The Ultimate Cooking Guide: Tools

This is the second installment of  my “Ultimate Cooking Guide” series. The first can be read here: The Ultimate Cooking Guide: Terms

Kitchen tools make a big difference in the kitchen. Not only do they enable us to cook beyond barbecue, they can make things a lot easier and a lot more interesting. It doesn’t require a ton of tools to make a wide range of recipes, but of course it all depends on what you make often. As someone that doesn’t eat meat, a meat thermometer isn’t necessary. But many of these tools are quite useful to have on hand.

I didn’t include every kitchen tool. I left out ones that were obvious (like a can opener) as well as some that were not commonly used.

Baking and Pastry Tools:

  • Baking sheet: metal sheets used to bake things like cookies, bread, and pastries or to use to make fries, chips, or crisps.
  • Bundt pan: a round cake pan that is hollow in the center.
  • Cake pan: shaped pans made for making cakes.
  • Casserole dish/pan: an oven safe container of varying sizes for baking food.
  • Cooling rack: a metal rack that helps circulate air around food to help in the cooling process.
  • Gratin: a shallow oven safe pan that is oval in shape.
  • Loaf pan: also called a bread pan, is a narrow rectangle pan for cooking loaves and bread.
  • Measuring cups and spoons: cups and spoons made to the correct size to measure out needed amounts of ingredients.
  • Mixing bowl: multipurpose bowls in a variety of sizes to help mix ingredients separately before mixing together or to use for anything in the cooking process.
  • Muffin pan: a pan with cups for making cupcakes and muffins.
  • Pastry cutter: several sharp, rounded pieces attached to a handle to cut butter or fat into flour.
  • Pie pan: a shallow pan with raised, sloped sides for making pies.
  • Pizza stone: a flat, food safe stone for pizzas and breads to create a crisp crust that doesn’t stick.
  • Ramekin: a small dish/bowl for baking and then serving individual portions.
  • Rolling pin: A long cylinder, sometimes with handles, to roll out ingredients or items like dough.
  • Roasting pan: a metal pan with raised sides for roasting food in large quantities.
  • Tart pan: a shallow pan with raised sides for making tarts. Sometimes has a removable bottom.

Stovetop Tools:

  • Dutch oven: a cast iron pot with a lid that can be used on the stove or in the oven.
  • Grill pan: a pan for the stove that has raised grooves for giving food a grilled appearance.
  • Paella pan: a wide, round pan that is shallow with sloped sides and handles. Traditionally used for paella.
  • Sauce pan: a pan with high straight sides that are squared off.
  • Saucier: a saucepan with high sides that are rounded off.
  • Saute pan: a wide pan with straight or curved sides that are higher than a frying pan’s but lower than a sauce pan.
  • Skillet: a wide pan that has sides that flare out.
  • Stock pot: a large pot that holds a lot of food. For boiling things like pasta or making soups and stews.
  • Tagine: a wide, shallow pan with a tall lid that has a small opening at the top.
  • Wok: a large bowl shaped pan with high, round sides that endure high heat.

Cutting Tools:

  • Chef’s knife: an everyday, multipurpose knife around 8 to 9 inches.
  • Cleaver: a large flat knife for chopping ingredients, great for transferring them too.
  • Cutting board: the item that ingredients are chopped and cut onto. Comes in a large variety, typically plastic or wood.
  • Food mill: a device with a handheld crank to puree or mash foods.
  • Garlic press: a tool that, when squeezed, presses raw garlic cloves into minced garlic.
  • Grater: several varieties are available in different sizes and different size grates. Used to grate ingredients into smaller pieces (box grater) or zest citrus (microplane grater).
  • Honing steel: a round, rough piece of metal attached to handle to sharpen knives.
  • Kitchen shears: food safe scissors reserved for use in the kitchen.
  • Mandoline: a utensil with a flat frame with an attached blade for slicing.
  • Paring knife: a smaller knife, around 3 to 4 inches, that is used to peel and core fruits and vegetables.
  • Santoku knife: a knife that’s between a chef’s knife and a cleaver in shape. Another multipurpose knife for dicing, chopping, and mincing.
  • Serrated bread knife: a long knife, at least 8 inches, that is used to cut bread.
  • Tomato knife: a serrated knife, typically with prongs, for cutting tomatoes and citrus without squishing them or tearing their skins.
  • Utility knife: smaller than a chef’s knife, but larger than a paring knife for fast and easy purposes like cutting a sandwich.
  • Vegetable peeler: vegetable peelers are either y-shaped or swivel, used to peel the skin off of fruits and vegetables.

Spoons, Whisks, and More

  • Ladle: a deep spoon with a long handle for serving soup.
  • Slotted spoon: a spoon with slits or holes to allow liquid to drain from a food.
  • Spatula: essentially a handle with a flat end for flipping food like pancakes or for stirring.
  • Tongs: Two flat pieces are joined together to flip, toss, serve, or pick up food.
  • Whisk: wires are attached to a handle in order to beat or stir ingredients.


  • Blender: a mixing machine that is a pitcher with blades for blending, pureeing, liquifying, or chopping.
  • Food processor: a machine that is a bowl with spinning blades for blending, pureeing, liquifying, chopping, grating, etc.
  • Immersion blender: a handheld stick with protected blades for blending things like soup right in the pot.
  • Pressure cooker: a pot that cooks food with a small amount of liquid and and pressure to create a rise in temperature.


  • Citrus juicer: a tool to separate the juice from the pulp and seeds of citrus.
  • Colander: a bowl with holes of varying sizes used to drain liquid from food.
  • Mortar and pestle: a bowl with a handheld tool for grinding, mashing, and crushing ingredients.
  • Pepper mill: a tool that grinds peppercorns
  • Potato masher: a flat tool that mashes ingredients.
  • Waffle maker: an electric or stovetop pan that cooks batter in the shape of a waffle.
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