12 Essential Tools That We Can’t Live Without

What are the hardest working tools in your kitchen? Here are the 12 kitchen tools that our Simply Recipes contributors consider most essential. We can't imagine cooking without them!

Photography Credit: Emma Christensen

Did you know that every single recipe on Simply Recipes goes through a rigorous process of development, testing, and editing before it gets shared on the site? It’s true! We want to make sure you’re only getting the very best when it comes to your meals and desserts.

Given the fact that our team of contributors and testers spend so much time in the kitchen day in and day out, it’s no wonder that we’ve developed some preferences when it comes to our essential, most time-saving kitchen tools.

Want to hear what they are?!

Essential Tools

1. Fluke Infared Thermometer // Elise Bauer, Founder

“I love my infrared laser thermometer because I can be working anywhere in the kitchen and I just point the thermometer at the pan to see how hot the pan is.

This is especially useful when I’m heating oil for shallow frying. I want to put the food in at about 375°F and the laser thermometer helps get me a good read on whether or not the oil in the pan is hot enough — or too hot — to fry.

I use a Fluke — it’s industrial strength and accurate.” Elise

2. Fish Spatula // Emma Christensen, Managing Editor

“My fish spatula is probably the most-used tool in my kitchen. Its wide, thin blade and sharp edge make it useful for so many kitchen tasks — not just fish!

I definitely use it for lifting and turning delicate fish, of course, but also for cutting brownies, scraping crispy roasted vegetables off the pan, stir-frying in my wok, transferring pizzas onto the cutting board, and dozens of other things.”Emma

3. Electric Pressure Cooker // Coco Morante, Recipe Contributor

“The Instant Pot is at the top of my list! I use it multiple times a week, for everything from steaming vegetables to making soups, stews, and one-pot dinners. The Ultra is my favorite model because it has such a sleek, minimal design. It’s one of the few appliances that has earned a permanent spot on my countertop.” Coco

Essential Tools

4. Immersion Blender // Garrett McCord, Recipe Contributor

“I really hate transferring things to a blender or food processor, and it just makes more dishes to clean. For homemade applesauce, pureeing hot soups right in the pot, jams, and numerous types of sauces an immersion blender just makes life easier.” ~ Garrett

5. Bench Scraper // Lisa Lin, Recipe Contributor

“I use this tool to transfer chopped vegetables and herbs from my cutting board to the pan. Because of its wide surface, I can scoop up a lot of food in one go.” Lisa

(Emma agrees, adding that she also uses it for dividing bread dough, transferring chopped chocolate to a bowl of cookie dough, and even cleaning the counter of sticky gunk after cooking!)

6. Flat Whisk // Carrie Havranek, Tips Contributor and Recipe Tester

“My tiny, flat whisk, which came from a collection Nigella Lawson designed with Sebastian Conrad years ago, is the hardest working little thing in my kitchen. It’s starting to come apart and is sadly no longer available, but it’s THE best tool for whisking together eggs, salad dressing, breaking up partially melted chocolate, and incorporating cornstarch or flour into another liquid.

It’s such a valuable multi-tasker! Thankfully, you can purchase something similar called a flat coil whisk.” ~ Carrie

Essential Tools

7. Microplane Zester // Aaron Hutcherson, Recipe Contributor

“My favorite kitchen tool is a microplane zester. In addition to the obvious case of zesting citrus, it’s also great for finely grating hard cheeses and turning garlic cloves into paste. (Lisa Lin agrees, adding that she uses it for nutmeg, ginger and lemongrass.)” ~ Aaron

8. Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer // Sally Vargas, Recipe Contributor

“Yes, the Thermapen is pricey. But after burning through 5 or 6 twenty-dollar probe thermometers in the space of a year, it was time to bite the bullet. It’s already lasted three years.

I get a lot of compliments on how perfectly cooked my chicken and fish are, and the Thermapen is THE secret weapon. I also use it for bread, custard, and just about anything else where the doneness might be hard to gauge by look or feel. No more guessing! I love it.” ~ Sally

9. Vintage Cast Iron Skillet // Sheryl Julian, Recipe Contributor

“My favorite thing is a 19th-century, 9-inch cast iron skillet that had seen lots of life by the time I’ve found it for very little money in the back of a dusty antique store in Vermont. I only wash it with a soapy sponge and quickly rinse away the suds, then dry it over low heat. I usually leave it on the stovetop because it’s just so beautiful.

It does regular skillet things well, but it also toasts nuts evenly, browns a grilled cheese sandwich beautifully, and reheats a slice of yesterday’s pizza like it just came out of the oven. Here’s a similar pan to mine, though not exact.” ~ Sheryl

Essential Tools10. Chef’s Knife and Stone Sharpener // Sabrina Modelle, Recipe Contributor

“My chef’s knife is my most important tool. With it, and a little elbow grease, I can do anything from slicing vegetables to making garlic paste to prepping chimichurri.

The companion to my knife is a great stone sharpener — a good knife won’t stay ‘good’ for long without one.” ~ Sabrina

11. Offset Spatula // Cindy Rahe, Recipe Contributor

“I like to use a mini offset spatula for frosting cakes and other baked goods! I find it easier to wield than the larger offset spatulas.” ~ Cindy

12. Lemon Squeezer // Summer Miller, Tips Contributor and Recipe Tester

“This thing is a godsend. I love to make citrus curds and pies, so it comes in handy when I need to juice lots of bright and colorful fruit. ” ~ Summer

Your turn! What are the hardest working tools in your kitchen?

 

If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #simplyrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

Carrie Havranek

Carrie Havranek is a food writer living in Easton, Pennsylvania who goes out of her way for farmers markets, a crazy new ingredient, yoga class, and a great cup of tea. Find more of her work her on her blog The Dharma Kitchen. Her first cookbook, Tasting Pennsylvania, will be published in spring 2018.

More from Carrie

Showing 4 of 13 Comments

  • Aoi

    I had the same Nigella whisk, it was my favorite tool in the kitchen. Sadly, mine fell apart years ago.

  • anna*

    My mini processor was like $10 and has survived many summers of yummy dips, hummus, guacamole. Also my mandoline slicer. And yes my chef’s knife as well.

  • Betty williams

    Great list. Next time I would love to see pictures of these items!

  • Patricia

    I have a wooden lemon reamer. I use it constantly. I use my melon baller to remove the core from apples and pears. I also love the micro plane for adding a bit of garlic to a salad dressing. I use mason jars for storing homemade yogurt. I would have a hard time figuring out which tool to let go first if 8 had to.

  • Paul

    Great list, but I use my tongs more frequently than any of them.

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