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How To Choose The Best Tools For Kitchen Use

Updated on October 8, 2014

The Twenty Must Have Tools For Your Kitchen

Wondering how to equip your first kitchen, outfit a new kitchen or just looking for some fantastic new kitchen gadgets? This page, How To Choose The Best Tools For Kitchen Use, is a simple guide to help you figure out how to equip your kitchen. It includes 16 of the most useful gadgets for your home kitchen.

All of these tools are essential and basic but well-made and all are bestselling, highly ranked products available directly from Amazon. Remember, Amazon ships for free when your order is worth $25 or more.

On this page, you will also enjoy some internet success stories like Olivia, a college student striking out on her own, and Barry, the 60-year old suddenly forced into figuring out how to function in the kitchen. You may have recently been in the situation these people were in or maybe you know someone who is going to be setting up a kitchen for the first time, like your son or daughter! Hopefully, this page will be helpful to people headed for their as well as the people who are trying to help them out.

Oxo Good Grips Kitchen Tool Set
Oxo Good Grips Kitchen Tool Set | Source

Basic Kitchen Tools

Oxo Good Grips Everyday 15-Piece Kitchen Tool Set

What a great package! If I needed a bunch of the tools that are included in this set, you can be sure that I would be buying it! The fantastic OXO Good Grips kitchen tool set includes many well-loved OXO Good Grips tools including several items discussed earlier on this page. What a perfect option for someone setting up their first kitchen or whose existing kitchen utensils need to be replaced!

Included in this set are the stainless steel holder and two turners, tongs, spoon, slotted spoon, grater, swivel peeler, ice cream scoop, potato masher, can opener, balloon whisk, spatula, meat tenderizer and pizza wheel. It is designed to be safe on non-stick surfaces, features soft, non-slip handles, is heat resistant up to 400 degrees and is dishwasher safe.

The one consistent complaint that I read about this set is that the bucket for holding the utensils really isn't as generous as it should be. If you want to store every one of the tools in the bucket, you may not want to buy this set. However, if you want simply to own all of the great tools that are included with it, I would say go for it. You can put a few of the tools that you use less frequently away elsewhere and just use the container for the tools you use everyday.

Amazon Customer Review:

"I recently upgraded my kitchen and bought this set to replace some of my older and worn out tools. Although OXO is widely considered to provide high quality tools, I was still surprised at how nice everything was for the price! All the tools seem sturdy and the nylon tips on most are great for my non-stick cookware.

My only "complaint" is that trying to get all the tools to fit in the container is a bit like playing Tetris. I still have not figured it out so some of the lesser used tools have to live in the cabinet drawer." - Rloccoco "Rloccoco"

Are you setting up a kitchen for yourself or for someone else, searching for a specific item or are just browsing?

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A Pair of Spring-Action Tongs

Oxo Good Grips Locking Tongs with Nylon Heads

Definitely multi-functional, these can be used for stirring, tossing, serving and turning. These ones by Oxo are excellent and yes, I have them in my kitchen. They feature stainless-steel arms and soft grips. They feature nylon tips so that they will be safe for non-stick pans and are heat-resistant for up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The tongs lock closed and are dishwasher safe. I love them. The fact that they close may be what I like the most because they store better that way than other tongs I have owned.

Wooden Cutting Board
Wooden Cutting Board

A Wooden Cutting Board

Architec The Gripper 10-by-14-Inch Bamboo Cutting Board

You are definitely going to need a cutting board whether you are a keen cook or a beginner. I have never had the privilege of owning a bamboo cutting board although this one is definitely on my wish list.

Bamboo cutting boards are environmentally friendly since they are made from this renewable, earth-friendly resource which is considered to be stronger than wood but which won't harm your knives. It is a non-slip board because it features rubber feet. Measures 10 by 14 inches.

Amazon Customer Review:

"I don't normally "love" cutting boards, but I love this one. It's simple, elegant, and beautiful. The rubber grips on the bottom are great too, keeping it from slipping around and holding it off the table, so you can put it back there right after hand washing." - Aaron Shepard

A Chef's Knife

Victorinox 8-Inch Chef's Knife

This knife is a fantastic 8-inch chef's knife that can be used for chopping, dicing and slicing. (The chef's knife is the most used knife in my kitchen.) This knife is created from one piece of high-carbon, stain-resistant steel with a slightly sloped cutting edge, pointed tip, and very sharp blade. The Fibrox handle is slip-resistant and made of hygienic nylon and the knife is dishwasher safe.

Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife, 8-Inch Chef's
Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife, 8-Inch Chef's

Amazon Customer Review:

"This knife is such a value. I have always had a hard time accepting the high-prices on Wuesthoff or Henckel knives because I never felt the VALUE was worth it. Boy am I glad I held out for the Victorinox knife! This knife, also known as Forschner, is consistently sharp. Just a few swipes of the sharpening steel and its good as new again. I use this knife and a 6" every day. The handles are comfortable and do not get slippery when wet. They are practically the only knives I use. I wash and wipe dry after each use (NEVER put in the dishwasher). I think you'll be as pleased as I if you try this knife. " - T. Denman

 

A Paring Knife

Victorinox 3-1/4-Inch Paring Knife with Large Handle

This is a 3 1/4 inch paring knife useful for coring, dicing, and mincing both fruits and vegetables. It is made from stain-resistant, high-carbon steel. The knife has been designed to be comfortable with a synthetic polypropylene handle. The knife is nicely tapered from base to tip. Hand washing is recommended.

Victorinox 1-Piece Paring Knife Fibrox Handle 3-1/4-Inch 5.0603
Victorinox 1-Piece Paring Knife Fibrox Handle 3-1/4-Inch 5.0603

Amazon Customer Review:

"This knife was bought out of jar on the counter of the Robertson's Meats main store in OK. I got it as a whim needing to cut a summer sausage in the car. What a surprise...it has been great and I have bought 3 more. What is the best thing in a knife is how long it keeps it's edge and how well it sharpens. This knife beats any other brand in this category. Yes the handle is simple and small. No other knife let's me slice a block of hard cheese paper thin without much thinking about it and other's always drift. The beauty is in the thin blade...it is not flimsy...thinness of the blade is what makes the knife and yet it is durable." - M.J. Obrien

 

A Vegetable Peeler

Oxo Good Grips i-Series Y Peeler

It wasn't my intention to fill this page with OXO products but there is no denying this one. OXO's Good Grips i-Series Y Peeler is simply the bestselling peeler on Amazon and also has the most impressive five-star customer reviews of any of the peelers. It features an extra-hardened stainless steel blade that stays sharp and can be replaced (who knew?) with an OXO Peeler Bade Replacement Cartridge. The handle is a non-slip, contoured one. Dishwasher safe.

OXO Good Grips Pro Y-Peeler
OXO Good Grips Pro Y-Peeler

Amazon Customer Review:

"You get what you pay for, but ten dollars is a small investment for such a useful kitchen tool. Make the investment - you won't regret it, and will wonder why you waited so long. I'd been using a cheap peeler that came in a set of kitchen tools and found peeling potatoes painful, difficult, and time-consuming. What a world of difference with the Oxo peeler! It makes quick, easy, and effortless work out of peeling potatoes, even sweet potatoes, which are more difficult to peel. The blade is extremely sharp and glides over the vegetable with ease, removing the perfect amount of peel. Try it on a mango - you'll be amazed at how perfectly it peels off the skin without wasting any of the flesh of the fruit. I've also used it to peel carrots, broccoli, zucchini, apples, butternut squash, all with success. - Grace Doll

 

"I've cooked at home plenty of times, and a few times at school after interrogating everyone I know in search of a pot or baking pan. I can make basic meals on my own and follow recipes easily, but I'm not sure about buying food--I've always worked from an already-stocked kitchen, or else just bought the ingredients for a single meal. Where do I start? What basic staples would you suggest? Thanks for any advice you've got!" - Olivia, College Student

Pyrex Mixing Bowls
Pyrex Mixing Bowls

A Set of Nested Mixing Bowls

Pyrex Smart Essentials 8-Piece Mixing Bowl Set

These bowls are easy to handle, extremely functional and quite durable making them an excellent choice for your first kitchen. Since they are made of Pyrex glass they are non-porous (which means they won't absorb food odors or stains) and they are safe for oven, microwave, refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher use!

Amazon Customer Review:

"Pyrex doesn't need a review--it's great stuff. Non-pourous so it doesn't soak up tastes and smells that can never be washed out. Tough and beautiful, Pyrex does it all.

So the bowls are a no brainer, but why buy these instead of others? The tops of course are the difference. I've found that most Pyrex bowls with tops I had looked at didn't fit on their bowls very well or were made out of materials which didn't seem like they would outlast me--as they should. These tops are durable, make a good seal that wont pop off or leak. And they're labeled with the various volumes of the bowls.

The size range of the set is also very good--from one the size of a cereal bowl to one large enough for a pot-luck salad without being so big that it wouldn't fit in a kitchen cabinet--and they all fit inside each other without the smaller ones rising above the rims of the larger ones.

You can put all the bowls inside each other then close them all up with the largest top--with enough room to put paper towels between each bowl and the next for safety."

A Wooden Spoon (or Two)

Calphalon 3pc Wood Utensil Set - Wooden Spoon, Turner & Slotted Spoon

You can simply go to the dollar store and grab a few wooden spoons and then, when they have aged, it is a simple matter to throw them away and replace them with new ones. Alternatively, you can go for a nicer wooden spoon like this one by Calphalon which is made from beech wood and features comfortable handles and a natural oil finish. By the way, your wooden spoons will last much longer if they are handwashed.

I have a few inexpensive wooden spoons. Once upon a time, I had a lovely handmade one that was so comfortable to work with...I do wish that we could have that one back!

Calphalon Wood Utensils Tasting Spoon, All Purpose Turner, Small Slotted Spoon
Calphalon Wood Utensils Tasting Spoon, All Purpose Turner, Small Slotted Spoon

Amazon Customer Review:

"This is a great, basic set of utensils. What can one say about them? They're wooden utensils, strictly functional. However, I really like the spoons because they curve in much deeper than your typical wooden spoons that you find in any given store. When I am sampling a sauce or broth right out of the pot, it isn't spilling over the edges as if it were on a flatter surface. Very nice rounded set for a great price." - K. Garren

 
Silicone Spatula
Silicone Spatula

A Silicone Spatula

A Wilton Easy Flex Silicone Spatula 3 Piece Set

Wilton's Easy Flex Silicone Spatula set is great and will resist stains and odors. Exactly what you need for scraping bowls clean and for scraping that last bit of soup out of the can! (We used ours for that later purpose just yesterday.)

Amazon Customer Review:

"These are sturdy, well made and attractive. The price is RIGHT: Think of it as buying one spatula and getting 2 FREE as a bonus. Highly recommended. Don't be fooled by the photograph. These spatulas are workhorses. - SDK

A Whisk

Oxo Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk

The review that this Amazon Customer gave says it all so I am not going to even try to describe it any better than Mrs. Ryan already did!

Amazon Customer Review:

"When shopping for a whisk last year I was tempted to get a somewhat cheaper one, until my husband pointed out that this one was particularly well-made, and the ferrule joined seamlessly with the wires -- which meant no food residue trapped inside, easier cleaning and no rusting. Trust me, not all whisks have wires sealed in at the base!

Well, he was right. The contoured, easy-grip handle is a bonus. This whisk is so stury, I doubt I will ever have to buy another. It's also a good medium size, versatile for eggs and everything else I've ever needed a whisk for. Perfect!" - A. Ryan

Two Skillets or Frying Pans

Anolon Advanced 8-Inch and 10-Inch Open French Skillet

Choose both a small and a medium-sized non-stick skillet to start out. A good one will be a bit heavy and have oven-proof handles. The 8-inch and 10-inch sizes shown here are perfect for cooking eggs, a single hamburger or sauteing a couple of pieces of meat. Eventually, you will want to add a large one.

The Anolon Advanced skillets are made of heavy-gauge, hard-anodized aluminum for heavyweight, professional performance. They feature a stay-cool, durable and comfortable handle and a Dupont Autograph 2 nonstick coating on the inside and the outside. However, the bottoms are uncoated to allow for even heating. Oven safe to 375 degrees.

Anolon Advanced Hard Anodized Nonstick 8.5-Inch Skillet
Anolon Advanced Hard Anodized Nonstick 8.5-Inch Skillet

The Writing Chef "Dan" (Los Angeles) - I am a semi-professional chef, cooking a variety of gourmet meals at least 4 nights a week, so having the right kitchen pans is vitally important. I found this little Analon quite by accident, and now use it virtually every day for sauces, for single omelettes, and for anything that doesn't require a lot of volume/space. Non-stick works just as advertised, so you can't go wrong. I now own 3 of them, and they get used all the time.

 
Anolon Advanced Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Inch Skillet
Anolon Advanced Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Inch Skillet

Travis Schmid - My wife and I received the pans in this set for our wedding over 3 years ago. They have been excellent despite very heavy use from us. The non-stick still doesn't stick and there is almost no discoloration. They are very easy to clean because the entire pan is non-stick, not just the inside. The silicon on the handle does an excellent job of protecting your hand from being burnt even at high temperatures.

 

A Medium Saucepan

Calphalon Commercial Hard-Anodized Saucepan with Lid and the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Sauce Pan

When you are buying your pots and pans, you can buy them singley or you can by them as a set. Most likely if you are just setting up a kitchen, you need to spread your dollar around a bit so buying one or two is probably easier than buying a whole set. Fortunately, Amazon's bestselling pots also tend to be deeply discounted and therefore quite economical. I'd recommend a large one (say 3 to 4 quarts) and a medium sized one (about 2 quarts.) This will also allow you to learn what it is you like about pots and pans before you invest in a whole set.

At an excellent price point, you just may want to consider this pan. It features straight-sided sides, is made of a heavy aluminum with a thick bottom and is anodized for hardness and stick resistance. It is hard, too, to resist the Amazon Customer Reviews on this pan. There are over 380 of them with over 250 of them being five-star reviews. I encourage you to read all of the reviews on this pan.

A Large Pot or Saucepan

This will be the pan you use for making soups, sauces, mashed potatoes, vegetables and tomato sauce. A good size is perhaps 3 to 4 quarts.

"What advice do you have for a 60-year old Englishman who has never cooked a meal in his life? Someone who is likely overwhelmed, lacking much (any?) enthusiasm, someone who could clearly use some inspiration and advice. Where does someone like this start? - He's certainly not the only one feeling this way." - Barry

Measuring Cups
Measuring Cups | Source

Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons

MIU Stainless-Steel 7-Piece Measuring Cup Set & Oxo Good Grips Measuring Spoons, Stainless Steel

The MIU measuring cups include 1/8, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, and 1 cup measures. They are made from 18/10 stainless steel that does not rust, stain, or corrode.

Amazon Customer Review:"

"I used these a LOT over the last few weeks with all the holiday baking and cooking to do. They feel good in your hand and are a snap to clean up (by hand or in the dishwasher). They also come in handy if someone tries to steal some of the cookie dough -- just give them whack with one of the cups you have on the counter -- even the 1/4-cup one can deliver a blow strong enough to deter such a thief!!!" - Thomas A. Hewlett "NewfieTom"

Tupperware Measuring Cups And Measuring Spoons

My preferred measuring system is the Tupperware way!

For more than twenty years I have been using and loving my Tupperware measuring cups. They are the older style that Tupperware has discontinued which is no longer available brand new.

If you are interested in this particular type of measuring cups and spoons, you are going to have to look further afield than Amazon.com and I recommend eBay. Remember that sellers usually only have one of an item available at any time so if you see a set you like, don't wait because when the auction closes the item will be gone.

By the way, you can click on the picture, the title or the Bid Now button to go to the seller's page of information about the item and you will be under no obligation to buy whatsoever. If you choose to track down some of these great Tupperware measuring cups, I wish you good luck and happy bidding!

Two-Cup Measuring Cup
Two-Cup Measuring Cup

A Two-Cup Glass Measuring Cup

Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup, Clear with Red Measurements

I love our Pyrex glass measuring cup, it is great for measuring liquids as you might expect but it will also go into the microwave when you need to melt or heat something. Mine is naturally an older model than this one, but essentially it is the same. This measuring cup is sturdy and microwave proof. It features comfortable handles and red measurement markings.

Amazon Customer Review:

"I had a Pyrex 2-Cup Measuring cup for about 20 years. It never chipped or cracked after multiple uses from microwave to fridge to dishwasher. Great quality, very durable. Bought this one to replace mine after my husband used it as a tool working outside. Great product but, I recommend kitchen/indoor use only :-)." Judy, Judy, Judy "Hey Jude"

A 13 x 9 Inch Pan

Range Kleen Bake and Roast Pan

The 13 by 9 inch pan can be used for meals at any time of the day to bake a cake, a casserole or even a small roast. The Range Kleen features the best customer reviews. I have had a few cheap pans over the years and never treated myself to a good one, choosing instead to replace the old one with a similar quality pan. Next time, I just might choose a better quality pan!


Range Kleen B05BR 9 x 13 Inches Non-Stick Bake and Roast Pan, Grey
Range Kleen B05BR 9 x 13 Inches Non-Stick Bake and Roast Pan, Grey

The Bake 'N Roast measures 12 3/4 Inch x 9 Inch x 2 Inch. The Ultra Release Formula premium non-stick coating provides a clean release every time, thus avoiding any unnecessary mess. Its heavy duty steel ensures even heat distribution and no warping. It is easy to clean and Dishwasher Safe.

 

Do you think it is worth paying more for your kitchen essentials?

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A Rimmed Baking Sheet

Nordic Ware Baker's Quarter Sheet with Storage Lid 9 Inch by 12 Inch.

You'll use a rimmed baking sheet for pizza, cookies, roasting vegetables, oven fries and so much more. It was hard to narrow this choice down to one pan. In the end, I choose to feature the bestseller that was not used by people who are very serious bakers. I thought this one was a good compromise and it has solid customer reviews.

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Quarter Sheet with Lid
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Quarter Sheet with Lid

A necessity for any chef's kitchen. Bake perfect cookies and pastries without worrying about foods sticking to the pan. Baking professionals know that the secret to evenly-baked and perfectly browned food is to cook with aluminum bakeware. Aluminum is widely known for its excellent heat conductivity and cooks more evenly and thoroughly than other metals. Made of natural aluminum with no finish, the Baker's Quarter Sheet is certified for restaurant use by NSF International, the independent certification organization for public health safety and is perfect for smaller ovens. Turns out perfect results every time, whether you're making bars, brownies, or cookies. The lid makes storage and transportation a breeze. Proudly made in the USA by Nordic Ware.

 

© 2009 Treasures By Brenda

How Did We Do? Does This List Seem Like A Reasonable One To You? What Would You Add Or Remove?

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    • profile image

      moonlitta 

      6 years ago

      It's not going to be my first kitchen however, we're moving to a new place and I need a fresh start...really helpful suggestions!

    • profile image

      blanckj 

      7 years ago

      Wow. I guess I'm done shopping. Most of the item shown here, I already have. Thanks.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 

      7 years ago from New York

      Excellent job covering kitchen basics.

    • SoyCandleLover profile image

      BW Duerr 

      7 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      Great job! You've captured everything I could possibly think of. I think it may be well past time to trade up. :D

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 

      9 years ago

      Great lens - lots of good tools mentioned here!

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 

      9 years ago

      Great lens - lots of good tools mentioned here!

    • profile image

      bdkz 

      9 years ago

      This is great!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 

      9 years ago

      I just wish my bucket of kitchen tools looked as neat and tidy as that OXO Good Grips Kitchen Tool set! Great advice here. I think I own all of the things you recommend here as well as a stockpot. I like to make stock from the turkey carcass.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      9 years ago from USA

      Excellent! Nice choices.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      9 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Excellent! I love the OXO Good Grips tools and I'm gradually replacing some of my older tools with that brand. One thing I would add to the list would be a good pair of kitchen shears (scissors). I use mine for everything from cutting up chicken to opening potato chip bags. (Fortunately they come apart and wash easily.) So I vote for 21 kitchen tools! Great lens. I love the coordinated artwork.

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