Basic Kitchen Equipment

Tools from an old kitchen
If you are new to cookery, sneaking up on the kitchen and exploring the world of home-made, hand-made food, here is some useful information on Basics in the Kitchen…


that you will see in recipes
c = cup (either dry or liquid, as the recipe indicates)
t = tsp = teaspoon; approx. equivalent to 5 ml
T = tbl = tblspn = tablespoon; approx. equivalent to 15 ml


Best results come from using appropriate measurements; sometimes you can get away with being casual, but do start with following instructions for the first few times through a recipe.

Dry measuring cup set – usually four, nested (1/4 cup, 1/3 c, 1/2 c, 1 c); unless stated otherwise, measure level, not packed
Liquid measuring cup – two-cup or four-cup size; place cup on a level surface and observe level lines
Measuring spoons – usually a set (1/8 t, 1/4 t, 1/2 t, 1 t, 1 1/2 T, 1 T)
If your recipes require it, a small kitchen scale; very low weights are for spices. Digital scales are wonderful, though they need batteries.

Note that “cooking” and “baking” are different styles of cookery: “baking” requires the scientific approach where quantities are measured; “cooking” is more of an art where some basic principles are followed and there is room to be creative in measurements and ingredients.


There is some basic cooking equipment you should have, in addition to a refrigerator, stove, and running water (or the camping version of the same); there is a lot of specialty equipment you can add, but don’t bother until you know you will use it enough to be worth the space. I recommend starting with the first list of basics, and then determine what else you need by the recipes you actually try. Buy quality equipment, either new or used; it will save money in the long term.

My basic equipment fits into a dishpan; this is what goes on camping trips, so I can cook -anything-!

  • dishpan, w small bottle dishsoap
  • wood cutting board
  • 6″ paring knife in sheath
  • 8″ chef’s knife in sheath
  • straight-edge wood spatula (stirring, especially to prevent sticking)
  • pair of chopsticks (stirring, beating, whipping)
  • ladle
  • can opener
  • measuring spoons (nesting)
  • measuring cup, one liquid, one set of dry (nesting)
  • two nesting 2-quart (or litre) saucepans with lid
  • small pot for boiling water (between 1/2 and 1 quart/litre)
  • 8″ cast iron frypan
  • linen tea towels (they dry faster than cotton)
  • potholders
  • a second dishpan (one for hot soapy water, one for hot rinse water)

And, because I make chapatis (flat bread; see recipes), a dowel-style rolling pin.

My home kitchen adds a few more essentials:

  • stainless steel steamer (for cooking veggies quickly)
  • mortar and pestle (heavy brass for seeds, ceramic for herbs)
  • spice grinder (by rights, this is a small appliance requiring electricity, and would dearly love a hand-powered one; this is essential in my kitchen, as you can read on the spices page)
  • colander (for draining or rinsing things like beans or pasta)
  • sieve (wire mesh for straining or sifting)
  • serrated bread knife (great for tomatoes!)
  • graters (4-sided box grater is useful, if a space hog; I have flat graters in 1/4″ and 1/2″)
  • pastry blender (for biscuits! you could use two knives)
  • wire whisk (for whipping cream, or smoothing gravy; clean very well for egg-white meringue)

And then there is baking equipment, if you so desire:

  • jelly roll pan (works for broiling and baking other foods, for baking cookies/biscuits, for roasting veggies)
  • 2 cookie sheets (one edge is flat to allow sliding cookies/biscuits off; two sheets so you can load the second while the first is in the oven)
  • 8×8″ cake pan (brownies, or coffee cake size)
  • 9×13″ cake pan (also for roasting veggies)
  • muffin tin (both sweet and savory; will also work for deep tarts; paper liners can replace grease-and-flour for muffins)
  • cooling rack for baked goods

My kitchen has some more items which look like duplicates; in a way they are, as I can do fine with the lists above. However, refinements are welcome when you know what works for you:

  • 6″ cast iron fry pan (because my morning eggs are perfect in it; also used to roast spices)
  • 10″ cast iron fry pan (for making meals for two: chops, burgers, sausages, potato frittatas, etc.)
  • large cutting board (becomes a work surface, too)
  • selection of mixing bowls (small for sauces, mid-size for cookies/pancakes, large for 3-day salads or bread-making)
  • peeler, especially the Y-shape type (if you are not good with using a paring knife)
  • tongs, any kind (restaurant style feel very nice!)
  • thermometer for roasting meat (metal spike on the end that goes into the meat; meat should be cooked enough and not overcooked.)
  • bench scraper (AKA dough scraper and dough cutter; lovely straight edge to clean off cutting and pastry boards, and moving chopped veggies from cutting board to pot)

Small appliances have a very small place in my kitchen:

  • 3-quart crockpot/slow-cooker (Mostly used for cooking a 2-3 pound cut of cheap meat until tender, which is then used in various meals over the next few days.)
  • mid-size electric roaster oven (Because it tends to steam food, I use it to keep masses of oven-roasted veggies hot for those large family dinners.)

I highly recommend acquiring a sharpening stone and a hone and learning how to sharpen and maintain your own knives! Or find a trustworthy person to sharpen them for you. A sharp knife is less likely to slip and cut what it ought not. Trying it yourself? Watch The Spruce Eats: How to sharpen a knife with a whetstone.

This page will change as I remember to add things for you. šŸ™‚


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