Gift Edit

12 Kitchen Tools We Love Because Of Our Moms

updated Mar 10, 2023
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This feature is part of The Kitchn’s Gift Edit, our editor-curated collection of gift ideas. Need more inspiration? Check out all our guides here.

Even though I own a full set of kitchen utensils, for most cooking tasks, I rely on just one tool: my old, battered spatula. Its rubbery edges are ideal for stirring everything from curries to sautéed onions, and it’s maintained its shape enough to still flip omelets and filets. I get this tendency to hold onto spatulas from my mom, who not only regularly cooks with spatulas but also buys them as souvenirs during her travels and even has a floral-themed collection that’s 20 strong and growing.

The truism that we all eventually turn into our moms is, well, true, and the kitchen habits that come with it are worth embracing. We asked 12 current (and former) Kitchn staffers to share the cherished tools that their mothers always had on hand and that they now keep in their own homes. From sensible to downright quirky, these tools are our kitchen must-haves, thanks to our moms.

1 / 12
Williams Sonoma

“We always joke that I only learned to cook because I was tired of eating Hamburger Helper, because my mom was a single working mom. But she has had and maintained a beautifully seasoned cast-iron skillet as long as I can remember. Even when we took over cooking and cleaning responsibilities as teens, my mom still took care of her skillet — we weren’t allowed to touch it and ruin her long-established seasoning. She later gifted me my own skillet when I left home for culinary school, and I still have and use it every day.” — Meghan Splawn, Associate Food Editor

2 / 12
Williams Sonoma

“My mom has this wooden bowl that we call her Chopped Liver Bowl, which she famously uses for, you guessed it, chopped liver. But more often than not, she uses it for salad. She won’t pass down her bowl just yet, so I had to get my own — because it doesn’t feel right to me to serve salad in anything but a beautiful wooden bowl.” — Lisa Freedman, Lifestyle Director

3 / 12

“Whether she’s juicing lemons for a citrusy dessert or squeezing limes for a margarita, my mom always uses this citrus press. It was one of the first things I bought when I stocked my own kitchen!” — Grace Elkus, Deputy Food Director

4 / 12

“My mom is the QUEEN when it comes to researching the latest and greatest tools. But when she purchased a MEAT thermometer for my sister and me, we both thought it was a waste — little did we know (and of course she KNEW because she obviously has one as well) how much we’d love this Thermapen. It’s saved my dinners so many times and now I can’t imagine cooking without it.” — Camey Hess, Director of Brand Partnerships

5 / 12
was $29.99

"I love this Pyrex because it reminds me of all of the roast pork tenderloin meals my mom would make in the winters growing up. She'd place the tenderloin right in the center, then surround it with carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, and a bunch of herbs. I was actually so fond of it that I may have sneakily popped it in a moving box when I left home years ago. That was almost a decade ago — it still rocks!" — Ian Burke, Senior Commerce Editor

6 / 12

“My mom and I are both pretty obsessed with organization. For my wedding shower, she gave me one of my most treasured possessions in my kitchen: a label maker. I always envied the one she has (we’ve even joked she would label the grandkids if she had the chance), and while it seems a bit strange to need a label maker in the kitchen, I use it to label all the spice jars and so many containers in the pantry to keep things looking nice and legible.” — Christine Gallary, Food Editor-at-Large

7 / 12
was $24.99

“The most valuable cooking lessons I picked up from my mom, I learned simply from watching her. So over the years when I saw her use a mini chopper on a near-daily basis for quickly chopping a small amount of vegetables or nuts for bread or cookies, whipping up vinaigrette and pesto, plus so many more things, I knew I needed one for my own kitchen. And now, even though I have a full-size food processor, I still use my mini chopper all the time.” — Kelli Foster, Senior Contributing Food Editor

8 / 12
was $69.99

“My mother isn’t much of a cook, but this is probably the one kitchen item she used on a regular basis. I can’t always be trusted to cook rice properly on the stove top because I have a 15-year-old rice cooker that truly never fails me.” — Amelia Rampe, Senior Recipe Editor

9 / 12
Williams Sonoma

“My mother-in-law has a handful of mini spatulas in her kitchen, and I always thought they were unnecessary until she gifted me one herself. Now I find myself using it at least once a day to scrape out the last bits from condiment jars and bottles, to make scrambled eggs for one, and even to stir my sourdough starter when I feed it.” — Sheela Prakash, Senior Contributing Food Editor

10 / 12
was $20.65

“Lefse, or traditional Norwegian flatbread, is a big deal in my family. My mom usually only makes it once a year for Christmas, but it’s an all-day affair, and you need the right equipment — including the lefse stick. It’s a tradition that I want to continue!” — Ariel Knutson, Features Director

11 / 12
Crate & Barrel

“Growing up, and even now, my mom hosts all the holidays at her house. So there was always a lot of cooking and prep on holidays. When we would set the table, my mom would set out a pile of trivets. Some had designs on them and some were wooden. The wooden ones are my favorite because they give off a really nice scent. So when I moved into my first apartment, one of my kitchen essentials became wooden trivets. I use them all the time!” — Anita Chomenko, Video Producer

12 / 12
Williams Sonoma

“Having a small apartment kitchen with limited storage space, I always feel a little bit guilty buying new kitchen tools, especially ones that are unitaskers. But cooking at home with my mom in San Diego, where lemons and limes make a frequent appearance, I loved the simplicity and ease of using her lemon press. Something I’ve learned from my mom about cooking is how to be strategic in the kitchen. She is a great cook, but not fussy, and from years of experience knows what tools are worth investing in. In New York, using my lemon press is a reminder of sunny San Diego and my mom. And I’m forever grateful to not be picking out seeds when I’m making a salad dressing, guacamole, or avocado toast.” — Hillary Halter, Photo Editor