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Chicken School

Basic Utensils – What you Need in Your Kitchen

Learning how to cook isn’t just about the food: you’ll need some good basic tools on hand to prepare and serve your culinary creations.

Learning how to cook isn’t just about the food: you’ll need some good basic tools on hand to prepare and serve your culinary creations. Check your kitchen against this list and then add missing items as you can. Here are the top kitchen utensils you’ll need to get you started.

  • At least two serving spoons, slotted and non-slotted. The slotted spoon will help you serve food from which you want the cooking liquid drained, such as chicken cooked in broth. The non-slotted spoon lets you serve the liquid along with the food.
  • One ladle. This deep, non-slotted spoon is usually used for serving liquid, such as soups and stews.
  • At least one spatula. If you’ve got mostly non-stick cookware, choose a plastic spatula; if you’ve got metal cookware, get a metal one. A spatula will help you flip flatter items such as pancakes in the pan; it can also be used to transfer food from the pan to a serving dish.
  • One scraper. This flexible plastic item will help you scrape stuck-on food out of pans and can also be used in cooking prep.
  • Salad tongs. You’ll be more inclined to eat your veggies if you’ve got a classy way to serve them.
  • Knife set in block. Available at most kitchen supply stores, a knife set will contain the main different types of knives you’ll need for most food preparation, such as a paring knife and a chopping knife. The block will help you keep your knives organized and free up space in your kitchen drawers.
  • Kitchen scissors. Kitchen scissors are sharper and sturdier than the regular kind. You’ll be surprised at how often you’ll need  them for opening food packaging and snipping herbs.
  • Measuring cup. Stick with a dishwasher- and microwave-safe measuring cup that can measure at least two cups is preferable. As you build your kitchen collection, add more measuring cups in different sizes.
  • Measuring spoons. Plastic or metal spoons that can measure small amounts such as teaspoons and tablespoons are necessary for recipe preparation. A ring attachment will help you keep them all ready at hand.
  • Mixing bowls.
  • One-hand mixer. Great for mixing batter, whipping up smoothies, and pureeing sauces and soups with a minimum of mess.
  • Whisk. Great for mixing scrambled eggs, baking ingredients, even smoothies!
  • Hand-operated can opener. Choose the sturdiest model you can for opening all sizes of cans. Many also have a built-in bottle opener for pesky bottle caps. No need to spend a lot on this.
  • One colander. A colander will allow you to safely drain boiled foods such as pasta and vegetables. You can also use it to rinse fruits and vegetables. A plastic colander is fine to start, but upgrade to a sturdier metal model when you can.
  • At least two frying pans, one small and one large. (such as a 5 inch and 9 inch) for frying, sautéing, and reheating small  amounts of sauce-based food. Pans with high sides can be used to make/reheat larger amounts of food and to braise meats. Start with non-stick varieties, then add stainless steel and iron models as you build your kitchen.
  • At least two sauce pans, one small (1 quart) and one large (2 quart). Choose pans with glass lids whenever possible – they allow you to check on your food without removing the lid.
  • One eight- or nine-inch square baking pan for breads, cakes, etc.
  • Dutch oven. This large, two-handled pot is heavier and thicker than other large pots, allowing you to heat large amounts of water or stock for pastas, stews, and soups both on the stovetop and in the oven. Not to be confused with a crock pot or slow cooker, which is electrically powered and not heated by stove or oven elements.
  • Two baking sheets for bread, cookies, etc.
  • One muffin tin for muffins and cupcakes.
  • One microwave-safe covered casserole dish for cooking vegetables, casseroles, and re-heating leftovers.
  • One steaming basket. Choose a stainless-steel model with a cover that will fit over the top of your large saucepan to make healthy steamed veggies in a snap.