Planning & Prep

20 Essential Cooking Utensil Names + How to Use Them



Last Updated: Mar 15, 2023

Every home cook has acquired a number of cooking utensils over the years, some of which they use all the time and others which they never touch. The more you know about your tools, the more comfortable you’ll feel using them.

How to decide what cooking utensils to use

While some kitchen tools are multitaskers, a few are unitaskers that you only pull out every so often. Start by learning your kitchen tools names and then how to use them. Once you learn this, feel free to experiment when you like to use each utensil, and your cooking skills will quickly improve.

Names of the most common kitchen utensils

Can’t remember what the name of that one kitchen tool was? You’ll likely find it here in this list of cooking utensil names.

1. Cooking spoons

wooden spoon on white background

The cooking spoon is one of the most used tools in the kitchen for good reasons. It can handle almost any task that is thrown at it. Use it to move foods while sauteing, stir a pot of soup, move things from pan to pan, or even to sneak a quick taste. Spoons can be made of wood, plastic, or metal. 

2. Spatula

Just like the cooking spoon, the spatula is a true multitasker. The main application of the spatula is flipping foods in a pan like eggs, meat, or fish. They come in all different sizes and can include thin metal ones for flipping delicate fish to thick silicon-coated ones to scrape every last bit of batter out of a bowl. 

3. Measuring spoons

Measuring spoons are important to a home cook who likes to follow recipes. Whether baking, which requires precise measurements, or just measuring out seasonings for a dish, they come in handy all of the time. They come in both spoons that measure fractions of teaspoons and tablespoons to larger cup sizes.

4. Soup ladle

If you like to cook a lot of soup, always have a soup ladle on hand. It takes forever to fill a bowl with soup with a normal cooking spoon. A soup ladle can fill up your bowl in seconds.

5. Pasta ladle

A pasta ladle is identical to a soup ladle in all regards except for it being slotted. The slots allow you to stir the pasta while it is boiling and then remove it without dumping the water. You can even use it to test if the pasta is al dente.

6. Whisk

When you need to quickly beat eggs or mix together dry ingredients, the hand whisk is the perfect tool. It is quicker than setting up your hand mixer for these simple tasks. 

7. Kitchen tongs

Kitchen tongs on food during video call.

Kitchen tongs are perfect for grilling meats, allowing you to safely flip your steaks without getting burned. They come in many different lengths with various ends. They can have metal ends or silicon-coated ones that won’t scratch your pans.

8. Box grater

A box grater is a vertical grater that has 4 different sides, each with its own use. Usually, 1 side is a slicer, another a zester, and the others are different-sized shredders. They are great for shredding cheese or zesting citrus fruits. 

9. Peeler

The peeler is faster and safer than using a knife to peel fruits and vegetables. It has a built-in safety guard to prevent you from cutting yourself if you slip.

10. Offset spatula

The benefit of an offset spatula over a normal one is how the blade is offset. It gives you more control when icing a cake or flipping delicate foods. Everyone should have one, not just bakers.

11. Rolling pin

Primarily used by bakers, the rolling pin is used to roll any dough out to a perfect, even thickness. You can even use a rolling pin to crush things like nuts, granola, or cookies to use as toppings.

12. Mandolin

Potatoes cut with mandolin

Some people are afraid of using a mandolin with its super sharp blade, but as long as you use the safety guard, your fingers are safe. The mandolin has different blades that perform different tasks, like cutting thick or thin planks of zucchini or perfectly julienning carrots. They even have an attached container for your food to fall into. 

13. Kitchen scissors

Kitchen scissors are much stronger than normal scissors and are a useful tool for any home cook. While you can use them for delicate tasks like snipping herbs, they shine when you do things your knife can’t, like cut through the ribcage of a chicken or turkey when spatchcocking it. 

14. Mortar and pestle

These are one of the oldest kitchen tools, as some have been found dating back to 35,000 B.C. They are used to crush and mix whole spices to give your food an extra kick of flavor. Larger mortars are used to make traditional guacamole or Thai curries. 

15. Potato masher

Usually, your potato masher only comes out a couple of times a year. It smashes the potato cubes into a smooth consistency. If you have a baby, it is perfect for mashing fruits and vegetables into baby food. 

16. Pizza cutter

Homemade Pizza and pizza cutter.

There are many tools you can use to cut a pizza once it comes out of the oven, but the pizza cutter is the fastest and easiest by far. The only variation between pizza cutters is the style of grip.

17. Can opener

This kitchen unitasker is good for 1 thing: opening cans of food. You can buy them in manual or electric versions.

18. Ice cream scooper

The ice cream scooper is just a spoon that is built extra strong to be able to scoop frozen foods like ice cream without bending and breaking. They come in the traditional spoon style or with a lever that dispenses your scoop of ice cream out of the scooper. 

19. Sushi rolling mat

One of the few specific Asian cooking utensils, the sushi rolling mat lets you roll your maki with ease. It supports the nori sheet, sushi rice, and ingredients, letting you roll it up evenly without it breaking. 

20. Bench scraper

A closeup view of a big pile of flour on a rustic wooden table, in a kitchen setting.

Some home cooks might not even know what a bench scraper is. It is basically a 4-6in square piece of metal with a grip on one end and a taper on the other. Use it to move around dough while baking bread or to transfer chopped ingredients from your cutting board to the pan.

Final thoughts on cooking utensils

Once you learn the names of kitchen utensils and how to master their uses, you’ll be even better at preparing delicious meals. Purchase any ingredients you need to cook these meals via Instacart. You can pick from same-day or scheduled delivery at checkout. You can also bookmark our grams to cups calculator to save even more time.



Instacart is the leading grocery technology company in North America, partnering with more than 1,400 national, regional, and local retail banners to deliver from more than 80,000 stores across more than 14,000 cities in North America. To read more Instacart posts, you can browse the company blog or search by keyword using the search bar at the top of the page.

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