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Favorite Kitchen Tools I Use Every Day and in My Cooking Classes

When I teach my cooking classes I invariably get asked what cooking tools I use most and where can they be purchased. So here is my list of favorite kitchen tools, broken down into inexpensive and investment categories.
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Oxo 1/4 Cup Measuring Cup

These mini-measuring cups are the best for small measurements. I use them for making salad dressings and cocktails.


Microplane Graters

I use these microplane graters all the time, particularly the fine grater, but the coarse and extra coarse are also useful. I use these graters to make lemon zest, grate nutmeg, parmesan and other cheeses, chocolate and more.

Bench Scraper

Bench scrapers will save you time, keep your working space tidy and save your knives.

Garlic Rock

This garlic rock was given to me by one of my followers. It fits perfectly into my hand, has a great weight and saves me time breaking down whole cloves and peeling and smashing garlic. You can also find your own rock or use the back of a chef's knife.

Straight-Edged Wooden Spoons

Most people have round wooden spoons which are great for stirring things like batter, but if you are cooking something where you need to scrape delicious fond off the bottom of the pan, nothing beats a straight edged wooden spoon.


Cuisinart Mini-Prep

This is the poor-man's food processor that will save you time chopping garlic, onion, ginger,  and herbs. It is great for making dressing and marinades and more.


Oxo Plastic Cutting Boards

While I generally prefer a wooden cutting board, there are reasons to own a plastic cutting board. You just need to get the right one as many plastic boards are hard on your knives. Oxo plastic cutting boards are gentle to your knives, dishwasher safe and have a good hefty thickness. This set is nice because it includes both a large and small board, both with drip catchers.

Wooden Chopping Block

An oversized wooden chopping block is my kitchen workhorse. I prefer wood to plastic chopping boards for my main chopping board and the larger the better. Avoid bamboo as it is very hard on your knives. Serious Eats just tested out a variety of chopping blocks and this very affordable acacia chopping board was highly rated.


Mini Whisk

These tiny whisks are very handy for quickly whisking up a salad dressing.


Glass Prep Bowls

Stacking glass prep bowls will save you storage space and are just the thing for mis en place ingredients prep.


Green Pans

The Green Pan brand offers low-cost, ceramic, PFAS-free, dishwasher safe pans that you will love. These frying pans are great, but check out their other pans too.


Salad Spinner

A salad spinner is essential for making good salads. Greens must be dry for dressing to adhere. There is no better way to wash and dry lettuce than in a spinner.

Instant Read Thermometer

There are a variety of instant read thermometers at different price-points on the market. This is a mid-priced version that has a nice long probe. I've had mine for years and it makes all the difference if you want to cook chicken and meat to perfection.


Juice Press

I use my juice press all day long to make marinades, salad dressing, and yes, cocktails. I prefer stainless steel as the enameled ones tend to peel over time.


Large White Platters

A large platter is essential to making my Salad For Dinner recipes. The larger the better. Amazon has several sets that will work. I also like a line of platters and bowls that Sur La Table sells. White is my first color of choice because food always looks great on a white platter. Get the largest platter you can find. 16" is OK, but 18" - 20" is even better if you are serving more than two to four.


Investment Pieces

I am happy to invest in kitchen tools, particularly if 1) I will use them frequently, for 2)  they have multiple purposes, and 3) they will last me many years, maybe even a lifetime. Over the years these are the pieces I have collected.  

Le Creuset French Oven

These life-time enameled cast iron ovens are god-awful expensive and their price seems to be rising. I am fortunate to have multiple Le Creusets that have made many a special meal for friends and family. I don't regret the investment at all and will plan, like the French do, to pass on my French ovens to my kids.

I recommend buying the largest French oven you can afford. That way you can cook soups and stews in bulk and freeze what you don't eat the first night for future meals.

There are less expensive versions to consider, including Lodge and Cuisinart, both of which are good quality considering their significantly lower prices. The differences between Le Creuset and lower-priced French ovens include, fit of the lid, quality control, possibly the quality and thickness of their enamel and cast iron and likelihood of their honoring their warranty. That said, you can replace the less expensive brands several times before you spend what you will on a Le Creuset.


Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet

While I am a big fan of cast iron cooking, I am not the best at maintaining my regular cast iron pans. If you are willing to season and care for cast iron that is great. In my house, with multiple cooks coming and going, standard cast-iron hasn't worked out so well. The answer for me has been to invest in a Le Creuset cast iron skillet. They are much more forgiving. I like the large 11.75" version. They are expensive, but I have owned mine for over 10 years and feel I have gotten the value out of the investment.

Breville 16-Cup Pro Food Processor

After owning a 20-cup professional Cuisinart food processor for 20 years, I went to replace it and found they had discontinued my beloved model. After some research, I decided to jump ship and try the Breville 16-Cup Pro and have been very happy with my choice. While it is has a smaller bowl, the design allows you to use more of the bowl without leaking. It is reliable and solid.

This food processor saves me time and allows me to take on larger cooking challenges than I ever would if my only tool was a knife.  

Vitamix Blender

Last year, when my husband got into making green smoothies for breakfast on the regular I finally broke down and bought a Vitamix blender. As a gift to him, I finally had the justification to make this purchase! And boy do I love it. In addition to making smoothies, I use it to make ultra smooth pureed vegetable soups. I love its large capacity, quiet motor and kick-butt results.

There are a range of models , all with different features, capacities and prices, so plan on studying your options before you make your purchase.  

Shun Knives

Knives are very personal and I would always recommend you actually hold one in your hand, and better yet work with it, before you buy. I am not a big fan of knife sets as you will often wind up with knives that are not best for you or include knives you do not use.

Shun knives are my personal favorite. They are gorgeous knives that are made by a company that started out as a samurai sword maker. My first choices would be their 1) 7" santoku knife for a versatile and easy to handle workhorse knife,  2) their 8" Western-style chef knife and 3) a paring knife.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

If you are a baker, this should be on your wish list. I am not much of a baker, but when I do bake I tend to bake in large quantities. 20 years ago, I made the mistake of purchasing a smaller, tilt stand mixer my first time around. My daughter eventually became the beneficiary of this purchase as it was too small for my needs.

My second time around I went for the largest mixer possible, which is a 6-qt. lift stand mixer. I love this thing, especially for making my olive oil cakes and anything else that requires extended mixing time. These cakes and many cookies require 5 - 10 minutes of mixing. This saves me tons of time and allows me to make all kinds of things I would not have tackled with my old hand mixer.


Contact Me with Any Questions

I hope this list is helpful to you. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about my kitchen tool choices.            

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