As home cooks we often find our countertops cluttered with a circus of kitchenware. From food processors, to stand mixers, to air fryers, the ever-growing world of kitchen appliances has necessitated the genesis of magnetic knife strips, overhead hooks to store our cookware and of course utensil racks. Cooking Utensils racks are sacred ground for all cooks, and in a heavily saturated industry such as kitchenware, we wanted to ask the question: How many cooking utensils do I actually need? Streamlining your cooking utensils to cultivate a collection that covers all steps of the culinary process, from preparation, to cooking, and finally to serving.

The Holy Trinity of Cooking Utensils

  1. The Ladle
  2. The Spatula
  3. The Spoon

Covering three essential elements of cooking: frying, boiling and of course serving the food itself. With any utensil collection, these 3 items will be essential. Whether you prefer a slotted spoon for retrieving articles of food from hot water is your prerogative, but setting aside the Eurocentric pieces such as spaghetti servers or the deep-frying focused skimmers, these 3 tools will be your best friend at every stage of the culinary process.

Extras such as whisks, bowl scrapers, tongs, pastry brushes and potato mashers are great additional extras – but for day-to-day cooking jobs, the holy trinity will serve you well.

Now let’s turn to the material choices available to home cooks. Whilst most commercial and professional kitchens work exclusively with metal utensils for working with scalding oil and cast iron/stainless steel cookware, the needs and hence the utensils of a home cook are typically different.

Some of the more common utensil groups you will find in a home kitchen are wooden utensils, nylon/plastic utensils, and the baking friendly silicone utensils. Let’s break down the potential perks and drawbacks of each material in order for you to make the most informed choice, starting with Nylon.

Nylon v Silicone Cooking Utensils

Nylon as a material is heat resistance up to 200C, covering you for all of your frying, boiling and roasting jobs. If the task at hand involves retrieving pasta, mashing potatoes, poaching salmon or simply frying your morning eggs, nylon is a perfect low-cost, lightweight option that will fare well against the toil of daily cooking. From a convenience perspective, nylon utensils are also dishwasher safe and extremely gentle on non-stick cookware.

From the perspective of home cooks, convenience is often at the forefront of a kitchenware purchasing motive. When you’re working with non-stick cookware, you want to ensure that your utensils are not abrasive and will not damage your pots and pans when stirring, but you also want to ensure that your utensils do not get waterlogged when submerged.

Often visually indistinct and possessing similar perks, silicone has the upper hand for those dealing with hot oils and working with syrups or caramels, in that it has a higher melting point. Inarguably the better option for avid bakers, nylon utensils are perfect when used exclusively for cooking and can meet some shortfalls when you get into the molten food territory.

Ultimately, both silicone and nylon present relatively similar benefits as kitchen utensils. They are inarguably the most suitable options for busy convenience-driven cooks, with both materials being dishwasher safe, scratch resistant and suitable for non-stick cookware.

What Happened to Wooden Kitchen Utensils?

A staple of every baker’s cupboard and the timeless accessory to every grandparent’s kitchen, the wooden spoon and it’s companions carved the way (pun intended) for kitchen utensils and should not be underestimated; as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Whilst wooden utensils would not be considered “broken” from a culinary perspective, they do present some drawbacks in way of convenience, hygiene and time efficiency. By far the best option for heat conductivity for those who like to slow cook their foods and leave their spoons in the pan, wooden spoons will not change the temperature of your food whilst cooking or become too hot to hold if left unattended.

However, in most cases the majority of woods used in kitchenware are not dishwasher safe and can retain liquids if not cared for properly, especially when made with more porous materials like bamboo.

Though many woods are anti microbial and attract health conscious cooks who are dubious about dipping their toes into synthetic cookware, if not treated properly the water retention in wooden materials can cause rot and rancid smells to manifest over time.

What Utensils do Professional Chefs Use?

Highest on price point but by far the most versatile of all, stainless steel cooking utensils are the chef’s option for good reason. Resistant to high temperatures when deep frying or working with BBQ equipment, metal kitchen utensils are a great option for those working in commercial kitchens with high-end scratch resistant cookware.

However, for the average home cook working with coated non-stick cookware and looking for dishwasher friendly equipment, metal utensils can be a little abrasive and cause damage to your pots and pans. Maintenance can be painstaking also, especially with regards to dish washing and rust prevention.

If you are willing to spend the time and money on investing in a quality set of metal steel cooking utensils we would recommend purchasing those with wooden or silicone handles to prevent burning your hands as stainless steel does have high heat conductivity.

Whether you’re looking for a jack of all trades or a master of some, there will be a utensil set out there for you. If you’re dipping into the world of home cooking and would like to expand your kitchenware range, we would recommend investing in a smaller set so you don’t clutter your workspace with unnecessary extras, and always ensure that the materials match your desired convenience level.

Browse the range of MasterChef Kitchen Utensils.