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Having the right tools can make all the difference between a kitchen triumph and a cooking catastrophe. As passionate cooks and foodies, we've scoured our own kitchen drawers and cupboards to bring you a list of essential utensils we believe no home kitchen should be without. These tools have stood the test of time and are indispensable to The Essential Ingredient team.
You’ll notice that we’ve left out some key items for a fully equipped kitchen – a quality chefs knife, stainless steel tongs, wooden cutting board, etc – because these are things we suspect you’ll already have. The items we’ve chosen are utensils you may have managed without up until now, but we promise – they make a difference!
We’ve also bundled each of the tools mentioned below into a handy-dandy Essential Utensils Set. This would make a great gift for a housewarming or for someone who has just discovered the joy of cooking (as a pastime, not the iconic cookbook by Irma S. Rombauer).
“Baking can be quite strict when it comes to precise measurements. Which is why I love it because if I follow the recipe and weigh and measure the ingredients accurately, I will have a successful bake. So, measuring spoons are non-negotiable in my kitchen. If the recipes says ‘1/4 teaspoon’, I’m definitely not eyeballing that!” - Claire
Measuring spoons can be used for both wet and dry ingredients and are very useful for baking recipes. When measuring dry ingredients, overfill the spoon then use edge of a knife to scrape off the excess so the surface is flat. These measuring spoons are made of stainless steel, nest inside of themselves for compact storage and are dishwasher safe.
Stainless Steel Spatula
“A good stainless steel spatula with a thin edge and plenty of surface space, length ways, is essential for me. Flimsy silicone spatulas and cheap plastic ones just can’t get under a piece of fish or a fried egg the same way.” – Tamara
There’s nothing more annoying than trying, and failing, to flip something while cooking. If the problem isn’t your technique (no offence), perhaps your tool isn’t up to the task. A stainless-steel spatula is sturdier and has a sharper edge than wooden or plastic varieties, making it very easy to push under a piece of cooking meat or turn crispy potatoes on a sheet pan. Just remember not to use on non-stick cookware!
Pointed Wooden Spoon
“This wooden spoon tapers into an angled point which means that I can scrape the bottom and reach into the corners of every pot, pan and bowl when cooking. It’s perfect for rice dishes like paella and risotto, and making gravy and jams.” – Dani
Never make custard, gravy, béchamel or any kind of cooked sauce with the fear of not being able to reach the corners of the pan and ending up with a lumpy mess at the bottom again! Such a simple and clever modification to an everyday tool to make it so much more versatile is genius in our minds, and why this Cherry Wood Pointed Spoon has made the list.
“A balloon whisk and a massive, cold, metal mixing bowl is my secret for making perfect whipped cream. It’s too easy to over-whip using an electric mixer. A balloon whisk gives you control but is big enough that you won’t be there for hours or until your arm falls off.” – Georgia
Balloon whisks are named because of their shape, which is often larger than a standard whisk. Its unique shape, with numerous wire loops, allows for efficient aeration and mixing, perfect for whipping cream, egg whites and making emulsions like mayonnaise. It can also be used to mash potatoes in a pinch! We love this Inoxibar stainless steel whisk.
“A file grater is a game-changer. Zesting citrus is one of my most hated kitchen prep tasks, but a good, sharp file grater or micro plane makes it much easier and saves my fingers!” – Michael
A file grater, like this one from Inoxibar, is a small but mighty tool, with razor-sharp blades to create fine shavings of ingredients like Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, and citrus zest, or to mince ginger and garlic, with minimal effort. Plus, it's easy to clean and doesn't take up much space in your kitchen drawer.
Natural Bristle Pastry Brush
“I’ve had my natural bristled pastry brush for years and its never let me down. I feel like it distributes egg wash much more evenly than silicone brushes I’ve tried in the past.” – Salia
The fine bristles on a natural bristle pastry brush are gentle on delicate pastries, ensuring they won't be damaged when applying egg wash, milk or melted butter. It can also be used for glazing roasted meat, dusting excess flour off pastry, greasing baking pans and soaking cake with syrup. Wash in warm soapy water immediately after use to keep the bristles clean and soft.
Plastic Pastry Scraper
“A plastic pastry scraper is fantastic for gathering chopped ingredients off the cutting board, scraping every last bit of cake batter from a mixing bowl, and moving and shaping dough. Versatile and indispensable.” – David
The plastic pastry scraper may seem like it’s made for only one job, but it’s more multifunctional than you think. Its flat edge is perfect for scooping up chopped vegetables and herbs, and its curved edge can help you shape dough into perfect rounds. Additionally, it's incredibly handy for cleaning up your prep area and other utensils. Scrape excess flour off your bench top or dried dough off your rolling pin.
Tapered Wooden Rolling Pin
“No handles, just a simple wooden pin with tapered ends and a little weight is all you need. It also makes a great muddling stick for cocktails. Invest in one and never let me see you using an empty wine bottle to roll out dough!” – Jen
A tapered rolling pin, also known as a French rolling pin, like this The Essential Ingredient Rolling Pin, is a solid piece of wooden dowel with a tapered shape on either side. Handled pins, which can have static handles or an axel with ball-bearings, can limit manoeuvrability and make it harder to feel how much pressure is being applied. A tapered rolling pin is easier to clean than one with handles, as there are no nooks where dough and flour can hide. They also make great tools for crushing nuts, cookies and ice! After a quick hand wash with soapy water, allow to dry completely and every so often, rehydrate the wood with mineral oil or bee's wax.