Did you ever find an exciting recipe online—only to discover you’re missing some essential kitchen utensils? Or, have you wanted to have friends over for a full-blown, adult dinner party when you realized you didn’t have any decent serving dishes?
We’ve all been there at one point or another. The transition from the post-teenage-drinking-wine-from-cups period to the legitimate-adult-who-can-arrange-a-charcuterie-board era may come with a few growing pains, but we’re here to help.
Below are 10 must-have kitchen utensils you should start acquiring so you can cook any recipe with ease—and show off the dishes you’ve prepared:
At least one great knife
If you’re still using cheap knives, you’ll be amazed when you realize how easy cooking becomes when you have the right kitchen utensils. Get started with a classic chef’s knife, like the American made ones from New West Knifeworks. Then, once you get the hang of preparing food like a pro, you’ll probably need at least a couple more: a bread knife for perfectly slicing up those fresh baguettes; and a paring knife for coring, hulling, peeling or cutting foods that need a gentler touch.
A knife sharpener
This one’s obvious: if you’re going to invest in quality knives, you need to make sure you protect your investment and get the most out of them with one of these must-have kitchen gadgets. A great knife turns into a useless piece of metal if it’s dull. So, if you’re not sharpening it on the regular, you can pretty much stick with your old one. A good knife sharpener will also help your knives to last longer so you can slice like a chef for years to come.
Chopping boards worth showing off
Choose a wood cutting board and you can also use it as a small cheese or charcuterie board to serve pretty much anything solid that won’t make a mess. Wooden kitchen utensils are also more sanitary than plastic because all of those cuts you make on plastic boards are breeding grounds for bacteria.
A cast-iron skillet
Whether you’re pan-frying, sautéing, searing, roasting or baking, a cast-iron skillet is a necessity. Its even cooking surface heats consistently and stays hot; you can also use it on your stovetop or in the oven. Plus, cast-iron skillets are durable, almost impossible to destroy and easy to clean—a dream come true in pretty much any newly minted adult’s kitchen.
An oven-to-table baking dish
If you’re aiming to cook and entertain like an adult, an upgrade to your baking dishes is more than welcome. If you have friends over for dinner, moving foods from baking to serving dishes will be a hassle and your presentation will suffer. Porcelain, enameled steel or stoneware pans, however, will help you skip a step in the process and impress any dinner guests you might be hosting.
A digital thermometer
A food thermometer is at the top of the list of must-have kitchen gadgets if you want to cook meat to perfection. Whether you’re roasting a turkey or trying to achieve the perfect medium-rare steak, a digital thermometer will tell you exactly when it’s done. If you get a thermometer that has an extendable cord, you’ll also be able to keep the probe in the meat as it cooks.
A mortar and pestle set
If you really want to level up your cooking game, start using whole spices: anything you cook will instantly pack more flavor. The oils in spices like cumin or nutmeg bring most of the flavor to your dishes; when you buy them pre-ground, they don’t smell or taste the same. Get a mortar and pestle set to grind spices or crush fresh herbs—you’ll be in awe of the difference. Plus, whole spices last longer!
A Y-shaped peeler
We don’t need to tell you that using a peeler is much better than using a knife, and you probably already have one. But, the Y-shaped peeler is entirely different in the world of kitchen utensils. The wide handle makes it more ergonomic, and it works for both lefties and righties. Once you get used to it, you’ll quickly discover that you’re able to peel much faster. There’s a reason you’ll find it in every professional kitchen.
A quality grater
Why upgrade from a box grater? The answer is simple: quality and efficiency. A fine-tooth Microplane, for example, will do wonders for your cooking. It will grate hard cheeses like Parmesan flawlessly to give your pasta dishes a restaurant feel, and you can also use it to mince both ginger and garlic. If a recipe requires citrus zests, you won’t need to worry about it getting to the pith, either.
An immersion blender
Can it make creamy soups? Yes. Can it make mayonnaise? Yes. Can it make fruit smoothies? Also yes. Immersion blenders are versatile, easy to use and easy to clean. Also, if you decide to get one, you’ll be able to make the perfect hollandaise sauce on your first try in minutes and wow anyone with an impeccable eggs benedict.
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