Our Food Editors Share the Kitchen Tools They Consider Essentials
When it comes to cooking tips and techniques, recipe advice, the latest and greatest cookbooks, need-to-know ingredients, and kitchen essentials, we turn to our food editors. The team spends their days in the Martha Stewart test kitchen developing and testing new recipes—and with decades of professional culinary experience between them, we trust their opinions. That's why we're always keen to get their insights on cooking at home. They've already shared their freezer storage secrets, personal food aversions, and their pantry staples. Naturally, we also wanted to know what they consider must-have kitchen tools when cooking at home.
While the test kitchen is equipped with everything you could need to cook an impressive dinner, we wanted a glimpse into how the 42 Burners crew stocks their own kitchens at home. Do they stick to high-end tools or have a hodgepodge of mismatched pots and pans and whisks that are slightly bent out of shape like everyone else?
Here Shira Bocar, Greg Lofts, Kavita Thirupuvanam, and Riley Wofford share their must-have tools for the kitchen. Add them to your own utensil crock and cook like a pro. From a $6 spatula and $9 sheet pan to a pricier set of strainers and an all-time favorite chef's knife, these are essentials you'll use again and again (like every night when you make dinner). Whether you're registering for a wedding, getting a head start on your holiday shopping, or treating yourself to something a little something, these kitchen gadgets will stand the test of time.
Wusthof Classic 8" Chef's Knife
"A quality chef's knife is the most important tool in the kitchen. Without a sharp implement to slice and dice, it's very difficult to turn out a meal. Like cast iron, a good knife will last a lifetime so it's well worth spending a little more on a quality piece." says Greg Lofts, deputy food editor.
Wusthof 8" Chef's Knife, $150, crateandbarrel.com
Staub Cast-Iron Double Burner Griddle
Lofts also relies on a cast-iron double burner griddle in his home kitchen. "I bought one at the Brimfield Flea Market many years ago, a vintage Wagner from the early 20th century. It's worth spending the money on a piece like this if you do a lot of stovetop cooking. I use it for everything from pancakes, eggs, and bacon in the morning (they all fit on the surface at the same time, cutting down on time and cleanup!), to searing steaks for dinner," he says.
Staub Cast-Iron Double Burner Griddle, $180, williams-sonoma.com
A favorite of the entire test kitchen team, Lofts sites the spider strainer as another essential. "Its large size and wider holes are great for quickly and effortlessly lifting pasta directly from the pot and into a skillet of sauce," he says. "It's so much easier than lugging a heavy pot of boiling water to the stove and draining the pasta into a colander."
Helen's Asian Kitchen Spider Strainer, $8, bedbathandbeyond.com
For Kavita Thirupuvanam, our test kitchen manager, a great salt cellar is a non-negotiable. "It's so beneficial to be able to pick up salt, preferably kosher salt, in your fingers and season that way rather than using a shaker or teaspoon measurements. You get a sense of how much salt you're adding by using muscle memory."
Crate and Barrel Acacia Wood Salt Cellar, $9.95,
Quarter Sheet Pan
Sheet pans are essentials, but Wofford specifically likes this smaller option at home. "We use these pans all the time in the test kitchen, and it's definitely a must-have for me. Sometimes it's dinner for one so this is great when I need a quick pan of roasted vegetables or a sheet-pan dinner," Wofford says.
Nordic Ware Naturals Quarter Sheet Pan, $9, target.com
Another essential for Bocar? Strainers. "Strainers for washing berries, rinsing vegetables, and draining pasta [are essential]," she says. "I recently updated my ratty collection to All-Clad and I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner. Everyone knows to invest in good pots, but this is something I use daily and the stainless is so much better!"
All-Clad 3-Piece Stainless-Steel Strainer Set, $100, williams-sonoma.com
Wooden Cutting Board
"I only cut on wooden cutting boards," Bocar says, which is why she considers this one an absolute must-have. "I have a large one for savory and a medium-sized one for fruit only. There's nothing worse than getting garlic on watermelon."
John Boos Reversible Walnut Cutting Board, $137, crateandbarrel.com