Essential kitchen helpers: 10 tools that make cooking a breeze

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Cooking and baking should be an enjoyable experience, and having the right kitchen tools can make all the difference. Today, we are focusing on the essentials — those indispensable tools that effortlessly streamline the various food preparation tasks while being convenient to store and easy to use.

As you collect these kitchen tools, you’re not just collecting utensils; you’re putting together a variety of culinary options that can turn your kitchen into a fun and creative space for cooking and baking.

An assortment of kitchen utensils on a cutting board.
Photo credit: One Hot Oven.

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In addition to these essential kitchen tools, there are several other gadgets and appliances that can enhance your cooking experience. Make sure to have good pots and pans.  Blenders, food processors, stand mixers, scales and specialized appliances are always helpful depending on how and what you cook and bake. Even grilling tools are good to have on hand.

Tools for cutting and peeling

Having a versatile set of cutting and peeling tools is essential for both cooking and baking tasks.

The most commonly used kitchen tool, without a doubt, is the chef’s knife. I use this essential tool for chopping, slicing, dicing, mincing, and much more. A good knife is a must-have tool when preparing vegetables, fruits, meats or herbs. Chef’s knives can be pricey, but budget-conscious home cooks can still find affordable knives that are sturdy, sharp and have a comfortable grip.

My ultimate companion in the kitchen is this long Microplane citrus zester. The sturdy handle and sharp blades make it effortless to transform your citrus fruits into deliciously fine zest to add to sweet and savory dishes. This tool is very versatile and goes beyond just citrus. Those ultra-sharp blades are perfect for grating ginger, hard cheeses, chocolate and nutmeg.

Every kitchen needs a good vegetable peeler to speed up peeling fruits and vegetables. My go-to peeler is a simple and inexpensive Y-blade peeler that can easily peel a carrot or a thick-skinned squash. Need chocolate curls or parmesan cheese shavings? This peeler will do that too. It’s a must-have kitchen tool.

Strong and sturdy cutting boards are a must in the kitchen. To avoid cross-contamination when cooking, two cutting boards are ideal — one for raw proteins and one for cooked foods and produce. I find the boards that are non-slip and dishwasher safe the best for safety and sanitation.

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Tools for measurements

Measuring tools are essential for ensuring accurate ingredient quantities and precise cooking temperatures.

You will need one complete set of measuring cups and spoons. Dry measuring cups for flour and sugar, for instance, and come in increments of ⅛, ¼, ⅓, ½, and 1 cup. For liquid measurements,  I like the classic Pyrex measuring cups that measure in cups and ounces for liquid measurements. You will need these tools anytime you make baked goods like cookies and cakes.

Instant-read thermometers make it easy to get accurate temperatures of different foods in seconds. Whether getting the perfect steak temperature or keeping an eye on cold dishes, I can quickly check their temperature with a simple probe. The digital display is a valuable feature that takes the guesswork out of getting precise readings in no time. Thanks to this handy tool, I no longer worry about overcooking or undercooking my food.

Helpful tools to streamline cooking and baking

You will find these tools have multiple uses for a wide range of cooking and baking tasks.

A multi-purpose bench knife is a versatile kitchen tool. I use it to transfer chopped ingredients, cut dough for bread and biscuits, and slice brownies and cookie bars into clean slices. Additionally, this scraper is ideal for smoothing out icing on a cake. The best part? It’s an affordable kitchen essential you never knew you needed until now.

It’s a great idea to have various sizes of silicone spatulas readily available for all sorts of cooking tasks like stirring, scraping and folding. These spatulas are designed to endure high heat without melting and won’t damage your pans. They’re sturdy enough to handle heavy batters with ease. I prefer spatulas with a seamless design to prevent any food from getting stuck in crevices, which helps maintain cleanliness and hygiene in the kitchen.

Kitchen tools make your life easier when cooking and baking, so I keep these precut parchment paper sheets nearby. These flat sheets fit perfectly in a half-sheet pan for nonstick baking. But I use these sheets for wrapping hamburger patties to freeze and cover pies while baking, and it’s perfect for candy-making. So many uses for a piece of paper.

The one electric appliance you need

An essential tool for effortlessly blending ingredients and getting those smooth textures.

A heavy-duty handheld electric mixer is necessary in the kitchen, from mixing cake batters and mashing potatoes to whipping cream. Stand mixers are ideal, but a hand mixer is a perfect solution if you don’t have room for one or the budget for one. Look for a mixer that has various speeds, includes attachments, and stands on end without tipping over.

The unconventional tool you need

We snuck this bonus tool into our list because we like the squishing sound it makes.

So, when equipping your kitchen with essential tools and gadgets, consider adding a can crusher to the list. It may not be as glamorous as a chef’s knife or as versatile as a vegetable peeler, but it serves an essential purpose in keeping your kitchen tidy and environmentally responsible. Happy cooking and baking!

Jere Cassidy is the writer and recipe developer behind the blog One Hot Oven. A passion for all things food-related led her to culinary school to expand on her baking skills and now to share easy recipes for all home cooks and bakers of all skill levels. When not in the kitchen, Jere’ likes to travel far and wide to find delicious food.

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