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Plant-based cooking is simple, and as such it’s best to keep your kitchen simple too. You don’t need a ton of gadgets clogging up your cabinets, and many of the things you do need you likely have on hand already. So, before you spend your hard earned money on expensive tools, read on to see if they are really necessary. Cross check your kitchen inventory with my top 10 vegan kitchen tools, and don’t forget to grab my Complete Plant-Based Kitchen Tools Guide HERE!
When I was putting together my wedding registry eons ago, my mom insisted that I register for a food processor. I had no idea what I was going to do with a food processor. As a kid I watched my mom use hers for a number of meat dishes she made, as well as her superb and delicious gazpacho, but I wasn’t sure as a vegetarian (at the time) if I needed one. I registered for one per her request, and I am so glad I did! Since following a whole food plant-based diet my food processor has become one of my essential vegan kitchen tools.
I use it several times a week. I use my food processor to make veggie burgers, veggie loaves, banana nice creams, quickly chop or shred vegetables, prepare dough, and so much more! It dramatically cuts back on my food prep time, which as a busy mom of two is necessary in order to make meals for my family fast. I recommend getting a 9 cup food processor at a minimum. The smaller ones just don’t hold as much and you’ll end up needing to work in batches. It’s so much easier to throw in all the ingredients at once and pulse.
A high speed blender is one of those things I waited awhile to purchase because of the price tag. I had a blender that I received as a wedding gift. It did the job for smoothies okay, but when I added my leafy greens I still had tiny pieces floating around. I didn’t mind that too much, but my kids didn’t like it at all. When my blender’s motor died, I decided to upgrade to a high speed blender. No more tiny spinach pieces floating in my smoothies anymore! I was also able to make nut butters in my blender, and creamy dairy free soups. The Vitamix is the most versatile but also the most expensive. A good mid-range high speed blender is the Blendtec Classic. The Ninja Professional is an excellent high speed blender at a very affordable price.
Making vegetable noodles is a breeze with a spiralizer. My husband ate veggie noodles a lot when he would go on a low carb diet. He’d pick up the pre-packaged spiral noodles from the grocery store in the pre-cut vegetable or frozen section. They were extremely expensive. I figured the cost of a spiralizer would pay for itself, and it has! This spiralizer comes with a cookbook, and handy attachments to make vegetable pastas, vegetable chips, and beautiful salads. It’s a great way to sneak extra veggies in your kids meals too.
4. Crockpot or Instant Pot
My crockpot is one of my best-friends in the kitchen. This is another one of those kitchen tools I remember from my childhood. My mom worked full time as a teacher. Her time saving trick was to throw a protein, a can of tomatoes, a few vegetables, maybe a chopped potato in the crockpot, and when we all got home from school our house was filled with the scent of dinner.
I make plant-based crockpot meals at least once a week to cook dried beans, which saves a ton of money compared to buying canned beans. I also use it to make curries, soups, and chilis. You can use your crockpot to prepare breakfast too. I prep a fruity oatmeal or warm quinoa before I go to bed, and in the morning I wake up to the smell of cinnamon.
An instant pot is another option for pulling together a quick meal when you get home from work. Either or both are great time savers for cooking vegetables. making flavorful soups, preparing lentils, and beans.
5. Tofu Press
If you’re going to introduce tofu into your plant-based lifestyle and you want the meat-eaters in your family to actually eat it, you need a tofu press. It’s one of those essential vegan kitchen tools you probably don’t have in your kitchen.
For the longest time I prepared tofu by cutting it into chunks, marinating, and then throwing it into a stir-fry or bowl. I’d serve it to my kids and husband, and they’d push the tofu to the side of their plate. They hated the texture.
Then I got a tofu press. It presses out the water in tofu improving both the texture and the taste. With firmer tofu, my family gave it another chance. Now they actually like tofu!
One pot meals are one of my favorite ways to get dinner on the table. A large dutch oven or stock pot works perfectly for making chilis, soups, and curries. I also use mine to boil water for pasta, then toss it with sauce and veggies.
I love the Calphalon Stainless Dutch Oven because it’s safe to use in the oven, on the stove, and clean-up is a breeze because it’s dishwasher safe too. Although, I find it cleans up quite easily with warm water and soap. It cooks evenly, and has straining holes making it easy to drain pasta or remove excess liquid. I’m slowly converting my non-stick cookware to stainless cookware for safety reasons, and I find that this stainless dutch oven works just as well as the non-stick one I used for years.
Pancakes, veggie burgers, tofu, veggies, stir-fries, a large frying pan is a necessity. It serves so many purposes. I like a frying pan that also has a lid for versatility. When you’re reducing oil or not using oil at all, having the ability to sauté veggies, and make pancakes can be tricky if you’re not using a non-stick pan. As I mentioned above I’m phasing out my non-stick cookware for safer teflon free cookware. I discovered a brand called Green Pan that makes 100% toxin free non-stick cookware. I use their 10-inch frying pan and 4.5 qt sauté pan. You can also get a set that includes an 8 inch and 11 inch covered frying pan.
Roasting vegetables, baking your own fries, or making a batch of vegan cookies, an extra large sheet pan is just the thing to save you time.
As I’ve been phasing out my non-stick cookware, I’ve also thrown out all my old plastic food storage containers, and have replenished my supply with glass storage containers. Having glass storage containers in various sizes are great for keeping chopped vegetables, storing leftovers, or making single serving meals with leftovers to take for lunch. I have this 24 piece set. I like it because it’s leak proof, making it perfect to bring lunch on the go. It’s also completely safe as it’s BPA free, FDA approved, and can be thrown into the dishwasher or microwave.
A super simple and inexpensive tool to amp up the flavor in your plant-based meals is a microplane. I use mine to zest lemons, limes, and oranges for a citrusy flavor in dressings like my maple dijon oil-free dressing on this Summer Berry Salad. I grate fresh ginger for curries, stir-fries, and other recipes. You can use it to shred fresh coconut, or chocolate for desserts too.
This list is a sampling of my Essential Vegan Kitchen Tools. Be sure to grab my complete list to help you build your plant-based kitchen, and cross check my list with what you have already. Slowly build your kitchen tools as you experiment more with plant-based cooking.