To produce amazing dishes in the kitchen you'll need a few good tools of the trade. This list provides you with all the essential items you'll need to have a well-stocked kitchen where you can make amazing food.
No top chef is complete without their knives. And if you want to blaze through kitchen prep, a Shun knife is the way to go! It’s perfect for home cooks with deft hands. And with a lifetime guarantee and a blade that stays sharp longer than it has any right to, it’s a tool that will bring delicious memories for years to come.
Kuhn Rikon Straight Paring Knife
Your paring knife is perfect for jobs that require precision and accuracy in the kitchen. Whether it is peeling, hulling, mincing or scoring. The above version is inexpensive but still boasts a comfortable handle and mighty sharp blade.
Mercer Culinary Millennia Bread Knife
A serrated-edge knife is your go-to for cutting waxy produce like tomatoes as well as things that are firm on the outside and soft on the inside, like bread. This version is made from high-carbon, stain-free Japanese steel. It has a comfortable handle, a curved edge, pointy tines, and a generous 10.5-inch blade.
I don't like to waste a single drop of anything that clings to the dish, so I'm always reaching for my silicone spatula. It's perfect for stirring delicate things, folding and mixing doughs or scrapping out jars. The GIR version is made from a single piece of silicone and is small, strong and flexible.
FAAY 13.5" Teak Cooking Spoon
Wooden spoons are perfect for stirring a pot of nearly anything. And the wood material protects the surface of nonstick pans or enameled cast-iron pans. You'll probably want to keep 3-4 of them on hand in your kitchen. FAAY's wooden spoon is easy to grip (important for lots of stirring), durable and has scooped edges to make picking up items easy.
OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk
You can't whip it real good, without a real good whisk. For anything that requires light, fluffy texture and air incorporation like sauces, dressings, batters and eggs. This lightweight, versatile whisk makes quick work of any whipping task. And I love its easy-to-grip handle for the times when you really gotta work up some air.
Winco TN719 Blade Hamburger Turner
A strong flat metal spatula will be your go-to at the grill or with your cast iron. You can. grab this flipper for hamburgers, cookies or pancakes.
Victorinox Chef's Slotted Fish Turner
This style of spatula is a must-have when it comes to flipping delicate things of all shapes and sizes (including, but not limited to, fish). This version offers a blade that is both flexible and strong. With a lightweight design you can use for a multitude of tasks, from fish fillets to pancakes.
KitchenAid Nylon Slotted Spoon
When you are fishing items out of a pan and want to avoid the mess of carrying extra liquid with them, your slotted spoon is perfect for the job. The important thing to remember is that the size of the openings is important -- too large and you risk having small foods drop straight through, too small and rapid drainage becomes impossible.
Kai Kitchen Scissors
There are so many instances in the kitchen when have a good pair of shears just makes life easier. From opening packages to trimming fat, breaking down a chicken or chopping up herbs. The Kai Kitchen Scissors are well built, sharp, and do most jobs with ease. They also come apart at the hinge, making cleaning easy.
OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Tongs
Your tongs are like a second set of hands in the kitchen, and you'll be reaching for them time and time again, so make sure you have a good pair. Tongs should be able to grip, lift, flip, jostle, and move most foods. I like this pair for its secure grip and sturdy spring.
OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Ladle
If you cook soups, stews, chili, or any dish that involves broth, a ladle is a must-have kitchen utensil. You should look for one that won’t stain, rust, or melt. This version is sturdy, capable of sustaining high heat and has a cushion-grip that makes it easy to hold.
Measuring cups are helpful if you're following recipes or making up your own and want to keep track of ingredient amounts. What you want to look for is durability and plenty of size intervals, including ones that are often skipped like 1/8, 2/3 and 3/4 cups.
Spring Chef Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Metal Measuring Spoons
Again when you're cooking from a recipe, there will always be a moment when you need to reach for your measuring spoons. The key is accuracy and durability for this tool. The Spring Chef spoons' rectangular shape make them easy to fit into narrow containers.
Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup
You'll want to make sure you have a measuring cup that's also designed for liquid measures. This design from Pyrex is durable and has markings that are easy to read. Also the glass material makes it easy to clean.
Thermoworks Thermapen Mk-4 Instant Read Thermometer
A thermometer is a must-have in the kitchen for any home-cook and will be a perfect stocking stuffer! If you’re looking for the top of the line this is it - an instant read thermometer that actually gives an instant reading. The Thermapen is the fastest and most accurate instant-read thermometer on the market.
RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Conical Strainer
A fine mesh strainer makes tons of tasks in the kitchen easier and faster. I didn't have one for a while and now I can't live without it. From straining grains to washing fruit, sifting ingredients or draining sauces it's the perfect tool. I like this version for its long handle and sturdy design.
Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel 5-quart Colander
A colander is necessary when you are cooking grains and pasta that need to be drained. It also is perfect for washing fresh produce. It is helpful to have more than one with different sized holes -- larger holes for quickly draining items and smaller ones to prevent tiny grains from falling through.
Even with all the fancy technology in the kitchen, a good old-fashioned can opener is still an essential. The EZ-Duz-It works consistently and will last for years to come. It securely attaches to the side of the can and easily removes the lid without requiring too much effort on your part.
Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler
Vegetable peelers are a simple tool that you just can't go without. For fruits and vegetables with tough skins and peels you want to remove, just reach for your peeler. Look for one with a sharp, durable blade and easy to grip handle, like this one from Kuhn Rikon.
Cuisipro Surface Glide 4-Sided Box Grater
A box grater is a versatile tool that can transform the taste and texture of tons of ingredients from carrots to potatoes, citrus or spices. You want super-sharp teeth that can shred easily and efficiently. The Cuisipro stands out because it can handle any kind of zesting, grating, or shredding job.
Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester Grater
There’s hardly a dish that wouldn’t benefit from a little zhoosh of flavor on top. That’s where a Mircoplane is infinitely handy! This two in one zester + grater is perfect for zesting citrus, grating hard cheese, chocolate, cinnamon, onion, garlic, and ginger.
A timer of some sort is an absolute must in the kitchen to keep track of cook times and make sure you don't forget items as you multitask. You can opt to use your phone or the built in timer on one of your kitchen appliances as well. But, is ideal because it's small, portable and includes three separate timers all with distinct alarms for cooking multiple dishes at once.
Pulltap’s Double-Hinged Waiter’s Corkscrew (Optional)
Bottles of wine and beer aren't just for drinking, they are great ingredients for cooking as well. Wine and beer are great for adding to sauces and braises and even desserts or breads. The waiter's friend or wine key is the most common model and it's great because it just works.
From salsa to coleslaw, to shredding cheese and dicing onions, your food processor does it all. This version comes with an adjustable slicing disc, a reversible shredding disc (for medium or fine consistency), a dough blade, a dicing disc, a versatile chopping blade, a cleaning tool, and a storage case to hold accessories.
Breville Handy Mix Scraper Hand Mixer
A hand mixer is perfect for everything from beating eggs, to mashed potatoes to cookie dough. This 9-speed model recognize which attachment you've inserted and automatically adjusts its speed to the optimal level for the task.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer (Optional)
If you're going to do a good bit of baking at home, this will definitely be an essential. It makes whipping up breads and desserts faster, easier and way less exhausting. KitchenAid’s stand mixer is the gold standard for its durability and versatile line of attachments.
Breville BSB510XL Control Grip Immersion Blender
An immersion blender is a great multitasker in the kitchen and blending up things on the go. The Breville Control Grip immersion blender thoroughly purees even fibrous soups and can blend smoothies made with ice and frozen berries into thick, frosty mixtures.
Escali Primo Digital Scale
If you plan to bake anything in your kitchen, you need a kitchen scale. It is your secret weapon for perfectly risen bread, consistent cookies and fluffy soft cakes. Precision is key when it comes to the chemistry of baking, and the Escali Primo is super accurate and simple to use.
Your saucepan will be one you turn to for tasks from breakfast to lunch and dinner. It's great for boiling eggs, making rice or a small batch of soup. For everyday tasks, a 3-quart tri-ply stainless-steel one is your best bet. The saucier style is great because it has rounded sides that your spoon or whisk can get to, and a wider surface area so you can fit more inside.
Anolon Advanced Nonstick 10-Inch Skillet
Non-stick pans make lots of tricky jobs in the kitchen so much easier by removing the stress of having food stuck to your pan. If you're cooking delicate items, this the pan to reach for. The Anolon is great for cooking perfectly golden-brown pancakes, fluffy frittatas and fish without leaving any skin behind.
All-Clad Tri-Ply 3-quart Stainless Steel Sauté Pan with Lid
A large heavy-bottomed stainless steel sauté pan is an absolute essential for any cook. It's great for cooking vegetables and meat, and the tall sides mean you can make sauces of braise easily. You can't go wrong with the All-Clad Tri-Ply 3-quart Stainless Steel sauté pan. It's well designed and offers superior strength, heat conduction, and durability.
Lodge 12-inch Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
Giving a cast iron is like giving a new family heirloom. This will be the recipient's go-to pan for generations to come. Cast iron pans are perfect for searing absolutely anything because they can get and remain extremely hot. They’re versatile too! Use it to sauté, bake, broil, braise, or fry.
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet
I LOVE my baking sheet, it is one item I use almost every week. For roasting fish fillets and vegetables, and baking up tasty sweet things. It’s a durable workhorse that can handle a wide variety of tasks, from roasting crisp oven fries to cooking a quick sheet pan dinner.
Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel Stockpot
If you like making big portions of soups, stews or broth your stockpot will be the perfect vessel. Stockpots are also our go-to for crowd-feeding dishes like lobster boils. This pot from Cuisinart is rock-solid, with riveted handles, a snug-fitting lid, and triple-ply stainless steel.
Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron Pot
A Dutch oven is a kitchen workhorse—it’s the one pot that can turn out savory soups and stews, braise meats until they’re fall-apart tender, and even bake crusty bread. The Le Cruset version is an heirloom piece that is exceptionally durable and high quality.
Pyrex Easy Grab Glass Oblong Baking Dish with Red Plastic Lid
Your kitchen isn't complete without a good casserole dish. For desserts, lasagnas, and roasts, it is the perfect option. And many of them can seamlessly go from the oven to the table as a serving dish. This simple baking dish from Pyrex is durable and affordable, plus it comes with a lid!
HOMWE Extra Long Professional Silicone Oven Mitt
You need good gear to protect yourself in the kitchen. There are tons of options out there that will match your style and feel comfortable over your hand. The HOMWE oven mitt offers both safety and dexterity so you don't feel hampered as you're moving hot pots and pans. And it's extra long sleeve helps protect your arms as well.
After your knife, the thing you'll probably reach for most often in the kitchen is your cutting board. A great cutting board is essential for safety, ease, as well as the durability of your knife. I recommend having both plastic and wood options in the kitchen. Plastic is great for cutting raw meats and preventing cross contamination. And these Farberware cutting boards are light, durable and won't slip around while you're chopping.
Cuisinart CTG-00-SMB Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls with Lids
No matter what you're making you'll want to have a good set of mixing bowls on hand to make combining ingredients easy. A variety of sizes is helpful so you have options from small portions to large mixtures. This set of three includes one 1 1/2-quart bowl, one 3-quart bowl, and one 5- quart bowl, along with lids for each.
Reynolds Kitchens Parchment Paper Roll with SmartGrid
Parchment paper makes it easy to bake and cook without needing to use extra butter or grease. They can bear high heat in the oven so they are great for lining pans or for the cooking technique en papillote, where it used to wrap food mainly fish then cook or steam it. This version from Reynolds makes it easy to measure items out evenly and is reusable up to three time.
Freeze-Tite Clear High Cling Freezer Wrap
In the kitchen plastic wrap comes in handy for storing and freezing foods, and rolling up compound butter, cookies or cheese. While finding a good plastic wrap can be frustrating, Freeze-Tite is a step above the rest. Its thick plastic is super clingy and remarkably durable, resisting tears and punctures.
Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil
Aluminum foil is great for baking, grilling, roasting and food storage. It can also make clean up a breeze when you wrap pans with foil before cooking wet and sticky items. Reynolds aluminum foil offers durable option for your kitchen.
Bounty Select-A-Size Paper Towels
Paper towels are endlessly helpful in the kitchen, from wiping up messes to drying out steaks before searing or providing a landing pad for fried foods. You want a paper towel that's strong and absorbent. Bounty paper towels are top performers in absorbency and won't fall apart when you're cleaning up a spill.
I'm Natasha Ho, a trained chef and avid traveler. I've studied culinary traditions from cuisines around the world, and I help food lovers learn how to cook a wide variety of meals that are consistently delicious so they can have more fun, ease and joy in their kitchen.