I love to cook. I consider myself an amateur chef and I’m always looking for new flavor combinations and cooking methods to try out. Whenever I talk to people about my love of cooking, they always say the same thing: “How do you find the time?”

Cooking doesn’t need to take a long time. I can whip together a full meal in 20 minutes or less, but this culinary speed is highly dependent on what types of kitchen tools you have at your disposal.

Below, you’ll find 5 absolutely essential kitchen items that I use most frequently in my own home.

Invest in a few or all of these and get on the road to knowing exactly what you’re eating by taking full control of its preparation. It’s a skill that every human being should possess.

Probe Thermometer

 

The one I own: ThermoPro TP-16 Large LCD Digital Cooking Food Meat Thermometer for Smoker Oven Kitchen BBQ Grill Thermometer Clock Timer with Stainless Steel Temperature Probe

You may not think taking your food’s temperature is as necessary as it is, but it really saves you time and guesswork in the long run. Instead of relying on a set window of time, you can put this probe into a piece of meat and set an alarm to go off when the it hits 5-10 degrees below its minimum required temperature for safe consumption.

Always go with 5-10 degrees below the regulation because all food continues to cook internally after you remove it from the heat source and you don’t want it to be overcooked. This is called carryover cooking.

 

Steel Tongs

 

The one I own: Winco UT-16 Coiled Spring Heavyweight Stainless Steel Utility Tong, 16-Inch

How often do you need to grab something hot when you’re cooking in a kitchen? Instead of bearing those unwieldy oven mitts, use a pair of stainless steel tongs.

If there’s any item that gets daily use in my own kitchen, it’s these babies. I use them for everything from flipping things in pans to arranging plates and pulling red hot metal lids off of cookpots.

Buy a good pair and it should last you a lifetime.

 

Electric Kettle

 

The one I own: Ovente KG83B Glass Electric Kettle, 1.5-Liter

 Even if you’re not a coffee or tea drinker, electric kettles are one of the most useful appliances to have around. Any time you need to bring a liquid to boiling temperatures quickly, whip this beautiful bastard out and flip the switch.

It’s even more convenient because you don’t even need to take up a precious burner spot on your stove. I’ve used it for soups, heating up stock for rice, and lots of other uses.

Buy one that is almost entirely glass and metal for the safest setup and find your own creative uses for this multipurpose monster.

 

Bench Scraper

 

The one I own: Norpro Stainless Steel Scraper/Chopper

Have you ever tried to cut raw dough with a regular knife? It doesn’t work out too well. Pizza dough, biscuits, and any kind of pastry are easily separated into even parts using a bench scraper.

Additionally, chopped vegetables can easily be moved from the cutting board to the stock pot without having to drag and dull your expensive cutlery.

There’s even a ruler straight edge on one side if you want to get really exact with your portion measurements.

Cast Iron Skillet

The one I own: Lodge L8SK3 10-1/4-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet

I’ve saved the best item for last.

A quality, well-seasoned cast iron skillet will far outlast your short, human life and will bring endlessly delicious joy to your next of kin and their next of kin.

Buy a quality made one, season it well, and maintain its seasoning and you’ll be making skillet pizzas, corn bread, seared meats of all animal varieties, and deep fried goodness for as long as you live.

The true benefit of full-metal cookware, also, is the fact that it can go from stovetop to hot oven seamlessly, swinging wide open the door to your delectable future in food preparation.

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