Not sure what essential kitchen tools you need for plant-based cooking? Keep reading to see my absolute favorite must-have kitchen items that I use regularly in my plant-based kitchen. These tools, gadgets, and small appliances make plant-based cooking a breeze!
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Plant-based cooking really isn’t that complicated, but it does make the cooking process easier when you have the right kitchen items, tools, gadgets, and appliances to help you prepare your plant-based foods.
And while you can definitely get by with just the basics when you’re starting your whole food, plant-based journey, eventually you’ll probably want to start building a collection of specialty tools to round out your plant-based kitchen.
Today I want to share with you my absolute favorite must-have kitchen items that I use regularly in my plant-based kitchen. These are the tools, gadgets, and appliances that I use on a daily or near-daily basis, and they are the items that I consider absolutely essential for my style of cooking.
Let me tell you all about them!
Everything you need in your plant-based kitchen
This article is divided into three main parts:
- Essential kitchen items every kitchen should have
- 15 Must-have kitchen items to make plant-based cooking a breeze
- Bonus: 9 fun kitchen tools that aren’t essential but are nice to have in your plant-based kitchen
While the main attraction here is obviously the 15 must-have kitchen items specifically geared toward your plant-based diet, this list would be incomplete if I didn’t at least mention the basic tools every kitchen (plant-based or otherwise) should have.
I assume you have these essential kitchen items already, but if you don’t, you should probably start there because those are the staple items you’ll probably need for every meal you cook.
After we cover the basics, I’ll tell you all about my 15 favorite must-have kitchen items that I use regularly to make my plant-based meals.
And finally, as an added bonus, I’ll tell you about my favorite nonessential kitchen tools that I enjoy having in my plant-based kitchen. They’re just too fun for me to leave out!
So let’s get started!
Essential Kitchen Items Every Kitchen Should Have
Before we get to the main must-have kitchen items for your plant-based kitchen, there are some basic items you should already have.
- Pots with lids (in various sizes)
- Nonstick skillet
- Baking sheet
- 9” x 13” glass baking dish
- Mixing bowls
- Dry measuring cups
- Wet measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Wooden spoons
- Can opener
- Dinnerware (plates, cups, bowls)
- Silverware (spoons, forks, knives)
Once you’ve got the basics covered, it’s time to build your collection of plant-based kitchen tools!
15 Must-Have Kitchen Items to Make Plant-Based Cooking a Breeze
These are the items, tools, gadgets, and small appliances that I personally use on a daily or near-daily basis in my plant-based kitchen. They make plant-based cooking so much easier!
1. High-Powered Blender
Probably the most prized possession in any plant-based kitchen is a high-powered blender. It’s just that important!
My Vitamix is by far the best blender I’ve ever used, and I will never own another brand of blender. If my Vitamix broke right now, I would shell out another couple hundred bucks to buy another one. And that’s really saying something considering my frugal nature!
My Vitamix is probably my favorite kitchen helper on this whole list. I use it almost every day (and sometimes multiple times per day) to make smoothies, homemade almond milk, sauces, and other recipes that require a good blending.
If juicing is a big part of your plant-based diet, then a good juicer is another kitchen staple.
I started out with a $6 thrift store juicer just to make sure I liked juicing, and I kept it for a few years before I finally upgraded to a Breville Juice Fountain Plus. I love love love my Breville!
3. Santoku Knife
A good knife should be a staple in every kitchen, but it’s especially important for a plant-based kitchen. You’ll be prepping lots of fruits and veggies, so you need a good knife to make the job quick and easy.
You really only need one kind of knife in addition to the steak knives that probably came with your silverware set, and that’s a 7” santoku.
I have two santokus, and they make food prep a breeze! I use them for everything except cutting tomatoes and grapes—my serrated steak knives work better against those tender skins.
So skip the big knife set and get yourself a santoku.
And this video shows you how to use a santoku:
4. Big Wood Cutting Board
Plastic cutting boards and mats will dull your knife more quickly than a wood cutting board will. For that reason, wood is the better choice.
Get one that’s big and sturdy so you have plenty of room to prep your produce. I have two main cutting boards: one is 19” x 14” and the other is 16” x 12.” I think those are good sizes, mostly because anything smaller just wouldn’t be practical for the amount of produce I prepare.
Also, when choosing your board, make sure you choose one that won’t warp. Bamboo is a good, sturdy choice, and the thicker the wood, the less likely it is to warp.
And here’s an article that shows you how to care for your wood cutting board.
5. Food Processor
A food processor is such a handy tool to have in your plant-based kitchen.
I don’t use my food processor every single day, but I do use it sporadically throughout the week. It saves so much time when I need to whip up a batch of not-tuna salad or hummus. Mine is a BLACK + DECKER 8-cup food processor, and I think it’s a good size. Anything smaller just isn’t practical for large-batch processing.
And yes, I do think you need a food processor in addition to a good blender. While they can do some of the same things, each appliance has certain jobs that it’s better suited for.
6. Fine Mesh Strainer
A fine mesh strainer will serve multiple uses in your plant-based kitchen, but it especially comes in handy when rinsing quinoa and other small ingredients.
Get one that’s between 6-8” in diameter so it’s big enough to rinse a cup of dry quinoa. My strainer has a 6” diameter, and it’s just barely big enough. I would prefer one closer to 8.”
7. Citrus Squeezers
When we went plant-based, Josh and I quickly discovered that lemon juice and lime juice are great flavorings for all sorts of meals and drinks.
If you’re anything like us, then a citrus squeezer (or two!) will be a must.
I have a bigger citrus squeezer for lemons and a smaller one for limes, but I have seen combo squeezers that accommodate both fruits. Be sure to buy a metal one instead of plastic so it doesn’t break.
8. Steamer Basket
A steamer basket will really come in handy when you need a quick vegetable side dish.
I use my steamer basket to steam broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, and all sorts of other veggies. Also, I like my Joseph Joseph one because its silicone feet won’t damage my cookware.
9. Garlic Press
As with lemon juice and lime juice, garlic is a great way to flavor your food the healthy way.
Now that we’re plant-based, we use a LOT of garlic at my house! But instead of meticulously mincing every single clove, I simply use a garlic press. Easy peasy!
As with the citrus juicers, make sure you buy a metal one.
10. Salad Spinner
No one likes a soggy salad. Luckily, a salad spinner gets all the excess water off of freshly washed greens so your salad isn’t wet!
I use my salad spinner multiple times a week when I whip up fresh salads. Mine is a large OXO that I bought at Bed, Bath & Beyond, and I really like it.
11. Hot Air Popcorn Popper
If you plan to eliminate oil from your plant-based diet, or even if you just want to reduce the amount of oil you use when cooking, then an air popcorn popper is a must!
I recently added an air popper to my collection of plant-based kitchen tools, and I have no idea how I went without it this long!
Personally, I love the taste of plain air-popped popcorn, but I will warn you that toppings such as salt or nutritional yeast won’t stick since the popcorn is dry. In that case, you may have to lightly spritz your popcorn with a little oil to make your seasonings stick. True, it does defeat the purpose a little bit, but you’re still using way less oil than you would making stovetop or even microwave popcorn!
Since there’s some debate on how safe microwave ovens really are, I prefer to use mine as little as possible. If you’re trying to reduce your microwave usage too, then a kettle really comes in handy when you need to heat water for a cup of tea or your oatmeal.
I use my kettle multiple times each week. I started out with a cheap one from Walmart, but I recently upgraded to a much nicer one that’s sturdier and prettier.
13. Silicone baking mat
A silicone baking mat is a great way to bake foods without any oil. Since your ingredients won’t stick to the mat, you won’t have to use any cooking spray to coat your baking sheet! Just use a silicone mat to line your baking sheet instead.
I regularly use my silicone baking mat to make oil-free fries and baked veggies. I’ve also used it to bake bean “burger” patties.
14. Nut milk bag
A nut milk bag really comes in handy when you make your own dairy-free milks or loose-leaf teas.
I personally don’t strain out the almonds when I make almond milk, but I do use my nut milk bag a couple times a week when I mix up big batches of herbal tea.
15. Mason Jars
Mason jars are fantastic for storing ingredients!
My pantry is lined with mason jars full of beans, grains, nuts, dried fruit, and other bulk ingredients. I also like using mason jars to steep tea and store leftover wet ingredients such as canned tomatoes. Really, mason jars come in handy for all sorts of things!
Bonus: 9 Fun Kitchen Tools That Aren’t Essential (but are nice to have in your plant-based kitchen)
There are some kitchen items that I love having in my plant-based kitchen, but I don’t actually use them enough to call them “must-haves.” These are more like nice-to-have items if you just want to add a new gadget or two to your plant-based kitchen tool collection.
1. Waffle iron
A waffle iron is great for…you guessed it: waffles!
I make waffles a couple times a month, and I love love love having a waffle iron to make them. I’ve also used a waffle iron to toast sandwiches so they have that fun waffle pattern on the bread.
A waffle iron may seem like a one-trick pony, but it can come in handy for other things if you exercise your creativity a bit.
A griddle is definitely good for making pancakes, but I have another reason why I love my griddle: it’s perfect for making oil-free hash browns!
My non-stick skillet just won’t do oil-free hash browns, and I could never get the potatoes crispy enough when I tried to make them in the oven. So I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that potato shreds don’t stick at all to my non-stick griddle! I can get them super crispy without having a big mess to clean up!
3. Coffee Grinder or Mortar and Pestle
Even if you don’t drink coffee (Josh and I don’t), a coffee grinder is an excellent tool to make your own healthy bread crumbs and to grind flaxseeds and chia seeds.
Mine is a Capresso, and it’s small enough to tuck away when I’m not using it.
If you don’t want to use a coffee grinder but you do want to grind your own seeds and herbs, you can use a mortar and pestle instead. They’re cute and small enough to display in your kitchen. I got mine for about $8 at TJ Maxx.
4. Slow Cooker
A slow cooker can do a lot of things in your plant-based kitchen. You can use it to make spaghetti squash, soup, beans, chili, and more!
I don’t use my slow cooker very often, but I do like that it’s a low-maintenance way to cook dried beans.
5. Popsicle Molds
If you want frozen treats that are a million times healthier than anything you could buy in the grocery store, then you need your own popsicle molds.
I regularly make plant-based fudgesicles, fruit juice popsicles, and other frozen treats with my extensive popsicle mold collection.
If you’d like to replace the pasta in your plant-based Italian dishes, then a spiralizer is a great way to create “noodles” with zucchini or squash.
You can also use a spiralizer to make pretty salad toppings out of cucumber, squash, zucchini, and carrots.
A mandoline is another one of those tools that I don’t use very often, but still need for a specific purpose.
When I make crispy potato rounds in the oven, I need all of the potatoes to be the same thickness for even baking. A mandoline makes that happen!
You can also use a mandoline to make quick work out of slicing other vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, squash, zucchini, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and more.
8. Tofu Press
A tofu press really comes in handy if you make a lot of tofu dishes at your house. It removes more water than a homemade press, which means the tofu can actually get crispy when you cook it. Pressing out the water also means your tofu has more room to absorb marinades if you’re making a dish that requires marinating.
I recently bought a tofu press because I was tired of using a plate and dumbbells as a makeshift press. I can’t believe I waited so long to get one of these things! It makes my life so much easier, and I can’t imagine making a tofu dish without it.
9. Air Fryer
An air fryer is the perfect appliance when you want to make crispy food without all the oil. While you can technically bake your food in the oven to get a crispy crunch, an air fryer significantly reduces cooking time.
For example, when I make oil-free fries, it takes around 30-45 minutes in the oven for them to get crispy. However, when I make them in the air fryer, the cook time is more like 20 minutes.
I love my air fryer and probably use it weekly for things like fries, tofu fingers, fried pickles, and bean burger patties. It’s another appliance that I can’t imagine not having in my plant-based kitchen!
Final Thoughts on these Essential Kitchen Items for Plant-Based Cooking
These are the items, tools, gadgets, and appliances that I personally love and use on a regular basis in my plant-based kitchen. I can honestly say that each one makes plant-based cooking easier, and I know they’ll help you prepare healthy, plant-based meals too.
But remember to build your collection slowly. You don’t need to buy all of these items at once. Start with the ones that seem most important to you and then keep adding new tools as you progress through your plant-based journey.
Other Plant-Based Articles You May Enjoy
- How to Start a Plant-Based Diet: The Ultimate Transition Guide for Beginners
- The Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet Explained
- Plant-Based vs. Vegan: The Major Differences You Need to Know About
- Why We Transitioned to a Mostly Plant-Based Lifestyle
- 3 Supplements You Need When You Follow a Plant-Based Diet
- 15 Plant-Based Recipes You Need to Try
- How to Freeze Fruit: The Complete Beginner’s Guide
- An Honest Rubbermaid FreshWorks Review
- Plant-Based Shopping List: What to Buy When You Follow a Plant-Based Diet
- The Meal Planning Binder You Need to Make Meal Planning a Breeze
What about you? What are your must-have kitchen items in your plant-based kitchen? Let me know in the comments so I can give them a try!
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