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Good health starts with a good diet: in the kitchen. That said, some essentials can really make it a LOT easier! Here are the 9 best healthy cooking utensils to help you make delicious, good-for-you food, every day.
1. A Good Knife Set
Without a doubt, you’ll be needing one of these. Don’t overlook the power of a good knife and the limitations of a poor-quality or blunt set.
No one has to own the fanciest, Japanese-grade chef’s knives (unless you really are a pro!), but a budget-friendly set with a few types types and a sharpener will do wonders for almost any need:
- Cutting meats: Whole joints, steaks, poultry…
- Filleting fish: Creating fillets, removing bones, descaling…
- Dicing: Potato cubes, onions,
- Chopping: Salads, veggie sticks, pickles, fresh herbs…
- Slicing: One-pot dishes, vegetables, fruits, cheese, deli meats…
- Mincing: Herbs, spices, garlic…
The disadvantages of a poor knife set are:
- Safety: Blunt knives one of the most common causes of accidents in the kitchen, being hard to control and requiring more force.
- Durability: Some knives can easily become blunt or even get loose handles over time. Not great for something we use so much.
- Frustration: I stand by a strong fact: Cooking should be fun! If you can’t enjoy making healthy food, how can you expect to really want to do it? Some inconveniences in the kitchen are normal, but don’t let your knife set be one of them.
Honestly, I think it’s almost always best to get a set with a sharpener. It keeps things more organised and saves money on buying extra tools.
I recommend Keenair’s Highly Rated 15-Piece Set. With 7 types of mixed-size all-purpose and specialised stainless steel knives, kitchen shears, and a built-in sharpener, it’s complete with all the essentials.
Personally, I’ve never needed more than that. That’s for all of the purposes above and even more; I’m free to cook up almost any meal I can with this kind of set!
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2. Weighing Scales
These have been a lifesaver for me! Okay, not literally… But getting accurate measurements for ingredients has really helped me in many ways:
- Following recipes
- Creating my own recipes
- Making homemade pickles (getting the right water:salt ratio)
- Measuring servings of meals
- Tracking my calories and macronutrients (for fitness goals)
More than that, weighing scales are useful if you’re interested in following recipes that require more precision. Think sourdough breads and other baked goods, fermented foods, meal prep, etc.
For me, using scales has helped me develop a better understanding and appreciation for food.
This is because they taught me just where my nutrition comes from, and how to change portions and proportions to suit my own fitness goals.
Of course, we all know there’s much more to food than that. The most important thing in any healthy diet is food quality: varied, real, whole foods, and no / minimal processed foods.
But when you’re looking to up your cooking game and achieve awesome recipes (and health goals), a simple set of scales can’t do you wrong.
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3. Tea Strainer
Oh my! If I could express how much I use these… Without a doubt, a tea strainer is one of the best healthy cooking utensils you can own.
I like to make fresh ginger root tea (4 easy recipes) the most, but you can use it for countless recipes and ingredients.
Perhaps you like to forage. It’s an unbeatable way to get so many foods and herbs that make delicious teas, including nettles, dandelions, birch, bramble leaves, and cleavers, to name a few.
Although they mostly have one purpose, I think it’s fair to say that we could all do with a nice “cuppa” to keep infections away, refresh the spirits, boost our health, or relax at the end of the day.
Pick up your own simple tea strainer at the supermarket and you won’t look back.
(Or, for more selection and convenience, you can check out the different types available on Amazon).
4. Pestle and Mortar
What is this, the Stone Age? Why would I use a pestle and mortar?
Great question! (No, not the first one)… Sometimes going a bit “back to basics” is better than buying pre-made food skipping them all together.
There are certain things you can do in a pestle and mortar easier than with a food processor or blender (like the NutriBullet). They’re unrivalled for making homemade and authentic:
- Spice blends and pastes
- Crushed nuts
- Simple ground ingredients (like oats for fermenting)
For a couple of these like hummus, a blender definitely speeds things up. But it also won’t be as “rustic” – if you like that.
Personally, I feel that relying a little less on technology and immersing yourself in fun and healthy recipes is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy relationship with food.
In a way, that’s what makes a pestle and mortar deserve a place here with the other best healthy cooking utensils.
Whether you’re cooking up steaks, grilling vegetables, having a roast, or enjoying a full barbecue (when the weather’s right), making quick marinades with freshly crushed herbs and olive oil creating the perfect dry rub can be done in seconds without the need to set up yet another appliance.
Solid granite, compact, and high-quality, HealthSmart’s 9-ounce set comes almost $10 cheaper than most similar competitors.
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5. Steamer Basket
Steaming is one of my favourite cooking methods.
Not only does it preserve a high amount of nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants in vegetables (like broccoli), but the moisture results in tender and delicious fish (and even meat)!
Nowadays, a lot of people prefer an electric steamer, generally being multi-tiered is adjustable settings.
However, a simple steamer basket can work just as well and costs less.
For such a simple tool with healthy and delectable results every time, I’d say they’re some of the best healthy cooking utensils.
Other benefits include less chance of overcooking (and therefore less carcinogens), and less need for oils or sauces if you’re trying to cut calories.
You can use a steamer for many foods and dishes, like:
- Vegetables (whole, sliced, diced, stuffed, etc.)
- Meat and poultry (chops, steaks, cubes, etc.)
Check out this 15 minute ‘Steamed bass with pak choi’, for example! (I wouldn’t usually use the BBC’s recipes, but this one sticks to whole ingredients).
There are two types of steamer basket: Bamboo or metal. Bamboo steamers are more expensive and come with a lid, whereas metal ones are cheaper, but require a pan with a lid.
For a budget-friendly, healthy utensil, go for stainless steel.
P.S. For a DIY hack, item number 7 also lets you steam some foods!
(Most steamers aren’t very different and will get the job done).
6. Durable Tin Opener
Yes, a tin opener for healthy food. Eating a natural and whole food-based diet that’s packed full of nutrition doesn’t mean everything has to be “fresh”.
Sure, if you can afford it and it’s readily available, fresh is the best way to go. However, we shouldn’t skip out on nutritious and convenient foods like:
- Tinned fish (sardines, tuna, etc.)
- Chopped tomatoes
- Coconut milk
- Beans / legumes (if you tolerate them)
- Sliced vegetables (best if preservative free)
Not to mention, it’s great to try new cuisines and recipes – it’s a passion many of us share! You’ll have a tough time opening that tin of coconut milk or chopped tomatoes without a tin opener. No more Thai curry or Goulash…
The biggest problem with these is how easily they break.
Even the electric ones don’t seem to last very long! Personally, I stick to the old-fashioned butterfly tin openers, (I guess I prefer the feel).
The durable ones are typically a bit more robust, though. With over 7,000 positive ratings, KitchenAid’s KC130OHERA Opener is one of the best rated on Amazon.
I haven’t tried it myself, but the included free 1-year replacement and lifetime limited warranty do add a nice “back-up”.
P.S. There are several designs available including some with a built-in bottle opener. The prices do differ depending on the design and discount, though.
Amazon’s Choice: 4.5 Stars
7. Mesh Kitchen Strainer (/Sieve)
A lot of us probably have one of these lying around somewhere amongst the pots and pans already.
Although a colander can be used in much the same way, the smaller holes of a strainer sometimes make life easier.
If you soak, ferment, or sprout any of your foods, this is especially true.
For example, I’d likely lose some of my carefully prepared, delicious fermented oats to most colanders. Sure, it wouldn’t be a lot, but it also wouldn’t be ideal.
Another example is making stocks and broths. Since I make my bone broth in a slow cooker and like to add vegetables, herbs, and spices, a colander might not catch all the small bits and pieces.
Instead, I can use a mesh strainer to get a nice, clear broth.
Other uses include rinsing vegetables and herbs or tinned beans, straining boiled potatoes, rice, quinoa, beans, vegetables, meats, fish, yoghurt, filtering teas, sifting flours, and so on.
Also, here’s a nice little “hack”: You can even use a strainer to steam foods in a pan. In principle, as long as the food is above the water and you have a lid to circulate steam, you’ve got a DIY steamer!
Picking one up from the supermarket shouldn’t cost more than a few dollars, if that.
You can look online, and I’ll provide a quick link below for you as I have with the other items, but you’ll probably save more in-store.
(eBay generally has the lowest prices, and a strainer doesn’t need to be as ‘high quality’ to work well)
8. Measuring Jug
How many times have you seen a recipe measuring like this: “1 cup A, 2 litres B, 1.5 litres C…”?
You’ll see the difference it makes in many recipes when we don’t measure volume correctly, but it can be even more confusing when multiple types of measurement are used.
Instead of guessing amounts, a basic measuring jug with different units is great because a), we can ensure better results in all sorts of recipes (fermenting, baking, etc.), and b), we know what we’re eating with more precision (useful for certain fitness goals and also tracking recipes to make adjustments).
The benefits over weighing scales or guessing especially true when recipes serving sizes are measured in volume rather than weight.
Think of the “1/4 cup rice per person”, or “400ml soup per serving” you’ve probably seen on packets, online, or in recipe books.
I personally use measuring scales even if I decide to weigh a recipe sometimes.
If I’m adding water or other liquids, it’s easier to measure in volume rather than weight because the conversion of ml to g is a 1:1 ratio.
Cheap. Trusty. Convient. That’s why I think a measuring jug can be one of the best healthy cooking utensils to keep hold of.
P.S. Glass is most useful for fermenting or cooking in the jug itself.
The final item on our list of the best healthy cooking utensils is a standard grater.
Most graters come with multiple gradients and faces / blades. This means you can use them for the whole bunch of purposes!
- Peeled vegetables and fruit
- Vegetable strips for stir-fries, soups, and stews
- Vegetable noodles
- Cauliflower rice
- Potato Rösti (Swiss potato pancakes)
- Grated cheese
- Grated herbs like ginger, nutmeg, and garlic
- Citrus Zest (Lemon, lime, orange, etc.)
Box graters are the best way to go in terms of variety, storage, and less mess.
Apart from that, they’re also safer. Since they have a sturdy design and can be used on surfaces, it’s easy to stay steady and you don’t need to apply as much force.
Spring Chef offers one of the highest rated graters across Amazon. There are almost 3,000 positive reviews on durability, material quality, ease of use, ergonomic design, and more!
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Conclusion: Healthy Cooking is Easy!
This list covers some of the best kit – the best healthy cooking utensils – for any kitchen. You don’t need to invest in in all sorts of electrical appliances in order to get amazing and creative results with ease.
Do you think our ancestors needed food processors? Or that the Italians blended their sauces and the Indians their spices and the Chinese used electric steamers for bamboo shoots?
Yep! (Oh wait, I meant to say no)…
Anyway, the point is that with just a few simple, small tools, the possibilities are endless and the limit is your imagination!
If you like this list or learnt something new, comment below and feel free to share with your “chef” and “house cook” friends & family.
Until next time, stay healthy
Frequently Asked Questions:
Including these top 9 essentials, the healthiest cooking utensils are made from safe materials. Stainless steel is generally the best, being less reactive, more durable, and versatile. Go for at least 304 grade to reduce the risk of leaching chemicals. Metals like copper and aluminum can react with acidic foods, so avoid mixing the two (including when fermenting). Other than that, glass, ceramic, and food-grade LDPE, HDPE, or PP plastic utensils are good choices. Avoid BPA and PVC.
Yes. Digital kitchen scales, as long as they’re working correctly, provide a high amount of accuracy. Most will state how accurate they are on the scale, and this will be how measurements are shown. Increments of 0.1g or 1g are common, and many scales convert between grams, ounces, and pounds.