Essential Tools

Different Strokes for Different Folks: 14 Aprons for 14 Kinds of Cooks

December  8, 2015

We recognize the importance of a good frying pan, a sharp knife, and a well-seasoned cast iron.

But an apron? It's an essential kitchen tool often overlooked. An apron makes it easier to relax in the kitchen: With a soft, well-loved apron around you, protecting your clothes from mess, you have the freedom to get that pan really hot or use your hands to blend the pie dough.

Photo by Alpha Smoot

Plus, an apron makes a perfect gift for the home cook who never realized he or she needed one so badly.

Since we have so many different types of aprons in the Shop—all of which were hand-selected and declared excellent by our team of product reviewers—here's our guide to finding the right one for you (or your loved one):

  • For the cook who just goes for it:
    Go ahead and pluck the feathers off that chicken, butcher your own meat, or wrangle a particular scary vegetable—this Grey Waxed Canvas Apron is here for you. It's rustic, sturdy, and fearless, just like you. Plus it's got plenty of pockets for keeping tools handy, along with brass hardware that'll make you feel even more badass.
  • For the resourceful weeknight warrior:
    You need the Hand-Embroidered Navy Linen Apron. With no ties or strings, it's quick to put on and take off (though the material's so soft, you'll want to live in it). So throw it on, whip yourself a quick 30-minute dinner, then shimmy it off and dig in.
You fancy, cream apron with leather tool sheath.
  • For the Thomas Keller wannabe:
    You're all about keeping it clean and neat and this Cream Apron with Leather Tool Sheath leaves no room for secrets. If you maintain an immaculate station, you'll be rewarded with a clean apron. And if you "color outside the lines," you'll have the tomato sauce streaks to remind you of your endeavors (good thing you're not really working in Per Se's kitchen).
See the resemblance?
  • For the spontaneous and sentimental:
    You pick ingredients based on what's "beautiful" at the market and you choose what to make based on how you're "feeling". And if your hands get messy, who cares? You have this lovely, laid back Summer Linen Striped Apron, with its summery pinstripes, to wipe them on.
The Black Cross-Back Apron and the Summer Linen Striped Apron.
  • For the person who's been wearing the same jeans since eighth grade:
    Give him or her something new to live in! This Hedley & Bennett Selvage Chambray Apron is super soft and only gets better with time. It's durable, so it will hold up to lots of cooking projects (that is, lots of cycles through the wash).
  • For the person who owns "frocks":
    Like your favorite dress from childhood, the Green Ticking Pinafore Apron is perfectly loose-hanging and ready to handle tomato sauce splashes (or grass stains). You won't want to take it off when you leave the house. And you don't have to.
The Chambray Apron and the Green Ticking Pinafore Apron.
  • For the home cook who's sensible, but knows when to eat pie for breakfast:
    The Cross-Back Kitchen Apron is practical yet luxurious. The material is soft yet durable, the long straps make it adjustable and comfortable, and it will keep your clothes (be they pajamas or silk blouses) spot-free. The towel loop and tool pocket mean no more errant spatulas or wandering dish towels.

    And it comes in six colors!: Get slate blue for the country kitchen cook; bark for the tree-hugger (get it?); oyster for the classicist; ocean for the pacifist; and crimson for the bleeding heart.
  • For the kids:
    Along with the lure of licking the cookie dough spatula, these mini-sized Heirloom Children Aprons will get your kids excited to help in the kitchen. (Just don't ask them to do dish duty.) Take advantage of the child + adult apron two-pack (because you should dress like your kids while they're still too young to be embarrassed by it).
  • For the go-getter in the tiny apartment:
    A stylish Green Ticking Half-Apron will make you feel like you live in a Parisian loft (even if your walk-up apartment has only enough drawer space for a tiny apron).
The Heirloom Children Apron and the Green Ticking Half-Apron.
  • For the minimalist:
    Sure strings are nice, but why have more when you could have less? The Cross Linen Apron has everything you need (oversized pockets, 100%-linen material) and nothing you don't.
The Cross Linen Apron and the Midi Fog Linen Apron.
  • For anytime, anywhere:
    Lightweight, durable, and compact, the Midi Fog Linen Apron is your new go-to kitchen accesory, wherever you are. Tuck it into your purse or briefcase (along with your tool roll. Because you never know when you'll be asked to throw together a soup.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.