These essential kitchen tools will ensure you have everything you need to cook up the most memorable meals and mouthwatering dishes. Our guide to kitchen tools you’ll actually use.
Each year there is a new influx of kitchen gadgets. It’s enough to make any home chef throw up their potholders in frustration. But the truth is, the latest and greatest don’t always make the most essential kitchen tools. And no one but the wealthiest cook has space for every wooden spoon, avocado peeler, or immersion blender that gets released.
A huge part of creating the perfect home kitchen is focusing on practicality and functionality. When it comes to picking the kitchen tools everyone must have, it’s really all about “what makes your life easier”. Because the one thing that none of us can ever get back is time.
So whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to clean out the clutter and start fresh, our comprehensive list of cookware and tools will ensure that you’re well-equipped and ready to craft some of the best dishes imaginable.
At the heart of every home kitchen is the base tool that is used in 90% of all of the recipes we make.
Cookware covers pretty much all of the pots, pans, and baking sheets we use in and around the stove and oven. It’s also where a good chunk of your kitchen budget will be spent.
But on the plus side, most of these items can last a lifetime if they’re well taken care of. So look at your cookware as an investment in the future.
10-inch Nonstick Pan
A 10-inch nonstick pan is one of the most essential kitchen tools in my arsenal. These low-maintenance cooking pans have countless uses, are easy-to-clean, and incredibly forgiving, even for rookie chefs. They do require a little bit of tender-loving care though. Make sure not to use metal utensils when cooking or abrasive cleaners when tidying up. Once you get a high-quality 10-inch nonstick pan, you’ll never use anything else to cook eggs, crepes, or fish.
This Tramontina pan is our go-to. It’s silky smooth and outperforms pans that are more than twice the price. It distributes heat evenly and, even after two years, it still performs perfectly.
We love to make soups. Whether it’s a traditional turkey soup at home or cooking up a tart pot of Filipino pork sinigang, there’s almost always some kind of soup simmering on our stove.
A quality soup or stock pot can pull double-duty when cooking. You can use it to boil pasta, make soup or stews, or slow-boil your own chicken stock. This is the soup pot that we’ve been using for years and it has never let us down. It’s 8-quarts and designed to last a lifetime.
Whether I’m whipping up a thick and zesty pasta sauce, boiling frozen produce, or creating chili-for-two, I always reach for my 3-quart saucepan. This is one of the most essential kitchen tools for cooking family meals.
This model by Cuisinart has performed brilliantly for the past year and I can’t imagine why it took us so long to settle on it. The lid breathes very well and it’s reduced stains and burn-ins even with some of the most intense cooking experiments.
Sheet pans, or baking sheets, make for one of the most essential kitchen tools. Whether you’re baking chicken, roasting vegetables, or whipping up a batch of your favorite cookies, a high-quality baking sheet will help make your life a breeze.
This baking sheet set by Nordicware has been rock-solid under the broiler. It’s made of pure aluminum so it doesn’t ever rust, unlike some of the cheaper models. They also have a nice lift on the sides which makes them ideal for broiling a vegetable medley.
Baking Pans aren’t just my go-to cooking tool for cakes. These multipurpose pans are ideal for casseroles, roasting, loaves, and countless other popular meals around my house. It might not be as glorious as using a glass casserole dish, but it also won’t break if you drop it.
I recommend having three sizes of baking pans. a 13×9 for family dinners, an 8×8 or 9×9 for baking, and a 9×5 for loaves, meatloaf, and bread. The 13×9 pan that I recommend is this one by Wilton Recipe. It’s a straightforward nonstick pan perfect for those large family dinners.
My 8×8 baking pan is another one by Wilton. This non-stick cake pan is one of my main kitchen essentials for cakes. And, as you can tell, I love Wilton pans, so it’s no surprise that my go-to loaf pan is the 9×5 Wilton. I find this pack of two to be the best deal as I rarely make just one loaf.
Cooking Preparation Essentials
Cookware might be the backbone of your essential cooking tools, but your prep tools are your fingers. These kitchen gadgets slice, dice, mix, and stir all of the mouthwatering dishes that you present to your family, friends, and guests. These are the kitchen prep tools that we swear by.
If there is one tool in your kitchen that tends to be the most personal, it’s the chef’s knife. Every cook has their own favorite when it comes to weight, balance, and style.
Picking the best chef’s knife is an important one. No one wants to slice and dice their own fingers. And knives that dull quickly make cooking a pain. We recommend dipping into your budget a little and investing in a high-quality chef’s knife. And once you buy it, use a professional sharpener to keep that blade it tip-top shape.
This Japanese-made Shun Knife is my personal recommendation. It’s not cheap, but it’s also not ridiculously expensive. It casts that perfect balance between high-quality and excellent value. And if you treat it well, it will last you a lifetime.
Nested Mixing Bowls
Bowls are one of those things that you can never seem to have enough of. During those times when you’re preparing complicated recipes, having a great set of nested mixing bowls can prove to be a Godsend. Whether you’re marinating meat for a Filipino pork bbq, mixing eggs, or prepping a belgian waffle mix, your bowls will always be there for you.
What’s great about nested mixing bowls is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a great set that will outlast you. This set by Cuisinart is fantastic. It offers lids to store and refrigerate when needed and the wide bottoms make them super easy to use.
Running a great serrated knife through loaves of warm, fresh bread without tearing or crushing it is a zen-like experience. A great bread knife is also the perfect tool for slicing fresh, ripe tomatoes, especially if you’ve let your chef’s knife get a little dull.
This bread knife by Cuisinart is high-quality and inexpensive, making it one of our top kitchen tool essentials.
Cutting boards rank up there with chef’s knives when it comes to personal style. Some beginner cooks like to use plastic or reboard cutting boards because they’re cheap. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Especially since I recommend having several cutting boards on hand so that you can swap one out with a clean board when making complicated meals.
For my personal preference though, there’s no substituting a bamboo or wood cutting board. They look beautiful, feel incredible, and clean up nicely. This is the set that I recommend if you’re just starting out.
The single most useful tool in my entire kitchen is my Kitchenaid mixer. This kitchen essential is constantly whirring in the background as I chop, stir, and bake. These classic mixers are nearly indestructible (if you get a good one). I find this one does the job for my heavy-duty use.
I won’t even get into all of the nifty gadgets you can get for your Kitchenaid mixer that can make everything from making pasta to pie filling, and nearly everything else a breeze. It’s just too exciting to talk about and I might not be able to stop.
Anyways, Kitchenaid mixers are incredible. I highly recommend that you skip the base model and move directly up to this one so it can handle your heavy-duty cooking action.
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