10 Best Kitchen Tools to Make Your Life Easier
Welcome! We’re trying out a different kind of post today. We won’t be doing a recipe, but we are going to get a little meta and talk about cooking and kitchen tools. Today, we’re going to give you our Top 10 Kitchen Tools to Make Your Life Easier.
Let’s assume you have a lot of the basics to be able to perform basic food prep. If you don’t, let us know if you want to cover those basic essentials in another post. These tools are meant to be a good compliment to those tools, and will take your cooking game, whether plant-based or not, to a whole other level.
Let’s kick things off with a category that can get a little expensive, but is usually totally worth it in the long run.
Tool Number 1: A High-Powered Blender
If you don’t have a high-powered blender in your kitchen, you are missing out on some serious smoothies, sauces, and dips. Ours is pictured above, but you could get any blender over 1000 Watts like this one or this one. You could also splurge and get the gold standard Vitamix, but we don’t quite have the greenbacks for that.
We use our blender just about every day. Whether it’s a green smoothie in the morning or some vegan cheese in the evening, our blender gets put through its paces. Ours is particularly nice because it has blades that go all the way up the center of the pitcher. This means that I can make a much larger batch of a dish without having to blend in batches or sacrifice smoothness.
There’s a high-quality, high-powered blender out there for every budget, and if you’re looking to up your plant-based cooking game, I can highly recommend a blender.
Tool Number 2: A KitchenAid Stand Mixer
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Aren’t those like $300??” Sometimes, yes. However, there are often sales, and there are some postings like this one on Amazon that are refurbished and available for much less money. That one is available at 33% off as of April 2020! Plus we got ours on sale at Target for $200. It’s still an investment, I know, but it has come in handy for so many dishes that we make. Things like:
- Homemade Bread
- Pizza crust
- Buttercream frosting
- Whipped cream
- Cookie dough
The list goes on. Most of this is related to baking, but if you’re not a baker, no sweat. In some upcoming blog posts, we’ll teach you everything we know about baking and end up with some delicious baked goods! Follow us on Instagram to know when those blog posts are up.
This category of best kitchen tools is the largest of them, but it’s arguably the most important. These are the things that you’ll use in the heat of the moment when you’re cooking, and we think they’re super important to have around the house.
Tool Number 3: A Large Stockpot and Sauté Pan
And by large, I mean really large. You probably have a 6 quart stock pot in whatever kitchen set you bought, but I’m talking about a 10-12 quart stock pot. This is because when you eat vegan, you’ll often find yourself eating a lot more volume. Plus, many vegan recipes (ours included) are able to be meal prepped. Huge pots of chili for lunches for the week? No problem. Soup to feed an army? Yep, got it covered. Curry for 4? Bring it on. Here is a great example of a high-quality stainless steel one. You could probably find a cheaper one that’s also non-stick, too.
And the sauté pan. What exactly do I mean by a sauté pan? Imagine if you took a 5 quart sauce pan and flattened it out to the same diameter as a 12 inch frying pan. It’s great for making sauces, fillings, or anything else that you cook while assembling. We use ours all the time for building pasta sauces from scratch and still having room to put the pasta in once it’s cooked. It’s another super convenient size of pan to have, just like the 10-12 quart stock pot. This is a really great option!
Tool Number 4: A Bench Scraper
This is one of the things on this list that makes any prep you’re doing look super professional. You chop some garlic and onions, and want to get that into a pan? Bench scraper. You’re kneading a sticky dough and want to have a tool to help save your hands? Bench scraper. You’re decorating a cake and want to make sure the frosting on the sides is even? Bench scraper.
You get the point. They’re super useful kitchen tools that everyone should have. They’d be a really nice way to move the gnocchi in our vegan ricotta and potato gnocchi recipe. Here is one that people seem to really like!
Tool Number 5: A Silicone Whisk
If you’ve ever made something like a roux, bechamel, or mornay sauce, you’ve probably run into the situation where you have the sauce in a non-stick pan and you’re using a metal whisk on the bottom. No good! You’ll scrape up that non-stick coating and get it into your food, and nobody wants that.
That’s where a silicone whisk comes in. It’s teflon-safe silicone, so it won’t scratch your pan, and a huge plus: it’s quieter than a metal whisk even on surfaces where it’s fine to use, like metal or glass. They’re a lifesaver when making cooked sauces, but also just generally nice to have around the kitchen. This set of three would be a great addition to any home cook’s toolbelt.
Tool Number 6: A Toddy Cold Brew System
Now, whether you drink coffee or not, this cold brew coffee system is still useful around the kitchen. Around here, we love cold brew coffee in the summertime, and there’s no better way to make it than in a Toddy. It’s super simple and it’s easy to clean, which is a stark change from the previous way we made cold brew (with a bag in a jar…not so elegant!). You can also make cold-brewed tea with it for iced tea. It’s just one of those “best kitchen tools” that nobody really talks about, but when it comes time to make a delicious iced drink that requires steeping, people wish they had.
Plus, it comes with a decanter that makes getting your coffee or tea in the morning (or afternoon) a total pleasure. Just make sure to get some extra filters: they can get dirty pretty quick, and when they get too dirty, the filtering process takes forever.
Tool Number 7: A Citrus Juicer
You’d be amazed by how much easier your cooking life will be with one of these. If you’ve never used one, I can tell you from personal experience that this is the one main kitchen uni-tasker that I have and recommend to people on a consistent basis.
I’m sure you’ve squeezed lemons or limes into a dish before, right? You’ve also probably struggled to squeeze it because it’s hard or cold, had seeds come out of your lemon, and not felt like you got every last drop of juice. This tool will solve all of those problems.
The long handles give you a ton of leverage, and the shape makes sure you can get all the juice out of a lemon or lime with ease. Quick note: make sure you get one meant for lemons, because the ones for limes are smaller and won’t work for lemons very well.
Tool Number 8: Cheesecloth
It seems like a weird one, but hear me out.
Almond milk is expensive. We all know that. However, almonds from the bulk section of most grocery stores is not as expensive, and we know that almond milk is made from almonds. But, if you’ve ever tried to make almond milk at home without a cheesecloth, you probably know that it’s a huge pain to get it smooth enough so it’s not gritty.
Meet cheesecloth. It’s great for straining almond/cashew/oat milk, but it’s also useful for getting little bits out of just about anything you want to strain. We have a vegan pizza cheese recipe that we love that suggests filtering through something like this. Plus, it’s great for herb infusions and making your own tea bags. Basically, any time you want to get a liquid super smooth and take all the chunks out of it or steep something in a liquid, cheesecloth is your guy. So, grab some cheesecloth online and get to filtering/steeping!
These are the tools that are less about the physical act of cooking and more about staying sane and keeping yourself on track in the kitchen. No utensils or appliances here, just some stuff to keep around that’ll help boost your kitchen productivity.
Tool Number 9: A Digital Food Scale
Some people think it’s strange to weigh food when you could just measure with cups and spoons, but I think there’s something magical in the repeatability of weighing your ingredients. This is especially important if you’re baking and you want to make sure your ingredient measures are exact. 434 grams of flour is never anything other than 434 grams of flour, unlike with cup measurements where they’re sometimes heaping, maybe there’s an air pocket, or you took too much out and there’s a little divot in the top. This is the one we use, and we love it. We use it every day to weigh out flour, water, yogurt, cereal, everything.
Tool Number 10: Organization
Seems kind of self-explanatory, but there’s more to it than you’d think. We live in a small apartment, and as such we don’t have that much cupboard space. The way to make up for that with these. They’re all over our kitchen (and our whole apartment!) to take the vertical space that we have in cupboards and divide it in two. These in particular are the perfect height to fit standard height cans under them, so we can have 12 cans of black beans and chickpeas in our cupboard and still have other things stored above them without having to disassemble any towers or anything to get to our cans.
Another thing that we have and use all the time is a spice rack. I’m sure you know how annoying it is to have shelves of spices stacked next to each other and try to find the one that you need. It’s infuriating. But, with these, that’s all gone. We have this one, and it’s got customizable labels to suit whatever blend or mix you have. I’m in the progress of replicating Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning for myself, and you better believe that’s got a label already.
The final thing I’ll leave you with is the humble mason jars. Something we’ve tried to do in recent months is be more frugal with our wallets and our carbon footprint. For us, that generally means shopping from the bulk section. That’s great and all, but it’s hard when you find yourself at home with paper bags full of brown rice and no jar to put them in. We have jars like this, and they’re amazing for storing all of the bulk food purchases that we make. Plus, they look really good, especially when you get lots of colorful dry goods.
So, there you have it.
Those are the 10 Best Kitchen Tools to Make Your Life Easier. I want to say that while these things are nice, they’re not 100% necessary. Your essentials to make really good food don’t need to go much beyond a good chef’s knife and cutting board, a large frying pan and stock pot, and some spatulas and spoons. You can get a lot done with just those, and that’s totally cool. We wanted to address the intermediate home cook and give them some other tools to use to sink their teeth (pardon the pun) into some more advanced recipes.
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