Having the right tools in the kitchen can be the difference between creating recipes you and your family adore and wasteful failures. If you’re not all set up or just getting started, it can be overwhelming to know what you need to cook well at home.
I’ve put together a list of essential vegan kitchen tools based on 20+ items you’ll always find in my kitchen. But to ensure my list is relatively universal, we surveyed our audience on Instagram and found that 95% of these tools are also essential to them as well!
We’re bombarded with advertising pushing products we “must-have” to be good cooks. They’re trying to sell us products from plastic containers for avocadoes to 101 different gadgets to speed up our veggie chopping.
As minimalists, everything we own needs to have a purpose. We sometimes see the purpose in gadgets if we know we’ll use it often and if it’s not just a single-use product. If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that we question everything we bring into our lives.
When we step into the world of kitchen utensils and appliances, there’s no clear distinction in the tools you need as a vegan vs non-vegan, but there are some considerations.
This list includes the vegan kitchen tools we personally couldn’t live without. Either, they’re downright essential, or they speed up the cooking process significantly.
We recognise that everyone is different, so take these suggestions with a grain of salt. We certainly don’t encourage consumerism, however, wanted to give you an example of tools that you’ll find in a plant-based kitchen.
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Good quality knives
Let’s start with the basics. Knives would have to be THE essential item in ANY kitchen. However, the blades that are used and necessary might vary from household to household.
One thing that I realised when I started drafting this post was that we’ve never owned a knife set, and that’s a good thing! Over time we’ve found that we only need three knives, including:
- Small knife (paring knife) for peeling and hand cutting.
- Medium knife (chef’s knife) for chopping vegetables and soy products.
- Bread knife for cutting fresh sourdough.
As vegans, we don’t have a need for:
- Steak knife
- Cleaver knife
- Boning knife
Keeping my chef’s knife sharp and ready to use is critical. Not only have I reduced cutting incidents in the kitchen, and improved performance, but I’ve also increased our knife lifecycle. I’ve had this one knife for over eight years, and there’s no slowing down!
Wooden chopping board
We have two chopping boards, one small and one large one. Both are solid timber and get a workout multiple times a day.
Tip: Wipe your wooden chopping boards down (not soak) straight after use and make sure that they’re stored somewhere with good air circulation, so they don’t start to smell or worse, grow mould! Having a damp environment on your chopping board by cleaning it poorly can lead to this unwelcome outcome.
Chopping boards are an amazing vegan kitchen tool for chopping plants. They’re especially useful if you’re not comfortable hand-cutting.
As a starting point, two good-quality wooden chopping boards that are different sizes will cover all of your cooking needs.
A smaller size is great for chopping small amounts of food such as avocadoes, onions, chillies, garlic, nuts, tofu & tempeh.
A larger size is ideal for bigger and bulkier vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, and leafy greens. It also comes in handy for chopping longer vegetables like leeks, or celery. We use this size chopping board for bread as well.
If you really want to be a minimalist or are short on space, you could go without the smaller sized chopping board.
I’d say that this is one of the most underrated kitchen tools around! If you’re vegan and you eat plenty of salad (like us), a salad spinner is a must.
While a salad spinner is designed to wash salad, I use it for any kind of greens that need washing.
For example, If I’m cooking with kale or silverbeet, they all go through my salad spinner to get a quick and easy clean, and then they’re added to the pot. It helps reduce the amount of liquid that you add to your dish, which can sometimes make a difference to the consistency!
We’ve had two different spinners, and with our recent move, I left ours at my parent’s house because they fell in love with it! We’ve recently purchased another one, and it’s fantastic. We use it every single day.
Frying pans are another “must-have” in the kitchen. Want to make pancakes, fry some tofu or tempeh? Pull out the frying pan. Saute some greens for toast? Toss them in the frying pan. Want to make some naan or falafels? Take out the frying pan!
We’ve been using a Neoflam frying pan for years. It’s the first fry pan we purchased when we first moved out of home together over nine years ago! If we were to do it all over again, we would get a cast iron pan. This will probably be our next purchase.
The beauty of those is that once they’ve been seasoned correctly, they create a natural non-stick surface without all the nasty chemicals that come along with a conventional non-stick fry pan. Learn more about it in our post about kitchen swaps.
FYI: We call a skillet a frying pan here in Australia.
I don’t know if you’ll ever come across a kitchen that doesn’t have pots in their cupboard. Good quality, heavy-bottomed pots will last decades and will be in use every day, if not multiple times a day.
I always have my set of four varied sized pots as well as a large white cast-iron one and wok-style cast iron pot. We have moved about eight times in nine years, and they’ve always come with us.
A food processor can easily be the most versatile tool that you’ll find in a kitchen. They can do everything from chopping, slicing, and grating, to blending, and beating.
They have so many uses with their various attachments. I love my KitchenAid! I’ve had it for around six years and have used it at least 3-4 times a week. I make bliss balls, grate vegetables, make raw desserts, all the dips you can imagine, and mixes for my falafels and patties.
If you don’t have a food processor and you’re looking to get one, I’d suggest investing in a good quality product because it’ll last you much longer than something that’s cheap with parts that are weak and flimsy.
High-speed blender with two jugs
In addition to a food processor, the other kitchen gadget that’s routinely used at our house is our blender. A blender is perfect if you want to make anything smooth and creamy.
I use it for a wide range of actions. The ones that I pull it out of the cupboard for the most is my vegan white sauce, smoothies, creamy soups like my pumpkin soup and potato and onion soup, and blending sauces for my red lentil curry as well as the palak paneer with sweet potato.
The other thing to note about a blender is that quality does make a difference when it comes to performance. Not only will it last longer, but it’ll also blend things much smoother in less time.
For instance, you can sometimes avoid the soaking time of nuts when you have a high-speed blender because it will do the same job without the prep involved.
Want beautiful smooth fillings in your raw cakes and slices? A good-quality blender will make a massive difference!
I recently got a smaller 750ml jug for my Froothie blender because I wanted to have a jug for the smaller jobs that didn’t need a 2L jug. It’s also much easier to get a smaller amount of contents out of this sized jug.
If you’re in the market for a blender, I would highly recommend the Froothie blender. They’re a great company, and the specs for the blender I have are better than the ones of a Vitamix but half the price! Mine is the Optimum 9400 Froothie blender.
Mixing bowls are the first thing that I’ll typically pull out when I’m about to start baking something, or when I’m making a salad. I have two large bowls—one stainless steel and the other ceramic. For mixing smaller amounts, I use larger soup/ramen bowls.
Ideally, I would have one that was in between those sizes as that would get a lot of use, but I’m currently making do with what I have.
I would be lost without my mixing bowls in the kitchen. They’re just so versatile!
Having a couple of baking trays comes in handy for anything that needs to be baked relatively flat and/or spread out. Ideally, again, try and buy ones that are not non-stick!
These are also great if you want to dry herbs on if you don’t have anywhere you can hang them in your kitchen.
This is where I’d say my biggest range of products is (besides my food photography props) in the kitchen. I have the following dishes that serve a variety of purposes, including:
- Loaf baking dish for recipes like a cake loaf, and a lentil loaf,
- 9x9in dish for baked dishes like a potato gratin, and blondies,
- Larger stainless steel baking dish for dishes like baked ziti, and garlic roasted potatoes,
- Muffin tin for fruit muffins, and tarts,
- Round baking dish (pictured below) for meals like my cheese pie, and baked beans,
- A pie dish for desserts like this pear crumble, and peanut butter and chocolate pie,
- Cake tins in two sizes for cakes like this chocolate cake, and lumberjack cake,
- Large family sized ceramic baking dish for dishes like this lasagna.
For someone like me that bakes a lot of different things, these dishes are all essential to me. You might not bake as frequently and would only require half of the ones that I have here. Some trays can even double up in functions.
I also use these in my food shoots, so it’s nice to have a couple to choose from at times. I try and limit the number of baking dishes I have; however, they all have a purpose.
Note, none of these dishes are non-stick. They’re either stainless steel, ceramic or glass.
A grater is also another underrated tool in the kitchen. I have two different sized graters. One is for finer things such as citrus zest (aka zester) and grating fresh nutmeg etc., and the other is for grating veggies.
I used to own a square grater but found that the quality of the grater (with the two additional useless functions) isn’t as good. It took a lot more pushing on the grater to do the job that I found much easier with graters that have individual functions.
Interesting fact: apparently graters are also the kitchen tool that causes the most injuries! Grated knuckle anyone? Yikes!
You probably didn’t think that this would make it onto the list, but hear me out. The parchment paper that we buy is compostable and unbleached. So when I’ve finished using it, it goes into our compost bin! If possible, I try and use it more than once.
The reason I buy this kind is that I don’t want to be throwing it in the rubbish bin. As mindful consumers, we try and limit the amount of rubbish that we send to landfill.
The other reason it’s great (well two reasons) is that it’s not bleached like the ones you find in the supermarket, and it doesn’t contain any plastic, which is why those white baking sheets cannot be thrown in with your compost.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to bake on something on a high heat that has plastic in it, which will end up in whatever I’m baking!
Since I don’t use non-stick bakeware, using parchment paper makes it much easier to get the perfectly finished dish. This is especially helpful if you’re baking something that’s a little more sticky or is in a deep baking dish.
Tip: If you want to avoid using parchment paper, one trick that I learned from my mum is to season the baking dish to create a non-stick surface. You do this by putting a thin layer of vegan butter around the dish, followed by adding a bit of flour so that it sticks to the butter evenly. You’ll have to move the dish around until it’s dispersed evenly.
A whisk is a great tool to use when you want to mix some liquids or mixture that is more liquid than solid. It also helps to create air and keep ingredients light and fluffy.
For example, you can use it when mixing a batter or when you want to incorporate something like aquafaba into a recipe.
It’s also handy to use on the stove when you’re making a béchamel, for instance. This constant stirring motion will help to prevent clumps of flour from forming and to create a nice even sauce.
Making a dressing? If you don’t want to bother with a jar, just place all the dressing ingredients in the bowl that the salad will go into and whisk them together until they’re well incorporated.
Electric hand mixer
An electric hand mixer is similar to a normal whisk; however, it takes things to another level. You can aerate ingredients much faster and better as well as remove any lumps in batter!
Measuring cups and spoons
These are a must if you want to follow recipes. I couldn’t live without mine, and you would all have very disastrous results in the kitchen if I didn’t measure anything out!
I use these in most recipes unless it’s easier to specify in metric measurements, e.g. baked goods.
Which leads me to my next vegan kitchen tool!
I went YEARS without owning kitchen scales, and I honestly don’t know how I used to share recipes without one.
For cakes, pastry, bread, or anything else that requires precision, kitchen scales are a must. Baking with the approach of measuring and weighing will give you the best results.
I find battery-operated scales the easiest as I can go between kilos, pounds, ounces and millilitres in seconds.
I use a metal strainer for everything! If I need to drain and rinse canned beans, strainer. If I need to sift ingredients, strainer. If I need to strain pasta…you get the picture.
It’s honestly been one of my favourite kitchen tools. Buy a good quality stainless steel strainer as it will last you much longer.
Tip: Get one where ingredients can’t get caught underneath the round metal rim at the top. It makes washing it much easier.
Cooking spoons and serving utensils
Wooden spoons can be easily forgotten as it almost goes without saying that they’re essential in any kitchen.
If I pull out a pot to cook, straight after comes out a wooden spoon. I have two that I rotate between and love them both.
The other items that can easily go unnoticed are serving utensils. What do you use to serve salad with? What do you use to get soup into a bowl? How do you get that extra sauce from the bottom of your pot? With serving utensils!
Tongs, a ladle and large serving spoons are a must in my kitchen. They should be in yours too.
Kitchen scissors are more than just scissors. They can open a lot of things that standard scissors just don’t have the power to.
Kitchen scissors were made for cutting seafood and poultry. Being vegan, we don’t need that, but it’s nice to know that they’re powerful enough to cut through a lot of things with good precision.
What I use them for the most is opening packaging, cutting out parchment paper, trimming herbs, cutting twine, and dough.
Fun fact: If you have an indent in your scissors on one side or at the bottom, that’s for opening bottles. If you see ridges on the inside of the scissors, that’s for cracking nuts!
Lucky last vegan kitchen tool that you’ll find in my kitchen is silicone spatulas. I’ll use them for mixing the batter, smoothing out the ganache on a cake, and getting every last part of whatever I have in my food processor or blender. They’re useful for getting into nooks and crannies.
Vegan kitchen tools to help you become a confident plant-based cook
So that’s the list of my non-negotiable kitchen tools. After using these items for so long, I struggle to imagine getting the results I want in the kitchen without them. But these tools are personalised for my cooking style. I’d love to hear from you now.
What kitchen tools can you not live without? I know some people swear by Thermomix, instant pots and slow cookers, for example. Let me know in the comments below.