The Best Gear for Teen Cooks

Do you know any teens who are ready to level up their kitchen game?

The Complete Cookbook for Teen Chefs is the latest in our series of our cookbooks for young chefs. It begins with fundamental kitchen techniques and then moves on to more than 70 teen-tested, teen-approved recipes that range from simple breakfasts to family dinners to showstopping desserts. This week we gathered all the basic cookware, bakeware, and knives we think teens will need in the kitchen. Although most teens are old enough to work with adult-size tools, we included some of our favorite equipment for kids, too. By empowering teens to enter the kitchen and make their own choices, America’s Test Kitchen is creating a new generation of confident cooks, engaged eaters, and curious experimenters.

—Carolyn Grillo, Senior Editor, ATK Reviews

This light, smooth bamboo spoon was broad enough to churn bulky stews, yet small enough to rotate a single chunk of beef without disturbing surrounding pieces. Its rectangular handle was comfortable to grip; its head had the most surface area in contact with the pan, so it excelled at scraping fond. Stain-resistant, it emerged after testing looking closest to new.

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Our winning spoons had a simple design that allowed for a continuous, bump-free sweep, with a ball-chain connector (similar to what military dog tags hang on) that was easy to open and close. This set's metal construction felt remarkably sturdy, and ingredients didn't cling to the stainless steel. And while the 1-tablespoon measure did not fit into all spice jars, it was a minor inconvenience for an otherwise easy-to-use set.

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The long length, smoothing rolling motion, and slightly heavier weight of this pin made rolling pie dough a breeze. After completing the official testing, one of our 10-year-old testers went back to using this pin, saying that she found it easiest to use. Another kid tester, Charlie, happily summarized, “It’s heavier so you don’t have to press on it as much.” Although only slightly lighter than our winning pin for adults, this model’s comfortable handles and shorter length helped children control the pin, making it an excellent choice for children.  More on this test

Our longtime inexpensive favorite remains a pleasure to use. With a sharp, gently curved blade, it effortlessly dispatched every task we set before it, mincing garlic precisely and breaking down chicken and dense butternut squash with authority. Its light weight and rounded spine made it easy to wield for long periods, and its textured plastic handle was comfortable to grip for hands of all sizes.

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Testers found this small knife best suited for more minor kitchen tasks such as slicing an apple. Its thin, bendy blade reminded us of a boning knife and, indeed, its flexibility and stature made it dexterous enough to easily and comfortably break down a chicken. However, this flexibility required testers to apply more force to keep the blade steady, which meant it took longer to chop onions, mince parsley, and cube butternut squash. This knife is well suited for someone who doesn’t have a lot of confidence using a traditional chef’s knife. But for those doing a significant amount of chopping, slicing, or mincing, we still recommend our favorite 8-inch chef’s knife.

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The shorter version of our favorite 12-inch tongs, this model easily picked up foods of all shapes and sizes—from dainty blueberries to a hefty jar of salsa—and was extremely comfortable to operate. The uncoated, scalloped stainless-steel tips allowed us a precise grip, making it especially easy to lift and arrange thinly sliced fruit, and the tongs' locking mechanism was smooth and intuitive.

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Seamless silicone surrounds a sturdy polymer core, making this spatula easy to clean and comfortable in hand. The flexible head handily maneuvers in tight corners and edges but is strong enough to scoop heavy food. It’s also available in a mini version, perfect for petite jars.

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This thin, lightweight plastic model was easy to hold and lift but was also stable on the counter thanks to its grippy rubber sides. It’s dishwasher-safe, and while it got a bit scratched by the end of testing, it was otherwise intact, resisting warping, cracking, or staining and retaining no odors. Testers liked cutting on its textured plastic surface and appreciated that one of its sides had a small trench for collecting juices from roasts or wet foods.

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This mini-muffin tin impressed us with baked goods that were perfectly golden brown and more evenly baked than those made in any other tin. The fairly narrow cups hold 2⅓ tablespoons each, which is the perfect size to produce attractive food that is tender yet fully cooked at the center. Food released easily, and the tin was comfortable to maneuver in and out of the oven due to its roomy 1¼-inch exterior rim.

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This set was almost perfect: It came with five of our essential tips, including a large open star tip for cupcake swirls and rosettes. The plastic bags were easy to handle, effortless to clean up afterward, and durable (we only once broke a bag, while piping duchess potatoes). Unfortunately, this set lacked a large closed star tip and a coupler. Some pros also thought the 12-inch bags were too small. Most agreed that this is a great starter set if you buy a few extras to round it out.

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This ice pop mold was the easiest to use of all those we tested. Its detachable molds had clear fill lines and wide openings, making them a breeze to fill and clean. And it featured slender plastic sticks with unobtrusive drip guards and long, textured handles, making the resulting pops easy to grip and eat. Our only gripe? The drip guards aren’t removable, so you can’t make layers.

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While these short, colorful mitts didn't provide the same forearm coverage as our favorite pair, all our kid testers found them comfortable and maneuverable. Though the company does not recommend that kids use the oven or stove while wearing the mitts, this pair stayed cool for more than 30 seconds when we put them to work with a 350-degree baking sheet. They were also perfectly safe for moderately hot tasks such as putting cookie sheets into the oven or holding on to a warm pan while transferring food to a platter or cooling rack.

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