Behind The Butter

my favorite kitchen tools

I’ve been meaning to write a post on my favorite kitchen tools forever. It’s probably the number one most requested post I get and I’m just sorry it’s taken me this long to do!

To start, I’m a very firm believer that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on kitchen equipment. Sure, I have a Kitchen Aid (I dropped that thing on the floor two days ago and it still works!) but as tools go, you can get by being quite thrifty. What I’m saying is that a peeler is a peeler. You can either go to Target and get one for $2.99 or you can spend $20 at a cooking store. What would you do?

Here are my favorites and the ones that I use practically every day!

1. A silpat. Kiss spending money on rolls and rolls of parchment paper goodbye, and just invest in two quality Silpats. They’re non-stick and work wonders for practically anything (pizza rolls, anyone?). This is probably the one thing I use the most—every time I bake!

2. A microplane. Zest and grate practically anything with this handy dandy little tool. I use mine for Parmesan cheese, garlic, and lemon zest most often. It comes in very handy when you’re in a rush and don’t have time to mince a bunch of garlic!

3. A lined pastry bag and large tip. Perfect for making this and becoming a cupcake frosting star!

4. A sifter. I use this not only to dust powdered sugar on my cakes, but also to strain things like lemon curd!

5. Large and small rubber spatulas. I use mine for everything, especially the small one!

6. An offset spatula. This is the exact tool you need for perfecting your cake decorating skills. Use it to smooth the icing on the cake layers and also to pick up things…like these cookies!

7. A large whisk. It may seem obvious, but you really need a large whisk in your kitchen. Great uses for a whisk include beating egg whites for macarons, scrambling eggs and making creamy citrus curd.

If you have a request for a post you’d like to see in the future, email me and I’ll do my best to get it up! Thanks so much for reading every day—your comments mean the world to me!

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  • Stacy @ Every Little Thing
    March 26, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Ugh a Silpat is next on my list! Good to know, thanks. I’ll keep this list handy!

  • Michele @ Healthy Cultivations
    March 26, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Good post. Are the Silpats difficult to clean?

    And you can actually find quite a few utensils at Dollar General too. They have the spatulas, a microplane, and more. It’s incredible what you can get for a buck!

  • Jenny
    March 26, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Thanks for sharing! I am in need of a silpat BADLY. I hate buying parchment paper:)

  • Laura @FoodSnobSTL
    March 26, 2011 at 7:07 am

    I never use my sifter for actually sifting either! It’s also good for straining yogurt to make greek yogurt. Just line is with a piece of cheesecloth, and let the yogurt strain for a few hours in the fridge.

  • Christina
    March 26, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Great post! A silpat seems like a smart buy.

  • J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)
    March 26, 2011 at 7:21 am

    I need to buy Silpats! They would be so handy and save so much parchment. 🙂

  • Maria
    March 26, 2011 at 7:29 am

    The slipmat and zester are on my list of things to buy! Maybe I’ll add them to our registry 🙂

  • Jessica @ How Sweet
    March 26, 2011 at 7:31 am

    I couldn’t live without my microplane!

  • Gretchen
    March 26, 2011 at 7:32 am

    I am going to put a silpat on my wish list! They do seem pretty amazing! Love the blog…makes my day!

  • Amy
    March 26, 2011 at 7:33 am

    I still can’t seem to give up my parchment paper (but I am willing to try), and I too am a microplane obsessive!

  • Debbie B (DebaRooRoo)
    March 26, 2011 at 7:34 am

    I have the same microplane!! 🙂 I really really want a silpat and might just get myself one :).

  • Ashley
    March 26, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Silpat. NEED one. Have everything else but sadly, don’t use them as much as I would like. Especially the frosting utensils. MMMM. Frosting.

  • Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen
    March 26, 2011 at 7:34 am

    My mom gave me a couple of silpats. I kept them for about six months before I ever tried them & now I use them every day! Love this post!

  • Elena T
    March 26, 2011 at 7:38 am

    I never thought to buy a silpat. Now I think is veru useful.

  • Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope
    March 26, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I’ve never even heard of a silpat before! What a great idea. And I completely agree… some kitchen items should be an investment, but others do not need to be spent a fortune on!

  • Ingrid
    March 26, 2011 at 7:51 am

    i have wanted a silpat forever! i used my mom’s all the time when i was living at home. and the microplane is THE BEST! i got two for Christmas, one like yours and one that grates just a little bit bigger. i practically never use my garlic press anymore at all. microplaning is so much easier and faster! i found a great restaurant depot storehere in jacksonville and you can buy all sorts of awesome kitchen/cook/bakeware for cheap that is heavy duty and awesome. sooo fun to go shopping at there!

  • Jenna{frombostonwithlove}
    March 26, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Thanks for this!! Always wondered if the silpats were worth. Gonna get me a few now 🙂

  • Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather
    March 26, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I have been loving my silpat since I got it! Seriously parchment paper is expensive. Major money saver.

  • Michelle
    March 26, 2011 at 8:35 am

    How do you clean your silpat? I made cookies on mine the other day and now I have little buttery circles on it that I can’t wash off.

  • Stacy @ LoveDiscoveryGratitude
    March 26, 2011 at 9:06 am

    Nice! I would like to get a pastry bag & tip. Especially since I usually have such a horrible time with frosting! haha

    • Amanda @ Martinis At Six
      March 26, 2011 at 10:44 am

      Pastry bags and tips really are one of the best tools to have! I use mine whenever I make cupcakes, it doesn’t take much more effort that using a plain old butter knife but the results are amazing!

  • Emily @ Savory and Savage
    March 26, 2011 at 9:09 am

    lol, I have the exact same sifter.

    I really do need to pick up a couple of Silpats though…

  • Natalia - a side of simple
    March 26, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I have to admit, I would definitely have to add dark chocolate and wine to that list. Really, those are essential tools!

  • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing
    March 26, 2011 at 9:31 am

    This is wonderful! I try very hard to keep things simple, so I like that your list isn’t a mile long, and that you use everything on here. 🙂 I need to look into a silpat; I use obscene amounts of (supposedly eco-friendly) parchment, but if I could have something to reuse, that would clearly be the better choice! Thanks for sharing.

  • Katherine: Unemployed
    March 26, 2011 at 10:28 am

    spatulas are fantastic! I’m thinking about getting an apple corer but am not sure about it. couldn’t live without a can opener

  • sam
    March 26, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Love the dollar store for kitchen supplies, also just made your pumpkin whoopie pies and they were delish!! i forward everyone to your website. =) Also, just visited Livermore Cali, I know you love Napa but you should try out Livermore. Beautiful rolling hills with MANY vineyards and I did my first wine tasting it was amazing and the people are wonderful, not alot of tourists!

  • Lauren L.
    March 26, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Great post! But I disagree that a peeler is not just a peeler — I grew up in a household where my mom would just buy the little metal ones at the store. I think that this one by Oxo works leaps and bounds better than others I have tried and it even works on tricky things like butternut squash:

    Happy cooking!

    • Rose-Anne
      March 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm

      Yes! I was going to pipe in and say the same thing about the peeler and butternut squash! A good peeler is a must if you do a lot of vegetable prep, and it’s also nice for shaving cheese.

      Having had a lot of cheaper kitchen stuff before upgrading to more expensive stuff, I’d say this: you get what you pay for. You can get by with less expensive stuff, but the high-quality goods make cooking so much nicer. I received a lot of my good kitchenware as gifts, and it makes me feel so loved.

  • odette @ theonlyplanetwithchocolate
    March 26, 2011 at 11:34 am

    What a helpful post!! 🙂 I’ve wanted a silpat forever but am always apprehensive to spend a lot of money on them. Do you know if you have to get one from a top-end store in order for them to be effective, or would a cheaper one do??

  • Moni'sMeals
    March 26, 2011 at 11:34 am

    great list! I have almost everything I need. 🙂

  • Baking 'n' Books
    March 26, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Oh God. I really am not a baker or a cook. I don’t think I use any of these.

    Oy. And I also have never heard of the word “Silpat” prior to this.

    Oh well – at least I learned something? 😉 My fave “tools” include a George Foreman, Skillet for sauteing stuff in oil, a knife, fork, spoon…hmm, yeah that sounds about right. Oh and a bowl – of course – silly me 🙂

  • Diana @ frontyardfoodie
    March 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    I’m just missing that silicone mat! I love my silicone spatulas though!

    One thing that I use constantly is my hand lemon juicer. I couldn’t live without it now that I have it!

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    March 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I love your list of tools, Jenna. It’s so ironic b/c I consider myself to have “tons” of tools and gadgets, i.e. a Vitamix, a Blendtec, a dehydrator, juicer, espresso maker, and I do have a zester, and sifter, but your list really showcases the baker in you. I really want to become a better baker…for starters, I have put off buying a Kitchen Aid but I think I am just going to break down and do it 🙂

    In the future, posts on where you find :
    blog dishes, linens, props
    photography tips
    and any other little tidbits you want to share 🙂

  • Amy D
    March 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Yay!! I have been waiting for this post. Thank you. 🙂

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss
    March 26, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    It’s kind of funny- I do so much baking yet don’t have a whisk, a proper mixing bowl, or oven mits. 😛 So not only do you not need expensive fancy stuff, but you can make do without the cheap stuff sometimes, too!

  • Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}
    March 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I love how your list of must-have tools is simple. Makes what you do seem attainable. 😉

  • Jen
    March 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    A silpat is definitely going on my to-get list. I go through too much parchment paper. A standing mixer bowl is also on my list. That’s got to be one YOU use often, considering all the yummy baked goods you’re constantly making!

  • Deanna
    March 26, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Is that brick in the background your fireplace? Looks cute! You should take a picture of it and share 🙂

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin
    March 26, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    This list just made me realize how many kitchen tools I’m lacking! A microplane is definitely on my wishlist. 😀

  • Emma (Namaste Everyday)
    March 26, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I really like my garlic press, it saves a lot of garlic-mincing time!

  • Michelle (The Runner's Plate)
    March 26, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I’m glad to hear that it is okay to buy cheap kitchen tools (within reason)! I’m all about saving money, but I also know when it comes to good, quality items, the extra money is totally worth it!

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    March 26, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Great tips. When I set out on my own, I went shopping for kitchen utensils at my Grandma’s place 😉 It’s th best store – you don’t have to pay and you get old stuff made of really good quality! Hehe…so much fun!

  • Megan@Dirty Dishes Daily
    March 26, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    That Silpats looks amazing…I that is defiantly on my list now. My blender is probably my favorite kitchen item.

  • Marie@feedingfive
    March 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    After wanting them for a year or so I invested in some silpat liners. I love them so much. Sometimes all you have to do is wipe them down. Every time saver counts.

  • Sam [Low Carbon Diet]
    March 26, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Ooo this post literally just made me order a Silpat on amazon immediately! haha

    (they should send you free stuff…

  • MMiller
    March 26, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I am proud to say that I have most of your top tools/gadgets! Just missing the microplane! I really could have used that trying to make those Cuban black beans the other day! And I only have ONE Silpat!

  • Marla
    March 26, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Love to see more posts about yoga…in particular the Baptiste challenge you just did.
    Also love more breakfast and lunch posts like you used to do-that would be awesome!!

    Cheers Jenna 🙂

  • Marla
    March 26, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    PS Oh yeah, and would love a tour of your apt (but only if you are comfortable showing
    us some!!!)

  • Sarah @ The Pajama Chef
    March 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    great post! i agree with you on most everything…but i think a quality peeler is a must! i have 2 and my cheap-o target one does. not. work. at. all! so i recommend a high quality peeler… just sayin’ 🙂

  • sonia
    March 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Wonderful post…. !

  • MrsZ
    March 27, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Thank you SO much for this post! 🙂 Now excuse me while I’m off to do some shopping… 😉

  • Paige
    March 27, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Thanks for this post! I guess I need to go get myself a Silpat 🙂

  • Khushboo
    March 27, 2011 at 6:04 am

    Wow! And I thought I was clued up about kitchen appliances. Great post!

  • Kelsey @ Snacking Squirrel
    March 27, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Sifters and potato mashers are my favourites right now. Especially the potato masher since..well, its just fun to use!! <3 xoxo

  • Kristin @ Kristin Eats
    March 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    OH MY WORD the offset spatula. I just bought one last week and already know it’s my favorite new tool.

  • Simply Life
    March 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Great products! I LOVE having a silicone mat!

  • Julie
    March 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Jenna, I just bought two silpats this morning off Amazon…thanks for the inspiration! While I was there I couldn’t help but purchase the MAC eyeshadow in Swiss Chocolate…it sounded too good to pass up. Thank you again for the wonderful blog…I’ve been checking it multiple times a day for two years now. Your pictures, your food, and your book recommendations are all priceless. Thank you!

  • Amy
    March 27, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Love this post Jenna! I actually am going through this battle (in my head of course) in regards to a panini press! There are so many out there and honestly; I just want panini’s in my life without having to go out to restaurant to get one! Suggestions anyone??

  • Jez
    March 28, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Can you do an updated post on your skin care regime? And make up? Thanks!

  • Stina
    March 28, 2011 at 9:06 am

    A Silpat is nxt on my list, but really, I want to thank you for microplane + garlic. I finally bought a microplate for zesting, but using it for garlic is brilliant!!!

  • Amber K
    March 28, 2011 at 9:42 am

    I have wanted a silpat for forever, and then I saw how much they were! Ouch! I rarely use parchment paper so it seemed like a huge expense….until I see yet another use for them on a blog and think dang it! 🙂

  • Jen
    March 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm


    are silpats good for roasting veggies with garlic and oil? i read some stuff online that you shouldn’t use oil on them?


    • jenna
      March 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm

      for that, I would use tin foil! Oil would be annoying to get off the silpat (though I’m sure you probably COULD)..

  • Crystal
    August 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Can you use a silpat in a gas oven?

    • jenna
      August 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm


  • Heather @ farmgirlgonechicgoan
    July 25, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Love these tools! I really want to go get a Silpat now, seems so smart and is something in my 1,000 tools of a kitchen that I do not have. Thanks for the advice!