Kitchen Equipment Essentials, Part 2 (Small Things)

A few weeks ago, I did a little rundown of kitchen equipment essentials that could be considered “large” things. Well, even once you get the large things stocked, you’re not really going to go anywhere in the kitchen without a few small things, too. If you’re already a pro in the kitchen, feel free to skip this post. This is just for beginners!

Honestly, the list of small kitchen things you can buy could go on and on forever. There’s an endless amount of little gadgets available, but I have a small kitchen/house/storage area, so I like to keep these gadgets to a minimum and just focus on what I REALLY need. Here’s a list of those things.

Again, a little disclaimer: I obviously spend more on kitchen equipment than the average bear. I’ve made this choice because this is my profession, and my hobby, and my love. These are just the items that have served me well, but I want you to find what works best in YOUR kitchen, at your budget. If you have any questions, please ask in the comments!

Kitchen Equipment Essentials, Part 2 (Small Things)  - All the little things you need to cook like a professional chef in your home kitchen. |

Wooden or Bamboo Spoons
I like to keep at least 3 – 4 similar to these on hand. You can do almost anything with them, and you need them if you have nonstick pans, because you can’t use metal utensils on those. While I like the traditional round wooden spoons, I REALLY love the ones with a flat edge that are sort of like a little paddle. These are great for breaking up meat, and also for scraping the browned bits off the bottom of a pan. Definitely one of those most used items in my kitchen.

Wire Whisk
You’ll need this for beating eggs and mixing up sauces and batters. I have a super cheap whisk I’ve had since college that I love a hundred times more than an expensive All-Clad one I was given as a gift. It feels better in my hand, so that’s the one I always use.

For awhile, I had a fancy pair with silicon tips. These would be essential if you cook in mainly nonstick pans, which I don’t. The silcon tips made it really hard to grasp anything, and they led to a lot of frustration. The knife kit I bought for culinary school included this cheapo set of metal tongs, and I switched over to those and never looked back. These are essential if you’ll be cooking meat.

Rubber Spatula
For scraping bowls and pans. I only have 2 of these, and probably just 1 would be enough. If you get a nice one, it’ll last you awhile. I even throw mine in the dishwasher even though I’m probably not supposed to. Oh well, nothing bad has happened yet.

Kitchen Equipment Essentials, Part 2 (Small Things)  - All the little things you need to cook like a professional chef in your home kitchen. |

Measuring Cups & Spoons
Measuring cups all measure the same way, so buy whatever ones fit your budget here. I had this set of plastic measuring cups in fun colors that got me through culinary school, and at home I use All-Clad measuring cups & spoons. The one thing I really like about these (and any stainless steel set) is that you can put them on the stove! Say you just want to melt a few tablespoons of butter or heat up a little bit of sauce. Well, you can get out your 1-cup stainless measuring cup and put it right on the stove. Awesome.

Kitchen Equipment Essentials, Part 2 (Small Things)  - All the little things you need to cook like a professional chef in your home kitchen. |
Probe Thermometer
I really consider one of these essential for anyone who is just starting out. When I was first starting to cook for myself, I didn’t have one. And that resulted in a lot of the old “saw into a piece of meat to see if it’s done” method. And that means you lose all of the juices from it and you end up with a tough, gross piece of meat. So if you’re planning on cooking chicken, fish or any type of meat, get one of these. It’s waterproof too, in case you drop it in a pot of water. Not that I’ve done that…

Vegetable Peeler
Oddly, the cheaper the better here. I had a “fancy” (so, like $6) one I registered for for my wedding, and that thing was terrible. Then, on the advice of one of my chef instructors at school (who had about 40 years experience peeling vegetables), I picked up a 99 cent one. And my life changed. Well, not really, but I was definitely peeling potatoes much quicker. This similar peeler is literally 1 penny.

Other Odds & Ends

  • Can Opener – pick whatever one you want (hand-held or electric) as long as it gets the job done. I have a cheap but heavy duty one that is similar to this.
  • Salt & Pepper Shakers (shaped like dinosaurs, if possible) and/or a Pepper Grinder, to season your food. I use this grinder.
  • Kitchen Towels – not just for drying, but you can use these as makeshift pot holders, too.
  • a Colander for draining pasta, potatoes, or whatever.
  • a Box Grater for shredding cheese, potatoes, and anything else you want to shred.
If you liked this post, you may want to check out the other installments of the “kitchen equipment essentials” series: Part 1 (Large Things) and Part 3 (Small Appliances)