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A well-stocked kitchen makes all the difference when it comes to preparing food. But if you’re new to cooking, figuring out which tools you actually need can seem overwhelming.
According to Laura Geraty, a registered dietitian, chef instructor, and certified intuitive eating coach, there are four things to consider when stocking your kitchen: expertise in the kitchen, interest level in cooking, budget, and storage space.
If you’re an expert in the kitchen, then you may need different tools than those just starting out. The same is true if you typically prepare complicated recipes rather than spending your time making quick and easy meals.
However, there are some basic kitchen tools every home cook needs, no matter their experience level.
Taking budget into consideration, we’re sharing the 15 best basic kitchen tools to make cooking easier and more enjoyable.
- Best knife set: Cuisinart White Triple Rivet Block Set in Grey Block
- Best cutting board: KitchenAid Classic Nonslip Plastic Cutting Board
- Best kitchen tongs: OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Tongs with Nylon Heads
- Best spatula: OXO Silicone Flexible Turner
- Best garlic press: Zulay Kitchen Garlic Press
- Best whisk: KitchenAid Gourmet Utility Whisk
- Best wooden cooking utensils: Riveira Bamboo Cooking Utensils Set
- Best meat thermometer: KIZEN Digital Meat Thermometer with Probe
- Best nonstick skillet: T-fal Ultimate Hard Anodized 2-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set
- Best baking sheets: Rachael Ray 3-Piece Baking Sheet Set
- Best mixing bowls: Finedine Premium Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls (Set of 6)
- Best box grater: Amazon Basics Professional Box Grater
- Best measuring cups and spoons: Smithcraft Measuring Cups and Spoons Set
- Best colander: Qimh Collapsible Over the Sink Colander
- Best silicone baking mats: Amazon Basics Silicone Non-Stick Food Safe Baking Mats
Essential kitchen tools are the ones you’ll use on a daily — or at least weekly — basis.
While the exact list of everyday-use items varies from one cook to another, according to Geraty, there are a few essential kitchen tools everyone should have on hand:
- wooden spoons
- silicone spatulas
- a whisk
- kitchen scissors
- a meat thermometer
As for knowing which tools you don’t need to spend your money on, Geraty recommends skipping “anything with a single purpose, like an egg slicer, apple peeler, banana slicer, cherry pitter, etc.”
We considered the following factors when deciding on the best basic kitchen tools:
- Cost: Every kitchen tool on this list is budget-friendly, costing less than $100.
- Practicality: You won’t find any gadgets or gimmicks on this list. All kitchen utensils listed have a practical use, and many can serve as multipurpose tools in your kitchen.
- Durability: We chose utensils that, when used appropriately, will stand the test of time in your kitchen.
- Ease of use: Every kitchen utensil on our list is easy to use, even for the least experienced cooks.
- Vetting: The products on our list have been vetted to ensure that they align with Healthline’s brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. You can read more about our vetting process.
A note on price
General price ranges with dollar signs ($–$$$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher cost.
Generally, prices range from $9.86 to $99.95, though this may vary depending on where you shop.
- $ = under $20
- $$ = $20–$50
- $$$ = over $50
Best knife set
While a top-quality set of knives can set you back a significant amount of money, this knife set from Cuisinart is a great budget-friendly alternative.
The 15-piece set comes with multiple knives, including a chef’s knife for chopping produce, meats, and other large items and a paring knife for peeling and trimming vegetables and fruits.
It also features kitchen scissors, which are multipurpose, allowing you to easily open food packages, cut twine, and chop herbs or salad greens.
Conveniently, the knife set comes with a knife block for easy storage and a sharpener to keep your blades honed.
- 15-piece set at a comparatively affordable price
- includes block, kitchen scissors, and sharpening steel
- ergonomically designed handles
- The knives lack the weight and balance of more expensive alternatives.
Best cutting board
There’s little benefit to having a good set of knives if you don’t have a reliable cutting board on which to use them.
The KitchenAid Classic Nonslip Plastic Cutting Board is a basic, budget-friendly cutting board that will make slicing and chopping easier.
The nonslip corners hold the board in place (essential for safety when cutting), and the BPA-free plastic surface is great for chopping.
Plus, the nonporous material is easy to clean and dishwasher-safe.
- nonslip edges
- drainage channel on one side
- available in multiple sizes
- some complaints that food moves around too much on the smooth surface
Best kitchen tongs
Great for everything from serving salad to removing pasta from boiling water, tongs are one of the best multipurpose kitchen tools available.
These tongs from OXO are our pick as the best thanks to their comfortable grips and locking feature for compact storage.
Plus, the nylon heads make them easy to clean and prevent scratches on nonstick pots and pans.
- safe for nonstick cookware
- resistant to high heat
- comfortable grip
- easy-to-use locking feature
- The locking feature may break over time.
Spatulas are essential tools in every kitchen. For everything from flipping pancakes and eggs to sauteing a stir-fry, a good spatula makes all the difference in food prep.
The OXO silicone spatula is one of my favorite kitchen utensils, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I use it every day.
It won’t scratch a nonstick pan, and it’s available in two sizes — small and large. It’s also heat-resistant and has a silicone grip that makes it easy to hold and use. Plus, cleaning is a breeze since it’s dishwasher-safe.
- available in small and large sizes
- comfortable grip
- safe for nonstick cookware
- some complaints that the large size is too big
Best garlic press
Most of the utensils on this list have more than one use in the kitchen, but we made an exception for the garlic press.
Every professional chef we asked about the garlic press said to skip it, but when we talked to home cooks, they said they love it.
It’s definitely a timesaver if you’re not a fan of mincing garlic and want to skip the pre-minced garlic you can buy at your local grocery store.
A garlic press makes it easy to crush garlic cloves in one quick motion. The Zulay garlic press, in particular, is a durable yet budget-friendly choice that will make using fresh garlic in your next recipe a breeze.
It’s also dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup.
- available in multiple colors
- comfortable ergonomic handle
- sturdy and easy to use
- The paint may chip off over time.
Whisks are multipurpose kitchen tools, great for tasks such as mixing batters and whipping cream. When shopping for a whisk, look for one that’s sturdy and will stand up to regular use.
This KitchenAid whisk is exactly that. It’s not only durable but also budget-friendly and dishwasher-safe.
Plus, it’s available in four colors so you can choose the best one for your kitchen.
- available in four colors
- ergonomic design
- solid, durable design
- a bit heavy, according to some reviewers
Best wooden cooking utensils
Every kitchen should have a set of wooden spoons for cooking. This bamboo utensil set from Riveira comes with six spoons and spatulas, including slotted spoons that can be used for soups, stews, and sauces.
The utensils are made from organic material and are nonstick to prevent scratches on your cookware.
Plus, they’re easy to clean, although it’s best to wash them by hand instead of in the dishwasher.
- made from 100% organic nonstick bamboo
- safe for nonstick cookware
- includes six spoons and spatulas
- lifetime warranty
- sturdy and durable
- not dishwasher-safe
Best meat thermometer
A digital meat thermometer is key for cooking a perfectly medium-rare steak. It also helps with food safety by allowing you to verify proper internal temperatures for foods like fish and chicken.
The KIZEN meat thermometer is one that I personally use and love. It has a large, easy-to-read display with proper cooking temperatures printed right next to the screen for easy reference.
It’s also waterproof, so it’s easy to clean. However, it is not dishwasher-safe.
Bonus: I bought this thermometer close to a year ago and still have not replaced the battery.
- large, easy-to-read screen
- quick temperature readings
- available in three colors
- not dishwasher-safe
- no audio reading
- no Bluetooth or app compatibility
Best nonstick skillet
A good set of pans is essential for any home cook. Nonstick skillets are handy for cooking a huge variety of dishes, such as pan-seared salmon and over-easy eggs.
This set from T-fal is a great budget-friendly option for daily use.
The pans are scratch-resistant, nonstick, and dishwasher-safe. They also have a color indicator to tell you when a pan is preheated and ready for cooking — a helpful bonus for amateur home cooks!
If you’re looking for a full set of pots and pans, T-fal also offers hard anodized cookware in 14- and 17-piece sets.
- relatively affordable
- Some reviewers say the pans are a bit thinner and may not hold heat as well as some pricier options.
Best baking sheets
This set of nonstick baking sheets from Rachael Ray is a must-have thanks to its rubber grips, affordable price, and durable steel construction meant to resist warping.
These pans are a staple in my kitchen, and I’ve used them for everything from cookies to vegetables. What’s more, they’ve held their shape with regular use.
The pans are oven-safe up to 500°F (260°C), and their nonstick surfaces are easy to clean.
- set of three pans
- rubber grips
- designed to resist warping
- oven-safe up to 500°F (260°C)
- The largest pan may be too wide for some ovens.
Best mixing bowls
You don’t need to be a baker to own mixing bowls. Mixing bowls have a variety of uses, including scrambling eggs, whisking salad dressings, stirring cake batter, and mixing meatballs.
This versatile stainless steel mixing bowl set includes six sizes, and the bowls nest to help you save space.
The bowls are shatterproof, freezer-safe, and dishwasher-safe, so they’re easy to clean and likely to last.
- six sizes
- nesting design for compact storage
- freezer- and dishwasher-safe
- will rust if you don’t dry them completely
Best box grater
If you have a small amount of cheese or vegetables to shred, a box grater works perfectly. Plus, it’s easier to clean than a food processor and takes up less storage space.
This professional box grater from Amazon Basics has nonslip grips to help it stay in place while you work.
It also features a different shredding blade on each side for versatility.
- available in multiple colors
- nonslip grips
- four different shredding blades
- large size that’s easier to clean
- Some users dislike the large size.
- Food can get trapped under the black grips.
Best measuring cups and spoons
Measuring cups and spoons are essential, especially if you do a lot of baking or are an avid recipe-follower.
This budget-friendly set from Smithcraft includes nearly every measurement you could need as a home cook.
The eight cups and nine spoons are made of stainless steel and have both metric and U.S. measurements engraved on their handles. They’re rust-resistant for longevity and dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.
- eight cup sizes and nine spoon sizes
- metric and U.S. measurements
- easy to read
- lifetime replacement guarantee
- Some users find the cups difficult to separate when nested for storage.
Healthline Nutrition and Fitness Market Editor Kelli McGrane, MS, RD, loves this over-the-sink colander.
“Storage space is a premium in our household, so I’m always looking for items that are more compact and easier to store,” she says.
“Not only is this colander collapsible to save space, but it also offers a large capacity, can be used over a sink, and is dishwasher-safe — all bonuses in my book.”
McGrane also says the colander works well for pasta, fruits, and vegetables, though you’ll need a fine-mesh strainer for smaller items.
- collapsible for compact storage
- can be used over the sink or freestanding
- large capacity
- may be too bulky for some dishwashers
Best silicone baking mats
McGrane also recommends the Amazon Basics Silicone Non-Stick Food Safe Baking Mats.
McGrane explains, “These silicone baking mats are a great eco-friendly alternative to parchment paper.
“I’ve used them for everything from baking cookies to roasting vegetables and have always found them easy to use and clean. I also like that they’ve saved me money by not having to purchase parchment paper as regularly.”
According to Amazon, these mats are oven-safe up to 480°F (249°C). However, they are not dishwasher-safe, so you’ll need to wash them by hand.
- oven-safe up to 480°F (249°C)
- replaces single-use parchment paper
- not dishwasher-safe
Stocking your kitchen can be an expensive endeavor, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Use these tips to save money on essential kitchen tools:
- Shop sales: Make a list of the tools you need and look out for sales. Consider buying after a major holiday, when many items are on sale. You can also find great deals from some major retailers on well-known sale days like Cyber Monday and Labor Day.
- Look for membership deals: Retailers often offer exclusive deals to members or those who opt in to their email list.
- Buy from industry experts: Restaurant-specific online and brick-and-mortar stores are great places to find durable utensils at a reasonable price.
- Know when to splurge: Some kitchen equipment is worth the investment. Items such as a stand mixer and a full set of pots and pans are often the most expensive pieces of equipment you’ll have in your kitchen. Take time to research and consider which items are worth splurging on and which lower cost alternatives you can get away with.
What is the most useful kitchen tool?
The type of kitchen tool that’s the most useful will depend on your individual needs in the kitchen.
For example, if you regularly bake or prepare items in the oven, then a high quality set of baking sheets or a casserole pan will likely be the most useful for you.
However, if you rarely use the oven and instead like to cook on your stovetop, you may want to invest in a full set of pots and pans instead.
Some may find the most useful kitchen tool to be one that’s more basic and customized to their daily use, such as a chef’s knife, cutting board, or set of mixing bowls.
The bottom line is that the most useful kitchen tool for you is the one you’ll use the most often.
Which brand is best for kitchen utensils?
There are many high quality kitchen utensil brands that offer different advantages. Some companies focus on durability, whereas others prioritize sustainability. For example, OXO stands out for offering durable and easy-to-hold utensils at competitive prices.
Research the products you plan to purchase and be sure to read reviews from multiple websites before making the investment.
If you’re looking to eat at home more often, having a kitchen stocked with essential tools is critical for your success.
While stocking a kitchen can seem overwhelming, you can start by purchasing basic items that you know you’ll use daily or weekly.
Finally, keep in mind that while some items are worth splurging on, there are plenty of high quality kitchen tools that won’t break the bank.