Basic Tools Every Kitchen Needs and a Few Tips for Good Measure

Kitchen Tips

Preparing and eating food with family and friends gives a sense of accomplishment; it’s less expensive than eating out or ordering in, and you’re going to be wonderfully satisfied.

Restaurants and mass-produced food must be precise and consistent.  As home cooks, it doesn’t have to be that way. 

Before preparing a dish:

Have all your ingredients ready.  Mise en place (meaning everything in its place); this way, you ensure you have everything you need, enough of what you need, and it is reachable when you need it.

Clean up as you go.  This keeps your workspace free of clutter, and makes the final clean-up quick and easy.

Season as you go – don’t be afraid to add salt.  Salt brings out the flavour in food, and it boosts the flavour of the ingredients.

Taste as you go – this really is the only way you can tell if the dish needs more of something.  If you taste it at the end, most of the time, it’s just too late.

Tools Every Kitchen Needs

A kitchen, like any workshop, requires some basic tools. But where do you start? How do you start?

It can be both confusing and expensive if you don’t have a lot of cooking experience.

To help you along, I’ve put together a list of kitchen equipment that I think is a good start to building your collection. These are the tools I use all the time, virtually the things I can’t do without.  

Acquiring good tools starts with quality. My philosophy is if it’s something I’m going to use for a long time, and it’s important, I will be the best quality I can afford, because quality only hurts once unlike poor quality tools which never work properly and require constant replacement. You’ll never regret buying quality.

For example, using a really cheap saucepan or frying pan will usually result in an outcome that will disappoint you.  Either the food will be burnt or won’t be cooked evenly.

I’ve added to my collection over the years.  Replacing the “okay” stuff, with the pieces that will last a long time and even a lifetime.  Things like spatulas, tongs, spoons, those, I find, I do have to replace over time, every 3, 4 or 5 years, just because they either warp or break which is okay because they don’t really cost too much so I’m okay with that. 

But the cookware, knives, and bowls, the items you can use for many years can be pricy so acquiring them may take a bit of time. For instance, a good cast-iron, Dutch oven may cost $100.00 or more, so watch out for sales on good cookware because that’s the time to buy them.  Adding them to your gift wish list is another good way to get your collection started.

I’ve also put together a “nice to have” list as well.  These are tools that you can add to your collection over time.  Now, are there are more pieces you can add? Sure, there are!  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your kitchen tool collection.  I’m still working on mine. 😊

The Tools

Knife Sharpener

Keeps those knives nice and sharp. Cutting with a dull knife is frustrating and dangerous because you’ll end up cutting yourself instead of your food.

Paring Knife

Sharp – great for peeling onions, coring fruit, and chopping small stuff.

Chef’s Knife

This is one of the most critical tools because you’ll use it all the time. When you use a good quality sharp knife, you’ll appreciate it every time you use it. This knife is your go-to knife for all your cutting needs, so be sure to get a good one.

Serrated Knife

You don’t want to use anything else when you are slicing bread.


Cutting Board

You’ll want a board that doesn’t slide around the counter when you’re using it, so be sure it lays perfectly flat – not warped.  Another tool you will use every time you cook.  Dishwasher safe is a good choice.

Saucepan 3-Quart

This is a good pot for pretty much everything from boiling to making soups, stews, and sauces.


Used for rinsing fruit and vegetables as well as draining pasta.

Soup Pot (large) 

5 quart – This is a larger version of a saucepan when you want to make a bigger quantity of soups, stews, and sauces.  This is a perfect size for cooking pasta.

12” Frying Pan Non- Stick

Used for searing, frying – from meats to eggs to fritters.

12” Sauté Pan or Deep Skillet

Very versatile.  Used for frying, sauteing, braising and one-pot meals.

7-Quart Dutch Oven

Used for slow cooking, braising, stews, sauces.  Can be used in the oven.

Baking Sheet 

12” x 17” (ish) – used for baking and roasting everything from meat, vegetables, cookies and pizza.

Casserole Dish

9” x 13” – used for baking veggies, meats and casseroles


makes turning food a cinch.


For serving soups, stews and sauces

Wooden Spoon

Perfect for mixing and stirring everything


10” to 13” – from tossing salad to flipping meat and vegetables to plating. 

Measuring Cups and Spoons

For measuring liquid or solid ingredients – takes the guesswork out … you don’t want to be guessing! 😉

Y- Peeler

Stops food waste – slices so thin it only removes the outer most peel, be it potatoes, carrots, fruit and so on

Mixing Bowls

Great for mixing ingredients together and for serving what you just mixed!


Multiple sizes so you can grate or zest anything from cheese to carrots to lemons.

Kitchen Scissors

Used for cutting elastics off of produce and cutting up canned tomatoes and pizza … of course.

Not Critical, But Nice-To-Have Tools

Stock Pot

Used for making stock, soups, boiling, big portions of stews

Whisk 8” to 11”

Use for combining dry ingredients like spices or wet ingredients like sauces.

Instant Read Thermometer

Take the guesswork out of guessing when your masterpieces are at temperature.

Strainer (Sieve)

Used for separating liquids from solids like pasta, steaming vegetables or for sifting flour.

Bamboo Cutting Board

A pleasure to cut on.

Potato Masher

For mashing potatoes … and other stuff!

Electric Hand Beater/Mixer

For mixing batters, mashing potatoes, whipping cream or eggs.

Immersion Blender (Hand Blender)

Purees everything from sauces to soups to smoothies.

Salad Spinner

A great tool to dry your salad greens.  Much faster than using a tea towel.