11 Inexpensive Restaurant Tools Every Home Cook Should Have

updated Apr 26, 2022
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(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Turns out, professional chefs know a thing or three about being in the kitchen. (Big surprise, right?) They know food, of course. And technique. And gear. We’re here now to talk about the gear. Don’t worry: Not those $200 knives or the fancy sous vide machines. We’re talking about the inexpensive, everyday sort of stuff that make life in the kitchen much more efficient — for pros and also regular home cooks!

See, many of the gadgets and tools that professional chefs use in restaurant kitchens can be just as useful to us casual home cooks. Here are the ones we swear by the most.

1. Winco 11-Inch Aluminum Sizzle Platter

Jesse Szewczyk, a Kitchn contributor, first used sizzle platters in culinary school and now he uses them all the time at home. In restaurants, they’re often used to toast nuts, melt cheese on a sandwich, broil salmon, cook a chicken breast, and more. At home, they can be used for all the same things!

2. NUCU Artisan Utility Bus Bin

You may not be bussing tables (at least not quite to the degree of a busy restaurant), but you can still benefit from having a few bus bins on hand. Meghan Splawn, one of our contributors, has no less than six of these things and she uses them to minimize dishes on the counter, hold pantry overflow, and more.

3. Chef-Master Stainless Steel Butter Spreader

In the Sqirl cookbook, Jessica Koslow says that this butter spreader is the key to their toast. And we’d do nearly anything to recreate that toast at home — even if that means buying this little guy. Just put some melted butter in the bottom and roll a slice of bread right over the wheel for an even, fully buttered slice. You’ll use this for toast, grilled cheese, and more. Sure, it’s a little specialized, but it doesn’t take up a ton of space.

4. Plastic Quart Containers

If you get takeout, you probably already have a few of these in your cabinets. Or maybe you’ve been recycling them this whole time? These plastic containers are totally worth keeping around — or buying in bulk. They’re stackable, inexpensive, freezer-friendly, and just downright useful when it comes to dealing with leftovers, food prep, and more.

5. Adecco Stainless Steel 12-Inch Tweezers

Tweezers are going to seem like a super-fussy kitchen tool that you just don’t need. But we’re not suggesting that you get them to carefully place garnishes on a dish — we’re suggesting them for many other uses, like pulling broken bits of egg shells from bowls, picking up ingredients that fall out of your pan and under the burner, plating pasta, and more.

6. Bernzomatic Propane Torch Kit

Kitchn’s Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, adamantly believes that every single home cook needs a blow torch. “They’re not just for creme brûlée,” she says, pointing out that a blow torch is the single best way to really begin to understand how our food changes as it cooks.

7. AmazonBasics 4-Shelf Shelving Unit

Once reserved for restaurant kitchens and maybe the occasional garage, we’ve been seeing these wire shelves pop up in home kitchens more and more. And for good reason: They have a cool, industrial look, they’re inexpensive, and they’re big enough to also hold small appliances. We strongly recommend one for a kitchen or pantry.

8. Cornucopia 8-Ounce Plastic Squeeze Bottles

If we had to pick just one reason why you need these plastic squeeze bottles, we’d talk about Sunday morning pancakes. (You can use them to make all sorts of cute shapes or letters!) Of course, you can also use them for your homemade condiments, infused oils, and sauces. Shop around, as they come in all sorts of sizes.

9. Vollrath’s Wear-Ever Half-Size Sheet Pans

Unlike other sheet pans, restaurant-quality sheet pans will not warp or discolor over time — especially if we’re talking about these. They’re made out of commercial-grade, 18-gauge aluminum, and have a galvanized, rod-reinforced rim. Chefs love them and so do we.

10. Finedine Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls

Look in any restaurant kitchen and you won’t find chefs messing around with ceramic bowls. Nope, they’ll be using stainless steel ones. Why? They’re super light, don’t absorb stains or odors, are easy to clean, and are extremely durable (even if you dent them, they still work all the same).

11. Cambro Storage Containers

These containers (affectionately called Cambros) come in all sorts of sizes and are used to hold anything and everything that won’t fit in the plastic containers listed in the second slot of this post. We’re talking pantry staples, rising dough, and even a big batch of sauce.

Got any other pro tools to add to this list? Leave them in the comments below!