Whether you are about to furnish a new kitchen or are in the process of spring cleaning your cabinets, now is a good time to think about what kitchen items you really need, and what you can live without.
POTS AND PANS
A Non-Stick Skillet
It’s common for pots and pan sets to include three skillets. You only need two: a cast iron skillet (see below) and a great nonstick skillet. A non-stick skillet is there for all the things that tend to be really sticky, especially breakfast foods like eggs, pancakes and bacon. Non-stick skillets get better all the time. The modern versions will work on any kind of cooktop, from induction to gas to smooth electric. Chefs swear by the Zwilling Madura Plus. All-Clad’s B1 Hard Anodized Nonstick is another way to go.
A Cast Iron Skillet
Cast iron skillets are good for more than just beating up an intruder – although they do come in handy as weapons. The cast iron skillet is a chef’s weapon of choice because it heats food so evenly and holds heat for a long time. This means your food is ready faster and your meat browns evenly and better. A cast iron skillet is also versatile, working on the stove and in the oven in extremely high heat conditions. A cast iron skillet will last for decades, even the inexpensive ones, and it seasons the food even better the longer you have it.
A Top-Notch Sheet Pan
It seems like a simple thing. You need a sheet pan that can act as a workhorse for your brownies and vegetables and one-pan dinners. Despite how versatile and important a sheet pan is, many people opt for the cheapest sheet pan on the market, while investing much more money on other pots and pans.
I’m here to tell you, you are doing it wrong. Epicurious and Cooking Light both recommend Nordic Ware’s Natural Aluminum Baker’s Half Sheet as the ultimate sheet pan. Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Three-Quarter Sheet Pan handles your needs for a larger pan. The Wilton Professional Results Nonstick Cookie Pan is also worth a serious look.
A Dutch Oven
A Dutch oven is what you need to make delicious one-pot meals. If you want to make stews, braises, or chili, there is no substitute for the thick, heavy-lidded pot.You can use your Dutch oven to unlock new flavors. For example, you don’t need to boil pasta when you can cook it in the oven courtesy of a Dutch oven and some broth, sauce, wine, or other liquid. A Dutch oven can also steam side dishes. Dutch ovens can set you back on price, especially the brilliant ones from Le Creuset. However, there are also good options on the market for less.
A Saucepan or Two
It doesn’t really matter if your saucepan is stainless steel with an aluminum core, or one with a copper core, or a mix of several. You just need a decent one so you can easily make soup, rice, and sauce. You probably need two saucepans, a 1 or 1.5 quart pan is good for small batch recipes, like hot chocolate or butter. A 2 or 3 quart saucepan will help you with a bigger volume of sauce.
Every kitchen has to have a stockpot. Why? Because it is multi-functional. It’s used to boil, braise, steam, and poach. If you make soup from scratch, the stockpot will be your old standby. Typically you want a tall and narrow stock pot that would hold a steamer basket if possible. Many people prefer stainless steel. Although the stainless looks great, a heavy aluminum works just as well.
There are dozens of kitchen appliances that you might want to own one day. However, if you aren’t careful, your entire kitchen will be crammed with hard-to-store appliances. That’s why you should narrow it down to the essentials.
Although a toaster oven is more versatile, a decent toaster is all you really need, especially if your kitchen already has a stovetop and a microwave. Unless you feel like making toasted bread in the oven, opt for a nice toaster.
A Pressure Cooker
No longer a dangerous thing of the past, modern pressure cookers have taken the world by storm. There are two reasons why consumers are so excited about the pressure cooker: speed and taste. When a food is cooked under pressure, it cooks very fast with steam heat. This locks in flavors and gets your food to the table in record time. Even better, the new models of pressure cooker also double as crockpots, for the times you want to let something slow-cook all day while you’re at work. The advent of the pressure cooker means it makes no sense to buy a crockpot on its own. The pressure cooker is essentially a 2-in-1 appliance.
Crockpot makes a great pressure cooker, and Instant Pot has been a game changer.
An Electric Kettle
This one will surprise you, but once you get an electric kettle, you’ll realize why it’s not something you can live without. Want to boil water? Why wait for a teapot or stock pot to heat up on the stove when the electric kettle is actually 10 times faster? Tea drinkers and people who like pour-over coffee or use a french press will find it indispensable.
Every kitchen needs a blender. You can use it to blend smoothies or make soups. It’s useful to crush ice. It’s helpful when you want to make milkshake or other fun drinks. And it can be used in place of an immersion blender and coffee grinder, thus saving you the space.
A strainer, usually made from mesh, is key to make pasta, salad and soups.
A Vegetable Peeler
You can’t live without one.
A Heatproof Rubber Spatula
You need a rubber spatula for all your baking needs. But a cheap one will melt and nobody needs plastic in their food.
A Paring Knife
What can you do with a paring knife? Perhaps the real question is what can’t you do? It cores, it peels and it carves, and you will use one for nearly every meal prep.