My husband and I love to cook at home and for the most part we’d say we’re pretty good at it (even if we are just a little biased on that opinion).

When friends and family who struggle in the kitchen have asked us how to get better at cooking, we offer them a few pieces of advice. No one is really born as a great cook and anyone can be a better cook.

Along with learning and practicing different techniques, making sure to season food properly (this is one that might seem obvious, but too many people skip it!) and following favorite recipes closely when starting out to get a feel for what works is owning the right tools.

I compiled this list not just from what we use and love, but also got input from current and former pro chefs on what tools they felt made working in the kitchen better and easier.

No gimmicks here, just tried and true kitchen workhorses that make most tasks significantly more simplified, more enjoyable and more efficient.

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Sabatier Flex Turner Fish Spatula (via Amazon, $12.59)

Even if you don’t eat fish, this is probably the best spatula you’ll ever buy. The thin, almost sharp edge is perfect for sliding under delicate foods, such as fish, as well as hardier items like pancakes and country-style omelettes. The shape also makes it suitable for smash burgers and breaking up ground meat.

Wüsthof Classic High Carbon Steel 3 Piece Chef’s Knife Set (via Amazon, $229.95)

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of investing in good knives. This carbon steel set is not only built to last (in the words of my cousin who is a former chef, “these knives will probably outlive me”) but also beginner-friendly by including the most useful and essential knives: chef’s, paring and utility. If you spend money on just one thing to upgrade your cooking, let it be these great quality knives.

Lantana Smart Sharp Knife Sharpener (via Amazon UK, $10.95)

If you invest in good knives, it’s important to keep them sharp both for optimal performance and for safety.

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven, 7 1/4-Qt., (via Williams-Sonoma, $400)

A great quality dutch oven is another kitchen workhorse that’s meant to last a lifetime. The enameled cast iron pot goes from stovetop to oven easily. I use this for making my best Bolognese sauces, osso buco and other slow cooked braises and you can even bake bread in it! Also comes in a dozen colors so you can either match your current kitchen decor or just add a fun pop of color to make you smile while cooking.

For a quality alternative at a more budget-friendly price, there’s the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron 5.5 Quart Dutch Oven (via Walmart, ON SALE $39.94)

Baking Sheets with Racks (via Amazon, $29.79)

Not just for baking cookies! Good sheet trays are also indispensable for roasting, especially vegetables to enhance and deepen their flavors. The racks are useful for letting fried foods cool without grease pooling at the bottom or allowing meat to rest for a few minutes before serving. Kitchen hack: if you’re making smashed potatoes, spread the taters out on one baking sheet after boiling, then press down on top of the potatoes with the other baking sheet to make quick work out of smashing spuds.

Silicone Baking Mats (via Amazon, $27.99)

These food-safe silicone reusable and dishwasher-safe liners are not only super environmentally friendly but also make cleanup a breeze. No oil needed, whether you’re baking cookies, cakes or roasting meats or fish everything comes off with zero effort, no sticking at all.

Mueller Austria Ultra-Stick 500 Watt 9-Speed Immersion Blender (via Amazon, ON SALE $34.97)

This is one of those kitchen tools that you don’t quite realize how much you needed it until you get one. We use ours for everything from making smoothies and shakes, pureeing San Marzano tomatoes for home made pasta sauce, vegetable soups right in the pot, baby foods, mashed cauliflower to even making our own mayo (it’s delicious and so much easier and faster than you think!). This one comes with a bonus whisk and coffee frother attachment too!

Hamilton Beach Bowl Scraper 10 Cup Food Processor (via Walmart, $44.99)

This food processor not only works great for mincing veggies and making salsa and guac, it also has a disk attachment for veggies to julienne, etc if you’re still refining your knife skills.

Tofuture Tofu Press (via Amazon, $27.95)

What the heck is a tofu press and why would you want one? Whether you’re experienced with plant-based diets or are just looking to have more Meatless Mondays in your home, this tool helps to get extra moisture out of tofu to help improve and firm the texture as well as help it absorb flavors and marinades better. A vegan friend swears by it.

Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester Grater (via Amazon, $14.99)

One of the most useful and versatile tools in our kitchen, used for grating hard cheeses and whole garlic cloves, fresh nutmeg and cinnamon, ginger, citrus zest and more. A kitchen workhorse that’s also great value.

Which of these tools have you found essential? Any that you think I left out? Let me know below in the comments!