Staying Basic- 18 Tools Every Home Cook Should Always Have
Whether you’ve been cooking for years or want to start cooking seriously, here are the tools no home cook, or serious chef for that matter, should be seen without. With these tools in hand, you’ll be sure to see Gordon Ramsay shed a tear or two. There’s absolutely no reason to go all-in with expensive sets, or to buy tools that you’ll most often never end up using. Not until you step up your cooking game, and experiment with more complex dishes, should you consider diverisfying. For now, the tools below will help build your foundation.
And, luckily for you, building out your tools doesn’t need to be expensive. No need for William Sonoma, or Bed Bath and Beyond- this isn’t amateur hour. NYC has several quality restaurant supply stores, and if it’s good enough for chefs to shop there, it’s definitely good enough for you. You’ll often find deep discounts there, especially on the bigger ticket items. For smaller, yet fundamental items, we’re fans of Brandless, where any item is under $3, without sacrificing quality.
Without further adieu...
- Chef’s Knife
The Chef’s knife will be the Robin to your batman- an extension of you while in the kitchen. Care for her, and you’ll be going places. Find one for $3 at Brandless
2. Paring Knife
This is like the mini chef’s knife- better suited for detail-oriented tasks. Think- deveining shrimp, peeling and coring fruits/vegetables. Find one for $3 at Brandless
3. Cutting Board
Save the tiny space of countertop you already have in your apartment, and make prepping and cleaning a breeze. Get one as low as $6 from Bowery Kitchen Supplies
4. Measuring Spoons/Measuring Cups
Some dishes, often in the baking world, call for a bit more absoluteness. Make sure your measuring cups are clearly labeled for accurate measurements. These life-savers can ensure you don’t have to redo a gateau basque halfway through the process. Sanity saved! Find one for $3 at Brandless
5. Mixing Bowls
Mixing bowls are great for many reasons- they avoid messes as you make various dishes at once, and overall great for multi-tasking. Mixing bowls go far beyond baking, and will be your best friend for marinades, sauces, and seasonings. We love stainless steel, because they’re cheap, and the ultimate workhorse. They’re lighter and more durable than their glass counterparts, and they also happen to be a bad-ass looking piece. Get a set of 6 nested bowls for 24.99 on Amazon
Drain pastas, beans, cooked vegetables, and even make spaetzle. Further than draining the colander is magic at washing produce. Spend your next $9 wisely on Amazon
A ladle is essentially a big-ass spoon, which you’ll need to serve stews, soups, and any dish from a large pot. $6 on Amazon
This is your companion for stews, soups, pastas, and, surprise, surprise- sauces! Aim for all clad with a copper core to ensure even heating. $24 at Bowery Kitchen Supplies
9. Large Pot
The large pot is perfect for cooking large-format dishes. Think sauces, stews, and pastas. $26 on Amazon
Flip meats with ease and turn roasted vegetables with precision- all while saving your precious hands. Find one for $3 at Brandless
11. Stirring Spoon
Countless recipes call for stirring. If you make anything from a risotto to a stew, stirring becomes part of the cooking, which is why we recommend going with a wooden spoon. It’s easier to grasp, and more gentle on the food as it stirs, keeping your precious ingredients intact. $3 at Brandless
12. Serrated Knife
From cutting bread perfectly without flattening it to cutting tomatoes just right, the serrated knife should always be in your arsenal. Since this piece can’t be sharpened due to its edges, there’s no reason to go expensive on this one. Get one for $3 at Brandless
13. Dutch Oven
One of the most versatile tools on this list, the Dutch Oven can do everything from braising, simmering, and even baking. Look for one that has a sturdy feel, with thick walls and bottom. Though typically on the expensive side, it’s worth going as high as you can on this one. What makes it a must-have is its ability to retain and transfer heating evenly. Not typically cheap at around $200, you can find yours at Bowery Kitchen supplies for only $69.
14. Cast Iron Skillet
Perhaps the most versatile item on this list, the cast iron skillet is a beast, akin to Rocky Balboa- this piece can take beating. Similar to a baseball mitt, this is a piece that gets better and better the more you break it in, a process known as seasoning. Seasoning with the use of salt and fats helps to create film around the surface to prevent various foods from seeping into the pores and creating an awful time. Here’s a pre-season one we recommend… $22 at Bowery Kitchen Supplies
15. Microplane Grater
An indispensable tool for chefs, you’ll enjoy grating your favourite cheeses to zesting your favourite fruits. $12 on Amazon
16. Silicone Spatula
expect to use this piece on the daily with its versatile applications ranging from scrambling eggs to scraping the sides of mixing bowls. Combined with its heat-resistant, dishwasher-safe material, it’ll also last for a long time. Get one for $3 at Brandless
17. Slotted Spatula
The slotted spatula is the perfect companion to any shallow frying adventures. Flip burgers, fish, and fried goodies in a pinch. Get one for $3 at Brandless
18. Aluminum Half-Sheet Pan
Perfect for roasting vegetables or whipping up something sweet. Seek one out with sturdy rims, and try to avoid non-stick versions, which have been known to accelerate heat absorption a.k.a bunt food. Noridcware makes some some durable kitchen supplies, and this one for only $9 isn’t one you should sleep on.