6 Cooking Tools to Pack for Your Vacation Rental Kitchen

These are your *true* travel essentials
What to Take to a Vacation Rental Kitchen
Photo: Felix Oberhage/Getty Images

Summer rentals are a beautiful thing—where else can you get sweeping ocean views, wooded trails or a charming lakeside dock? But chances are there’s going to be one thing missing from even the most picture-perfect Airbnb: a well-equipped kitchen. When you’re at home, you’ve probably got rows of perfectly sharpened Wüsthofs to work with; when you’re on vacation, you’re probably facing a skeletal cluster of dull knives and grimy spatulas.

Instead of making do, plan ahead with a kitchen Dopp kit; these six essentials will bring one of the best parts of summer weekends—that is, cooking with friends and family—well within reach.

Caroline Coral is a food and travel writer who splits her time between Philadelphia and the Caribbean. Follow her on Instagram at @caroline.f.coral.

  • Pans

    Packing a well-seasoned cast-iron pan and a trusty nonstick pan is an ultra-pro move if you’re driving. Cast irons have been around for thousands of years and are designed for use on open flames. And that nonstick? Well, good luck trying to make a beautifully rolled omelet in that rental's dinged-up skillet.

    Le Creuset Nonstick Fry Pan, $100

  • Microplane

    This woodworking staple-cum-kitchen tool is a multipurpose miracle. It will grate clouds of Parmigiano for pasta, zest citrus down to the pith and work wonders on ginger and garlic. Don’t want to pack the full size? No problem—just grab a mini plane.

    Microplane Premium Spice Grater, $10

  • Tongs

    Don’t light up the grill without having a sturdy pair of metal tongs close by—seriously, it’s bad news. From flipping steaks to gently turning fillets of fish or shifting around charcoal embers, there’s nothing a good pair of pincers won’t do during grilling season.

    All-Clad Professional Locking Tongs, $26

  • Silicon Spatula

    Any old metal spatula will do the trick when flipping burgers, but for more nuanced tasks like over-easy eggs and pancakes, a flexible and heatproof spatula is all about finesse and flexibility.

    Staub Olivewood & Silicone Spatula, $25

  • Knives

    The dull specimens found in the cutlery drawers of most summer rentals are enough to make even the most resourceful cook shed a tear. Grab a kitchen towel, roll up your favorite chef’s knife and you’re good to go. Bonus points for packing a tomato knife that does double duty with its bread-friendly serrated blade.  

    Wüsthof Classic Ikon Cook's Knife, $160

  • Spices and Oil

    Vacation rental pantries are often filled with questionably old spices, or even worse: just enough kosher salt to get you only halfway through your recipe. Luckily, everything from extra-virgin olive oil to flaky fleur de sel comes in miniaturized bottles and tins, perfect for stealthily fitting into your luggage.

    Fleur de Sel French Sea Salt, $21

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