6 Essential Multipurpose Kitchen Tools That Every Home Cook Needs

By Karissa Seiersen

With so many niche kitchen tools on the market building your kitchen can be a daunting task. Especially when we are captivated by a new shiny tool that promises to solve a very specific “problem”. Think avocado cutter or herb scissors (sorry if you own one and love it—you do you!). However, having too many of these single-functional gadgets may cloud your judgment and intuition all while taking up space. Truthfully, you can get away with very few tools; a good knife and cutting board will usually do the trick.

We want to encourage you to work with less and improve your skills and that means owning tools that bring value to you and your cooking. So we’ve put together a list of six items that are multi-functional, worth the purchase, and won’t get shoved to the back of a drawer never to see the light of day again. I use most of these every day. As for the herb scissors I own? Honestly, I don’t even know where they’re at.

I’ve provided links for these tools but here are a few local kitchen supply stores in the greater Seattle area if you’d rather support a small business:

  • Sur La Table - 84 Pine St Seattle, WA 98101
  • Culinary Essentials - 5320 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
  • Seattle Restaurant Store - 14910 Aurora Ave N, Shoreline, WA 98133
  • The Wooden Spoon - 104 5th Ave S, Edmonds, WA 98020

1. Microplane

A Microplane is a rasp-style grater that has super-sharp and tightly packed blades which creates a finer grate than that of a box grater. It’s popular for zesting citrus but you can also grate hard cheeses, liquify garlic or ginger, shave chocolate into fine curls, and grate down nuts and whole spices. This versatility is what makes it such a coveted kitchen tool. You can pretty much elevate any dish and flavor profile by freshly grating ingredients. A simple meal, such as eggs on toast, just needs a little freshly grated parm and then it’s ~fancy~.

Premium Classic Series Zester - Black

2. Mortar & Pestle

At first glance, a mortar and pestle may seem a bit extra. Especially if you already have a spice grinder, blender, or food processor. But this is one of the most underrated and timeless kitchen tools. A mortar and pestle crush ingredients **whereas a blade will primarily cut them. That crushing process expels oils and flavors which allows them to mingle and melt together, ultimately increasing emulsion between ingredients. Meaning your pesto, garlic aioli, and curry paste comes out brighter, bolder, and creamier. Plus, it's easy to clean and looks great on any kitchen countertop—it’s a win-win.

Mortar & Pestle 

3. Mandoline Slicer

A mandoline is made for precision and is perfect for creating paper-thin slices of vegetables for salads or thicker slices for gratins and casseroles. If your main priority is efficiency and consistency then stop using a knife to slice those denser vegetables (these will dull your knife anyways). Instead, use a mandoline! Specifically, a Japanese-style Benriner mandoline that’s lightweight and has minimal attachments. It’s a perfect tool for those weeknights when take-out sounds most appealing and the last thing you want to do is chop a bunch of vegetables.

Benriner Mandoline Slicer

4. Bench Scraper

Ah, the bench scraper. Another classically underrated kitchen tool. Contrary to what you may have heard, the bench scraper is not just for mangling dough. It is a master at performing countless kitchen tasks. It has a built-in straight edge and knife making it the perfect all-in-one tool for leveling flour, cutting dough, cleaning a work surface, or transferring ingredients from one place to another. I used to constantly grab new utensils to work with as I cooked and was always throwing my ingredients around either with a knife or my hands. So if you’re like me, messy and manic, then you’ll love the hell out of a bench scraper.

Crate & Barrel Bench Scraper with Beechwood Handle

5. Fine Mesh Strainer

Over time my fine mesh strainer has replaced other tools I have such as hand crank sifters, steamers, or citrus squeezers. They come in different sizes and they have a nice long handle making them easy to maneuver. I use mine for rinsing fruits and vegetables, steaming vegetables, straining pasta or broth, sifting dry ingredients such as flour or powdered sugar, and catching seeds from lemons or jams. Pretty much anything and everything! Although they are a bit of a pain to clean, they are definitely worth the purchase.

Stainless Steel Strainer-Sifter, Set of 3

6. Fish Spatula

Despite the name, the fish spatula is elite in getting under pretty much anything. It’s a super thin and flexible spatial with a beveled tip which makes it perfect for maneuvering into tight spaces. And the slots are great for draining oil. It’s particularly good at lifting delicate proteins that are prone to fall apart such as fish (of course) but is also useful for flipping fried eggs or scraping things off of sheet pans such as roasted vegetables or french fries. All in all this spatula is incredibly versatile and will outlast and outperform your thick plastic ones.

Fish Spatula 

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