What kinds of kitchen essentials do you need to put together great cuisine?
For those home cooks and chefs looking to set up the basics for a broad menu, these kitchen supplies are essential. Take a look at some of the most useful kitchen gear that you’ll want to source first as you prepare for cooking sessions.
Kitchen Essentials: Prep Tools
Having the right prep tools allows a pro chef or home chef to slice and dice, sort and measure, and add ingredients to dishes for a fantastic plating result.
Chef’s knives are one of the most fundamental parts of the cook’s toolkit. The knives are so important as cooking essentials that many chefs take these with them wherever they go, rather than leaving them in one restaurant kitchen or another.
With that in mind, top brands like Victorinox and Wusthof offer excellent durability and quality over time. Chefs often invest in knife-carrying bags to always have their trusty knives with them at all times.
Along with the large multipurpose chef’s knives that professionals learn to handle with agility, you have smaller and more specialized paring knives, the scalpels of the kitchen. Quality with these kitchen essentials is important here, too – strong handles, carefully designed blades, and other features help the paring knife to do the tricky work that it’s responsible for in the kitchen, like quartering small citrus fruits or de-boning a fish fillet.
Cutting boards are that critical other half of your investment in your knives and gear. Without a cutting board, you’re scoring your knives against an improper surface, and that means lots of wear and possible damage over time. Choose from wood, bamboo, plastic or silicone, or other types of boards as cooking essentials, according to the environment of your kitchen and what you’re making.
You can’t really get uniform results according to recipes if you don’t have good measurement tools with your kitchen equipment. Measuring spoons allow chefs to be precise in getting all of those necessary dry ingredients and other components into a dish to be able to rely on a precise result.
Cooking and Baking
Whether you’re making a roast or a cake, grilling seafood or doing a stir-fry, these very important pieces of equipment are must-haves in your kitchen.
The Dutch oven is a simple tool – a large roasting pan with a lid – but it’s also extremely versatile and prized by chefs and home cooks alike. You can make a delicious pot roast, a tantalizing cobbler, or a top-class soup in one of these containers that slides into a conventional oven.
Just like the chef’s knife kit is at the heart of food prep, frying pans are central kitchen essentials in cooking. Frying, sautéing, grilling, and other forms of precision heating rely on having a good set of frying pans on a handy gas range.
In more than a few specialized recipes, chefs have the sometimes challenging task of breaking raw food components down into atomized textures like purées or “mashes.”
In this case, your food processor is going to be a big part of your kitchen equipment, and having a professional-grade food processor is a must for the kitchen. Modern food processors even include heating and other features to micromanage what’s inside, and what comes out.
For baked goods, pizza dough, and more, the stand mixer is an essential component. Sizing is very important here – think about what kinds of batches you’ll be turning out to get the mixer that’s properly customized for your kitchen.
Over time, you’ll need to spear, stab, flip, mash, or otherwise manage your food ingredients as you make your way through your favorite recipes. Get these utensils in your kitchen.
The spatula is an excellent tool for getting excess ingredients from a container, smoothing out something that’s going in the oven, or handling dozens of other routine cooking tasks. Quality with spatulas is important – their plastic components need to stand up well to heat, and handles need to be sturdy so that chefs can use them with confidence.
Whisks and Whips
Some whisks are metal, and others are coated with polymer materials.
In choosing these types of tools, sizing is important as well. You may want a smaller whisk or whip for blending a couple of eggs in a small container, or a larger one for dealing with a large mixing batch.
When you need an extra set of hands, Tongs are the closest thing you can get.
Maybe you’re trying to pick up a stubborn piece of food from the bottom of a deep dish. Maybe you need to get something from the hot fire. In these scenarios, tongs are your lifesaver.
Pay careful attention to the opening and closing ratio of the tongs, as well as the end pieces and whether they’re made of plastic or metal or some other material.
Any chef needs to store food items between cooking sessions. You may have lean inventory, but you’re always going to have some stock supplies on hand.
Invest in storage equipment that makes a difference in your kitchen.
For those smaller containers, either to keep specialty ingredients like sauces safe or to store leftovers, you’ll want to choose from plastic, glass, or even metal containers. Most chefs choose a see-through option for easier evaluation.
With larger storage containers, usually plastic Tupperware-style bins, here’s a big pro tip: label them well! Make sure that you have invested in the extra tags, pens, and other accessories to date and label stored contents. This will save you in food costs and help to prevent expensive mistakes as your kitchen works hard.
For more on how to run a great kitchen, check out the resources that are offered at Chefs’ Toys, where our people have real-world kitchen experience.