Forget the impeccable celebrity kitchens you see on TV home tours—a serious cook is more likely to prioritize access to their favorite kitchen tools over photogenic, styled counters. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice aesthetics entirely in the name of workflow: The humble utensil crock can be a personalized touch that keeps counters cute and wooden spoons handy when the—oh no, the shallots are burning!—happens.
We wanted to peel back the curtain a bit to show off how Serious Eats staffers store their gear and which of our winning kitchen utensils have become everyday can’t-live-withouts. So, buckle up (or put your tongs in the locked position), because it’s time to take a peek at the lifestyles (read: utensil crocks) of the rich (stock-making) and famous* (*unsubstantiated claim).
The Double Utensil Crock
I used to have two mismatched utensil crocks but decided I hated that look and bought a matching pair of cream ones (the ones I have are hard to find, but the Williams Sonoma ones are pretty close). I’ve had them for a couple of years now and they haven’t chipped, though I do wish they were larger. I’ve divided the utensils by crock: The right crock holds wooden utensils (including ones with wooden handles) and the left holds, well, non-wooden things—whisks, silicone spatulas, spiders, ladles, etc etc etc. Across the two, some of my favorite, most-used utensils include the following: Earlywood flat spatulas for general stirring/sauteeing, GIR silicone spatulas (I love the colors, like the speckly Barcelona), numerous fish spatulas, a balloon whisk (the diamond-shaped texture on the GIR is truly wonderful and grippy), a spider (I have the Rosle model), and a pair of kitchen tweezers. — Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, senior commerce editor
The Jam-Packed Utensil Crock
I just have one big white ceramic utensil crock in my kitchen (I have a second one for all my overflow utensils in a cabinet in my dining room). The crock in active use is fairly wide, which I like since I jam so many things in it…without a doubt, too many things. There are my sauce spoons and serving spoons and slotted spoons, my ladles and spatulas (two slotted offsets for me, the lefty, and my wife the righty, plus a silicone one for nonstick skillets), whisks in varying sizes, a microplane, cooking chopsticks, a potato masher, tongs, etc. Having it so jam-packed isn’t ideal—often I end up pulling things out by accident when they get caught on each other—but it works, I guess. — Daniel Gritzer, senior culinary director
The Utensil Crock Upgrade
My husband bought me this utensil crock a few years ago, and it was a big upgrade from the narrow, glass flower vase I was using as a stand-in crock prior to this. I love that it is sturdy and feels secure, with no risk of it tipping over when I quickly reach into it for a whisk or spatula. It’s wide by my standards, about six inches in diameter, so I can fit all of my daily go-to utensils into it without feeling like I need a second crock taking up my precious counter space. Must-haves in my stove-side crock are a sturdy wooden spoon, a thin metal fish spatula, a rubber spatula, a metal whisk, and at least one set of tongs. I have a drawer full of other kitchen utensils that I don’t use regularly. Items like a potato masher or silicone whisk, or backup wooden spoons I keep tucked away and off my counter, but still in my kitchen ready to use. Tip: Clip your tongs onto the side of your crock to keep them securely in place and take up less valuable real estate in your crock. — Leah Colins, senior culinary editor
The Heritage Brand Utensil Crock
I have a lovely Marseille blue Le Creuset utensil crock that is displayed in a place of prominence in my kitchen. And, while undeniably classic and beautiful, I’ve gone and made it look rather like Medusa’s head with spoons, spatulas, whisks, wok chuan, spider, handheld Microplanes, and more sticking out of it. What can I say? I like having my coterie of cooking utensils within easy arms’ reach, particularly wooden spoons, which I grab with great frequency (to stir aromatics, mostly), and kitchen tongs (I LOVE my pair from OXO so much that I have two, and have to really shove them both in my crock to get them to fit). I do wish my crock was slightly larger so I could cram it with even more stuff, but perhaps I should just invest in a second crock. — Grace Kelly, associate commerce editor
The Not-a-Utensil Crock Rack
Counter space is at a premium in our house (what with the stand mixer, soda maker, toaster oven, and dish rack hogging all the space), so we decided to ditch the crock for a magnetic hanging utensil rack. Because our stove is crammed right next to the fridge (old house problems), everything we need is within reach. I’m a huge fan of my OXO tongs and the FAAY wooden spoon, which get used every time I cook anything, but it’s also a great place to store my fish spatula, fine-mesh strainer, ladle, and this oversized slotted spoon that’s basically a mini-colander. Look, it’s not perfect—anything with a metal handle gets blazing hot when you’re boiling water for pasta—but the immediate access is worth a few singed fingertips. Everything we cook with that’s more prep-focused (like a bench scraper) fits nicely in a drawer, out of sight. — Jesse Raub, commerce writer
The Practical and Aspirational Utensil Crock(s)
While I have enough tools to fill at least four utensil bins, our minuscule NYC kitchen requires I cram them all into a mere two. One is a heavy porcelain number of unknown make and model, and the other is a decent-sized stainless steel bin made by All-Clad, which came bundled with several silicone-tipped spatulas I’m quite fond of.
The contents of my utensil bins are as practical as they are aspirational, holding both tools I use quite often and some that see almost no regular action. The collection includes a vintage fish spatula with a cracked (and superglued) bakelite handle; balloon whisks and flat whisks, both large and small; ladles, both European and Japanese; a wooden Rancho Gordo machacadora (a sort of utensil-sized wooden stick with a blunt end, used in Mexico for mashing beans); all manner of silicone spatulas; some rather dull rasp-style graters; stainless steel spoons and spatulas; a potato masher; bar spoons; tongs; long tweezers (which are incredible for a wide range of tasks); bamboo spatulas; a deep-fry thermometer; a Danish dough whisk; spiders and strainers; wok ladles and spatulas; and one silicone spatula from Williams-Sonoma featuring a caricature of Jeff Bridges as The Dude stirring a bowl, emblazoned with the phrase “Let’s Go Bowling.” — Jacob Dean, updates editor
How do you store cooking utensils?
There are a lot of different ways to store cooking utensils, but a utensil crock keeps your go-to tools handy when you need them most. There are a variety of styles of utensil crocks, but the most common version is a round, glazed ceramic container that’s heavy enough so it won’t tip over, even when it’s jam-packed. They’re best kept by the stove just in case you need to grab some tongs mid-cooking.
Should utensils be stored handle up or down?
We think it’s a mix—utensils like wooden spoons take up too much space if the spoon end is stored down, and the handle is usually long enough to grab no matter which way it’s oriented. Tongs, on the other hand, are best stored with the handle side up and the two ends of the tongs straddling the lip of the crock so they take up less space. Either way, the goal is to find what works best for storage and for grabbing tools when you need them.
How do you organize utensil crocks?
The best way to organize utensil crocks is by putting the tools you use most frequently towards the edges. That way they’re easier to grab in the moment and you don’t have to fumble through, say, a potato masher when your sauce is burning and needs to be stirred. You can also organize your tools in multiple crocks to make it easier to sort.
Why We’re the Experts
- Jesse Raub is the commerce writer for Serious Eats. He’s been at the site for about a year and previously worked in the specialty coffee industry for the past 15 years.
- This piece gathered feedback from the majority of the Serious Eats team. Not only do we review kitchen equipment professionally, but we cook every day—developing some of the most rigorously tested, best recipes around.