Sure, you might not be a regular Martha Stewart or Ina Garten in the kitchen, but having the right cooking equipment can go a long way. Thankfully, that doesn't mean you have to buy a ton of gadgets to take up all the space in your kitchen drawers. While a cherry pitter or an avocado slicer is nice, you don't need those kinds of tools to whip up great food with minimal fuss.
So what are the best kitchen tools that every home cook should have? You already know about the basics, including knives, pots, pans, and mixing bowls, but here are 12 other items that are worth adding to your culinary arsenal:
It's tough to chop anything without a good cutting board. Keep at least two boards handy, and save one just for raw meat, poultry, or fish to help prevent cross-contamination. Opt for wood or plastic boards instead of glass because it can dull the blade of your knife.
Measuring Cups and Spoons
Measuring ingredients instead of eyeballing them will help you ace recipes—especially ones you aren't familiar with. Plus, they can help you keep track of calorie-dense ingredients, including oils and dressings.
In addition to shaving off fruit and vegetable skins, you can also use a peeler to get thin, noodlelike strands from zucchini, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.
A sharp pair of kitchen scissors can help you cut meat into smaller pieces. They can even be used to slice pizza and flatbreads. Plus, having a dedicated pair that stays in the kitchen means that you'll never have to run around the house looking for scissors when you need them.
Instant-Read Food Thermometer
A good thermometer is essential for making sure that meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. Invest in one that's shatterproof and features an easy-to-read display.
Obviously, these come in handy whenever you get the urge to make fresh, homemade cookies. But baking sheets also make roasting a big batch of vegetables a cinch. You can even toss veggies, proteins, and starches together for easy sheet-pan dinners.
A colander is essential for draining pasta, of course, but you can also use it for rinsing and draining tiny ingredients, including rice, quinoa, or lentils. And when you put it on top of a pot of boiling water, it can double as a steamer basket.
Salad dressing can't stick to soggy greens. A simple salad spinner can help you dry freshly washed lettuce quickly without having to waste a bunch of paper towels.
A blender is the workhorse of the kitchen, and it comes in handy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Use it to make smoothies, salad dressings, sauces and purees, creamy soups, and more.
While measuring cups and spoons are essential for liquid ingredients, investing in a kitchen scale can help you get that same accuracy with your dry ingredients. After all, you've probably encountered a time when a recipe called for a medium onion and you weren't quite sure if the one you bought would fit the bill. It may not have changed the meal too much, but weighing ingredients can help you make sure your recipe comes out right every time.
You probably don't have four hours to make deeply flavorful, slow-cooked chicken, beef, or pork, but with a slow cooker, you don't need all that time. Just pop your ingredients in the pot and turn it on. When you get home at the end of the day, dinner will be ready.
Homemade baked goods are almost always better for you than what you can buy at the store. If you're able to invest in a stand mixer, then great, but if not, don't worry. A sturdy hand mixer and some high-quality blenders can totally get the job done.
The bottom line is that a functional kitchen doesn't need a ton of stuff. A handful of basic tools is all it takes to make tasty meals. Start by stocking up on the best kitchen tools, and then start cooking!