t’s a common dilemma when you finally have the first place to call your own. Decorating your room and living space is a piece of cake, but when it comes to your kitchen, you don’t have a clue about what tools you need to make all of your favorite recipes. Aside from the pots and pans that have already found a place in your cupboards, finding and understanding what utensils you actually need can be daunting in a market where there seems to be just about a million tools to do just about a million different things. Where do you even begin with this dilemma of adulthood?

Don’t fret! It’s okay to be overwhelmed by the many utensil options that are available to buy nowadays. That’s why we’ve made a list of the essential tools that every adult kitchen should have, so you will feel a little less like a clueless home cook and a little more like a kitchen whiz, ready to take on any recipe! We think it’s easiest and most convenient to think of utensils according to their functions: preparation and cooking. So, we’ve split this list up into utensils that help you prepare your ingredients and those that assist you in the cooking process. Pull out your apron and get cooking with these essential utensils!

Utensils for Preparation: Slicing, Dicing, Measuring, and More!

A Good Chef’s Knife for All of Your Chopping Needs

Chef's knife chopping scallions
Once you become comfortable with a chef’s knife, you will feel unstoppable in the kitchen.

There are not many tools that we’d label as absolutely necessary, but a sharp chef’s knife is perhaps the one that ought to be in every single home cook’s kitchen. These super sturdy blades are the ultimate multi-purpose tools, with the ability to take on countless tasks. Need to chop up some vegetables? Disjoint a cut of meat? Smash and mince a head of garlic? Your chef’s knife is the perfect tool for all of these jobs, making it of great use in anyone’s kitchen.

If you’re a little uncomfortable with your chef’s knife skills, check out this awesome guide on how to safely use, care for, and maintain your chef’s knife!

A Sharp Serrated Knife to Take on Breads, Tomatoes, and More

Serrated knife cuts through bread
Also known as bread knives, these blades slice through delicate foods without ruining structure.

For some specific knife tasks—such as slicing a delicate loaf of bread—a general chef’s knife will not cut it. (Technically it will, but not well!) Enter the serrated knife. With its long and jagged blade, a serrated knife will become your best friend whenever you need to cut those more fragile foods.

Because of its sawtooth design, this knife can easily slice tomatoes, cut up bread, or even half cake layers without crushing or deforming their respective structures. When deciding on a knife, look for a handle that fits comfortably in your hand and a blade that features fewer and deeper serrations, as these traits will promise ultimate success in your kitchen!

A Handy Paring Knife for Peeling and Small Jobs

Person uses paring knife to peel orange
A paring knife is a small, but mighty tool for any kitchen endeavor.

This small knife sports a short and sharp blade, perfect for smaller jobs such as peeling fruits and vegetables, as its name—paring means peeling—suggests. Despite its label, however, a paring knife is also an excellent choice when slicing smaller fruits and vegetables, like strawberries, garlic, or ginger.

A paring knife is also great for carrying out those jobs that would benefit from a comfortable, small blade that allows for great precision and control. Whether you’re looking to devein a pound of shrimp or score an avocado, a paring knife is a tool that should be in your kitchen!

A Standard Whisk for Whipping and Mixing

Whisk with whipped cream on it
Whisks are perfect for thoroughly mixing batters, sauces, and dry ingredients.

Before the days of high-speed blending, whirring, and blitzing, there was just good old-fashioned whisking. While you could opt for an electric or stand mixer, a whisk remains the most cost-effective tool for those looking to perform many—if not all—of the jobs that its motorized counterparts are made for.

A whisk can easily whip up anything from perfectly combined eggs to super sweet whipped cream. It also acts as the best tool when tackling brownie and cake mixes, helping you make these sweet treats in double time! Still not convinced? Check out these ten uses for a whisk from the master of cakes himself, Duff Goldman!

A Microplane or Grater for Cheeses, Garlic, and More

Grated fresh nutmeg
If you’re looking to zest, grate, or shave, then this is the tool for you!

How many recipes have you seen that call for finishing a dish with a sprinkle of cheese or citrus zest in order to add that final zing? If you’re looking to spice up your cooking, you have to get your hands on a microplane or hand grater, so that you too can achieve grate-ness!

These handy little tools are super useful whether you’re zesting lemons or grating parmesan. A microplane is also a wonderful tool for making chocolate shavings, an excellent way to kick a mug of hot chocolate up a notch! And if you’re prone to making kitchen mistakes, you can even use a microplane to fix baked goods that have spent a little too much time in the oven!

A Set of Measuring Cups and Spoons

Measuring spoon with turmeric
A well-equipped kitchen always has a trusty set of measuring cups and spoons to precisely measure ingredients with ease.

Whether you’re a novice cook or a master chef, measuring cups and spoons are the most uncomplicated tools to ensure accurately measured ingredients. Be careful, though! Always thoroughly read through a recipe to look for terms like “packed” or “heaping,” which indicate a different method for filling these handy tools.

A Trusty Pair of Kitchen Shears for Chopping Ease

Kitchen shears cut herbs
Scissors in the kitchen? For ease and versatility, yes!

Kitchen shears are the multi-taskers of all multi-tasking tools. Yes, they’re perfect for chopping up delicate herbs and cutting open food packaging, but did you know that they also can make preparing chicken super easy?

Although they’re made for culinary uses, we can’t emphasize enough how convenient it is to have a handy pair of scissors located in your kitchen to rip open packages or even get your arts and crafts on. Just make sure to wash your shears after every use!

A Rubber Spatula for Scraping Clean Every Last Bit

Rubber spatula spreading icing on cinnamon buns
Stop wasting leftover batter on the side of the bowl with a handy rubber or silicone spatula.

If you are looking to up your baking game, a rubber spatula better be making its way into your kitchen soon. A stellar choice for folding whipped cream or egg whites into batters, this utensil doubles as a scraper for every last bit, whether it be homemade batter or store bought condiments, like peanut butter or mayonnaise. You won’t feel like you’re wasting anything with this trusty tool!

Utensils for Cooking: Flipping, Stirring, and More!

A Simple Fish Spatula to Make Flipping Food Easy as Pie

Fish spatula releases cookies from sheet tray
These handy spatulas are great for so many uses. Image courtesy of Fox and Grapes.

Labeled “the only spatula you need,” this thin metal spatula will make flipping pancakes, burgers, and eggs a breeze. It’s also great for getting glued-on cookies off of a sheet tray without ruining your dessert.

Just be sure not to use these on non-stick surfaces, as the metal can potentially damage or scratch the coating.

A Dependable Wooden Spoon to Make Stirring a Breeze

Wooden spoon
There’s a reason that Grandma only used wooden spoons when making her homemade sauce: they’re the best!

If a recipe calls for a pot or pan, you can most likely bet it’s also calling for a wooden spoon to stir all of the ingredients efficiently and easily. Wooden spoons are great because they don’t scratch surfaces, don’t transfer heat from the pan (and end up burning you!), and will never melt or become deformed from high temperatures. Some also swear that a wooden spoon can even prevent a pot of pasta from boiling over!

These utensils are super easy to use, and they rest nicely on your pots and pans, keeping your countertops clean and spiffy! Though, we’ve listed these as a utensil primarily for cooking, wooden spoons are good choices for stirring batters and doughs as well.

A Pair of Metal Tongs to Toss and Serve Meals

Tongs flip meat on barbecue
Tongs are functional and protect you from handling super hot foods!

Your pasta is cooked, your sauce is simmering, and all that’s left to do is put the two together. A pair of tongs will not only toss the two together quickly and handily, they also act as the perfect serving utensil for slippery spaghetti. The same can be said of salads and dressings, which put up no fight against a pair of tongs.

Tongs will additionally protect you when turning hot foods in pans or on the grill. These handy tools can even solve the tragedy of not having a bottle opener at a party!

Meal served with friends and family made possible by myriad utensils and cooking tools
With these utensils in your toolbelt, you will be cooking fantastic meals in no time!

We hope this list has empowered you to feel a little more at ease when it comes to cooking. Everyone can become a great chef with a little practice, and there is nothing more satisfying than knowing a delicious meal came right out of your own kitchen. You don’t need a lot of fancy gadgets and gizmos to be a great chef, and with the help of just a few trusty utensils, you will be cooking five star meals in no time!

Jun 3, 2020

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