When it comes to kitchen essentials, it pays to have a sizable tool belt. Great cooking requires the right gear, from classic wooden spoons to excellent knife sets, tableware, and more. These are the items you should have if you don't already, as they make preparing a meal all the easier and that much more delicious.
It's a broad category, we know, and we've tried to cover all the bases. From the top cutting boards to the best wine glasses, we're outfitting you with the basics. They'll assist in creating any number of menu items, whether you're cooking for one or hosting a lavish dinner party.
Here's a list of the ultimate kitchen essentials you need in your life.
Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Everyone should have a dutch oven; they are really an all-purpose tool. You can simmer stews on the stovetop, braise short ribs on the stove or in the oven, and you can even bake bread in it. From stove (or oven) to table, it looks great whether sitting on the stove or on the table. This 5.5-quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven provides perfect heat retention and will become one of your favorite pieces.
3-Piece Knife Set by Made In
Sure, having a block knife set may be convenient, but will you use all those knives? All you really need is a few handy knives. The Made In chef knife is a pretty decent workhorse and so is the beautiful Nakiri knife. Then of course you have the handy paring knife for those smaller jobs or for those garnishes on the cocktails. These are really all you need, the rest is overkill.
Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup
Yes, you should get both measuring spoons and a measuring cup. Why? Well, for starters, the classic Pyrex measuring cup (you know, the one that seems to be in literally everyone’s kitchen) can measure larger quantities. It’s also microwaveable and has a pour spout, so you can use it to melt things like butter or chocolate and pour them right into other ingredients.
Lifestraw Home Glass Pitcher
You know LifeStraw is an amazing product based on their outdoor products. They have now invaded homes with a Scandinavian-designed pitcher made from hand-blown glass with a removable silicone base. Just like its outdoor counterparts, it removes bacteria and parasites in addition to lead, microplastics, and PFAS plus over 30 contaminants all the while improving the taste of tap water.
LifeStraw also gives back by providing a LifeStraw Community purifier to a school in need. This purifier provides safe drinking water to 100 schoolchildren for up to five years. Or, as their slogan says, one purchase provides one year of safe water to one child for one year.
AmazonBasics 20-Piece Stainless Steel Flatware Set with Round Edge, Service for 4
You don’t have to go super fancy with your flatware, but if you plan on having guests over, it should be a large enough set for at least four people to avoid a "community fork" situation. Plus, if you get a set that includes larger spoons and forks, you’ve got extra serving utensils on hand. While you’re at it, treat yourself to a silverware organizer to slide into one of your drawers — it makes getting out and putting away silverware a lot easier.
StarPack Basics Range Silicone Spatula Set
You don’t need us to list all the uses for a spatula to know you’re definitely going to need one. Your spatula is going to be a heavy hitter in your kitchen, so get one that's sturdy and durable. We also suggest picking up a pack of spatulas, which usually come in a variety of sizes — perfect for the myriad ways you're going to use spatulas.
OXO Good Grips Can Opener
Chances are you’ll need to open a can of something or other at some point, so be sure to stash a can opener in your utensil drawer, too. We really dig one that doesn’t cause hand cramps and won’t leave jagged edges at the top of the can. Though an electric can opener is easier to use if you're someone who cooks with store-bought canned soups.
American Kitchen Premium Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Skillet
American Kitchen has been making handcrafted skillets for over 100 years. There are two layers of professional-grade stainless steel wrapped around a layer of aluminum to make a tri-ply skillet. You can use it on the stovetop or in the oven and broiler up to 500 degrees!
Spring Chef Vegetable Peele
You don't have to go too crazy and get an electric vegetable peeler (though they do make us feel fancy). This vegetable peeler is great for peeling fruits and vegetables in nice long strips without getting jammed.
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Half Sheet and Big Sheet
If you can cook it in the oven, you will probably want to cook it on a sheet tray. If you plan to make anything from cookies to pizzas to finger foods to bacon, a high-quality sheet tray is endlessly useful. Plus, you can slide it under deeper dishes like roasting trays as a fail-safe for errant dripping. Look for the kind that’s made for restaurant use — they’re large, durable, and long-lasting.
All Clad Colanders
A colander is an item you hate to not think of until the exact moment you really need it, like when you’re struggling to drain spaghetti by squeezing the lid to the top of your pot while hot pasta steam burns your corneas. We like Williams Sonoma's All-Clad Set of 3 Colanders.
FineDine PremiumStainless Steel Mixing Bowls
Grab a set of two or three larger bowls that can be used for mixing ingredients. Find a set with lids included so that they're also handy for storage. If you get the triple-threat combo and find a set with lids that also looks nice, you can use them as serving bowls, too.
Revolution Touchscreen Toaster
For anyone who’s into bread, bagels, English muffins, or pop-tarts, a kitchen feels all too bare without a toaster. Revolution's InstaGLO R270 Toaster offers the ultimate toasting experience, with custom settings for 34 bread types and 3 toasting modes (fresh, frozen, and reheat).
The InstaGLO even has a gluten-free setting with algorithms tailored to the chemistry of non-gluten ingredients, for better results. You can also purchase Revolution's panini press and a warming rack to add to your toaster.
KitchenAid Artisan Series 5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer
Whether you need 9 dozen of your signature chocolate chip cookies or shredded chicken for Taco Tuesday with friends and family, we highly recommend using KitchenAid's Artisan Series 5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer. This durable tilt-head stand mixer comes in a variety of colors (over 20) and features 10 speeds to gently knead, thoroughly mix, and whip ingredients for a wide variety of recipes.
There are also over 10 optional hub-powered attachments, from food grinders to pasta makers and more. This mixer comes with a 5-quart stainless steel bowl, a coated flat beater, a coated dough hook, a 6-wire whip, and a pouring shield.
Haden Heritage 56 Ounce 5-Speed Retro Blender with Glass Jar
Enjoy fresh smoothies, milkshakes, sauces, soups, and protein shakes in seconds with the Haden Heritage blender. This retro-inspired blender features an ice crush function, five speeds with pulse, anti-slip feet, and a tempered glass jug that is dishwasher safe.
Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker with Digital Timer
If you’re only going to invest in one countertop appliance for your kitchen, purchase the best slow cooker. They’re so insanely versatile and they make cooking hearty, fulfilling meals so simple you'll basically feel lazy. You can use a slow cooker to make everything from pot roast to chicken wings, and all you have to do is chuck your ingredients in and wait a few hours. If you're in charge of making the chili this year, a slow cooker is going to make it so easy for you.
Pfaltzgraff Sylvia 32 Piece Dinnerware Set
Just as with your silverware, you should have enough dinnerware on hand for at least four people. We recommend having both large and small plates as well as bowls. Look for sets that are sturdy, microwave-safe, and dishwasher-safe. To make things easier, look for a dinnerware set that comes with mugs or cups as well. If you have enough cups and mugs, then a simple set such as the one pictured above will work perfectly.
Gabriel-Glas StandArt Edition Glassware
No home is ever complete without a set of good-looking wine glasses (if you're a wine drinker that is). Gabriel-Glas has developed a glass with the ideal shape for tasting every style of wine. The StandArt glass is molded with a wider base at the bottom of the glass and a conical shape at the top, designed to “drive” the flavors of wine. The glass is durable yet elegant, lead-free, and dishwasher safe.
The Party Pot
Let's talk about cooking vessels for a moment. Everyone should have a stockpot in their arsenal. Why? You need to make pasta and you don't want to crowd small pots. maybe you're making a batch of soup or maybe stock. Here's a bonus: The Party Pot comes with a steamer. But wait, there's more. It comes with a tempered glass lid with a hole in it. Why a hole you ask? Well, say you want to add ingredients without removing the lid. Just take the stopper out of the hole and drop them in.
Also, (and here's the part that will put you over the top). You can remove the stopper and place your Sous Vide machine through the hole and use The Party Pot as a sous vide vessel. We know, brilliant right?
Fifth & Cherry Cutting Board
These cutting boards are made from responsibly harvested American black cherry wood and are steel-reinforced to prevent splitting or warping. With backyard barbecues on the horizon, this is an essential kitchen tool that can go from home to backyard grill. Even if you don't use it for cutting food, it makes a wonderful charcuterie board platter. The best part is that Fifth & Cherry is a veteran-owned business that offers a lifetime warranty and free refinishing should you ever need it.
Libbey Polaris 16-Piece Tumbler and Rocks Glass Set
Again, keep enough cups or glasses around for at least four people. We also recommend getting a few mugs to enjoy coffee and tea (if they don't come with your dinnerware set).
Sticky Toffee Cotton Terry Kitchen Dishcloth
No kitchen is complete without a set of reliable kitchen towels. Use them for cleaning up messes, drying dishes, and even as makeshift potholders in a pinch. We recommend a set of at least four so you always have a fresh one even when the others are in the wash.
Sweet Home Collection 3 Piece Dish Drainer Drain Board and Utensil Holder
Even if you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, you should still keep a drying rack (and a brush and soap for cleaning the things you're about to put in the drying rack) around for items that are not dishwasher safe.
Hudson Essentials Measuring Cups Set with Spout
Sure you can go with plastic measuring cups but why when you can go with stainless steel? Plastic measuring cups and their measurements tend to fade away over time. These stainless steel measuring cups are embossed with their measurements and will not disappear leaving you to wonder what size you're working with. They even come with a convenient pour spout so you can make sure all of your ingredients make it into the bowl.
Chantal Classic Ceramic Bakeware
If you're a baker, you're going to love this enameled ceramic casserole dish. it's made from high-quality stoneware and made for even heat distribution. It's perfect for that macaroni and cheese recipe or for making your favorite brownies.
With the above by your side and at the ready, many of your culinary dreams will come true. If nothing else, you'll have more fun attempting that dish you've always wanted to make or perfecting that cocktail you've always wanted to improve. Here's to more curiosity and efficiency in the kitchen in 2023.