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Many people are cooking more seafood at home as part of their plan to eat healthier. Most fish and seafood dishes don’t require special tools or cookware, but even simple pan-fried salmon fillets turn out better if you use a pan or skillet with low sides that let you turn the fish easier. Shellfish, especially crabs and lobster, require special tools to get to the delicious meat.
Also, having kitchen tools that you solely use for fish and seafood is more hygienic—a spatula that you frequently use for fish can absorb a strong odor that you don’t necessarily want on your French toast. Therefore, investing in some dedicated tools and cookware for fish and seafood is a good idea.
Here are the best options to help you tackle any fish or seafood.
Best Shrimp Deveiner: A-parts Multifunction Seafood Scissors
These days, there are plenty of options for buying peeled and deveined shrimp, but it’s still a good idea to have a tool handy for those times when it’s necessary to devein your own. This tool won’t get lost in the back of a drawer waiting to be used, though, since it’s built for other tasks as well. When peeling shrimp, it works like other deveiners, by sliding the tip under the shell and then opening the scissors to efficiently remove the shell.
Unlike other deveiners, the scissors action isn’t just for leverage. These actually cut, so they can be used to cut through lobster shells or crab legs for easy serving. The handles are comfortable to hold and the blades are made from durable food-safe stainless steel.
Best Fish Skillet: All-Clad d3 Armor Fish Pan
The unique shape of this pan is perfect for a whole fish, large fillets, or multiple smaller pieces. The low sides make it easy to get a spatula under the fish to flip it or remove it. The textured bottom releases seafood easily while also promoting browning, and makes this pan easy to clean when cooking is done. This pan would fit in seamlessly with your other All Clad cookware, but the classic stainless steel exterior would pair well with any other stainless steel pots and pans.
The pan is oven and broiler safe, so you can start cooking on the stove and finish in the oven, but it’s not designed for induction cooktops. It’s dishwasher safe, but it's easy to wash by hand with a nylon scrubber, too.
Best Fish Knife: Wusthof Pro 9-Inch Fish Fillet Knife
Whether your favorite fisherman drops off a whole trout or you’re filleting the snapper you bought from the market, a good knife will make the job easier. The long, narrow blade of this fillet knife can slide right next to the bones to get the most meat removed cleanly, and it slides neatly between skin and meat for a perfect fillet. The knife has an ergonomic plastic handle that’s easy to hold, even when you’re working through the rewards of a very successful fishing trip. Like any fine knife, this fish knife should be hand washed.
Best Oyster Knife: OXO Good Grips Oyster Knife
Oyster knives aren’t complicated tools, but having a good one is essential for opening oysters safely and easily. This one comes at an economical price that makes it affordable to keep on hand, even if you don’t prep oysters often.
The sturdy stainless steel blade has a slightly bent tip that makes it easier to pry the oyster shells open, although good technique and a bit of practice also helps. The handle is the familiar OXO soft grip material that’s comfortable to hold, so it makes shucking large quantities of oysters much less tiring. When shucking is done, the knife is dishwasher safe, so cleanup is simple.
Best Seafood Forks: Cuisinox Seafood Fork
Crab and lobster are expensive, so you don’t want to miss any of the delicious meat. These forks are designed for two-ended use, with a tiny fork on one end that can sneak into narrow spaces to extract the last bits from the legs or other hard-to-reach areas, and a wide, paddle-shaped scoop on the other end to scoop and scrape when needed.
You won’t miss any succulent bits when these are on the table, and they look unique, too, making them a great conversation starter. The forks are made from stainless steel and are dishwasher safe when dinner is over.
Best Crab Mallet: Farberware Seafood Wooden Crab Mallet
This wooden mallet may look like nothing special, but thanks to the wooden head and short handle that keep the smashing force reasonable, it cracks crab and lobster claws without bashing them to bits and sending shards of shell into the meat. Not just for claws, it can crack the hard shells on crab legs as well. For easy cleaning, this can be washed in the dishwasher, but hand washing will preserve the wood for longer.
Best Fish Turner: Mercer Culinary Hell's Tools Hi-Heat Slotted Spatula
This high-heat nylon slotted spatula makes perfect sense for flipping all kinds of seafood, whether it's being cooked on a wooden plank, in a stainless steel sheet pan, or in a delicate nonstick pan. The nylon is sturdy enough to handle moving the fish and can handle heat up to 430 degrees, but it won’t scratch nonstick cookware. The spatula is made for professional use and is NSF certified, but it’s affordable and attractive enough for home kitchens.
For those who like their tools to fit into the décor—or want to color-code and only use them with specific types of food—this spatula comes in a variety of fun colors. The one-piece construction means there are no seams where food can stick and the spatula is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Best Claw Crackers: Artcome Seafood Tools Set
This set of three simple seafood crackers is plenty for food prep, even when there are helpers in the kitchen. When the crab legs and lobsters go to the table un-cracked and everyone wants their own tool, these are inexpensive enough to buy an extra set or two to have on hand for family dinners, for larger parties, and even for backyard seafood boils. The crackers have different-sized openings to choose from, so they can handle larger claws, small legs, and everything in between.
Not just for seafood, they can also be used to crack nuts and can be used to open stuck-on tops of small jars, and even tubes of tomato paste or herbs. When it’s time for cleanup, these are dishwasher safe, so they can go right along with the dinner flatware with no worries.
Best Seafood Steamer: Progressive Prep Solutions Miracle Ware Microwave Fish & Vegetable Steamer Sleeve
While cooking meat or poultry in the microwave isn’t usually recommended, steaming fish in the microwave can work, if it's done correctly. Sure, you could get fancy and wrap your fish in parchment paper and crimp the edges for steaming, but prepping this steamer for cooking is faster and easier—and if you’re serving on a platter, no one will know you cooked your seafood the easy way. When fish isn't on the menu, it’s also great for steaming vegetables, and cleaning is easy since the whole thing is dishwasher safe.
Best Cedar Plank: Western Cedar Grilling 10 Cedar Grilling Planks
The large planks in this set are great for multiple portions, as well as large pieces of fish. Two shorter planks are also included, and those are ideal when there’s not as much being cooked. The cedar planks are traditional for fish—and particularly salmon—but can also be used for meats, vegetables, and more. These are made in the United States from red cedar and are designed for optimum water absorption, which keeps them from burning while also releasing a spicy, smoky flavor to the food. These are reusable several times, and when they’re no longer useful for grilling they can be tossed into the fire to create flavorful smoke, or just to feed the flames.
Best Fish Poacher: Norpro Stainless Steel Fish Poacher
Poaching may have gone out of fashion for some foods, but it’s still a great way to cook seafood, whether you’re poaching delicate fish in wine and aromatics or butter-poached lobster is on the menu. The tray at the bottom of this poacher holds the fish neatly and makes it easier to remove and drain the fish, then slide it off onto a serving platter.
It can be used for cooking other long foods, like beef fillet, asparagus, long beans, and corn on the cob. The poacher is made from shiny stainless steel that will look good in the kitchen, and the unique shape will make it stand out among all of your round or rectangular cookware. Hand washing is recommended, but some users reported washing it in the dishwasher with no immediate ill effects.
Best Fish Platter: Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Oval Fish Platter
Want a beautiful way to present all of your hard work in the kitchen? This oval platter is designed for serving fish and is large enough for a whole fish or a large fillet. It can also be used for shrimp, scallops, or other seafood delights, whether you’re serving a hot main dish or chilled appetizers.
Unlike some fish platters that have fish incorporated into the design, this classic oval would look just as appropriate holding a platter of vegetables, sliced ham, pork loin, or just about anything else that comes out of the kitchen. Made from porcelain, it’s microwave and freezer safe, and when serving is done, it’s also dishwasher safe.
What to Look for in Fish and Seafood Tools
A tool with a single use, such as an oyster knife, makes the most sense if you are shucking oysters at least occasionally. Other tools are more versatile and can be used for different types of seafood, and sometimes even for other foods, such as nuts.
Seafood dishes are often started on the stovetop and finished in the oven or under the broiler. Look for cookware that is oven- and broiler-safe, which saves you from transferring the dish to another pan, which can break apart delicate seafood and leaves you with more dishes to wash. There is also special cookware for cooking seafood in the microwave.
Just like with tools, you get more use out of the cookware if you can also use it for other foods, such as steaming, frying, or poaching vegetables, meat, or poultry.
Planks for grilling fish are disposable and suitable for a few uses, after which they need to be discarded.
Think about what you will most likely use it for and gauge whether the dish is large enough, for example, when serving a whole fish. On oversized serving dishes, the food looks lost, and it cools quickly. If in doubt, select a serving dish on the smaller side—you can always refill it.
For easy cleanup, choose a tool or cookware that is dishwasher safe and does not require handwashing.
What are the tools used in preparing seafood?
Basic tools for fish include a fish knife, a fish pan or fish skillet with low sides, and a fish spatula. For shrimp, unless you buy them shelled and deveined, you need a shrimp deveiner. Then there are specialized seafood tools: oyster knife, seafood forks, crab mallets, and claw crackers, which can double as lobster tools.
What type of knife is used for filleting fish?
You can virtually use any knife with a thin, long, flexible, and sharp blade to cut the fish and remove the bones. But depending on how large the fish is, you need a knife with a longer blade to fillet a fish. You can fillet a trout with a 4- to 6-inch blade, but salmon requires a 7- to 8-inch blade.
What is the tool for the crab legs called?
A crab mallet is a mallet with a long handle and a small wooden or rubber head. It is used to crack the shells of crabs, mainly the crab's claws.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a food writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats. A self-professed "kitchen geek," she's written many roundups on a range of essential kitchen items, from the best Thanksgiving gadgets to the top tools for a first kitchen. One of her faves? The OXO Good Grips Silicone Spatula Set. "They're a must-want for home kitchens," she says.