5 Essentials Series – Kitchen Tools
There always seems to be a new gadget that everyone swears you need to change your life. However, I’ve found that most of the time those things are unitaskers or I don’t really need them and they sit in the cabinet.
I’ve come up with a list of 5 things, not appliances, but 5 tools that you should have in your kitchen. Obviously there is a lot of stuff in a kitchen that is nice to have but I tried to be very intentional with my list. I want it to be things that maybe you weren’t sure you needed or were worth the money. I also didn’t want it to be only “foodie/chef” things. If you’re someone who is just trying to make a simple dinner or someone who loves to spend 5 hours a night making dinner these items should apply to you. I wanted this list to encompass as many levels of cooking as possible.
This is a great place to start if you’re building your first kitchen and don’t want to spend a ton all at once. I’ve excluded things like plates, forks, cups etc.
Here are my top 5 things that I use every week without fail.
6 qt Dutch Oven
It took me a LONG time to finally get a dutch oven. Why? They are heavy and I already had pots and pans. Why did a need another one? Well most of my pots and pans aren’t oven proof, which means more dishes. No one wants more dishes.
A dutch oven is a thick walled pot that has a tight fitting lid. Why is this so awesome? These pots can easily go from the stove top where you are searing meat or starting a sauce, straight into the oven to finish cooking. I use mine all the time for things like thai yellow curry, boiling pasta, braises or making pomodoro sauce. When I’m feeling ambitious, I use it to fry things because it retains the temperature really well. Plus you can also make sourdough bread in it. Who doesn’t love fresh bread.
I have a 6 quart Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven that I use at least 5 days out of the week. I chose an enameled one because it is easier to clean and maintain. No seasoning required. You can definitely get a more expensive version from Staub or Le Creuset, but if you just want to try one out (and love it) I’d go with Lodge. The handles are a good size so it isn’t awkward to move around.
I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you that you need a decent chef’s knife. But there is probably a reason for that. Having a decent quality (I’m not talking $500/knife for the average person) that you keep sharp will make prep work way easier.
A chef’s knife is a good utility knife and it’s what I use most often. There are other knives that make your life easier, but this is the only one that you truly need. I prep meats, veggies, fruits and seafood all with the same knife.
When choosing a knife make sure it feels good in your hand. It sound feel balanced and comfortable. Once you’ve chosen one it is important that you maintain it by keeping it clean (do NOT put it in the dishwasher!!) and sharp. I have a knife sharpener at home that I use weekly that wasn’t very expensive and is very easy to use. Occasionally, I’ll take mine to get professional sharpened as well.
These can be expensive. I get that. They are intimidating and you think you don’t need one. Well. You do. It’ll make your life SO MUCH EASIER. Measuring the temperature of a protein, bread or liquid will take the guesswork out of cooking.
I use this when I’m cooking burgers, steaks, shrimp, salmon, whole chickens, breads, cupcake and hot chocolate.
Yes, I measure the temperature of my hot chocolate when I’m making it. And the optimum temperature for me is 150 F. You’re welcome.
I do have the expensive thermapen from Thermoworks but it has a massive range, very accurate, long battery life, easy to use and is splash proof. They make a less expensive version if you’re not ready to commit yet.
Good Quality Sheet Tray
I used to think that all sheet trays were created equal and then I realized I was wrong. I finally decided to purchase a Nordiac Ware sheet tray because I was constantly needing an extra. This changed my life. They aren’t that expensive at about $10-$12/each. The better quality means there is a more even cooking surface. Have you ever put a sheet tray into the oven and heard it twist? That means it is under stress and not heating evenly. It can also cause you cookies to jump around in the oven.
The better quality sheet trays give more consistent results, heats up quickly and cools down quickly. If a tray stays warm for too long it can overcook the bottom of your cookies or fish. If it takes too long to heat up, it’ll take longer to cook and could mess up the texture of the food.
You can make different types of baked goods, proteins and vegetables all using a sheet tray. Perfect for multi-purpose cooking and easy to store a few of them as they nestle together.
These have a limited lifetime warranty. I’ve learned everyday objects that things that may be a little more expensive are better investments for the long run.
Why would I include a spatula that is only for fish? Because fish is delicious. But actually, you can do a lot with this type of spatula. It is a flexible slotted metal spatula that you can use for lifting pancakes, burgers, fish, cookies or pieces of pizza. It also has a metal edge so that you can grab all those crispy bits from your oven roasted broccoli.
These are cheap and easy to find, which is another reason I like them so much. You can use this spatula to flip, move, scrap and drain all different types of food. Isn’t that the dream?
Did I leave something out?
Did I leave something out? Let me know with a comment below about your favorite multi-tasker in the kitchen.
If you need some help figuring out what might be a good brand or whether or not it is worth it to spend the extra money, I’d be happy to help as well.