As stated in my previous post, Kitchen Essentials, part one, I had a friend contact me the other day. Her daughter is getting married soon and is starting to create her wedding gift registries. My friend – God bless her – does not cook. She told me once that in college, she literally used the oven in her small apartment to store her purses! So she called me to ask if I could put together a list of kitchen essentials so her daughter could add them to her wedding registry.
My previous post covered measurement tools and pots & pans. This one will list essential small appliances, tools, safety items, knives, and bowls & such.
And away we go!
Every household needs a toaster. Pop Tarts, Toaster Strudels, toast, waffles, bagels, English muffins. You need a toaster. I really like this one. It’s skinny so it doesn’t take up too much counter space. The slots are really wide – which is important to any bagel fanatic – ME!
You will need a hand mixer. Cake batter, whipped cream, meringues, cookie dough. I have this one and I love that it has a snap-on storage case for the attachments and the cord.
This may not be considered an essential, since most of your mixing can be handled by a hand mixer. But if you’re creating a registry, why not include a stand mixer. This is a great, lower-cost mixer. I’ll admit, I don’t own this one. I have a KitchenAid. That’s the stand mixer of your dreams. I only have one because it was a Christmas gift. They are really expensive. But they are really worth it. And they last forever.
Stand mixer of your dreams: https://amzn.to/3gvyzcU
I love my food processors. I have a big, 10-cup one and a mini, 3.5-cup one. The big one is great for monster batches of guacamole or salsa. The mini is great for a single batch of hummus or for chopping a few vegetables. I find myself using the mini just to keep from dragging out the big one. But I use both of them.
Or you may find that you only need a small food processor. I have this one and I love it!
Oh, gosh! I use my blender so much! Smoothies, salsa, smoothies, frozen cappuccinos, smoothies. My kids make a lot of smoothies.
Wow! I use my immersion blender for a multitude of things. My crock pot potato soup cooks all day and then I use my immersion blender to blend it smooth. Same with my slow cooker tomato basil soup. You can use this blender right in the pot or slow cooker. It’s so much easier than transferring your soup into a blender and blending in batches. I have this one. I really like it because it’s metal so I don’t feel worried about putting it into a hot pot. I also like that it comes with a whisk attachment and a milk frother attachment.
If there is any “tool” in my kitchen that I use more than any other, it’s my crock pot. I have five of them. That’s admittedly excessive. I have a tiny one that’s just for dips. I have a pretty one that I keep at school for potlucks. At home, I have three. I have my big boy, 8-quart slow cooker that I use for most of my recipes, my smaller, programmable slow cooker that I use when I want to cook something overnight like my Slow Cooker Apple Pie Oatmeal, and my really old 30-year-old Crock Pot that I keep because it does the best job of making my Crock Pot Candy. This is a really versatile 7-quart slow cooker that will work for almost every household.
Okay, one look at Pinterest will tell you that the latest thing in cooking is the Instant Pot. It’s an electric pressure cooker that can cook most foods in a crazy-short amount of time. Mine is not an Instant Pot brand, but I really love it. This is not so much of an essential as it is an “I really wish I had one of those” kind of thing. This is the one I have.
Another “hot” kitchen item right now is the air fryer. There are lots of different kinds. Some have baskets. Mine has racks instead. They’re all pretty awesome at cutting the calories and fat from traditionally fried food. This one is very similar to mine.
You don’t just use spatulas for frying. You also use them for taking cookies off a baking sheet or for serving lasagna or other casseroles. I think you need a metal spatula and a silicone spatula. Never, ever, ever use metal utensils in a nonstick pan.
You will find a million and one uses for wooden spoons. From stirring cookie dough or spaghetti sauce or whatever! I like this set because it has more than just spoons.
From making a roux to whisking together a bechamel sauce or making a hand-whisked whipped cream, you will use a whisk a lot. I like this set because it has several sizes and they have hooks in case you want to hang them.
There is nothing better for scraping every last bit of something out of a bowl! But rubber/silicone spatulas are great for other things, too, like stirring. This is a good set because there are different sizes included.
I use my tongs for a variety of things. I use them to flip things in a skillet or on a sheet pan. I use them for pulling a serving of pasta out of boiling water. I use my big ones for grilling. I have a set of stainless steel ones and a set of silicone-tipped ones that I can safely use in my nonstick skillets and pans.
Ladles are great for serving soups or stews, but also if you’re making a pasta sauce and need a ladle-full of pasta water.
Yes, you can just use your hands, but I promise you’ll get more juice of you use one of these! You also won’t have to catch the seeds because it does that for you!
Ice cream scoop
I only use the big scoop from this set for ice cream. The others, I use for other things. The smallest one, I use as a melon baller or for filling mini muffin tin cups. The middle one helps me in portioning my meal prep containers and for scooping out cookie dough into equal portions. I also use the biggest one to scoop batter into standard-size muffin cups.
So perfect to grating citrus zest or for finely grating garlic or ginger!
You can certainly use a paddle grater, but I love using an old fashioned box grater. Different kinds of grates on each side – and it holds all of the stuff you’re grating in one place.
You will use this tool for creating an even layer of frosting on top of cake or brownies, but you can also use it for evenly spreading batter before baking.
For years, I had the traditional brush-style pastry brush. It worked great for a few months, but after that, I was constantly picking stray hairs out of whatever I was brushing. That is not a problem with this great set of silicone pastry brushes. An added bonus is that they can go into the dishwasher!
I use my kitchen shears several times every single day. Yes, they can cut through chicken bones (really!), but I also use mine just as scissors. Cutting open packages, cutting kitchen twine, you name it!
Peeling apples, butternut squash, eggplant, potatoes, whatever needs peeling!
I use my pizza cutter for the obvious (pizza), but I also use it to cut quesadillas into wedges or to cut tarts – like this one: Mushroom Onion and Gouda Tart – into pieces. I like this pizza cutter because of the grip. You can also open the base and remove the blade so that you can put it into the dishwasher.
I love my spider! It’s great for taking fried food out of the oil and also for removing pasta or vegetable from boiling water.
I use my potato masher for mashing potatoes (duh!), but I also use it when I want to make a little chunkier guacamole than I can get if I use the food processor.
These are such a cheap way to make your life easier. I use these when I make my Honey Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce or my Cilantro Lime Sour Cream Sauce. I also put olive oil into one of these when I need to just drizzle some onto meat or vegetables before cooking. I really like these because they cost just over a dollar each. That means that if I accidentally “lose” one in the back of the fridge and can’t get it clean, I can just toss it without feeling guilty.
If you want uniform slices of a fruit or vegetable – and you do, so they cook evenly, you’ll want to invest in a mandoline. This is a really good one because it is adjustable and it has several different blades – including three different graters, a crinkle cutter, and a v-shaped cutter that works well with softer vegetables, like tomatoes. Be sure you use to included guard – especially if you value your fingers. This thing is razor sharp! You may even want to invest in a chain mail glove to protect your hand.
I actually have two rolling pins. I have a big 20-inch French rolling pin that I use when I’m rolling out a blanket of dough – like when I make cinnamon rolls. I also have an 11-inch mini rolling pin that I use the most. I use him when I’m rolling out puff pastry or pizza dough. Oh, wait! I have three! I also have a dual-ended rolling pin that is made for rolling things into a pan – like if you make a shortbread crust and you need to pack it into a pan. Like my Pecan Pie Bars.
Here’s the big one: https://amzn.to/31RYGH8
Here’s the little one: https://amzn.to/2ZvWRg3
Here’s the dual-ended one: https://amzn.to/3ea9XoA
This will be you go-to knife for chopping, slicing, and dicing. My favorite chef’s knife is my Wustoff – but it cost a little over $150. This one is a good starter.
A big serrated knife is necessary for making nice, clean cuts in bread. But it’s also perfect for slicing tomatoes or other soft vegetables.
In addition to your customary silverware set – forks, spoons, butter knives – you’ll also need a set of steak knives.
Pot holders and oven mitts
Protect your hands! Hot pans need pot holders and oven mitts. I like this set of both. And I prefer this set because they’re silicone. They are great because you won’t get burned even if your mitts or gloves get damp or wet. Have you ever tried to use an oven mitt and got burned because it was wet? That’s because water is a great heat conductor, so when it soaks into fabric, it gets HOT! These don’t let anything soak in – and they come in several colors.
If you have wooden surfaces or, if your countertops are covered with Formica, you can’t just put hot dishes on them. You have to put something down to protect your counter surface. You can certainly use one of your oven mitts, but you may want to invest in a couple of trivets. This set is great because they are beautifully carved, but they’re also flexible, so you could really wrap one around a pot handle to protect your hands. They also come in several funky colors.
I know it may seem like I’m being a bit of an alarmist, but fires happen in kitchens. The best thing you can do if a fire erupts, is to cover the pan with a tightly-fitting lid. This will cut off the fire’s oxygen and kill the fire. But let’s say your fire is a bit more advanced. You’ll need to call in the big guns!
BOWLS & SUCH:
Mixing bowls are pretty indispensable in a kitchen. Whether you’re mixing up batter flouring chicken, and making meatloaf. You need mixing bowls. I really love this stainless steel set because they nest together for easy storage. There are sizes from 3/4 quart up to 8 quart. I even use the smaller ones to a make a double boiler by placing it over a saucepan of simmering water.
I have granite table tops, so I don’t always use a cutting board. But if your cutting something particularly wet or messy, or of you have wooden or Formica countertops, you’ll want a cutting board. I have friends who have more than one so that they have one for proteins and one for vegetables to prevent cross-contamination. This is a set of three, in different sizes. They are certainly usable as cutting boards, but they are also pretty enough use for those hyper-trendy charcuterie boards!
Iced tea, lemonade, almond tea, or Kool Aid. Every kitchen needs at least one pitcher. I like a 2-gallon or half-gallon when I’m buying a plastic pitcher. I like the one pictured because the lid screws on so you can shake it up if you’re using a drink mix. I really like the 2-quart glass pitcher shown.
Sealed storage containers
You need these for storing leftovers or just for storing snacks! I like this set because it has a big variety of sizes and the price is great.
Meal prep containers
“Meal prep” is definitely a buzz phrase these days. Meal prep is my jam! This post has some of my favorite meal prep lunch bowls: Plant-Based Lunch Bowls. I love to spend a few minutes on Sunday afternoon so I can just grab and go the rest of the week. I generally meal prep five breakfasts (I’m the only one who eats this) and 12 lunches (there are four of us). Then on Wednesday, I spend a few minutes to prep 8 more lunches for Thursday and Friday. These are my favorite meal prep containers. They are refrigerator, freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe. And they last for months!
And that’s it. Those are my essential kitchen items. Whether you’re creating a wedding registry or just trying to be sure your kitchen is well-stocked, these are the things you need!