Kitchen Equipment: 5 Underrated Tools for the Home Chef

Most kitchens are stocked with the usual suspects: pots and pans, blenders, rolling pins, and chef's knives. While there's a reason these oft-used items come standard in most commercial and home kitchens, they're hardly alone when it comes to...

Most kitchens are stocked with the usual suspects: pots and pans, blenders, rolling pins, and chef's knives. While there's a reason these oft-used items come standard in most commercial and home kitchens, they're hardly alone when it comes to the ability to amp up both efficiency and end results in the kitchen. Let's count down five tools which may not play a starring role in the kitchen, but are equally important supporting players.

Kitchen equipmentkWhich one do you need in your cookware arsenal?

1. A Mandolin

Attempting to get the even results when slicing with a kitchen knife can be a frustrating process. This handy tool -- think small guillotine -- allows home chefs to make consistent, precise cuts. From delicately julienned zucchini ribbons to perfectly cooked potato gratins, mandolins can vastly improve your outcomes in the kitchen while simultaneously saving time.

One thing to keep in mind? Practice makes perfect when it comes to using this versatile tool so be prepared for some trial and error along the way.

2. An Immersion Blender

Most home kitchens have a stand blender and a mixer, but this doesn't eliminate the need for an immersion blender. These handheld kitchen gadgets are lightweight and easy to use -- making them an appealing alternative to heavier, more awkward kitchen appliances in many situations. From pureeing soups and smoothies to whipping up vinaigrettes and pestos, immersion blenders are a multitasking must-have.

3. A Mortar and Pestle

While this may seem like a dark ages-era tool more suitable for a cave person than a skilled 21st century chef, it's still incredibly handy today. According to Food Lab author and Serious Eats Culinary Director James Jenji Lopez-Alt, "Everybody should have one, and I mean it. There's no better (or faster) tool for grinding spices (if you include clean up time, it's way faster than an electric spice grinder)."

Whether you're making guacamole, grinding nuts, or extracting flavor from garlic or chilies, a mortar and pestle does the trick. Continues Lopez-Alt, "It'll do 80% of the things most people use food processors and spice grinders for, and it does them better."

4. An Instant-Read Thermometer

Trying to guess whether your food is cooked to perfection can be a losing battle -- one with unfortunately end results in the form of inedibly overcooked or dangerously undercooked food. Useful for much more than testing the temperature of burgers, instant-read thermometers take the guesswork out of the equation. From cooking crustaceans to mastering cheesecake, this indispensable kitchen tool will help your food taste its best while keeping the people eating your food safe and healthy.

Kitchen equipment

Beyond the rolling pin.

5. A Wok

Think woks are just for stir frying? Think again. While many people mistake woks for novelty items, the truth is that they can be used for a variety of tasks served by other pieces of kitchen equipment, including saucepans, skillets and Dutch ovens. They're also super-fast when it comes to steaming, and can be used for boiling and braising, as well.

Each of these five items will vastly enhance the cooking capabilities of home chefs looking to add to the functionality of their kitchens. One thing all of these pieces also share in common? They're fun to use, too! Browse kitchenware, cookware, ovenware, bakeware and more to start building your collection at Cilantro The Cooks Shop today.