At its most basic, a kitchen does not need fancy appliances and shelves full of gadgets. In fact, there are only a few dozen essential pieces of equipment you need to cook great food at home. Follow along in our new series, Kitchen Toolboxto find out what tools you should own and grab recommendations for our chef’s favorite brands, when applicable. And, watch our chef go through the whole toolbox in this video

A wooden spoon is a must have in the kitchen. You’ll pick up your wooden spoon almost every time you cook, whether you’re sautéing onions or stirring up a pot of mushroom chili

There are two reasons that a wooden spoon is such an essential tool. First, it’s non-abrasive. The soft, rounded wood won’t scratch up your delicate or nonstick pans, but the edge is still firm enough to scrape up any sucs from the bottom. Second, the wooden spoon is non-conductive. That means even if the bowl of the spoon is in a hot pot of stew, the handle will still feel cool to the touch. That means you won’t burn your hand while cooking!

We like this spoon, from Williams-Sonoma, if you’re looking to pick one up for yourself.