Cooking Tools & Kitchen Utensils


A spatula is a small cooking implement with a wide, flat, flexible blade that is used for mixing, spreading, and turning.

You may not think that a spatula can be much improved upon, but you’d be wrong! Tovolo has done a wonderful job with their line of stainless steel and silicon cooking implements. This is a high quality spatula that is heat resistant up to 600 degrees fahrenheit and won’t melt if you leave it against your pot or pan (which we’ve all done!). This small kitchen item is a joy to use and is very reasonably priced for the quality.

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Stirring Spoon

Going back to the wonderful design of Tovolo products, their stirring spoon is just as good as their slotted spatula.

With their trademark stainless steel and silicon construction, it will last for a very long time and won’t melt in different places (like other products do). Instead of stocking up on several spoons, choose one that is durable, heat resistant, dishwasher safe, and won’t scratch cookware or pans. This stirring spoon from Tovolo one will do great!

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For easily flipping meats and vegetables, a good pair of tongs that can handle all kinds of different sized foods is a must. It’s important for them to have silicone tips to prevent scratching and a high degree of heat-resistance so they don’t melt away after frequent use.

This pair of tongs from Zyliss is beautifully designed. You can operate them with only one hand, and everything is done ergonomically and with sturdy construction. We have two of them for some reason, but one is all you need!

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A ladle is essentially a very large, long-handled spoon. It is used for serving liquid dishes like soups, stews, or sauces.

This ladle from Tovolo is strongly built with a unique combination stainless steel and silicone, which means that it won’t melt if you leave it in your pot or pan or place it in the dishwasher.

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Oven Mitts

Oven mitts are used in order to protect your hands from being burned when transferring hot food to and from the oven. No longer will you have to wrap your hand in a tea towel and try not to spill your dish (or get burned) as you pull it out one handed.

Our recommended oven mitts from Kitchen Elements are made of silicone with a cotton interior and are dishwasher safe. Plus, they can be cleaned very easily and even look stylish! Whether you choose to purchase our recommended pick or another option, make sure you have quality oven mitts before beginning any high-heat oven cooking. A good pair of oven mitts is a must have for any kitchen.

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A trivet is a heat resistant pad that you place hot dishes on, so you don’t burn your table. We love Bambri’s bamboo trivets because they’re both functional and fashionable and do what they’re supposed to do.

Instead of ugly cloth trivets that get stained easily, pick up these beautiful bamboo trivets that will last a long time and are easy to clean.

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Splatter Guard

A splatter guard is a device that is placed on top of skillets or sauté pans during high heat cooking in order to stop splattering hot oil and food from coating your stovetop.

Let’s face it, cooking can get messy. How many times have you had to clean your oven top and cupboards from splattering grease and oil? With this fine mesh splatter guard from Progressive International, these clean up days are over. It will fit most pans, is simple to clean and much sturdier than other splatter guards out there, and even has feet so you can set it down after use without leaving a mess on your countertop.

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A quality meat thermometer is a must if you often cook meats and want to stop guessing at when they’re done.

With this ultra fast and accurate thermometer, you’ll have a very accurate temperature reading in just 4 seconds. As the #1 best seller meat thermometer on Amazon, this has scores of 5 star reviews and only comes in at $25. Great buy.

If you find yourself roasting foods often in the oven and want to have continual temperature readings, we also recommend the Thermoworks ChefAlarm. It’s wonderful for precisely measuring the temperature of Thanksgiving turkey, for example, or for getting accurate water temperature readings for sous vide cooking.

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(click to jump) Immersion Blender Kitchen Scale Blender

Immersion Blender

An immersion blender (also known as a stick blender) is used to blend or puree food in the container its is being prepared in.

We use our immersion blender all the time. From blending soups and sauces directly in the pot, to whipping up homemade whipped cream for dessert, to easily making mayonnaise for hard boiled eggs, our recommended pick is a versatile two-speed blender from Conair that’s a cinch to use (and is even easier to clean). Plus, it’s very reasonably priced.

Immersion Blender (Premium)

If you’re looking to purchase a multi-speed all-in-one immersion blender with attachments, look no further than the Breville all-in-one processing station.

It comes with a variety of useful attachments that are all ergonomic, high quality, and very easy to clean. They turn your immersion blender into an extremely versatile tool. We love this package deal!

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Kitchen Scale

For precisely measuring raw food (and coffee beans, in my case) a small, lightweight, scale is needed. Look no further than American weigh scales digital pocket scale.

With a bright LED display, highly incremental measurements in US and metric units, and compact size, this scale is perfect for most weighing functions you’ll ever need.

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If you’re a fan of making smoothies, sauces, dips, or soups, you’ll likely want a powerful blender instead of using a food processor every time.

Our pick is the Oster Versa blender that comes in at less than ½ the price of a Vitamix (our premium pick and the de facto standard for powerful blenders) and performs just as well.

This is a stylish blender with a 1,400 watt motor that pulverizes anything you can throw at it. This is a great purchase for the price, and we highly recommend it.

Blender (Premium)

Our premium pick is the Vitamix Professional series 750 blender. If you’re in to blenders at all, there’s not much to be said about Vitamix. They’re the best, and they command a premium price.

You have likely seen Vitamix’s in commercial restaurants because of their power and ease of use and cleaning. If you’re looking for the best of the best, the Vitamix is a fantastic pick.

Blender (Budget)

If our recommended pick is still a bit more than you’d like to spend for a blender, the Ninja Professional Blender is a great budget alternative.

Coming in at only $80, this powerful blender will do much of what its higher priced counterparts will do at a fraction of the price. It’s a great buy on a budget.

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Other Kitchen Essentials

(click to jump) Food Storage Containers Aluminum Foil Parchment Paper TowelsSponges Heavy Sponges Dish Rack Ice Cube Tray Small Trash BagsLarge Trash Bags Small Trash Bin Large Trash Bin

Food Storage Containers

High quality food storage containers are essential for bringing lunch to work and storing ingredients (or cooked meals) in the refrigerator so they stay fresh for several days. Our recommended glass containers from Kinetic are dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, freezer, and oven safe and are made from environmentally friendly glass (instead of plastic).

This is a set of three containers with locking lids, which is great for a single cook who plans on taking their lunch to work. If you cook for your family or significant other and need more than three containers containers, try our premium option which comes in a bigger set.

Food Storage Containers (Premium)

You can purchase these highly rated glass food storage containers from Snapware in sets of 10, 16, and 18. They’re reasonably priced, made in the USA, and are also dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, freezer, and oven safe and are made from BPA free Pyrex glass.

Plus, the reviews are amazing! Pick these up and you’ll have quality food storage containers for years to come.

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Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil can be used in the kitchen for all sorts of different purposes. From cooking to cleaning, protecting, scrubbing, lifting, or steaming, this is one versatile kitchen essential. As as important as aluminum foil is, however, it’s also one of those items that you can easily forget to re-stock up on, leading to expensive impulse purchases at your local grocery store.

For this reason, we recommend stocking up on high quality foil from Reynolds. With two rolls and 500 square feet of high quality, inexpensive foil, you’ll be able to relax and get back cooking without worrying about re-purchasing for a long time.

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Parchment Paper

Parchment paper is used in cooking as a disposable non-stick surface that greatly helps with avoiding messes in the kitchen.

Simply line your casserole dish or baking sheet pan with parchment paper and you’ll be able to clean up in a flash. Our recommended parchment paper from Kirkland is high quality, comes in high quantity packaging, and is a very reasonable price.

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Everybody needs towels in their kitchen for drying dishes, wiping up spills, dusting, and regular cleaning. But towels aren’t something most people give much thought to when stocking their own minimalist kitchen.

After much searching and testing, we found these “flour sack” towels and haven’t looked back. They’re 100% cotton, very reasonably priced, and work exactly how kitchen towels should.

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Just like with kitchen towels, when it comes to sponges most people choose one type and don’t look back. But as with all of our other recommended kitchen items, some sponges are better than others.

In all of our searching and testing, Scotch-Brite’s Dobie all purpose pads are the clear winner. They have just enough scouring ability that you don’t need a dedicated scouring pad, but work just as well as a delicate sponge does. Plus, they have a 5 star rating on Amazon over several hundred reviews, so we’re not the only happy customers out there!

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Heavy Sponges

If our all-purpose sponges aren’t enough for a heavy job, Scotch-Brite’s heavy duty scrub sponges will be able to scour any tough job you have to do. These sponges are tough and will last a many tough jobs in the kitchen.

If they get smelly all you have to do is put them in the dishwasher, run a cycle, and they’ll come out as good as new. For lasting quality that doesn’t break apart on the tough jobs, these sponges are our winners.

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Dish Rack

Even if you have a dishwasher you’ll still need to hand wash some items or to give cookware a quick rinse. A quality dish rack is needed because you can place your dishes on the rack and have it drain the water back into the sink.

Our recommended dish rack is Polder’s advantage dish rack. It comes with a typical dish rack design that we’re all familiar with, and it looks stylish and works as it should.

Dish Rack (Premium)

If you want to fancy your dish rack up, the Zojila Rohan dish rack is the ferrari of dish racks. It’s made of brushed stainless steel and features an innovative drain system that differs from the typical design you see in most dish racks today. This is a pricey purchase, but the positive reviews back it up.

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Ice Cube Tray

You probably haven’t given much thought to ice cube trays. They’re all the same, right? Well, if you’ve ever tried Rubbermaid’s ice cube trays, you’ll know that there are better options out there!

These trays allow you to release the cubes with a single, simple twist that will get the entire cube out. Never again do you have twist and hit your trays to get broken ice cubes out.

You may think that ice cube trays won’t make much of a difference to your life, but if you often use ice cubes these trays will make the process a whole lot easier.

Ice Cube Tray (Premium)

Now if you’re an ice cube aficionado and want the best of the best, OXO’s silicon ice cube trays are what you should buy.

The silicon lid seals water into the tray before freezing which allows you to place the tray any way you like in the freezer. Popping the cubes out is an extremely simple affair, and the reviews of this tray are glowing.

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Small Trash Bags

Because everyone needs trash bags, you may as well choose the best designed ones you can find. These small trash bags from Glad are perfect for apartment dwellers who only have room for a small trash bin.

These bags come in a 4-gallon size, which is perfect for under-the-sink trash bins that need to be tucked away. They’re also extremely sturdy and can handle being carried when full without you having to worry that they’ll tear and spill garbage everywhere. For a small bag that does a tough job, these trash bags are a great quality buy.

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Large Trash Bags

With fantastic reviews on Amazon, these large trash bags from Glad will fit your large trash bin perfectly.

These bags come in a 13-gallon size, which works well for taller trash bins that aren’t stored under the sink. They also have reinforcing bands woven throughout the bag which makes them extremely tough and sturdy – a nice feature that gives peace of mind when carrying a full bag. Whether you use these bags in your busy kitchen or even in the office, you won’t be disappointed.

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Small Trash Bin

Designed for apartment dwellers using small trash bags, this stainless steel small trash bin from Simplehuman is elegantly designed, highly rated, and comes with a 5-year warranty.

It has custom handles on the inside of the bin that holds grocery bags in place so they never sag when filled with trash. Even the step that opens the can is designed well – it works with a small amount of pressure and has a soft-close feature that won’t make a racket when you close the lid. Overall, this is a fantastic bin for use under the sink in your kitchen or bathrooms.

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Large Trash Bin

This large trash bin from Simplehuman is perfect for people who have the space for a full-sized, high-quality trash bin. This bin also comes with a 5 year warrantly and will fit your large trash bags perfectly.

It comes with a steel foot pedal with a soft-close feature that makes closing the bin after use quiet and smooth (which is a nice change from those bins that close with a crash). Innovative design allows you to place the bin right up against the wall and still allow the lid to be opened. For use as a standalone bin that isn’t tucked away anywhere, this large bin is a clear winner.

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Fully stocking a minimalist and efficient kitchen with cookware doesn’t have to be frustrating or cost a lot of money. By purchasing only high-quality multi-purpose items that have a strong value proposition, you can end up with a fully stocked kitchen that will last a lifetime (without costing you an arm and a leg!).

To review, feel free to jump to each main cookware category in this article:

  • Preparation Tools & Essentials
  • Cookware & Bakeware
  • Cooking Tools & Kitchen Utensils
  • Appliances
  • Other Kitchen Essentials

And don’t forget that there’s no point in purchasing cookware if you have no intention to cook! Check out our free simple recipes, or join our free personalized meal planning service here.

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