If you like camping or simply want to prepare for an emergency, canned food inevitably with find a way into your life.  This requires a can opener.

The best can opener is the one that works for you.  Whether you like to use a manual can opener, an electric can opener, a one touch can opener, or simply a manual can opener, they all get the job done.

An often overlooked kitchen tool, a can opener is something that might only become essential under certain circumstances.  If you find you really need one however, a can opener can truly be the most essential kitchen tool you own.


Finally, how could there be a list of kitchen tools without mentioning a spatula.  Spatulas have innumerable uses that no other kitchen tool can accomplish.

A Stainless steel spatula is great for cooking and flipping food in a frying pan or on a grill. A rubber spatula can be used a scraper to easily get the contents from the bottom of a blender or bowl out into a cup or baking dish.

A rubber spatula is a great way to make sure you do not waste anything.  As a chef, you should make sure to take advantage of all the great ingredients available.  If you fill a food processor with fresh, delicious ingredients, bought with hard earned money, don't waste what you can't get out - Use a spatula!

Spatulas are available in many forms to do a range of tasks.  A spatula is definitely an essential kitchen tool everybody will require!

MOST essential kitchen tool

What is the MOST essential Kitchen tool?

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Most Essential Kitchen Tool

If you think the most essential kitchen tool is something else, please share it in the comments below! If you voted in the poll, let me know why you voted for that particular kitchen tool. As a bit of an amateur chef I have used all these items and really love cooking. Cookware and kitchen gadgets of all types fascinate me. Try to teach me about some kitchen supplies I don't know about! :) Please share, tweet, rate, etc. if you found this article helpful! Thanks for reading.


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