If you’re trying to stock your kitchen but aren’t sure what you should focus on, here’s a list of the top 10 kitchen tools and equipment that are essential for your home. These items are definitely must-haves for any chef.
A Chef’s Knife
No matter what type of cooking you like to do, you can’t cook without needing to cut, slice, chop, and dice. A chef’s knife fills in for most of the cutting you’ll need to do. Slice some potatoes, dice some apples, chop up some celery — all of it can be done with a chef’s knife. Get a knife sharpener to go along with the knife, so you have a quick and easy way to sharpen the straight blade.
The next essential kitchen item is a large skillet, something big enough to fry up large dishes, but if you need to, can cook something small as well. The one you choose will largely depend on your needs and what you prefer. Proper chefs will insist on amazing copper cookware that allows for even heat distribution in order to cook food to perfection. The average home cook, however, does fine with hard anodized nonstick cookware or stainless steel cookware.
This might also be referred to as a “cookie sheet,” but this bakeware is very versatile. Choose a baking sheet that has a lip around the edges to help prevent liquids from dripping off the side of the pan. This can be used to grill vegetables, bake cookies, catch drips from other pans, and bake sweet potatoes and squash. You can even use it to cook fish and other meats.
Though outdoor grilling makes for some yummy meals, grilling outdoors isn’t always practical either because of the weather or time constraints. An indoor grill is a great option for cooking meals quickly and easily.
Choose an indoor grill that has removable grilling plates. This makes wash-up so much easier because you can remove the plates and take them to the sink to clean. Some grills have reversible plates that turn over, turning grill into a griddle. This adds to their versatility and makes them useful whether you’re grilling a hot dog for lunch or making pancakes for breakfast.
Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker
Busy cooks will appreciate the convenience of a pressure cooker and/or slow cooker. In some ways, these small appliances are very similar, but in other ways, they’re nothing alike. Their similarity intersects in the types of meals that can be cooked in them. The difference lies mostly in how long it takes for the meal to cook.
Pressure cookers are able to take a meal and cook it in a fraction of the time. What might take a slow cooker eight hours to cook might be done in just an hour, or even less, in a pressure cooker. By preparing meals ahead of time, you can throw the meal into the slow cooker before work and have it ready when you get home. Or if you forget, you can throw it in the pressure cooker and have it ready in just 30 minutes!
Another small appliance that is essential in any kitchen is a blender — there are so many things you can use a blender for. Throw in some fruit, milk or juice, and ice and you have a fruit smoothie. Add in protein powder, and it’s a full meal. You can mix up purees and sauces in a blender as well. Or use it instead of a mixer to make pancake batter or whipped cream. It’s a piece of kitchen equipment you won’t want to live without.
Measuring Cups and Spoons
Though experienced chefs rarely need to use these kitchen utensils, measuring cups and spoons are essential for most home cooks. When looking for a set, consider getting a metal set with the measuring information embossed into the metal. Though plastic cups are typically cheaper, a metal set will last longer, and the embossing won’t fade. Measurements on plastic sets, especially if they’re just printed on rather than molded into the plastic, can fade and then you’re left figuring out which it is, a teaspoon or a half tablespoon.
Silicone spatulas are a great addition to any kitchen. This kitchen utensil is nice because you can use it on nonstick pots and pans without worrying about harming them, but you can also use them to mix ingredients in a bowl, scraping the sides and making sure every last smidgen of brownie batter gets into the baking dish. Plus, if you leave it in a cooking pot, you won’t have to worry about it melting, unlike plastic spatulas.
If you don’t want to invest in a stand mixer, a hand mixer is an alternative, but you need something that can mix dough and batter. Stand mixers are nice because they can hold a lot, and you don’t have to stand over the bowl as it mixes, allowing you to get other things done.
No kitchen would be complete without a cast-iron enameled Dutch oven. It can be used on the stovetop as well as in the oven, it stays hot longer, and you can make bread in it. Sauté some onions and brown some ground beef on the stovetop, add in the soup ingredients, and then throw it in the oven to cook. Once you’ve used a Dutch oven, you’ll wonder how you ever cooked without it.
It’s hard to narrow a list like this to just 10 items, but the above cookware really is needed in every kitchen.