10 Smart Kitchen Tools Restaurants Have On Hand (And You Should Too)

updated May 3, 2019
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Fun fact: You don’t need to be a professional chef to take advantage of some of the smart tools used in restaurant kitchens. And no, we’re not talking about $200 knives or fancy sous vide machines. We’re talking about the inexpensive, everyday sort of stuff that’ll make your time in the kitchen neater, easier, and just a tad bit better.

See, many of the gadgets and tools that professional chefs use in restaurant kitchens can be just as useful to us casual home cooks. Here are the 10 we swear by the most.

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In the Sqirl cookbook, Jessica Koslow says that this butter spreader is the key to their toast. And we’d do nearly anything to recreate that toast at home—even if that means buying this little guy. Just put some melted butter in the bottom and roll a slice of bread right over the wheel for an even, fully buttered slice. You’ll use this for toast, grilled cheese, and more. Sure, it’s a little specialized, but it doesn’t take up a ton of room.

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If you get takeout, you probably already have a few of these in your cabinets. Or maybe you’ve been recycling them this whole time? These plastic containers are totally worth keeping around—or buying in bulk. They’re stackable, inexpensive, freezer-friendly, and just downright useful when it comes to dealing with leftovers, food prep, and more.

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Tweezers are going to seem like a super-fussy kitchen tool that you just don’t need. But we’re not suggesting that you get them to carefully place garnishes on a dish—we’re suggesting them for many other uses, like pulling out broken bits of egg shells, picking up ingredients that fall out of your pan and under the burner, plating pasta, and more.

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4. Bernzomatic Propane Torch Kit, $20 at Home Depot

Kitchn’s Editor-in-Chief, Faith Durand, adamantly believes that every single home cook needs a blow torch. “They’re not just for creme brûlée,” she says, pointing out that a blow torch is the single best way to really begin to understand how our food changes as it cooks.

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Once reserved for restaurant kitchens and maybe the occasional garage, we’ve been seeing these wire shelves pop up in home kitchens more and more. And for good reason: They have a cool, industrial look, they allow air to circulate around your ingredients, they’re inexpensive, and they’re big enough to also hold small appliances. We strongly recommend them for kitchens or pantries.

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If we had to pick just one reason why you need these plastic squeeze bottles, we’d talk about Sunday morning pancakes. (You can use them to make all sorts of cute designs or letters!) Of course, we have other reasons, too: Use them for your homemade condiments, infused oils, and sauces.

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Unlike other sheet pans, restaurant-quality sheet pans will not warp or discolor over time—especially if we’re talking about these. They’re made out of commercial-grade, 18-gauge aluminum, and have a galvanized, rod-reinforced rim. Chefs love them and so do we.

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Look in any restaurant kitchen and you won’t find chefs messing around with ceramic bowls. Nope, they’ll be using stainless steel ones. Why? They’re super light, don’t absorb stains or odors, are easy to clean, and are extremely durable (even if you dent them, they still work all the same).

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9. Cambro Storage Containers, from $7.50

These containers (affectionately called Cambros) come in all sorts of sizes and are used to hold anything and everything that won’t fit in the plastic containers listed in the second slot of this post. We’re talking pantry staples, rising dough, and even your brining Thanksgiving turkey.

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You know how, at fancy restaurants, someone comes over between courses to scoop up all the crumbs you’ve sprinkled on your tablecloth? That’s kind of the thinking behind this recommendation. Have a bench scraper on hand and not only can you use it when you’re making dough, but you can also pull it out to sweep up crumbs on your countertop.

Got any other pro tools to add to this list? Leave them in the comments below!

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: 10 Tools That Restaurant Kitchens Have That You Need Too