Cook like a Pro: Summer’s Essential (and affordable) Cooking Tools

Ever wonder what to buy with that amazon gift card? Do you have a wedding coming up and need good gift registry ideas? Look no further-  I have identified the top five cooking tools needed to complete your summer kitchens along with links to a site that sells the item at a good price. This list is in order of importance.


1. Chef’s Knife

Most people overlook the importance of having a solid chef knife to rely on for all types of at-home cooking. This knife by Victorinox is a great value. Buying knives does not have to be a daunting task and more expensive doesn’t always mean better. Whatever knife you get, be sure to learn how to sharpen it! All knives will go dull after awhile and the steel (steel rod that is included in a lot of knife sets) does not sharpen the blade, but simply align the burrs.

Victorinox 10-inch Chef Knife with Black Fibrox Handle ($29.95)

2. Whetstone (Sharpening Stone)

Caring about your knives means sharpening them. It’s a fact. The easiest way to sharpen your knives is to use a whetstone. This process is pretty simple but you need to make sure that you are doing it correctly or else you can ruin the edge of your knife. For the at-home cook, a good whetstone should be at least 250 grits. The units of grits indicates the fineness of the grain on the stone and therefore how sharp it will make your knife. It is best to start out with a lower unit of grits so that there is less chance of ruining your knife. Start out with a whetstone like this:

Kotobuki King 250+1000 ($30.00)

3. Grill Pan

If you live in a city, outdoor BBQs and poolside parties don’t happen as much as you’d like. To get the grill marks that are needed for any great burger or steak, treat yourself to a grill pan. This is a great alternatives to outdoor grilling and will make for a healthier alternative to sautéing vegetables since less fat is required in the pan. If you are looking to cook steaks, fish, or burgers, start out by using the grill pan in order to get the hashmarks then finish in the oven. This will ensure that the piece of meat does not dry out and the inside cooks to the appropriate temperature. To cook vegetables in a grill pan, simple spray with non-stick cooking oil and you’re all set to go. Finish the vegetables with olive oil, lemon, salt and freshly grated (good quality) parmesan cheese.

Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned Square Grill Pan ($18.97)

4. Digital Instant-Read Thermometer

A food-safe thermometer is essential to any cook, whether you are a professional or at-home chef. Thermometers ensure that not only are meats cooked to the desired internal temperature, but they are safe for consumption. The summer is the perfect time of year to get yourself a thermometer to make sure that the steaks are cooked to your guests’ liking. Do not get embarrassed to temp your meats in front of friends- get embarrassed when you need to throw something back on the grill when it is not cooked properly. The appropriate internal temperatures for red meat (steaks/burgers) are as follows:

Medium Rare: 130-135 degrees

Medium: 140-145 degrees

Medium Well: 150-155 degrees

Taylor Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer ($12.00)

5. Salt & Pepper Grinders

In my opinion, there is nothing tackier then salt and pepper poured out of a cardboard container. If you are going to have people over to your home for a BBQ this summer, please provide salt and pepper grinders. They are relatively inexpensive and go a long way. (Note: a salt GRINDER is superior to a salt shaker) If you buy a salt grinder, be sure to refill it using coarse salt.

Starfrit Salt and Pepper Grinder ($16.99)

What do you think of this list? Did I leave anything out? I’d love to hear your comments below!


19 Responses to Cook like a Pro: Summer’s Essential (and affordable) Cooking Tools

  1. Mary Fitzpatrick says:

    I think a really good grill brush is essential for cooks who grill a lot. I found one recently that came packaged with several replacement brush heads, which is means you don’t have to dispose of the entire brush when the bristles wear out. Great list, Kelly!

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