Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

It goes without saying late-night TV kitchen gadgets aren’t essential tools from a professional kitchen, but they are great for a holiday white elephant party. The Robo-stir is perfect for keeping your marinara sauce from splattering on the counter, but your favorite risotto recipe will laugh the AA batteries (sold separately) right out it. Obviously, not all kitchen tools are equal, but four are kitchen stand-outs to me.

Drum roll please. A good 8” chef knife, a large cutting board, a descent 8 or 10-inch skillet, and a solid pair of tongs are the building blocks for an equipped, versatile, ready to wow kitchen.

The Knife: Basically, look for a knife that least reminds you of the one you owned in college. Whustof and Henckel are what many professionals use. Buy a knife that feels good in your hand and is heavy for its size. The knife should feel solid, like it is one piece, rather then a blade stuck into handle. Take the next step by buying a matching paring knife, not a 22 piece deluxe knife set.

The Cutting Board: A cutting board that moves when cut on is worthless. Buy a plastic, 1/2-inch thick cutting board with rubber grips on the corners. Plastic is dishwasher safe, versatile, practical, and easy on a knife’s cutting edge. Measuring diagonally, it should be twice the size of your knife. Take the next step by buying a bamboo cutting board as well. It helps to reduce cross-contamination of raw foods and can double as a serving platter.

The Skillet: A stainless steel skillet is a real treasure for the knowledgeable cook. Stainless steel can be used with metal utensils, can handle high heat, and is oven safe. One with various metals sandwiched together on the bottom will heat evenly. Look for a pan that is heavy for it’s size and big enough to fit four chicken breasts comfortably. Take the next step by getting a non-stick pan of the same size.

The Tongs: A great pair of tongs is irreplaceable. Nothing else in the kitchen can grab food without causing damage like tongs can. Tongs can easily pickup and place your food where you need it without struggling with high pan edges, big pieces, or gravity. Look for tongs with thick metal, non-serrated points (not the type you get in the grilling kit), a pull lock at the top, and solid construction. OXO makes several good options. Take the next step by buying two more in varying sizes.