- 1 1. A Set of Nesting Mixing Bowls
- 2 2. A Set of Kitchen Knives
- 3 3. A Set of Cutting Boards
- 4 4. A Set of Stainless Steel Pots and Pans
- 5 5. A Non-Stick Skillet
- 6 6. A Food Processor
- 7 7. A Blender
- 8 8. A Colander
- 9 9. Heat-Resistant Silicone Oven Mitts
- 10 10. Mixing Spoons, Turners, Whisks, and Other Kitchen Essentials
- 11 A Fully Stocked Kitchen
Every home chef has a unique collection of kitchen essentials. While these ten items might not be the only tools and gadgets in their kitchen, they are the ones that get the most use.
These items barely have time to be washed before being used again.
We hope you know how to safely cook in the kitchen. If you do, we expect you will have sharp knives and vegetable peelers, clean and uncluttered countertops, plenty of GFCI electrical outlets, and other resources for safe cooking.
But we’re not here to offer kitchen safety tips. We’re here to share those essential kitchen items that make the most significant difference in preparing food.
1. A Set of Nesting Mixing Bowls
We recommend sets of four mixing bowls, either glass or stainless steel. Many sets come with plastic lids—which allows them to double as refrigerator storage containers.
We like glass bowls because they can go from kitchen to table for casual meals. But stainless is lightweight and durable enough to hold up in any kitchen.
2. A Set of Kitchen Knives
Some home chefs purchase their high-quality kitchen knives one-at-a-time, starting with the basics: usually a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife.
Others receive them as gifts—and get a wide variety of knives all at once. Plus there’s often a butcher block holder and kitchen shears.
Along with the knives, you should have a knife sharpener. Or, you could use a regular professional sharpening service. Either way, there’s nothing like a sharp knife to help you move through your food prep tasks and on to dinner.
3. A Set of Cutting Boards
If you have sharp knives, you also need cutting boards. They help preserve a knife’s sharp edge. And different-sized cutting boards allow you to have dedicated ones for cutting meat, slicing vegetables, cutting bread, and other uses.
Of course, you’re free to use each as you wish. Just be sure to clean them thoroughly when you’re done with a particular task. You don’t want raw meat, for instance, to contaminate other foods.
The most common materials for cutting boards are wood and plastic. We prefer wood for serving bread at the table. But plastic is better for tossing in the dishwasher or washing by hand in hot, soapy water.
4. A Set of Stainless Steel Pots and Pans
When buying your mainstay kitchen cookware, you have a choice of materials: aluminum, copper, cast iron, enameled cast iron, carbon steel, glass, and ceramic.
Plus, you have the difficult choice of whether to choose traditional or non-stick pans.
Any cookware material has its pros and cons. We like the durability and resilience of stainless steel, plus the ease of cleaning it.
A good soak in soapy water usually removes stuck-on food. A pot-scrubber should take care of any that remains.
5. A Non-Stick Skillet
It’s good to have a non-stick skillet along with your stainless cookware. Even though stainless sets come with one or two skillets, some foods (e.g., eggs) tend to stick and make them hard to clean. Non-stick pans are also great for low-fat cooking.
As with any skillet, a splatter guard is a helpful accessory. It captures grease and other fluids before they hit your stove, countertops, and everything else. Then a wash in grease-cutting dish liquid is all it takes to prepare it for its next use.
6. A Food Processor
The first food processor came along in 1971, and by the end of the decade, there was one in most homes across North America and elsewhere. For most households, food processors have become essential kitchen appliances.
A food processor has a powerful motor and can do things even the best blender cannot: slicing, dicing, shredding, mixing cookie dough, and much more.
Since food processor prices have decreased considerably since the 1970s, there’s now one for nearly every budget.
7. A Blender
Still, most food processors can’t accomplish what a blender will: the familiar “blend, liquefy, frappé (and more) options.
Despite recent add-ons like heating and chilling food, a blender’s fundamental purpose is to turn foods into fluid form.
So, speaking of essential kitchen appliances, every kitchen should have a blender. Blenders make puréed soups, mixed drinks, gelled desserts, sauces, smoothies, and much more.
8. A Colander
And now for an inexpensive but highly serviceable kitchen item: the colander.
We recommend having a stainless steel colander with a stable base for your kitchen. It’s hard to get the plastic kind to sit in the sink or dish drainer while the food drains.
Besides, if you accidentally set a plastic colander on a hot stove, what a mess!
Colanders have more uses than you might expect. If you don’t have a salad spinner, put your freshly-washed greens in the colander with a paper towel or two to absorb the water. Then put it all in the fridge until you’re ready to make your salad.
9. Heat-Resistant Silicone Oven Mitts
Have you ever accidentally used a cloth oven mitt that had gotten wet? Ouch!
The heat from the dish or oven rack goes right through. Use silicone instead to safely cook in the oven. It’s both waterproof and heat-resistant.
Not only is silicone great for oven mitts, but it’s also used for kitchenware like muffin cups, tray liners, rolling pins, various utensils, and other products.
Learn more about silicone and its properties before deciding if it’s right for your kitchen.
10. Mixing Spoons, Turners, Whisks, and Other Kitchen Essentials
Let’s not forget the ubiquitous cooking utensils we have in our kitchens. It would be hard to cook without these inexpensive yet indispensable tools.
We use them to stir soup, make pancakes, and prepare grilled cheese sandwiches.
They beat eggs and keep pudding and cream soups from getting lumpy. They peel our vegetables, serve our ice cream, and mash our potatoes. Is there any cooking task for which we don’t use at least some of this kitchen cookware?
A Fully Stocked Kitchen
Most home chefs can never have enough kitchen essentials. Many of us are even guilty of buying those gadgets that are only good for one thing. But if that thing is something we do often enough, then why not?
For those who can manage it, cooking at home saves time and money. And it’s a great way to relax while trying out new recipes or revisiting old favorites.
If you indulge yourself with an occasional gadget, you still pay less than by eating out.
Stay tuned for more on the latest products by reading our articles on kitchens and other household spaces.