A few weeks ago I shared 5 essential kitchen tools (plus one that’s just nice to have.) Today I’m completing the list with 15 cooking tools.
My must have cooking tools
A food processor is very handy for chopping vegetables, or making smooth sauces and spreads.
Or pop on a blade for shredding potatoes for hash browns on the weekends.
My stainless steel steamer pot gets near daily use. The steamer basket fits right into the top of the pot, which is very convenient. There’s no metal tab in the middle to work around like some steamer inserts.
I use the steamer basket for vegetables and making my own seitan. In a pinch, it also works as a colander.
When I’m not steaming, the bottom portion is a great size for making soup for two or a big batch of easy collard greens.
Stainless steel & ceramic non-stick pans
Years ago I got rid of all of my non-stick pans when the Teflon started flaking off the rivets. I decided I’d switch over to stainless steel and avoid any Teflon concerns.
I stuck with it for quite a while. But ultimately I decided that I needed a non-stick skillet for stickier foods that are hard to manage on stainless steel like plantains, pancakes, and potstickers. I found some non-stick skillets and ceramic pans that don’t contain PTFE and PFOA.
Now I use a combination of stainless steel and non-stick in different sizes depending on the job.
Pyrex containers, Mason & Weck jars
I have a ridiculous amount of Pyrex containers with lids and Mason jars that come in handy for all of my storage needs.
I buy most of my dry goods in the bulk bins. So they are useful for keeping everything organized in the cupboard.
They’re also great for freezing homemade beans, storing leftovers, and taking lunches. Plus, the Pyrex can be used for baking.
Thrift stores are a great place to find old jars. I especially like the ones that come with glass lids.
David gifted me with my first coffee grinder one of the first years we were dating. We were watching a lot of Gilmore Girls in those days. And they knew how to make coffee look gooooood.
I usually buy coffee beans in the bulk area of the grocery store, making sure to buy organic, fair trade beans.
The coffee grinder is also handy for grinding spices. I just have to fully wipe it out before and after using. I use it often when making my own dukkah.
Before I got a high-speed blender, I also used the coffee grinder for grinding cashews and flaxseed for smoothies and sauces before putting the ground cashews into my less powerful blender.
Huge baking sheets
One of my kitchen dreams is to someday have a double oven. That may be ridiculous for a household of two, but I do a lot of cooking.
Many times, especially in the winter, I want to bake or roast several things at once with different cooking times. I can do some jostling and try to find a midpoint between temperatures. But sometimes I have to change my cooking method to the stovetop because I just can’t fit in everything.
Until my double oven dream comes into fruition, I bought a huge 21 x 15 inch baking sheet. It fills the entirety of the oven and maximizes how much of the space I can use within the oven I have.
For roasting, it’s important that vegetables aren’t touching or overcrowded. (That will cause them to steam instead of brown.) A big baking sheet means that there’s room for vegetables to spread out.
The only downside is that it’s too big to fit in the dishwasher and requires hand-washing. Luckily, most of the time I use parchment paper with it. So the washing is minimal.
Speaking of which, parchment paper is a godsend when roasting vegetables.
I also use parchment at least once a week to make baked fries or roasted potatoes. I prefer to use the unbleached kind, which is a little pricier than the standard variety.
I tried using Silpat as an alternative to parchment paper, but I wasn’t sold on it. I like the idea of paying once and being able to use it over and over.
However, while it stopped my food from burning on a baking sheet, it also stopped it from browning. It didn’t have the beautiful tan color that I get when using parchment.
I know lots of people swear by it. But I ended up giving mine away.
Large metal mixing bowls
I love big metal mixing bowls. They give you room to move when you’re whipping up falafel, batter, or cookies. They’re perfect for popcorn and making a huge salad with cashew dressing. It’s easy to toss the dressing evenly, coating all of the vegetables.
Large metal mixing bowls can be found all over. But my favorites come from the local restaurant supply store. They’re thin, light, and wear well.
Plus, restaurant supply stores sell items like this at a much lower price than you’d find elsewhere. (I think this bowl was around $4.) Check to see if your town has one, and give it a visit!
Like a high-speed blender, I would put the juicer into the “nice to have” column as opposed to being a true essential. My juicer doesn’t get as much use as the blender. But it’s still something that I use a few times a week.
I love smoothies as much as the next person. But sometimes I’m in the mood for something a little less filling.
I especially enjoy it in the summer when so many fruits and vegetables are in season. I’m able to devour all kinds of produce when it’s at its best.
At summer parties, my juicer gets a workout making fresh squeezed juices for cocktails. I also reach for it those times that I need to juice many more citrus fruits than I can stand with my little stainless steel citrus juicer.
I wish that my juicer was better at juicing leafy greens like kale, and that it left the pulp completely dry. However, in the plus column, it’s easy to clean and dishwasher-safe. And it has a wide enough chute that fruits and vegetables can be put in whole or in large pieces.
Plus, it has stood up to several years of juicing, and it’s still going strong. (You can read the full review of my juicer from way back in 2011 when I got it.)
6 other kitchen necessities:
- Stainless steel pots
- Spatulas aplenty
- Glass mixing bowls