I’m a huge fan of keeping things simple in the kitchen. I buy basic kitchen tools and equipment that can serve multiple purposes, and leave the specialty gadgets behind. People have been making great food for thousands of years without tools dedicated to one task (hello, banana slicer, I’m looking at you!) or electronic gadgets that are supposed to make your life easier, but really just clog up your countertops and cabinets. So I’ve made this list of kitchen tools and equipment that will help you run an efficient, no-frills kitchen.
You don’t need to purchase all of these things before you begin making meals at home. Instead, think of this as a goal list of items that you plan to acquire over time. These are my go-to kitchen basics. These are the things that make my kitchen work.
Pots & Pans
The most important quality to look for when purchasing pots and pans is the thickness or weight of the metal. If you buy pots and pans that are constructed out of thin metal, they will not cook food evenly, and you will have difficulty achieving good results with recipes. I have had two sets of pots and pans that have worked well for me, the Simply Calphalon Non-Stick set, and the OXO Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Pro set, as well as a few cast iron pieces. If buying pieces individually, I suggest the following sizes and types:
- 2-Quart Sauce Pot
- 6-Quart Stock Pot
- 8-Inch Skillet
- 10-Inch Skillet
- Deep Covered Sauté Pan – This is probably one of the most versatile pots or pans in the kitchen. It can be used as a skillet or a pot, and can often take the place of two different pieces.
- Cast Iron Skillet – Cast iron very affordable, lasts generations, and is perhaps the best at cooking food evenly, but it does take a little more effort and upkeep. You can’t just throw this one in the dishwasher, so consider this purchase carefully. Make sure it matches your lifestyle!
- Dutch Oven – This is another great multi-purpose kitchen piece. It can take the place of the 6 quart stock pot listed above, it can go from the stove top to the oven, and can act very much like a slow cooker by keeping moisture in, cooking with low radiant heat, and making your food extra succulent. They can be a bit pricier, but you will get a lot of use out of it!
Tip: I like to buy pieces with glass lids, when possible, so I can see what’s happening inside the pot without removing the lid and letting steam escape. I also try to get pieces that do not have plastic on the handle, so they can go from stove to oven, if needed.
- Glass or Ceramic Casserole Dishes (one large, one small) – These can be used not only for casseroles, but also for roasting a variety of meat or vegetables. Extremely versatile!
- Baking Sheets (set of three) – Again, one of the most versatile pieces in my kitchen. Just about anything that goes in the oven will have a baking sheet under it.
- Muffin Tin – Good for muffins, or other small portion dishes like breakfast egg cups, mini meat loaves, and more.
- 9-inch Pie Plate (glass or ceramic)
- Pizza Pans (for pizza-holics like me. I prefer perforated pizza pans for crispy crust)
Prep Tools & Kitchen Gadgets
- Mixing Bowls (glass or stainless steel)
- Cutting Boards (I also like to use cutting mats, like these, for a quick clean surface when chopping multiple items)
- Measuring Cups and Spoons – I prefer metal to plastic
- Liquid Measuring Cup (microwave safe, 2 cup volume)
- Spoons, Spatulas, Whisks (metal or wood, preferred)
- Instant Read Thermometer (save yourself from the perils of food poisoning!)
- Chef’s Knife – This is the workhorse in your kitchen. Invest well, if you can. If you have larger hands you’ll want a 10″, if you have smaller hands an 8″ might be a better fit.
- Bread Knife
- Paring Knives (great for small jobs)
- Cheese Graters (One of the most used items in my kitchen, good for WAY more than just cheese! Make sure to get both fine and coarse graters)
- Can Opener
- Rolling Pin
Storage and Supplies
- Parchment paper
- Aluminium foil
- Cling wrap (plastic wrap)
- Mason Jars (super multi-purpose and they last a lifetime)
- Resealable storage containers
- Kitchen Towels – Basic “bar mop” kitchen towels (if you’ve ever worked in a commercial kitchen, you know how valuable these are)
I don’t use many appliances, but these have gotten GOOD use in my kitchen!
- Slow cooker (Doesn’t need to be fancy, 5-7 quart is a good size)
- Food processor (The exact one I use is no longer in production, but this is the next generation of it.)
- Hand Mixer – For those times when you just don’t have the energy to whisk by hand
What are your “must-have” kitchen basics? Share your knowledge and experiences in the comments below!