In the world of technology and a gazillion kitchen innovations of Instant Pots, air fryers, Kitchen-Aids, sous vide kits, condiment guns, and robotic bartenders, it’s hard to remember a time when cooking was actually simple. Although I’m guilty of owning some of these, I did purchase them over the last few years as I was grew into a huge kitchen nerd for new tools and gadgets.
Today, I want to cover the bare basics of what you need to get started in the kitchen. Cooking can be intimidating but, with the right tools and a couple of pro tips, you’ll be confident in the kitchen in no time! I have also provided Amazon links to either the exact or the most similar items to the ones I own, in case you are interested in getting the same tools for your kitchen.
Here are my TOP 5 ESSENTIAL TOOLS AND TIPS to help YOU be successful in the kitchen.
1. Cutting Board
Cutting boards can cost anywhere from $6 to $800. Luckily, the $800 board doesn’t make your food taste any better. A basic $6 board will probably be a piece of white plastic that can last you a couple of years. My recommendation is to get TWO boards, each a different color. The reason? To prevent cross-contamination. Use one board for cutting produce and another one for cutting meats.
PRO TIP: Place a wet towel underneath to prevent the cutting board from slipping and sliding while you food prep.
2. An 8" Chef's Knife with Honing Steel
If you can only have one knife, let it be a chef’s knife. The shape of the chef knife allows you to have full control when prepping your foods and, so long as your knife is sharp, it can complete almost all tasks such as slicing, mincing, and chopping vegetables, fruits, herbs, and proteins.
PRO TIP: Use a honing steel to keep your knife “sharp.” A honing steel doesn’t actually sharpen your knife but realigns your knife’s edges to keep it in tip-top shape!
3. Food Thermometer
Next to washing your hands with soap and water before food handling, a food thermometer is your next best friend for preventing food poisoning. You don’t want to spend all that time cooking only to poison yourself and your loved ones, right? I’ll make this easy for you by giving you ServSafe’s list of safe internal cooking temperatures. Print it off and place it on your fridge for easy reference.
Understand that the safe food temperatures represent the INTERNAL temperature of the food. For example, if you are cooking a thick cut of chicken breast, you want to make sure you insert the thermometer probe into the middle of the thickest part of the chicken breast. If it hasn’t reached 165 degrees F yet, keep cooking!
4. A 12" Skillet
A 12” skillet is a frying pan with a long handle. It has a flat bottom and the sides flare out. A basic skillet is great for quick meals such as frying eggs, sauteing vegetables, browning and searing meats, and making one-pan meals like fried rice and Shakshuka.
5. Wooden Spoon
A wooden spoon is a nice cooking utensil. It doesn’t scratch up your pots and pans, it’s non-reactive to acids like lemon juice and tomatoes, and it can keep its place in your kitchen for YEARS so long as you care for them.
As you can see, the five essential tools to get started in the kitchen are simple and affordable!
Jane Pelcher, RDN
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist focused on helping everyone love nutrition through cooking! My blogs provide new home cooks with basic cooking skills and grocery shopping tips. Most importantly, I strive to teach the nutrition behind the foods you cook to help you understand how specific foods can better your health and prevent chronic diseases. I hope you embark on this journey with me!