My “Gotta Have” Kitchen Equipment List
My favorite show on Food Network since the day the station launched was “Good Eats” by Alton Brown. Not only did I love his fantastic explanation of the chemistry behind cooking and baking, but he gave one brilliant nugget of advice I robbed and told my baking and pastry students many times over. That gem, loosely translated, was that the only single purpose tool in the kitchen should be your fire extinguisher. Basically, don’t get something if it takes up too much room, only does one job, and is otherwise useless. Price compare BEFORE buying; just because it has a fancy kitchenware logo doesn’t mean it will do the job any better. Believe me!
There’s often a discussion whether an allergy family needs a separate set of mixing bowls, pots, pans and mixers. Well, it comes down to cross contamination and how real the possibility is of it in your kitchen. Casey his own (literally) everything because of the extent of his allergies. That is a personal decision for you to make. For me, it was a bit of a necessity.
Here are some of my “cannot live with outs”, and you might even have some in your kitchen already!
Digital Kitchen Scale – Truly of anything I recommend for baking, this is it. Professional bakers and pastry chefs use scales for weighing ingredients because of the accuracy compared to using volume measurements. For example, one cup of all-purpose gluten free flour is 4 ½ ounces, or 120 grams. One cup of gluten free all-purpose flour, depending on the brand, can be anywhere from 120 to 150 grams per cup. The gluten free flours are finer and denser, so it weighs more. It will change a recipe completely. It is much easier to scale recipe up and down as well. I will try to add weight, volume and metric equivalents on most recipes.
Stand Mixer vs. Hand Mixer – Honestly, I love both! For years I have had two different size stand mixers that I adore but I just wasn’t comfortable using them for Casey anymore due to the 2 decades worth of flour and dairy and could be up in there. So, I found my beloved little 5.5 qt. Cuisinart stand mixer. So affordable and a perfect capacity. And I grabbed an inexpensive hand mixer that does smaller jobs effectively, but heavier doughs really need a stand mixer.
Half Sheet Pans – My goodness I love these! The standard size of a half sheet pan is 13”x18”. I definitely recommend at least 2. They have higher sides than a cookie sheet and can be used for everything from roasting veggies to making sheet pancakes (I love that recipe!). They are not the same size as a cookie sheet, jelly roll or baking dish.
Cooling racks – Again, another biggie to have on hand. When something comes out of the oven or when something hot is put on a sheet pan to cool, the air needs to circulate around it. Otherwise, condensation will build up underneath your baked good and make it soggy. This is especially important with things like cakes, breads and quick breads. Preferably find one that is half sheet pan size, very helpful when glazing or icing.
Silicone mats – Silicone molds and mats have been used in professional kitchens for years due to being able to withstand high heat/cold and practically nonstick. They are so easily available and affordable now. I buy half sheet pan sizes on Amazon and they wash clean with some detergent and water. I like to roll out dough on them because gluten free doughs can be much drier, and they allow me to roll out without having to add much more bench flour and dry out the dough.
Parchment paper – Another kitchen staple, from a baking or culinary standpoint. This nonstick baking paper is used for everything from lining pans, to piping icing to wrapping up things in the freezer. I do not like the rolls that are bought in the supermarket, I much prefer buying half sheets in bulk. It’s cheaper and precut to perfectly fit my half pans. They can be reused twice for things that aren’t baked for too long as well.
Assorted cake and other pans – A good list to have in your arsenal is a standard Bundt pan, 2-8” cake pans, a 13”x9” pan, a pie plate, 2 muffins tins, and a 9”x5”x3” loaf pan and an 8”x” pan. These are all versatile and can be used for a variety of products.
Rolling pin – There are quite a few types of rolling pins out there, but at the end of the day most seasoned bakers either choose a traditional rolling pin on ball bearings or a French pin that has tapered or blunt ends. I am a French pin girl; I love the tapered ends and it feels easier to control. It’s up to you and what you’re comfortable using.
Measuring cups and spoons – I really like a metal set for both because they wash well, do not warp or crack and have more reliable capacities.
Liquid measuring cup – Seriously, can you even call it a kitchen if you don’t have a one cup glass Pyrex?!
Offset metal spatula – For those who don’t know, this is an icing spatula with an angled metal blade. Arguable my favorite tool besides a serrated knife, an offset helps get batters and dough super smooth and even in the pan and for icing cakes by using its wide blade to move everything where it needs to be without small strokes that make it messy. I rely heavily on my 10” and 4” spatulas.
Rubber spatulas – Tools are designed for a reason, and a rubber spatula is a prime example. The rubber is meant to not leave any batter, chocolate, icing, dough or mixture behind due to its ability to scrape everything out cleanly. When I would see my students melt chocolate with a wooden spoon, I went bonkers. So much is left behind in the bowl because a spoon cannot scrape the way a spatula can. Aim for a large one with a longer handle as well as small one. Silicone tops are best.
Wooden spoon – Now as above when I called out a wooden spoon, now is where I point out I would never use a rubber spatula to do a wooden spoon’s job. It is wonderfully heat resistant, so when working with a heavy, thick or hot mixture over the stove, this is your go- to. Wash well-wood is very porous and can harbor cross contamination of food and germs.
Cookie scoop – Two sizes are good to have, a tablespoon measure for cookies and a truffle size scoop.
Knives – A good trio is a paring knife, serrated knife and chef’s knife. The rest is gravy. Look for comfortable handles and a heavy blade. Remember, you are less likely to get cut with a sharp blade than a dull blade because a dull blade will slip easily over the what you are cutting into.
Sifter/Strainer – This is an important item to keep around. It’ll be used for sifting dry ingredients, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa, etc. and also for rinsing rice, draining pasta, washing berries and more. Alton Brown would be proud of this multitasker.
Pastry brush – A must for brushing off excess bench flour while rolling doughs out, brushing on pre-bake washes and basting.
Pastry bags and tips – Many would argue that pastry bags aren’t necessary, just use a zip top bag. I agree, that’s a great trick. However, certain heavy doughs will tear that right up when pressure is applied. I buy rolls of disposable bags, but you can get re-usable and keep washing between uses. Pastry tips are great for cake and cookie decorating and piping batters and doughs. Of course, I have far more than I need. You’ll do just fine with a starter kit of 8 or 10 tips. Ateco or Wilton are the gold standard for cake decorating tools.
As we all know, reading labels and preparing food when managing allergies is a job within itself with much responsibility. All the brands I use are ones that I have contacted, and Casey has eaten safely. That being said, I must remind…
Please do your own research when deciding which products and foods are safe for the allergies you manage. These are the ones that are safe for our needs but may not be for you. Everyone has different comfort levels with manufacturing and production procedures.
And, as a friendly reminder, always have 2 epinephrine auto injectors on hand!