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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.
We researched and tested top brands to bring you the best cooking utensils.
Best Instant-Read Thermometer: Taylor Precision Products Splash-Proof Dual Temperature Infrared/Thermocouple Thermometer
Reads temperatures quickly
Infrared setting for surface temperature readings
Easy to clean
Display isn't backlit
Display is upside down when fully extended
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. Our tester found that it gets a read on temperatures quickly, and although it's costly, it's worth the price due to its convenience and accuracy.
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, and 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. This thermometer even has an automatic shut-off feature timed at 10 minutes to preserve its AAA batteries.
The only minor qualms our tester had with this product were that the display isn’t backlit, so if you’re grilling on a dark evening, you’ll have trouble reading the temperature. Also, when the probe is fully extended, the display will be upside down. Sticking it into meat sideways will solve this problem.
Batteries: 2 AAA | Temperature Range: -67 to 626 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 6.37 x 1.5 x 1 inches
"After a success with steak, I also used the infrared thermometer to measure the temperature of wort whilst brewing my own beer." — Rebekah Joan, Product Tester
Best Can Opener: Zyliss Lock N' Lift Can Opener
Locks onto cans for cutting
Magnet can grab lids
Lid can fall into can
Magnet doesn't always reach cut lid
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.
Our tester found this can opener 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.
Blade Material: Stainless steel | Grip Material: Nylon and POM | Dimensions: 3.15 x 2.24 x 7.08 inches
"Once I got used to the correct angle to attach it to the can, I got great results, and I can see how the locking feature will be very useful for some users." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Dry Measuring Cups: Bellemain 6-Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set
Attractive brushed interior, shiny exterior
Nests for compact storage
Wide variety of measurements
Measurement markings can be difficult to read
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. The measurement markings may be slightly difficult for some to read, though, due to the shiny stainless steel exterior.
Our tester used these to measure flour, sugar, and shredded coconut for a cookie recipe. The cups have somewhat short handles, which may be a little uncomfortable for larger hands or individuals with arthritis to grip, but she didn't have any trouble with the size. However, the rectangular shape of the handle is a little awkward to grip, and she wished the handles are a bit more ergonomically designed for comfort.
Each cup is made from durable, 18/8 stainless steel that looks sleek, nests easily for storage (our tester fit them in a shallow kitchen drawer with no problem), and has 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 and attractive to boot.
Includes: 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, 2/3 cup, 3/4 cup, 1 cup
"This is a great all-around measuring cup set for dry ingredients. This feels like the set you'd find in serious home cooks kitchens. I wish the handles were a little more comfortable, but the variety of measurements and quality construction make this a worthwhile set." — Sharon Lehman, RDN, Product Tester
Best Baster: Tovolo Dripless Baster
Cleaning brush included
No measurements on baster body
Can roll on counter
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.
Our tester not only used this to baste chicken, but also to fill cupcake tins, dispense pancake batter, remove excess grease from a pan of grilled beef, skim fat from the top of soup stock, drizzle caramel and chocolate, and more—all without drips, causing her to ask, "What sorcery is this?" The bulb of the baster even acts as a suction-style egg yolk separator.
Material: Plastic, silicone | Heat Resistance: 600 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 11.5 x 2.25 x 2.25 inches
"I’ve owned and discarded many basters over the years, but the Tovolo Dripless Baster is worth the space it will be taking in the gadget drawer because it lives up to its dripless brag." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Rubber Spatula: OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set
Sturdy but flexible tips
Scratch- and heat-resistant
Lighter colors can stain
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.
Our tester owns a previous set of Oxo's three-piece silicone spatulas and prefers the newer ones, as the previous set had plastic handles with a silicone grip and silicone blade, and the blades detached for cleaning, but food residue still built up under the blade head. Each spatula in the updated set is made of one solid piece of silicone, so there's no hiding spots for food to get stuck or mold to grow. She called it a great everyday set for scooping, scraping, spooning, and spreading with a variety of ingredients and recipes, adding that they are comfortable to hold and use, resistant to heat, and easy to clean via machine or hand wash. They are safe for all nonstick cookware and bakeware, and won’t discolor, warp, or melt.
"From gently folding batters to scraping every last bit of fluffy frosting from a mixing bowl, these spatulas have become my go-to for baking. Other favorite uses for this set include reaching into the bottom of a club-sized jar of peanut butter and gently moving scrambled eggs around a pan." — Sharon Lehman, RDN, Product Tester
Best Peeler: Oxo Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler
Blade is very sharp
Peels smoothly and easily
Non-slip, comfortable grip
Peels in both directions
Slightly pricier than competitors
This is the upgraded version of a classic Oxo peeler, with a slightly better grip, sharper blade, and sturdier construction. The swivel blade moves at just the right angle to make quick work of peeling vegetables, which our tester confirmed after peeling tons of white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, and tomatoes. She even zested limes, and in all, it cut easily and smoothly.
According to our tester, the handle was comfortable to hold—even after a long session with potatoes—and the blade cut flawlessly in both directions, making it perfect for both left- and right-handed users. The metal eye at the top allows you to remove eyes from potatoes without reaching for a knife, and the hold in the middle can be used for hanging. As far as cleaning goes, this peeler can be washed by hand or thrown in the dishwasher. Our tester has been using this for more than three years now, always puts it in the dishwasher, and it still works good as new.
Blade Material: Hardened stainless steel | Handle Material: Thermoplastic rubber | Dimensions: 10.4 x 4.2 x 1.2 inches
"It took an average of 30 seconds per potato to peel average-sized potatoes. The peeling felt smooth, and the peels fell away from the peeler rather than getting stuck in the blade." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Garlic Press: OXO Good Grips Soft-Handled Garlic Press
Large enough for multiple cloves
Reverse handle loosens peels from press
Classic soft, non-slip handles
Yield lower than expected
Oxo believes in well-designed kitchen gear, creating products with the greatest possible utility. Probably its most famous design legacy has been the improvement of handles, resulting in tools that are easier to use for those with smaller hands or reduced grip strength. This garlic press presses all those buttons. It’s easy to use, with nicely grippy handles that help keep the whole thing from slipping out of your grasp when pressing cloves
Our tester found that pushing through a garlic clove took moderate pressure, but it didn’t leave her hand cramped afterward. This Oxo press did leave quite a bit of garlic or skins in the press chamber, but that’s typical of most garlic presses and easily solved, too. Just flip the handles in the opposite direction, and a built-in cleaner loosens the peels. Those peels can then be removed completely by gently knocking the press against a cutting board or prying them out with a small knife or toothpick. This press is dishwasher safe, and although some customers have reported that it can snap in half after longterm use, our reviewer had no such issues during the testing window.
Material: Zinc, plastic | Dimensions: 2 x 1 x 7 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"This press is comfortable to hold, and it takes moderate pressure to push through a garlic clove, working best with a bit of additional pressure at the end. The mince size is quite fine." — Julie Laing, Product Tester
Best Kitchen Shears: OXO Good Grips Multi-Purpose Kitchen Scissors
Sharp, durable blade
Not as strong as poultry shears
No bottle opener, nutcracker
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, and the handles are soft and cushioned like other Oxo Good Grips kitchen gadgets for a comfortable grip. Plus, the blades separate to make cleaning easier. While they are dishwasher safe, it's best to wash these by hand.
Dimensions: 10.48 x 4.76 x 1.14 inches | Weight: 3.52 ounces
Best Flipping Spatula: Oxo Good Grips Large Silicone Flexible Turner
Safe for non-stick cookware
A bit heavy
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.
Material: Silicone, thermoplastic rubber | Weight: 4.8 ounces | Dimensions: 3.75 x 3.5 x 12.75 inches
Best Tongs: Oxo Good Grips 9-Inch Tongs With Silicone Heads
Silicone head won't damage nonstick surfaces
Heat safe to 600 degrees
May be slightly heavy for some
A silicone head with a scalloped edge makes it easy to grab onto food firmly without scratching nonstick cookware and bakeware. These tongs from Oxo are sturdy, so you can lift heavy food, such as a small chicken, without bending or warping. They are heat safe up to 600 degrees and have a nonslip handle and a comfortable thumb rest, so you won't be achy with prolonged use. They lock closed for storage and are dishwasher safe.
Our tester used these to grill steaks, pull noodles from boiling water, and pick up roasted vegetables from a baking tray. There were no major limitations, though she could see them being considered “heavy” if you’re cooking with them for an extended period—your hand might need a break after a while.
The angled head means that you don’t have to squeeze as hard to get a good grip on steaks or veggies as you move them from pan to plate, and the thumb rests are a nice touch, so the tongs sit just right in your hand. The scalloped edges assist in gripping, though the edges are a little thick to slide under certain items, but it’s nothing too noticeable. The silicone heads make it safe for use with nonstick pans and are easy to clean. A run through the dishwasher make these tongs look just like new.
Length: 9 inches | Weight: 5.1 ounces | Material: Stainless steel, silicone | Heat-Safe Temperature: 600 degrees Fahrenheit | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"Affordable, multi-functional, and easy to clean—these tongs are an excellent overall performer in the kitchen." — Bernadette Machard de Gramont, Product Tester
Best Wooden Spoons: NEET Organic Bamboo Cooking & Serving Utensil Set
Resistant to bacteria, cracking, and swelling
Handles won't get hot
Must be hand washed and dried immediately
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 resistant to bacteria, cracking, and swelling, and can be used in temperatures up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
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.
What's Included: Slotted, solid, and turner wooden spatulas; solid and slotted wooden spoons; spoon fork; utensils holder | Dishwasher Safe: No
Best Wet Measuring Cups: Oxo Good Grips 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set
Volume can be read from side or top of cup
Measurement marking may fade with use
Especially in baking, exact measurements can be crucial, and careful bakers often use scales, but even for other cooking applications, it helps to get the measurement of ingredients right. The best measuring cups for dry ingredients are always those with a cup and long handle. With this set, you can read measurements from the side and top, so you don't have to bend down while measuring your ingredients on the countertop.
There are three sizes in this set (1 cup, 2 cups, and 4 cups), and they nest for storage. They’re marked with both standard and metric measures, and the non-slip handles are wonderful for when your hands get wet. These are safe for the dishwasher, though the top rack is recommended.
Our tester used these cups to measure milk, stock, and tomato sauce, and mentioned several standout features that make them easy, mess-free, and comfortable to use. Firstly, they have wide mouths, so they're easy to fill, and a tapered spout makes pouring entirely drip-free. There's also plenty of clearance between the filled capacity and brim of the cup, so it's easy to transfer liquids without worrying about any sloshing over the sides. The measurement markings on the interior of the cup helped get an exact pour without bending over to get on eye level with the liquid, and the handles are extra-grippy with a contour to place your thumb for extra comfort and support. The plastic felt thick and high-quality, so she wasn't concerned about cracking or staining.
What's Included: 1 cup, 2 cups, and 4 cups | Material: BPA-free plastic | Uses: Wet ingredients | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"This is a great set of liquid measuring cups. They're easy to use thanks to the angled measurement markings on the inside of the cups and they stack for compact storage. This set will replace my old Pyrex glass liquid measuring cups, which are heavier, bulkier, and don't stack as well." — Sharon Lehman, RDN, Product Tester
Best Pastry Brush: OXO Good Grips Silicone Basting and Pastry Brush
Angled head prevents dripping
Bristles don't touch countertop when set down
Bristles may shed
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. It's dishwasher safe.
Handle: Plastic | Bristles: Natural boar hair | Size: 1.5 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Best Soup Ladle: Rösle Stainless Steel Hooked Handle Ladle with Pouring Rim
Complements Staub, Le Creuset, other elegant brands
On the heavy side
This durable stainless steel ladle has a long handle with a central groove for more comfortable and stable handling as well as a hooked end that can hang on the rim of a pot—to avoid the ladle sliding into your soup—or a kitchen rail for storage. The handle is angled, making it easier to balance the ladle while serving and pouring, and the bowl has a curved rim to facilitate drip-free pouring in any direction. This solid, single-piece tool is dishwasher safe and comes with a lifetime warranty.
During testing, our expert said the ladle’s smooth surface was comfortable to hold even when repeatedly lifting scoops of soup filled to the brim. Waiting just a couple of seconds after lifting the ladle from a pot of stock was enough to prevent dripping and ensure the entire ladleful poured into a bowl without dripping. It felt balanced in our tester's hand when empty, and at almost 8 ounces, it felt sturdy, as well, but could become tiresome if you’re dishing out an entire pot of soup.
Material: Stainless steel | Length: 12.8 inches | Capacity: 5.4 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"You can feel the quality in the weight of the Rösle ladle the moment you pick it up: It’s balanced, smooth, sturdy, and sparkling. The elegant ladle has a price tag to match, but it should outlast many other kitchen tools." — Julie Laing, Product Tester
Best Measuring Spoon: U-Taste 18/8 Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons
Wide range of measurements
Measurements permanently stamped into handles
Can feel like carrying a heavy keychain
Not as comfortable to hold as others
If it’s a first set of measuring spoons, with this one from U-Taste you’re all good to go, with every possible measurement. But with the smaller increments, this set of spoons can come in especially hand for cooks who cut recipes in half and need to be more exacting, whether because they are cutting recipes or just to be extra careful in baking and seasoning. It’s a delight to find the precision of the smaller measures where you might usually end up having to estimate, such as the 1/3 tablespoon.
These spoons are stainless steel and dishwasher safe. They can be kept together on their detachable ring, hung by the hole at the end of each handle, or nested for drawer storage. This set includes 1/16 teaspoon, 1/8 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon, 1/3 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 3/4 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, 1/2 tablespoon, and 1 tablespoon. You might not think multiple measuring spoons or an extra set is worth it, but many cooks and bakers will tell you that for the little bit of space measuring spoons take up, it’s often handy to have extras, especially when you’re switching between dry and wet ingredients, where having extras saves washing and drying between uses.
Material: Stainless steel | Includes: 1/16 teaspoon, 1/8 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon, 1/3 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 3/4 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, 1/2 tablespoon, and 1 tablespoon | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"This is a comprehensive set of measuring spoons with every measurement you could possibly need. They feel quite durable, and although they're not the most comfortable set due to the rough finish, they get the job done and will last." — Sharon Lehman, RDN, Product Tester
Best Whisk: Oxo Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk
Non-slip, ergonomic handle
Handle isn't heat safe
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. Our tester loved the ergonomic handle that fit comfortably in her small hands. The lightweight design allowed for vigorous whisking without hand fatigue. When mixing a pumpkin pie batter, the wide body easily incorporated pumpkin, eggs, maple syrup, and spices, and the result came out smooth. Our tester also appreciated the non-slip handle, which offered stability during mixing. After finishing the pie, she washed the whisk in the dishwasher and said it looked good as new when the cycle finished. Just note that the silicone handle isn't heat safe and will melt if left resting on the edge of a hot pan.
Wire Material: Stainless steel | Grip Material: Thermoplastic rubber | Dimensions: 11 x 2 x 11 inches
"If you're going to own one whisk, this is it. The width of the balloon allows for maximum grabbing of ingredients, and the flexible tines of the balloon help when you are trying to get to the bottom of the bowl." — Carrie Honaker, Product Tester
Best Serving Spoon: Fox Run Large Serving Spoon
Beautiful polished stainless steel
A bit shallow
This serving 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. It has a large, shallow bowl, making it ideal 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.
Material: Stainless steel | Weight: 1.6 ounces | Dimensions: 8.75 x 2.5 x 0.1 inches
Best Grater: Oxo Good Grips Multi-Grater
Multiple grating positions and surfaces
Foldable for compact storage
Plastic may crack with excessive use
This grater from Oxo comes with two stainless steel grating surfaces, a pressure-absorbing, easy-to-grip handle, and non-slip feet. It can be used in two positions—anchored over a plate or perched over a bowl—and snapped open for easy cleaning (by hand of via dishwasher) or easier grating. Just slide it apart at the handle/hinge when it's in the closed position, and when you're done, fold it up again for compact storage.
Our tester grated parmesan cheese both standing up and flat over a bowl and found it worked well both ways. She thought the plastic may not last forever and the grating area was a bit smaller than some others, but the low price point and versatility are totally worth these minor qualms. When tested with mozzarella, it worked well and didn't gum up as much as anticipated. Perhaps best of all, our tester could feel the easy-grip handle absorbing pressure. The non-slip feet were nice, too. Apart from cheese, this grater will stand up to vegetables, cold butter, hard-boiled eggs, and more.
Material: Plastic, stainless steel | Dimensions: 9.38 x 3.38 x 6 inches Grating Surfaces: 2 | Dishwasher Safe: Yes
"I was surprised at how well this grater did with mozzarella. It did not gum up as much as I expected and went pretty smoothly." — Christine Clark, Product Tester
What to Look for in Cooking Utensils
Before buying a new kitchen utensil, it’s worth asking yourself how often you will use it. Is it a tool you’ll reach for every time you cook, or will you pull it out 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 important to you—especially for items like whisks, spatulas, ladles, and tongs that live on the counter. You want to make sure they’re visually appealing. Also, you might want to consider buying utensils that are all made out of the same material for a cohesive 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 the surface. Silicone is a great option if you want to introduce a little bit of color to your kitchen, as well. It’s forgiving, soft, and flexible.
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.
Outfitting a new kitchen with utensils can add up, depending on how many you deem necessary. Individual utensils can run anywhere from $5 to $50. Thermometers, in particular, can be on the pricey side, so only invest if it’s something you’ll use. If uniformity and aesthetics 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 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 you are prepping consistently.
Once you’ve got your ingredients prepped and ready, you’ll need some utensils to cook with: 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 use 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.
Tovolo makes an affordable and long-lasting baster, a kitchen utensil that might not be super obvious to get. 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.
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 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.
How do instant read thermometers work, and how can you test one?
The non-electric, non-digital thermometers that have been around forever gauge temperatures when heat expands the liquid contents of a tube, pushing the level of that liquid along a measurement line that correlates the degree of expansion to the temperature required to create that expansion.
There a several different kinds of sensors used in instant-read thermometers, but they all produce the same end result. Their behaviors are interpreted by a microchip in the thermometer that converts the degree of reaction of the sensor(s) to a digital readout that shows the temperature in numbers, Fahrenheit and/or centigrade. They are “instant” because while a liquid thermometer might take many seconds or even minutes to reach a correct reading, the metal sensors in an instant-read thermometer react in seconds.
Now, we all know that sometimes digital gear can misbehave, and instant-read thermometers are no exception. It’s a good idea to test your instant-read thermometer occasionally, especially because we often rely on these to test the internal temperatures of meats. The cold test is pretty easy: Fill a large drinking glass with full-size (not crushed) ice cubes and top it off with water. Swirl it around enough so that the cubes are loose, and give the water a minute or so to chill. Insert your instant-read thermometer into the center of the glass and keep it moving. Iced water should read 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even the best instant-read thermometers can be off by a degree or two, so if it’s not exact, don’t fret, but if you find yours is off by much more than that, the best option is to replace it. Professional and, naturally, more expensive instant read thermometers can be recalibrated, but most can’t.
What is the difference between wet and dry measuring cups?
Put your brain back in grade-school science class for a minute because the difference between wet and dry measuring cups is best explained by considering volume and weight. An 8-ounce cup of liquid at room temperature is just that: 8 fluid ounces. It weighs 8 ounces, and that liquid will take up the same amount of space. In a liquid measuring cup, you can look at the markings along the side and see that the meniscus of exactly 8 ounces of liquid will fall on the line marking that measurement: 1 cup.
Dry measure works differently, and flour is the best example. You know how when you get a 5-pound bag of flour home and then as you go transfer it into the canister, it suddenly seems like there’s twice as much flour? Then you tap the container and the flour settles, and you can add the rest to a level 5 pounds. That’s a perfect illustration of how the same weight of flour, 5 pounds, can be of greater or lesser volume depending on how loosely it’s packed, and for that matter, how much moisture is in that particular type of flour.
Reduce that scientific fact to your measuring cups. A single 1-cup scoop of flour could weigh more or less than 8 ounces, depending on how much it has been tapped down, how tightly it’s packed, and even the type of flour you're using. This is why so many careful bakers and cooks will use a kitchen scale and follow recipes where weights are used for dry measure. In everyday use, where cooking can be more improvisational and inexact, a cup of, say, oatmeal or rice, can be measured perfectly well in a dry measuring cup.
How do you sharpen a vegetable peeler?
It's not always worth trying to sharpen a vegetable peeler, but there are things you can do if yours seems dull. First, check your peeling style. Most vegetable peelers are meant to be used with a fairly gentle touch, yet we often think we should really work at pushing them against the veggie. They’re not meant to slice or gouge, but to glide, almost like a razor, and take off skin or slices in a very thin layer. So, if your peeler seems dull, back off a bit and see if it suddenly seems “sharper.”
That said, the blades of a peeler do get dull over time, and if yours has, look to see if the peeler you have is designed with that two-sided central blade. Next, look to see if there’s a way to carefully pop the blade out at the ends and reverse it. Because most of us tend to peel either right- or left-handed, and we don’t usually switch, by flipping the blade, you’re using a fresh edge. It’s a nice perk that some better peelers even come with blades that can be replaced. Sometimes, it's just better to buy a new peeler altogether.
What are kitchen shears used for?
In a word: everything. Having a pair of kitchen shears handy solves too many problems to list. Cutting open a bag of chips straight across the top instead of puling it apart can prevent a chip explosion or that annoying bag that rips in half lengthwise. They can be used to snip things you might otherwise slice: raw bacon into smaller pieces, chicken breast into chunks of chicken, herbs, an unbaked pizza or pie crust, rubber bands from bundles of veggies, cooking twine, and even smaller bones and joints (though this requires special skill and care). Some styles of kitchen shears have a notch at the base between the blades that give them greater leverage for such tasks.
How do you clean a greasy pastry brush?
No matter what a pastry brush is made of, a first best step to keeping it clean is to rinse it under hot water as soon as you’re finished brushing. Then, when it’s time to really clean up, if it’s a silicone brush, it can go straight into the dishwasher for routine cleaning.
If it’s got natural bristles and/or a wooden handle, don’t risk the dishwasher, which could quickly destroy the entire brush. Instead, get a shallow dish (a rectangular plastic food storage container works well) and fill it about halfway with warm water and good dish soap. Submerge the pastry brush and let it sit for a few minutes—any longer and you might risk swelling and cracking a wooden handle. Take the pastry brush out of the water, and with soapy hands, rinse it under warm water, working your fingers through the bristles in the right direction (not by pushing the bristle fully backward), separating and rolling them around. Soap your fingers some more if the bristles still feel oily. Rinse thoroughly of soap, then squeeze the brush and handle dry in a clean dishtowel, again taking care to not bend back the bristles.
If your kitchen is warm and airy, you can upend the brush in a glass, handle down, and let it dry there, or you can accelerate the drying by putting the mostly dry brush bristle end-down into a glass of coarse salt, but not bending the bristles in the process. The salt will help draw out any residual moisture. Let it sit at least overnight, and check it in the morning. You can use this same washing and drying routine for a silicone brush, too, especially if it's become sticky. Once you’re sure it’s dry, dispose of the salt and store the brush properly. Never put any pastry brush away in a drawer if it is anything but fully dry or you risk the growth of mold or bacteria.
What is a balloon whisk used for?
Though people will argue that whisks in other shapes—ball style, French, flat, etc.—are necessary, most cooks will tell you that if you’re going to make space for just one whisk, it should be a balloon whisk. A balloon whisk can do most any hand mixing task well, from breaking eggs into the delicate threads you want for scrambling to whipping the daylights out of rich, heavy cream to properly mixing up a thick cake batter. It does what a spoon simply can’t do because each pass, each whip, pushes multiple tines through whatever you’re mixing in a way that the single blade of a spoon or spatula just can’t. Spoons and spatulas are for turning and folding. For mixing, turn to a whisk.
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."
This roundup was updated by Sara Tane, a food writer and private chef with a degree in Culinary Arts from Institute of Culinary Education. Sara has written for Cooking Light, MyRecipes, Saveur, The Kitchn, and Good Housekeeping.
Catherine Russell, who also updated this roundup, is a freelance writer specializing in food, culture, tourism, home and garden, business, and the arts. Her work has appeared in national and online publications, such as Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Simply Recipes.