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6 Surprisingly Simple Tools to Take Your Cooking to the Next Level

If you’ve ever looked for new kitchen tools, you know it can be an intimidating process, especially considering the growing number of choices in your local super center, kitchen store, or online. There appears to be no end to the ridiculously unnecessary gadgets available to purchase – no one needs a designated banana slicer (but everyone needs to read the reviews – seriously, it’s hilarious lunch break fodder).

As you can imagine, our experience serving as personal chefs to the Wilmington and Middletown, Delaware area means we’ve developed an arsenal of tried and true kitchen utensils. While teaching in-person and virtual cooking classes, our students repeatedly ask us what tools we recommend to boost their kitchen proficiency. So, we narrowed down our six favorites, and we hope it helps you begin or enhance your collection of cooking tools.

(This is not a sponsored post and does not include any affiliate links; they are for your convenience only.)

Kitchen Tool #1: Shun Cutlery 8″ Chef’s Knife

Beyond your able hands, a good chef’s knife is the #1 most essential tool for any personal chef or home kitchen. Without a professional chef knife, you cannot take your food preparation to the next level. When cooking customized meals for clients, teaching clients, or in her kitchen, Bianca Russano prefers using the Shun Cutlery 8″ Chef’s Knife.

Kitchen Tool #1: Shun Cutlery 8" Chef's Knife

Selecting a high-quality, sharp knife gives you more control, which leads to more consistent cuts and slices. This knife offers versatility, whether you’re working with vegetables or meats. In general, chef knives are ideal for dicing, chopping, slicing, or mincing.

Kitchen Tool #2: Pepper Grinder

Finding the best pepper grinder you can is essential because fresh cracked black pepper adds a robust flavor, aroma, and a kick you can’t attain from the pre-ground pepper found on your local spice aisle. Why is this? Because peppercorns contain oils that release once cracked but quickly dissipate when stored.

Kitchen Tool #2: Pepper Grinder

Because different recipes call for different grind sizes, select a pepper mill (also called a pepper grinder) with settings that allow you to switch from coarse- to fine-ground pepper.

Kitchen Tool #3: Microplane Zester/Grater

A Microplane Zester/Grater is probably one of our all-time favorite kitchen tools, and we think, the most underappreciated tool in most kitchens. We use this for mincing garlic, zesting citrus, or grating fresh ginger. You can also use it to elevate your dishes by grating fresh cheeses like Parmesan or Romano over a finished dish.

Kitchen Tool #3: Microplane Zester/Grater

Another way we like to use the Microplane zester is to freshly grind whole spices, like nutmeg. Here’s a chef tip: add fresh nutmeg or cinnamon as a tasty, simple way to elevate the flavor of your coffee in the morning.

Kitchen Tool #4: Ramekins

Versatile and essential, you can hardly navigate without ramekins. They are oven-safe, super easy to clean, and come in several sizes and shapes specific to your needs.

What’s more, ramekins make a perfect addition to your mise en place (your “setting” where you contain all your prepped and measured ingredients before you begin cooking). They are also essential for preparing various desserts (creme brûlée, anyone?) and visually satisfying when serving soups, desserts, dips, pies, and small snacks.

Kitchen Tool #4: Ramekins

In our kitchen, we use ramekins for olives, dried fruits, and nuts when assembling charcuterie boards or preparing customized meals with lots of toppings like chili, Hawaiian haystacks, or tacos. Mostly inexpensive, you can purchase ramekins in sets of four or six pieces, and we suggest starting with a 4-6 ounce set.

Kitchen Tool #5: Hand Held Blender

Another useful appliance to have in your kitchen is a hand blender. We recommend this 3-in-1 hand held blender because of how easily the attachments can switch out to meet our cooking needs.

Kitchen Tool #5: Hand Held Blender

For instance, the immersion blender attachment is perfect for cooking soups and sauces. You can keep your recipe in one pot or bowl from start to finish, which saves time washing up dishes later (with the added benefit of not having a blender jar to clean too).

The whisk attachment helps you do the same work that a hand whisk would. We use it to make the perfect whipped cream for all our desserts, cream butter and sugar into a light and fluffy mixture, and beat egg whites to their highest peak.

Besides blending and whisking, you’ll love the mini chopper for chopping garlic, nuts, or mirepoix! A 3-in-1 hand blender will become one of your most valuable appliances; it tucks away easily and will reduce your workload. What chef doesn’t want that in the kitchen?

Kitchen Tool #6: Hand Held Citrus Press/Juicer

You’re going to love having a handheld citrus press as a staple in your kitchen. For one, it’s essentially two tools in one (and when you can efficiently double up any kitchen tool, you should).

Kitchen Tool #6: Hand Held Citrus Press/Juicer

First, a citrus press should allow you to extract fresh citrus juice from hard-to-squeeze lemons and limes without having to fish out the pesky seeds by hand. If you still use your grandmother’s citrus reamer to torture lemons and limes by forcefully impaling and twisting them on a glass dish, you know the drill.

A press is a smart mechanism with a minimal investment. It delivers more juice with less hassle while keeping your hands free of juice, pulp, and smelling like you just cleaned the kitchen sink all day.

And since fresh citrus juices bring many recipes alive – from salad dressings to margaritas – you want a tool that’s quick and easy for anyone to use, including your kids (We want to teach kids to cook too, right?).

Now that you have our list of the top 6 kitchenware items, we recommend you consider using them in one of our virtual cooking classes. Whether you want to level up your cooking skills, enjoy a fun group activity, expand your kids’ or students’ educational horizons, or want to integrate a team-building exercise to enrich your company culture, we’re here for you!

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