These are the items I use in my kitchen every day. You can feel confident buying anything on this list. I've had all of these items for years, not days or months, and know they will stand the test of time. Besides, having a well-outfitted kitchen makes cooking even more fun!
This is also a good post to prowl if you're looking for a gift for a skilled home cook or foodie in your life. I hope you enjoy this list of kitchen essentials and find a few things you or a loved one need. Please give me your feedback in the comments section below!
A salad spinner is a must for fresh greens from the garden or the farmers market. OXO is one of my favorite brands because of the outstanding quality and durability of their products.
There is a reason Pyrex has been around more than 100 years. The quality, particularly for the price, can't be beat! Having stackable bowls is also a great space saver.
OXO is one of my favorite brands because of the outstanding quality and durability of their products. You'll never need another strainer if you invest in this one.
Le Creuset has long been one of my favorite brands, particularly for casserole dishes. I think the heat distribution is more even than glass. You'll definitely use this size probably more than any other so I find it's worth investing in good quality, and the color options are endless!
While I suggest a more expensive 9x13, I feel like my 8x8 pan just doesn't get the same amount of use so a simple but sturdy glass dish is perfect. There is a reason Pyrex has been around more than 100 years. The quality, particularly for the price, can't be beat!
This casserole dish reminds me of so many of my favorite comfort foods. Anything served in this classic oval casserole dish tastes more like home. You'll also never need to buy another as I have Pyrex dishes that my mom used for decades before I started using them, and they're still in perfect condition.
Emile Henry pie plates are the perfect centerpiece for any holiday buffet. Not only is the dish just beautiful, but it provides even heating for a golden brown crust all the way across. Available in five different colors.
I honestly can't even begin to count the ways that I use my Cuisinart Food Processor. Everything from pie crust to shredded cheese has passed through mine, and I know this will be a gadget you use all the time.
This is the little brother to the 11-cup food processor. I love this machine to make small batches of just about anything. Sometimes the 11-cup machine is more than I need, and the 4-cup option is lighter and easier to pull out and use in a hurry. This is also a great option if you have a smaller kitchen.
An immersion blender is super handy when you're trying to puree anything hot. Instead of struggling to pour hot soup or sauce from a saucepan into a food processor and then back into the saucepan, all without burning yourself or making an enormous mess, invest in an immersion blender and puree right in the saucepan.
Why guess when you can quickly check temperatures for perfect steaks cooked to order, oil when frying or sugar when making candy? Feel confident you've got it right with this digital thermometer.
If you make one investment in a great piece of baking equipment, this has to be it. KitchenAid Stand Mixers make baking a pleasure. There are countless attachments to make ice cream, sausage, pasta and more. There are also so many color choices that you're sure to find the perfect accessory to your kitchen counter.
I still use my simple inexpensive hand mixer frequently even though I have a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. It's great to have if you need to whip up something, but your KitchenAid is occupied.
Knives and Cutting Boards
Shun knives are super sturdy and strong while still being lightweight and easy to handle. I think one of the easiest ways to cut yourself is using a big knife for a little job. Tasks like removing the seed and ribs from a jalapeno or slicing strawberries are much safer and faster with this Shun paring knife.
The quality of Shun knives is incredible and their Premier line is their very best. This is the perfect size knife to accomplish every kitchen job, big or small, without feeling bigger than you need. It will be your go-to knife on a daily basis.
I'm never a big fan of specialty gadgets, but a good serrated knife is something that you'll need for a variety of tasks. If you cut anything delicate, like a tomato or bread, with a regular knife, it will end up flattened and ugly. A serrated knife cuts through these delicate items like butter.
My cutting board is 15" x 20" just like this one, and it's perfect. You can work with multiple ingredients on your board without fighting for space, but it's not so large that it takes up the entire counter. A juice groove or indentation around the edge is crucial to catching your mess from running onto the counter.
This probably goes without saying, but you NEVER want to put raw meat on your wooden cutting board. Wood is quite porous and will absorb all the yucky bacteria. You should have a couple of plastic boards to be used specifically for raw meats. You can put these in the dishwasher unlike the wooden version, and plastic will not absorb bacteria like wood.
Pots and Pans
A cast iron skillet is an absolute essential in any kitchen and a 10.25-inch pan is the perfect size for universal use. Every good batch of cornbread comes out of a cast iron skillet, and cast iron skillets are the best for any pan frying. That's just the beginning of uses for this pan. Basically, everything tastes more like your grandma made it when it's cooked in a cast iron. Be sure to season your cast iron before the first use (just google "season cast iron").
Nonstick pans are your everyday go-to pan. Cleanup is a snap no matter what're you cooking in a nonstick pan, and this quality Calphalon set is dishwasher-safe making them even better for your weeknight dinners. I use my 12-inch size almost daily, and the 10-inch is perfect for smaller batches. Be sure to never use metal utensils on nonstick as it will damage the nonstick surface.
Instead of having multiple saucepan sizes, I like to have a decent sized saucepan that I can use for smaller batch sauces or soups but one that is also big enough to boil a 4-serving batch of pasta or potatoes. All Clad is very high quality, good enough, in fact, that you'll probably be able to pass this down in the family for quite some time.
Cooking in any piece of Staub equipment is a dream. Staub cookware has even heat distribution and a cooking surface that helps prevent sticking while still providing the sear of a cast iron. A cocotte is perfect for braising meat, making soup, chili or stew, and any cooking the requires a little more room than your standard saucepan. A Staub Cocotte is an investment, but it's absolutely worth the expense.
Spoons and Spatulas
Great for fish or other delicate items.
Large ladle with about 1 cup capacity and safe on nonstick pans since it's nylon
About 2" in width and safe for nonstick pans
Great for gently flipping anything from omelets to quesadillas
Easily serves long pasta without a mess
A sturdy, large spatula that is safe for nonstick pans
Strong and heat resistant. These are the last spatulas you'll need to buy
Every kitchen needs a good wooden spoon
Perfect for stir fry or any other sauteeing
Special thanks to Gift Unicorn for including some of my favorite items on their Useful Gift Ideas for Cooks roundup.