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If you’re stocking a new kitchen or upgrading to better equipment, it’s wise to choose quality products that will do a good job and last a long time. If they look good while you’re using them, that’s an added bonus. While not everyone cooks the same foods, and not everyone has the same cooking skills, there are some tools that just about everyone needs in the kitchen. Whether you’re looking for something that stirs, preps, measures, or serves, there's a cooking utensil that's just right for you.
Best Instant-Read Thermometer: Taylor Precision Products Splash-Proof Dual Temperature Infrared/Thermocouple Thermometer
This two-in-one thermometer measures internal temperatures with a probe and surface temperature using infrared. It can measure up to 626 degrees with the probe, so it can be used for baked goods, meat, or even melted sugar for candy making or simmering oil for frying. The infrared measures from -67 to 482 degrees, so you can check the temperature in your freezer and then check the pizza stone in your oven.
The hold setting lets you freeze the last temperature measured, so you can remove your hand from the heat and read the display in comfort. The probe is 5 inches long, so you can reach the center of a roast or dip the probe into a pot. Meanwhile, the step-down tip makes a smaller puncture hole.
Best Can Opener: Zyliss Lock N' Lift Can Opener
Everyone needs a can opener, because, let’s face it, there’s no other reasonable way to get cans opened in the kitchen. This manual can opener locks easily onto cans of all sizes and the smooth-turning stainless steel cutting mechanism makes fast work of that can of tomato sauce. Plus, it won’t rust or corrode.
This can opener is easy to hold onto, with a soft-grip handle. It has a magnet that holds onto the lid and a lever that releases it easily for safe disposal. You never need to touch it. This should not be immersed in water. Just wipe clean by hand.
A can opener might be one of those tools that you won’t think much about until you need one, but in the end, you’ll definitely need it. This one cuts the lid without leaving a sharp edge, and the gripper hangs onto the lid for safe disposal. The opener can be used either right- or left-handed, and has a soft-grip handle that is designed to be less tiring to hold.
Best Dry Measuring Cups: Bellemain 6-Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set
This six-piece stainless steel measuring cup set is a great addition to any kitchen because it offers the most common measures—1/4, 1/3, 1/2, and 1 cup—as well as two sizes that aren’t always included in basic sets: a 2/3-cup measure and a 3/4-cup measure. They feature metric and U.S. sizes etched on the handles, which makes it easy to grab the right one no matter what recipe you're whipping up.
They are made from durable, 18/8 stainless steel that looks sleek, nest easily for storage, and have a flat bottom, so they sit upright without tipping. The set features smooth edges and no welds, so you don't have to worry about anything sharp. Plus, they're dishwasher safe.
Best Baster: Tovolo Dripless Baster
When you’re basting a turkey, it’s almost inevitable that the baster will either drip or squirt liquid where you don’t want it to go. This baster is designed to be dripless, so you can actually get the liquid onto the turkey instead of onto the floor or walls of the oven.
Best Rubber Spatula: OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set
Three is better than one when it comes to something as useful as spatulas, and this set includes a trio you’ll reach for over and over. It includes a medium silicone spatula, a silicone spoon spatula, and a small silicone spatula.
The medium spatula is designed for stirring, scraping bowls and pots, and pushing batter into the corners of bakeware. The spoon spatula has a shallow bowl that makes it perfect for scooping and transferring ingredients from bowl to pot, while it’s also great for stirring. The small spatula is surprisingly useful for stirring small amounts or scraping the last bits of mayonnaise from the jar.
These are heat resistant to 600 degrees and dishwasher safe. They’re safe for all nonstick cookware and bakeware, and won’t discolor, warp, or melt.
Best Vegetable Peeler: Oxo Good Grips Swivel Peeler
Having a good peeler makes cooking easier, faster, and much more enjoyable, and this one checks all those boxes. If you do a lot of cooking and peeling, you might want to have two or more of these peelers, so you’ve got an extra when there’s one in the dishwasher or someone wants to help in the kitchen.
Best Garlic Press: Alpha Grillers Garlic Press and Peeler Set
This stainless steel garlic press is capable of crushing garlic, ginger, and nuts, mincing unpeeled garlic cloves, and peeling garlic for slicing (with the silicone roller peeler). Not only is it versatile and easy to use, but its durable construction is also backed up by Alpha Grillers' lifetime satisfaction guarantee. Plus, it's easy to clean in the dishwasher or with the included brush.
Best Kitchen Shears: OXO Good Grips Multi-Purpose Kitchen and Herbs Scissors
Sure, you can use a pair of office scissors in the kitchen to open a bag of rice, but kitchen shears are meant to be used for food. This pair features a micro-serrated blade that works on meat, vegetables, twine, and more. There's an herb stripper above the handles specially designed for removing the tough stems from herbs, too. Speaking of the handles, they are soft and cushioned like other OXO Good Grips kitchen gadgets for a comfortable grip. Plus, the blades separate to make cleaning easier.
Best Flipping Spatula: OXO Good Grips Large Silicone Flexible Turner
While all-metal turners are still being sold, flexible silicone turners are becoming more popular since they can be used in nonstick pans without worrying about scratching. This large turner can handle a big burger or pancake with ease, and is flexible enough to sneak under cookies, even if they’re a little close together. The handle has the standard OXO soft grip that’s easy to hang onto.
Best Tongs: Dreamfarm Clongs
Tongs have been living in kitchens for a long time, but these finally brought some innovation to the design with a clever bend in the handles that keep the ends of the tongs off your counter. This eliminates cross-contamination from counter to cooking and helps keep your working surface clean. That bend also helps the tongs rest securely on the edge of a pan or bowl, so they don’t slip and drown.
The tongs lock with a simple click-lock mechanism, like a retractable pen, so you don’t need to use two hands to lock and unlock the tongs—just tap on the counter one-handed. They're made from stainless steel with silicone tips that won’t damage nonstick cookware, heat safe to 500 degrees, and top-rack dishwasher safe.
Best Wooden Spoons: NEET Organic Bamboo Cooking & Serving Utensil Set
Wooden spoons might seem old-school, but they’re still very useful in the kitchen. The handles won’t get warm while you’re stirring a hot soup, and they’re safe for use in nonstick cookware and bakeware. They look good for kitchen use or for serving, and these are made from eco-friendly bamboo that’s stronger and more durable than spoons made from traditional wood. It’s also bacteria-resistant and resistant to cracking and swelling.
Since wooden utensils are so handy, you’ll probably want more than one piece, and this set has just what you need. It includes a solid spoon, a slotted spoon, a spatula, a curved spatula, and a spork, along with a utensil holder to keep them all together on your counter. These should be washed by hand.
Best Wet Measuring Cups: OXO Good Grips 7-Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set
Each beaker in this set measures a different maximum amount, from 1 teaspoon to 1 cup, and they have lines, so you can use the cups to measure smaller amounts as well. They nest for very compact storage, so they take less space than a single traditional wet measuring cup.
Best Pastry Brush: OXO Good Grips Silicone Basting & Pastry Brush-Small
A pastry brush is handy for brushing milk, egg wash, cream, or melted butter on the top of your pie crust, dinner rolls, or biscuits. Even if you’re not baking from scratch, that extra touch makes a difference in presentation, and it’s simple to do.
You can also use the brush to remove extra flour from dough or brush crumbs from a cake. The unique bristle design won’t clump and the gaps in the center hold onto liquids better, so you won’t need to dip as often when you’re brushing on that butter.
Made from silicone, the bristles won’t discolor or retain odors, and the tapered outer bristles won’t damage delicate pastries. Since this is heat resistant to 600 degrees, you don’t need to worry about brushing coatings onto a hot pan or using hot liquids for basting. When you’re done with that pie, you can even use this for brushing barbecue sauce onto your chicken wings. When you’re done, it’s dishwasher safe.
Best Ladle: OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Ladle
Whether you’re serving soup or stew or transferring stock into containers for storage, a ladle is a must-have. This brushed stainless steel ladle looks nice enough for table use, but it’s sturdy enough to work in the kitchen so you can use it for everything from tomato sauce to pancake batter to soup to lemonade.
It features a non-slip grip for comfort, and the stainless steel construction means you can lean it against hot surfaces safely. The long 12-inch handle won't restrict you from scooping out of a large pot. It's dishwasher safe and there's a hole on the end, so you can hang it for easy storage.
Best Measuring Spoons: 1Easylife 18/8 Stainless Steel Metal Measuring Spoons
This set includes all the basic measuring spoons you need, plus some that other sets ignore. It includes 1/8 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 3/4 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, and 1 tablespoon. The spoons are made from food-grade stainless steel, so they won’t stain or rust. The narrow shape means you’ll be able to fit them right into a spice jar when you need to.
The end of the handle curls down so it’s even with the base of the spoon, so you can set a filled spoon on the counter and it won’t spill. The handle is designed to be ergonomic to hold. Both American and metric measurements are engraved on the spoon, so they’ll never rub off.
Best Whisk: OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk
This 11-inch balloon whisk from OXO has strong metal wires that hold up to thick batters, but are still flexible enough for whipping and fluffing. Reviewers say the non-slip ergonomic handle is majorly comfortable, although it will melt if you leave it on a hot stove or pan for too long. This item is dishwasher safe.
Best Serving Spoon: Fox Run Large Serving Spoon
This serving spoon has a large, shallow bowl, making it great for serving many different foods, including portions of chicken, shaped pasta, or your favorite macaroni and cheese. Add a large fork, and you can use it for salad.
This spoon is made from polished stainless steel and looks great alongside almost any flatware set. Measuring 9 inches long, it’s a great idea to have several on hand for serving main dishes and sides.
Best Grater: Microplane Professional Series Coarse Grater
Everyone needs a grater, and this one is the perfect coarseness for almost everything you need to grate, from hard cheese to chocolate to potatoes. You can even use it for citrus zest when you don’t require fine threads.
The razor-sharp teeth cut effortlessly without tearing or snagging and the large grating area and non-clogging teeth speed up the work. The non-slip rubber grip is easy to hold onto and the rubber feet keep the grater stable on your work surface. This grater includes a cover that keeps the teeth safely enclosed during storage. The grater is dishwasher safe, while the cover should be washed by hand. The hanging loop makes it easy to store within reach or tuck in a drawer.
Best Pasta Fork: Norpro 1707 Grip-Ez Spaghetti Fork
Serving pasta, and particularly long pasta like spaghetti or angel hair, can be tricky, but a pasta fork makes it much, much easier. This one from trusted brand Norpro features a patented Santoprene handle for a comfortable, non-slip grip. It can be used for hot pasta, cold pasta salads, for serving, or for transferring pasta from pot to bowl. It's heat resistant and safe for use in nonstick cookware.
While you can serve with a single pasta fork, it can be easier to use a pair, so it’s good news that this pasta fork is affordable enough to keep extras on hand for that buffet when several pasta salads are on display.
What to Look for When Buying Cooking Utensils
By Sara Tane
Before buying new kitchen utensils, it’s worth asking yourself how often you will use your new utensil. Is it a tool you’ll reach for every time you cook, or will it show up once in a blue moon? Can you use it for multiple kitchen tasks, or can it only help you with one specific thing? Do you already own something that can do its job? Does it require plenty of storage space? And if it does, is it worth it? You can shop for days on end for new kitchen utensils, but it’s important to select the ones you’ll really use.
Something you may want to consider before buying a new kitchen utensil is how it looks. If you’re outfitting a new kitchen, maybe aesthetic and overall design is something that’s important to you. Especially for items like whisks, spatulas, ladles, and tongs that live on the counter, you want to make sure that they’re visually appealing. Also, you might want to consider buying utensils that are all made out of the same material for a cohesive, uniform look. For example, if your ladle is made of metal, maybe your spoons and pasta forks are, too. Of course, this will not affect the performance of your utensils; it’s simply for looks.
Kitchen utensils are available in a range of materials, such as stainless steel, wood, and silicone. Keep in mind that if you’ve got nonstick pots and pans, silicone is ideal because it will not scratch this potentially dangerous nonstick surface. Stainless steel is arguably the most common material because it offers durability and a clean finish. Wooden utensils won’t scratch your nonstick pots and pans. It’s a durable material, but it can be subjected to stains and warping. Do not use wood around raw poultry, fish, and meat. Silicone is a great option if you want to introduce a little bit of color to your kitchen. It’s forgiving, soft, and flexible, making it a safe option for nonstick surfaces.
Outfitting a new kitchen with utensils can add up, depending on how many utensils you deem necessary for your kitchen. Depending on the look you’re going for, these utensils can run anywhere from $5 to $50. Thermometers can be on the pricey side, so only invest if it’s something you’ll use. If uniformity and aesthetic aren’t a priority, you can get away with outfitting your kitchen for an extremely reasonable price while still having equipment that works. If you’re just filling in some hole for an already equipped kitchen, make sure that you’re only buying utensils that you really need.
Types of Utensils
There are plenty of utensils that can help you prep veggies and cut down your time in the kitchen: peelers, garlic presses, citrus juicers, can openers, kitchen shears, graters, etc. While they may not be technically essential (for example, you can peel vegetables with a knife or you can squeeze citrus by hand), they can certainly make food prep easier. Deciding which utensils have a place in your kitchen is a matter of understanding which utensils you’ll actually need for the types of food that you are prepping consistently.
Once you’ve got your ingredients prepped and ready, you’ll need some utensils to help you cook ‘em. Tongs, spatulas (rubber and fish), pasta forks, whisks, basters, slotted spoons, wooden spoons, pastry brushes, and thermometers are all great tools to have on hand while you’re cooking. Lots of these items can be sold in sets if uniformity is something you’re looking for in your kitchen. In the case of spatulas or tongs, it might be helpful to have more than one just because you might not want to cross-contaminate if you have two different dishes going at once. Thermometers are not an essential utensil, but if you cook a lot of meat, this is a nice tool to rely on.
Now that you’ve prepped and cooked your meal, it’s time to serve it up. A set of visually appealing and sturdy serving utensils is a great addition to any kitchen. Ladles, salad spoons, pasta spoons, and tongs that are all table-ready are ideal if you plan to have guests over for dinner.
Having a solid set of dry and liquid measuring cups is essential to any cook or baker. You want to make sure you have both so you can measure your ingredients accurately. Make sure that the measurements are clear and easy to read on the cups. If the measurements are written in ink instead of being engraved into the cup, this ink can oftentimes fade, which makes it hard to tell how much you’re measuring.
When it comes to kitchen utensils, OXO has a variety of options. Whether it's a peeler, press, measuring spoons, or thermometer, OXO sells it at an affordable price.
Chances are high that you’re going to be using your dry measuring cups frequently, so you want a set that is sturdy, easy to clean, easy to store, and the measurements are clearly legible on the cups. Bellemain checks all of these boxes, and the metal material is super sleek.
If you want to equip your kitchen with a reliable thermometer that can help you take the internal temperatures of meats and baked goods, this is a great brand. These thermometers provide accurate readings and will last you a long time.
One kitchen utensil that might not be super obvious to get is a baster. Most folks probably only use theirs on Thanksgiving, but it’s one of those lesser-used utensils that’s still really great to have, even if it’s only for a few uses a year. Tovolo makes an affordable and long-lasting baster to get you through the holidays.
Generally speaking, maintaining your everyday cooking utensils does not need to be a huge undertaking. Of course, it’s always helpful to make sure they’re stored in an organized drawer or cupboard so they’re easy to find and not subject to daily wear and tear. After using, they should be thoroughly scrubbed with hot, soapy water. For cooking tools like spatulas, tongs, and whisks, it’s a good idea to keep those in a large jar that is not in the way of your stove. These tools should last you a long time if they are well cared for, properly stored, and frequently cleaned.
In order to keep track of your utensils in an efficient and user-friendly way, a utensil organizer is a great idea. Find one that will fit into your utensil drawer, so that you can organize all of your prepping and cooking utensils. It’s not a bad idea to clear these out every six months or so and clean them—they can acquire dirt and dust. Countertop ceramic utensil holders are also great for cooking utensils, so you can easily grab a whisk or spatula while you’re in the middle of cooking.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie specializes in product reviews and recipes. She's tinkered with everything from garlic presses to food processors, always looking for the best of the best even before she started writing about food. Her love of gadgets and cooking led to a recipe blog and a cookbook, Make Ahead Bread.