Chef Approved Tools Every Kitchen Should Have

January 24, 2015

chef approved tools

Kitchen clutter is the enemy of efficiency.

You don’t need every single gadget.  You don’t need a set of Cutco knives (Please throw those away.  Like now.)

You need chef approved tools of high quality – and space left in your drawers to find these things.

A major part of elevating your food is having the right tools. And putting away the ones that take up space, have been sitting in your drawer for years, and getting the ones that will help you be a better cook.

Here’s a list of MUST have White Apron chef approved kitchen tools.

  • Good cutting boards.  1 plastic, 1 wood (I routinely see people NOT have these.  It’s the foundation of everything in the kitchen, along with a good knife.)
  • Chef knife.  Not Cutco.  Something in the $50-$100 range. 
  • Microplane Zester – I use this to grate garlic, ginger, and zest lemons in seconds.  They’re less than $15 and a life changing tool.
  • Large Saucepan with lid – I like all-clad, but as long as you have a thick enough bottom, you’re fine.  The cheaper/thinner pots make it difficult for you to cook onions properly without burning – onions are the foundation of most dishes, so cooking these properly is important.)  This is used to boil pasta, cook one pot meals like chili, make popcorn, etc.
  • Medium Saucepan with lid – This is used for tomato sauce, making larger batches of rice, quinoa, polenta, blanch/steam veggies etc.
  • Small saucepan with lid – I like these to reheat sauces or small portions of a dish, make small batches of rice/grains, cook small portions of veggies
  • 10 or 12″ Cast Iron pan – I use this for EVERYTHING.  To make eggs, cook chicken, beef, fish.  It’s my go to pan for saute/sear and even stir-fry.
  • 10 or 12″ non stick or stainless steel pan – I have smaller sizes but NEVER use them.  Honestly I use my cast iron pan for everything so even though I have a stainless steel all-clad pan, I rarely use it.  But having a non-stick pan as a home cook is a useful tool.
  • Dutch Oven 

Kitchen Appliances

Vitamix or good blender – Vitamix is $$ but it lasts pretty much forever.  But if that’s too much of an investment, something in the $100 range like a Kitchen-Aid blender will do.  To be honest aside from the occasional smoothie I use my food processor way more.

Food processor – I LOVE my Kitchen-aid food processor.  I use it to make dough, pesto, bean burgers, grind chicken, make chile pepper paste, even nut butters.

Immersion blender – This is an indispensable tool for me.  I use it to puree soups and sauces when the blender is too much work to take out/clean, make perfectly emulsified vinaigrettes so I don’t have to whisk/worry about emulsifying, and I even use it to make whipped cream when I don’t feel like whisking.

The rest

  • Spatula, 1 plastic, 1 stainless steel, 1 silicone for baking
  • Wooden spoons, 1-2
  • Whisk – maybe a small and a large.  If you want to get fancy there are different sizes/densities but I don’t think this is necessary for the home cook.
  • Measuring cups, both liquid and solids. Do you really need 5 sets of each?
  • Measuring spoons.  Again, 1-2 full sets is MORE THAN ENOUGH.
  • Mixing bowls,  set from large to small
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Can opener (NOT the electric one! hello space hogger.)
  • Meat thermometer (if you eat/cook meat this is useful)
  • Colander, 1 large, 1 small, and one fine mesh
  • Box cheese grater
  • Scissors, 1 pair
  • Silicone pastry brush
  • Citrus squeezer (obsessed with this one)
  • Pie baking dishes, 1-2
  • Pyrex type baking dishes, 2-3
  • Round cake baking dish, 1
  • Cookie sheets, 2
  • A hand mixer or a Kitchen-aid stand mixer – I used to swear by the stand mixer but I make most things in the food processor (even dough) now so I barely ever use mine. But useful to have around.

Optional but good to have:

  • Spiralizer 
  • Juicer 
  • Potato Ricer

A well organized kitchen is the foundation of cooking.  I see way too many people clutter up their drawers and cupboards with stuff they’ll never use.  This is an impediment.  De-clutter, organize, and stock up on the right tools.  If you have two cans openers, give one away.  If you have 3 box graters, give two away.

You will be saner, your kitchen will be cleaner, and your food will shine.  I promise.

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