The plant-powered kitchen doesn’t have to be magazine-gorgeous and outfitted with dozens of gadgets and appliances. But there are a few essential kitchen tools and utensils to make cooking and prepping wholesome meals easier and more enjoyable. Here are 10 essential kitchen items are durable and super useful.
Most of the recipes on this site don’t depend on a lot of gadgets, though some basic tools are great to have on hand for chopping, cutting, grating, blending … basic food prep and cooking, in other words. Here are our favorites:
#1 Food processor: Its multiple uses — chopping, grating, and pureeing — make it your best friend among kitchen tools. If you get one of the name brands and take care of it, it may outlive you! I’ve had the same food processor for at least 15 years and it shows little sign of slowing down. The KitchenAid® food processor shown above is nice and compact. There are others to explore, including Hamilton Beach® and Cuisinart®.
#2 Immersion blender (aka hand blender): If you have no room for a full-fledge blender, or don’t want to spring for it, an immersion blender can do a lot of the same tricks. My favorite way to use it is for pureeing soups in the same pot in which they cook. No need to transfer hot ingredients in and out of a food processor or blender. Easy to use and clean, the hand blender is also good for making smoothies and velvety sauces. Braun ® is a reliable brand.
#3 Wire (or coated wire) whisk: This inexpensive tool helps make sauces, dressings, and gravies, and for cooking fine grains (such polenta) to lump-free textures. For cake and pancake batters that come out smooth without over-beating, a whisk is a must. The silicon-coated type, like the OXO Good Grips® whisk shown above, is easier on your pans than the uncoated type.
#4 Kitchen shears: These shears (also known as scissors) have endless uses in the kitchen — cutting long Asian noodles, thinly slicing scallions or basil leaves, opening packages, even cutting pizza into wedges if you don’t have a pizza wheel. I’ve had the KitchenAid® sheers for years and years. Which brings us to …
# 5 Pizza pan (or stone): A pizza pan is nothing more than a 14-inch round pan with holes on the bottom for the purpose of baking pizzas. And a stone is just that — a smooth round stone for the same purpose. A stone assures crispier crusts and is more receptive to sharp pizza wheels. If you like to make pizza, these won’t break the bank and will see much use. Shown above, GoodCook AirPerfect 15.75″ Insulated Nonstick Carbon Steel Pizza Pan is a popular one.
#6 Stir-fry pan: This type of wok-shaped pan will serve you well if you enjoy making stir-fries. It’s easier to deal with than a traditional wok, from cleaning to storage. If you like to make quick, colorful stir-fries and noodle dishes, you’ll get a lot of use from a stir-fry pan. It’s also good for stews, especially if you don’t have room for a large soup pot or prefer moderate quantities. There are so many to choose from; a hard anodized surface is a good bet, like this Cook’s Standard Nonstick Stir-Fry Wok Pan.
#7 Tofu Press: If you’re a regular user of tofu, make your life easier with a tofu press. These nifty devices save time and effort, not to mention a lot of paper towels. I’ve been using the Tofu XPress for years and I’m sure it will outlive me!
#8 Salad spinner: A salad spinner isn’t an absolute must-have. Even as a huge fan of salads of all kinds, I did without one for a long time. But once I finally got one and started using it, I was sold! I regret all those paper towels wasted on blotting delicate leaves for salads or wraps, or pressing liquid from kale before massaging it or making kale chips. This Faberware® model is compact and efficient.
#9 Nut chopper: I really enjoy using a nut grinder that pulverizes a few nuts at a time into a container, making the process easy and neat. While you can definitely live a long and illustrious life without it, nut enthusiasts will appreciate this item. It’s handy for turning nuts into a tasty topping for noodle dishes, grains, salads, and sweet baked goods. I think my Progressive Nut Chopper is another one of my kitchen tools that will outlive me!
#10 Sheet pan: These rimmed shallow baking pans are ideal for making quick meals at high oven temperatures, bringing out the best flavors in vegetables and plant proteins. Most sheet pans are 13 by 18 inches give or take an inch on either side, a nice size for a plentiful meal. Explore our roundup of tasty and easy sheet pan dinners. Cuisinart Chef’s Classic is just one of many choices.
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