8 Tools Under $25 That I Stocked My Home Kitchen With After Working As a Line Cook

published Mar 28, 2022
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Credit: Cathy Pyle

In a busy restaurant kitchen, every chef and cook has their own set of tools bundled up in a knife roll. When I worked as a line cook at a popular NYC eatery, I always made sure to have my personal favorites within arm’s reach to help me cook efficiently and tidily. Over time, I whittled down that list to a handful of game-changing items, and the same tools I needed nearby when I served 200 guests a night at the restaurant are the ones I use at home when I’m cooking for one (me). Below are all the basics that I highly recommend you pick up to cook like a professional at home. Even better? All of my must-haves are under $25 a pop on Amazon.

1 / 8

Not only is this the first tool my mentor suggested I buy, but it's also the number one peeler on our 2022 Kitchn Essentials list. The Y-shaped peeler has an ergonomic handle that makes skinning vegetables and shaving perfect pieces of parmesan a breeze.

2 / 8

I have a trick that turns this $10 utensil crock into something so much more useful. Keep it next to your cutting board to toss in onion scraps, plastic wrap, produce stickers, and any other trash that accumulates in your workspace. It's extremely compact and holds a lot, making it a game-changing find for de-cluttering your counter when you're meal prepping.

3 / 8
was $10.40

With the amount of use a can opener gets in a restaurant, the standard, clunky kinds break way too quickly. Not to mention what a pain they are to use — twisting my wrist uncomfortably over a can of chickpeas is the worst. This Japanese can opener's ergonomic and durable design is compact, easy to use, and will never break on you (or a can of tomatoes). Pour the wine and simmer the sauce, because there's a bottle opener hidden in there, too!

4 / 8

Until I worked in a restaurant, I never understood the need for a food scale. But every chef I know has one, and this model earned a spot on our 2022 Kitchn Essentials list. Rolling out meatballs? The scale will yield perfect portions every time. Following a recipe in grams or ounces? Don't worry, you won't have to google complicated conversions with this sleek and handy tool. And with no measuring cups needed, it cuts down on dirty dishes, too.

5 / 8

Whether I'm flipping scallops one by one in a skillet, grabbing a hot piece of toast from the oven, pinching out a few capers from a skinny jar, or saving a crispy piece of chicken skin from falling through the grill grates, my tweezer tongs always come to the rescue. I use this tool every day, and I'm not sure how I cooked without it.

6 / 8

My sous chef told me to always keep one of these in my back pocket, literally. I'm not suggesting you to take it that far, but this double-sided, flexible bench scraper definitely comes in handy a lot. I use it all the time to clear off my cutting board or transfer minced vegetables. The rounded edge can be used almost like a rubber spatula to lift sticky or liquidy mixtures out of the prep bowl. That means every last drop will make it into the recipe — hooray for no wasted ingredients!

7 / 8

Another 2022 Kitchn Essentials winner that professional restaurants use all the time? These quarter-sheet pans. I use the smaller-than-standard baking tray not only warm roasted vegetables, salmon, and crispy chicken in the oven without dirtying a giant pan, but also as a tool to organize my mise en place. I keep all my ingredients and tools lined up on the tray so that everything is in one compact place, not spread all over the countertops.

8 / 8

There are only so many tools you can keep on deck as a line cook without crowding your workspace. I find that of all spatulas, this one is the most useful for a variety of tasks, thus it's the only one I need to keep on hand. It's thin and slips under food very easily, and the large surface makes it easy to transfer anything I'm cooking with ease. Don't let the name limit how you use it: This is my go-to spatula for tossing around quesadillas, omelets, chicken thighs, and roasted potatoes.