Sara's Top 10 Essentials for Any Home Chef

Sara's Top 10 Essentials for Any Home Chef

With two decades under her belt as a professional cook, we can say with confidence that Better Food Guru (or, Sara) knows her stuff when it comes to keeping a well-stocked and efficient kitchen. We asked for her insight on tools you can use to improve your experience in the kitchen. Here's what she had to say:

"These are my top ten essential cooking tools for cooking in your home. They run the gamut from hand tools like my favorite chef knife, peeler, and can opener to my favorite cookware like a half sheet pan and wok. 

These are all the things you need to outfit your home kitchen in order to cook many different styles and dishes successfully. All of them are as versatile as can be, have great quality and functionality, and won't break the bank."

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Sara Tercero
Vegan Food Influencer, Blogger, Chef
  • New Star Foodservice
    Commercial-Grade 18-Gauge Aluminum Sheet Pan

    Sara Tercero

    Aluminum sheet pans are so versatile and can be used in many cooking processes. Mine are invaluable to me!  I own several sizes, but the 18-inch size is essential. 

    It can be used in baking cookies or scones; to make chocolate bark or other no-cook bars and treats; and it is wonderful for roasting vegetables, baking potatoes, and fries - really, any kind of roasting or baking can be done on a sheet pan. One of my favorite things to use it for is making homemade pizza!
    Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

    Sara Tercero

    Cast iron skillets cannot be beat for cooking versatility. I love how you can start cooking on the stovetop, then transfer to the oven for the ultimate in low-maintenance cooking. 

    This size skillet is wonderful because it can be used to make saucy things like curries, as well as used for frying or oven roasting things that produce a lot of juice. Since the sides are higher than a typical fry pan, it can hold a lot of liquid or oil.
  • OXO
    Good Grips 2-Piece Cutting Board Set

    Sara Tercero

    A good, quality cutting board is needed for any home cook. I like these non-slip plastic ones better than a wooden board for home cooking because they are non-porous and dishwasher-safe. Being able to truly sanitize your board in the dishwasher gives me a peace of mind that is priceless.

    I also like that this is a two-pack, which means that there is no need to worry about cross-contamination. You can use one for items that are more of a risk and the other for vegetables with no need to wash in between. Or, two people can cook together at the same time, which is great for family time!
  • Wusthof
    Classic 6-Inch Chef's Knife

    Sara Tercero

    Many people use low-quality knives in their homes because they have never known any different. Once they try using an actual chef's knife, though, they will be blown away at how pleasurable it can be to chop. 

    A sharp knife not only saves time but can also improve the quality of your cooking by treating the ingredients properly. A clean cut ensures that vegetables don't wilt or go bad as quickly once chopped. 

    I love these Wusthof chef knives. I have had mine for 20 years and the quality still endures. And no other knife feels as good in my hand!
  • Ninja
    Professional 72 Oz Countertop Blender

    Sara Tercero

    Blenders have so many great uses and are essential in so many presentations. I feel they are even better than a food processor because they can do the same job as one, plus they can deal with liquid better. 

    I have used many blenders in my life, but this one is my favorite. You can use it for smoothies, salsas, dips like hummus, vegan ice creams, and even for pureeing soups. 

    The blade on this particular blender is tiered, which makes it very powerful and ideal for someone who also uses it as a food processor. And as a bonus, it is so easy to clean! There is no tedious process of taking apart and putting back together like other blenders.
  • OXO
    Good Grips Soft-Handled Can Opener & Swivel Peeler

    Sara Tercero

    A can opener and peeler may not seem like anything special, but they are truly essential in any home cook or chef's kitchen. Have you ever used a can opener that doesn't function properly or a peeler that is not sharp? I have, many, many times. 

    In a pro setting, we just accept that these things break constantly, so owners just buy the cheapest ones possible. But in your home, you shouldn't abide by this. 

    That is why you should be willing to spend a couple of dollars on these important tools. This brand's tools are of excellent quality, function perfectly, and last a long time.
  • Mannkitchen
    Professional Grade Stainless Steel Spatula

    Sara Tercero

    I cooked professionally for many years, and the number one tool that I have brought home with me is this flat-edged spatula. It works great to flip pancakes or anything else that sticks to a pan. I use it to flip my roasting vegetables or when I am grilling. 

    You can also use it to unstick delicate items by flipping it over and using the under-edge to gently pry sticking parts from the grill. It can also be used as a scraper when cleaning a griddle or tough, stuck-on foods when washing pans and such.
  • Dragonn
    12-inch and 9-inch Stainless-Steel Locking Kitchen Tongs

    Sara Tercero

    Another tool that I brought home from restaurant cooking is tongs. Not only are they great for serving foods like salads and larger vegetable presentations at the table, but they are also amazing cooking tools. 

    Since I do not like using plastic or silicone cooking tools on heated surfaces because I worry about microplastics, I use metal tongs while sauteing and grilling. They are ideal because you can flip things with precision or grab up a piece of food that is cooking to inspect it closely. 

    I often cook with my tongs and my flat-edged spatula in my hands, quickly moving from the oven to stovetop, utilizing my two favorite tools. You can open the oven quickly and use my tongs to pull out the rack and then your spatula to flip roasting items, all without cumbersome oven mitts.
  • OXO
    OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Square Griddle

    Sara Tercero

    Do you like Mexican food? If so, this flat griddle pan is essential for warming tortillas and making quesadillas. It makes these things super easy, and the cleanup is quick. It also works great for cooking pancakes or making very basic sandwiches like grilled cheeses and panini-style sandwiches. 

    I use mine very often especially for making fast and easy lunch items like veggie burgers and the grilled, stuffed tortillas that are all the rage on social media right now. You could even use it to make a griddle-style omelet or crepes!
  • Ecolution
    Non-Stick Carbon Steel Wok

    Sara Tercero

    Once I became a plant-based eater, I upgraded my pans by buying a wok. It is a gamechanger. I use it every day to stir fry vegetables, rice, and noodles; and it is my favorite way to cook tofu. You can also use it for curries, loaded pastas, and occasionally even soups. 

    I love how you can get a great sear on foods without using a ton of oil, and the distinct shape makes flipping it a breeze. The high sides also make it ideal for making saucy noodles and curry gravies. I cannot live without my wok!

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