Did you just come across another mouth-watering recipe online but have no idea how in the world people have the skills to create such elaborate dishes? Well, apart from some basic cooking skills and a bit of time to lovingly prepare a meal, it’s essential to have a couple of plant-based kitchen tools on hand.
Plant-based kitchen tools? When focusing most of your meals around fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, you need different equipment than, let’s say, a tenderizer (although a sharp knife will be useful in any case).
Whether you’re just starting out on a plant-based diet or are looking for ways to reignite your spark in the kitchen, our kitchen tools list will guide towards your next favorite gadgets.
Because having the right cooking equipment can make or break your mealtimes, and this is especially true when following a healthy plant-based diet. We do have less convenience food to fall back on and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
With the right tools to hand you can make every meal a restaurant-worthy delight, with lots of color, flavor and variety throughout the week.
For most people cooking can feel like a chore, which is why the typical Western diets often consist of microwave meals, takeout and processed snacks. If you want to add more fresh, whole plant foods into your diet, you’ll need to spend a little more time in the kitchen.
But don’t worry! Cooking doesn’t have to be the exhausting time-sap most people think it is.
With an open mind, a positive attitude and the right kitchen equipment, you’d be surprised how the prepping and cooking of your food can be fun or even meditative.
Better yet, if you have kids you can easily get them involved with both the shopping and preparing of their meals, making it a learning experience during which they get to discover new and exciting foods. There are even kitchen tools for kids like the Curious Chef Knife that they can use for chopping fresh produce.
But first things first!
The Best Tools for a Plant-Based Kitchen
You’re probably wondering how much a well-equipped kitchen would cost, and whether it’s even a possibility for you.
The good news is that there’s no need to spend lots of money – some of these essentials will likely be already in your kitchen! Then, many tools double up and serve more than one purpose, meaning you can get a lot of value from multi-taskers before thinking about adding another tool to your arsenal.
Some of the more expensive tools in our list can be purchased second-hand or even borrowed from a friend if you need it for a special occasion or would like to try it before buying.
Depending on your preferences, you will find yourself wanting or needing some of these kitchen tools more than others. For example, you might not require a food processor but would love a mandolin to make your chopping and slicing easier.
Or you may never have use for a coffee grinder, but an air fryer would be your dream. Whatever you choose, think about the tools that would make the most sense for your lifestyle right now and the types of meals you’d like to cook up.
Remember that many food prep and cooking methods such as pressing or steaming can be achieved even if you don’t have the specific tool required (as you’ll see below). While it may take you a little more time, it is best to simply use what you have; then, as your skills in the kitchen grow, you can splash out on more streamlined items you know you’ll use
If you’re looking for some recipe inspiration to get started, our list of favorite vegan cookbooks should have your mouth watering!
We also have a ton of our own delicious, simple vegan recipes you can try, which are very healthy, affordable and easy to make.
Whatever your situation, budget or kitchen size, we believe that healthy, varied, colorful meals can be enjoyed by everyone. Check out the following kitchen tools list for helpful, fun and mostly affordable items that make plant-based eating so much easier – no matter where you’re at right now.
Our Basic Kitchen Tools List
You’ve probably already started accumulating some helpful basics to prepare your own healthy food in the kitchen. Even these tools alone are enough to create beautiful, satisfying dishes.
Sharp Cutting Knife
Investing in a good chef’s knife (or set of knives) is always a great start as they’ll be your most-used tools in the kitchen. Prices vary, so it’s possible to find a sharp cutting knife (and serrated knife) to fit your budget. A good knife makes prepping ingredients quick, easy and much safer.
Cutting boards are handy for chopping and slicing all of your ingredients before you cook them. They can be made from either wood or plastic. It’s sometimes a good idea to have a separate cutting board for fragrant veggies like onions and garlic, so they don’t affect the flavor of other fruits and veggies.
Small and Large Pot
Having at least one small and one large pot is great for cooking sauces, grains, soups, stews, curries and other dishes. Large pots are great for batch cooking or cooking for the whole family. Having more than one pot makes a lot of sense because you may need to cook a sauce and an accompanying grain or some veggies at the same time.
A non-stick pan or skillet is a must-have when cooking pancakes or vegan omelettes without oil, dry-frying tofu or water-sauteing vegetables As very few non-stick pans last more than a few years we’d suggest not breaking the bank on this. This makes them a very affordable yet effective kitchen addition. We use ours almost daily.
Metal Mixing Bowl
A metal mixing bowl is great for whipping up yummy baked treats, or for tossing salads or whisking pancake batter. Metal bowls are lighter than glass and don’t take up a lot of space. We recommend getting some with lids so they double up as food containers!
Not just for preparing your favourite tea or filter coffee – a kettle is a real time-saver for boiling veggies or pasta as you can boil water in the kettle first before adding the food to the pot. Some sauces or gravies also require adding boiling water. Plus, who doesn’t love a nice hot-water bottle during fall and winter?
A fine mesh strainer is essential for draining water from grains, beans and potatoes. But it also has a number of other uses too: getting the pulp out of juice; sifting flour; straining soups, stocks and sauces, and even for steaming vegetables if you don’t have a steamer basket.
Always handy, whisks are invaluable when it comes to making pancake batter, whipping up a dressing, or getting light, fluffy cake mix. Go for a stainless steel balloon design as it won’t transfer off flavors in acidic recipes.
Available in differing shapes and designs, a peeler is essential for preparing potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables. You can also make vegetable pasta with a peeler as showcased here.
Measuring Cups and Spoons
Stop the guessing game and get some measuring cups and spoons. They are very important if you want to follow baking recipes and get the best results every time! Measuring cups are also handy for measuring out oatmeal or grains to know how much water to add when cooking them.
For recipes that don’t use cup measurements, a kitchen scale will come in very handy to help you achieve greater precision. You can choose either a digital or analogue design and can use it to translate metric and imperial measurements for any recipe. This is sometimes quicker to do than using measuring cups!
Handy not just for baking cookies, but also for roasting veggies and potatoes, or cooking burgers and homemade bean balls Be sure to line it with some parchment paper to avoid sticking or use a silicone baking mat on top (see below).
Spatulas are super useful for flipping things (like pancakes, burgers, waffles etc) as well as for serving up food out of baking trays or casserole dishes. We often use ours when sautéing vegetables to prevent them from sticking.
These super traditional utensils are great for stirring sauces and gravies as they cook, or for mixing up cake batter or making oatmeal. The handle won’t get hot whilst cooking (making them safe to use) and they also won’t mark your non-stick pots and pans.
Large Dinner Bowls
We love a good dinner bowl full to the brim of pasta, noodles or a beautiful Buddha bowl! Bowls are more versatile than plates as they can be used to serve just about anything. Take a look at our free ebook, A Week of Vegan Bowls, for some of our favorite dinner inspiration.
Don’t have a high-speed blender? No worries. A common and cheaper tool is an immersion blender which can be used to achieve similar things – to smooth out chunky soups, sauces and stews while they still sit in the pot. You could even use it to make your own whipped coconut cream or vegan mayonnaise! We also use them for fruit smoothies sometimes, to make our own hummus and much more.
Next-Level Kitchen Tools
Once you’re acquainted with using the basics, here are some helpful kitchen appliances for creating delicious recipes with a little more adventure!
Whether you’re looking to incorporate more smoothies into your diet or would like to start cooking oil-free think about what would make sense for you to expand your repertoire and reach your culinary and health goals.
High-speed blenders are a godsend for creating fresh, healthy smoothies or soups that still have all of the fiber packed in. Some brands can even be used for blending gravies, sauces and dressings for a smoother consistency.
While blenders purify things into a smooth liquid form, food processors are better for breaking things down and combining. So if you’re looking to make homemade veggie burgers, energy balls or brownies with beans or chickpeas in them, a food processor will help you get the fine consistency you need while blending the flavors together.
You can also use your food processor to make homemade flours out of almonds or oats for healthier baked treats as well as your own nut butters!
Some sturdy tongs can really help when serving up tricky things like noodles or spaghetti, or for picking up hot items like burgers, vegan sausages, falafels, steamed veggies or dumplings.
Okay, so you may not be planning on cooking a lot of Asian cuisine. But woks are fantastic pieces of equipment as they have a myriad of uses. Use them for stir-fries, curries, stews, sauteing vegetables, as an extra frying pan, you name it. They’re also fairly cheap and can be found in different sizes.
Cast Iron Skillet
A cast iron skillet is a slightly more “heavy duty” type of pan that retains heat better, making it perfect for frittatas, cornbread, sauteed veggies or yes – even gooey cookie dough desserts.
Plus it’ll last for years to come, meaning you’re certain to get your money’s worth and have something to pass on to the grandkids. Also, research has shown that there’s a higher amount of iron found in food prepared in a cast iron skillet – perfect for plant munchers!
Steaming veggies, potatoes and other ingredients is a great way to cook them as nutrients are not lost in the water like they are with boiling. The result is veggies that are firm but tender, quick to cook and still packed with flavor.
A steamer basket will help you do all of the above as well as create delicious steamed dumplings and bao buns.
Another multifunctional item! Most graters are box shaped and have various sides to them, meaning they can be used not just to grate vegan cheese but also slicing and shredding veggies, or zesting citrus fruits.
A mandoline is designed to slice, chop, cut and julienne vegetables in almost half the time! So if you dread the prep part of cooking, this one might be a nice idea.
Using a mandoline also enables you to get all your pieces the same size, which helps with cooking times as well as making your food look pretty!
Silicone Baking Mats
Silicone baking mats are a great lower-waste alternative to tin foil or parchment paper. When laid over a baking tray, they can be used to bake cookies and biscuits as well as roast potatoes and veggies in the oven without the use of oil. When used, they can simply be washed with warm soapy water and left to dry.
Apart from looking very pretty, mason jars are ridiculously versatile. They can be great for storing your leftover dressings and sauces in the fridge, keeping prepped veggies in water, carrying a layered salad for lunch, freezing batch cooked food or even to take a homemade smoothie with you! We wouldn’t want to miss them.
One of the best things you can do to limit waste in your kitchen is have food storage containers on hand so you can save any leftovers for another day. Glass is the safest option for storing food and maintaining full freshness, followed closely by metal. So opt for these if you can. If you currently only have plastic ones, you can use them up first. Make sure they are air-tight if possible!
Bento boxes are especially fun for separating different components and making up a fun, tasty lunch.
Baking Pan/Casserole Dish
Baking pans and casserole dishes are great for those “set it and forget it” type of meals – think pasta bakes, lasagnas stews, veggie casseroles and so on. They can even be used for some less conventional baked dishes like risotto or baked oatmeal!
These dishes are fabulous for cooking large batches without you needing to stand over the stove for hours.
“Nice to Have” Kitchen Tools
Level up your kitchen game with these “nice to have” kitchen tools! From shortcuts that allow you to spend less time in the kitchen to handy little gadgets that take the fuss out of fiddly tasks, these items can be amazing for helping you maintain a healthy and versatile plant-based diet.
A pressure cooker is a large pan or pot with a lid that cooks ingredients using steam pressure to reduce cooking time by miles. Because of the speed at which it cooks food, you can cook veggies, grains and even raw beans from scratch within minutes! Perfect if you’re short on time and need dinner in a hurry, or are wanting to cook beans in bulk without spending hours in the kitchen. It preserves nutrients and is great for hands-off cooking – the most common one which we also use and have created a free guide for, is the Instant Pot (see below).
A rice cooker can be used to cook rice or other grains in a very short amount of time. Because you don’t have to measure the water or keep the rice from going too dry (like when cooking on the stove), you’re free to leave it unattended as you get on with other things, coming back to perfectly cooked, soft fluffy rice! You can also use a rice cooker to cook large batches of grains at the start of a busy week.
Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)
Another fantastic time saver, the slow cooker (or crock pot, as it’s sometimes called) is a great helper for busy weeks or dinner parties. Using a very low amount of energy, a slow cooker will cook your food over a long period of time (around 4-8 hours) ensuring it reaches the perfect temperature and consistency right when you need it.
Use a slow cooker for making stews, curries, pasta sauces, risottos or even oatmeal in large batches. Simply throw in your ingredients, liquids and spices, put on the lid and select the desired setting. Whether you leave it on overnight or while you’re at work, the slow cooker does all the work for you so you can come home to a delicious meal with very little effort.
It’s also great when having people over for dinner as food can be cooked in large batches and you’re not tied to the kitchen.
A fairly recent kitchen craze, the Instant Pot is like an electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker and steamer all in one! Therefore it can be used to whip up tasty one-pot meals in a hurry or left to cook your dish slowly, ready for when you need it.
The Instant Pot also features many other functions, such as browning/sauteing, keeping things warm and yoghurt making. It can also be used to defrost veggies and then cook them, and some models even have a cake making function (with the option to place a springform pan or cake molds inside).
If you feel you’d make use of at least several of these functions, then an Instant Pot is definitely a more cost-effective choice than buying three to four other appliances separately. We certainly love ours and have regularly used it for many years!
If you’re somebody who loves their morning cup o’ joe, then a coffee grinder could be a good investment. By grinding the coffee evenly, the coffee grinder helps to enhance the flavour and texture of your favourite coffee, especially if you don’t have a fancy coffee machine that does the job. What’s more, this tool can also be used to grind spices, grains or nuts.
Okay, so not all plant-based diets have to include tofu But if you love the stuff, we recommend the tofu press for making prepping tofu a breeze.
Made from two separate components, a tofu press will squeeze all moisture out of your tofu in minutes without the need to mess with paper towels. The result is a beautifully firm tofu, ready to soak up your favourite sauces. If you don’t want to invest in one, you can use a clean towel and heavy books to get the extra liquid out.
Non-Stick Loaf Pan & Muffin Tins
If you are looking to limit oil in your diet, then picking up some non-stick bakeware is a great idea. Usually made from silicone, these loaf pans, cake tins and muffin tins allow you to bake your favourite treats without greasing the pan, so you get a lighter, fluffier cake and don’t have to worry about them sticking. Our favorite uses of these are for banana bread and blueberry muffins!
A rolling pin is essential for making fresh pastry or biscuits at home. While there are other ways to roll out pastry if you don’t have one (using a glass, for instance), a wooden rolling pin will give smoother, effortless results and is wide enough to cover the whole pastry at once. Because they’re inexpensive, it’s definitely worth getting one if you spend a lot of time baking.
Again, if you’re a coffee connoisseur like us then you could be upping your game with a French press (sometimes known as a cafetiere) instead of using instant coffee.
Possibly one of the most popular ways to make coffee, it allows the coffee beans to “bloom” in the boiled water before the plunger is used to delicately strain the flavor and pour into your favorite cup. Plus, you will lower the amount of waste you produce by skipping the paper filter!
Definitely not an essential by any means, but a lemon squeezer can save you from getting sticky lemon juice all over your hands as well as extracting more juice than you could normally. Anyone else tired of picking out the lemon seeds after squeezing some fresh juice over your food?
Whether you’re craving a healthier alternative to fries or wish to make the best crispy tofu, an air fryer is your best friend. Using very little to no oil, the air fryer allows you to cook tons of your favourite dishes in a healthier way.
As well as fries and potato wedges, an air fryer can also be used to make sushi, tacos, buffalo cauliflower wings potato chips, falafel, roasted chickpeas, baked potatoes and even French toast! The opportunities are endless.
Few things are better for a salad than a great dressing But what’s also important is that your salad leaves are buoyant enough to accept it.
That’s where the salad spinner comes in! After washing your leaves, place them into the spinner and watch as the centrifugal force is used to separate the water from the edges. The result? Big bouncy leaves that will sit harmoniously with your favorite dressing.
A salad spinner can even be used to dry off rinsed canned beans and pulses, too.
While some nutritionists disagree about whether vegetable juices are healthy, we think they’re a great way to add in some extra vitamins and greens to your diet (so long as they’re balanced with fibrous whole food meals).
Buying green juices on the go can get pricey, so making them yourself at home is a real money saver. We’d recommend getting a slow masticating juicer over a centrifugal one as it extracts more of the nutrients and keeps the juice fresher for a longer period of time in the fridge.
We’d never give up our pasta for zoodles, but spiralizing is actually a fantastic way to sneak more veggies into your diet and into your little ones!
Though spiralizers now come in different shapes and sizes, they all pretty much do the same thing, which is turn sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots and other veggies into long, beautiful noodles or spaghetti. Throw them into salads, Thai dishes or pasta sauces for a nice alternative.
A cooler is a nice addition to your kitchen if you spend a lot of hours in school or at work and need to bring your food with you. Even when you go traveling, having a portable cooler with you in the car can keep you from having to buy crappy snacks at the gas station. This nice to have gadget makes sure that your healthy food is still good after a couple of hours – and can be used as back-up refrigeration if you’re entertaining guests and happen to run out of fridge space!
If you know someone that owns a Kitchenaid mixer, you’ll have likely heard them sing its praises to the moon and back. That’s because, while on appearance being just a mixer, a Kitchenaid is actually an amazingly practical baking assistant with the ability to beat, sift, whip, cream, knead dough and incorporate different ingredients at 10 different speeds.
While the tool can do all of this with just the three attachments that come with it, you can buy other attachments that enable the Kitchenaid to perform other duties, such as pasta rolling, juicing and food processing. Perhaps the real beauty of this kitchen gadget is that you can set it going and walk away, coming back to beautifully even results every time. Though it comes with a hefty price tag, it’s a real time and energy saver for those spending considerable time in the kitchen or those with a passion for baking.
Straws aren’t essential in your kitchen by any means. But if you enjoy sipping on smoothies or juices and might even have young children, then they’re a great tool for making drinks more fun (as well as making pretty cocktails and mocktails!).
Whether you choose glass, stainless steel or bamboo, we think all reusable straws look beautiful as well as being better for the planet (and your wallet in the long run).
A Thermos jug is handy for carrying hot or cold drinks on the go, whether to work or the family picnic! As well as flasks for drinks, the brand also make food flasks so your breakfast or lunch can stay warm and fresh for hours.
Reusable Coffee Cup
Did you know that over 16 billion paper coffee cups are thrown away each year? This is because standard coffee cups, like the one used to serve your morning latte, have a plastic inner lining that makes them difficult to be recycled. The result is that many are finding their way into landfills and the ocean.
Using your own reusable coffee cup helps to cut this waste and prevent unnecessary plastic entering the environment. You can choose from different sizes to suit your usual daily coffee, with options made from durable plastic or glass. Some coffee shops even offer a discount for bringing your own cup, which we think is pretty neat! You can also use it for tea, of course.
It’s Up To You!
We hope you enjoyed our plant-based kitchen tools lists and found something that sparked your interest in getting back into cooking and prepping more often.
Even by stocking your kitchen with the basics, it can be possible to regularly enjoy fresh, varied and nutritious plant-based meals. However, as your taste buds grow more adventurous and you get more confident in the kitchen, adding a few more purpose-built kitchen utensils can help you save time, effort and clean-up as well as levelling up the taste, quality or nutrition of your food.
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What do you guys think? Will you be investing in any of these kitchen essentials, or are there ones you already own which you swear by? Let us know in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!