The kitchen is either a person’s favorite or least favorite place in their home. No matter how you feel about your kitchen, unless you order take out every night, it is a place that you have to be. Whether you want to upgrade your tools, become a better cook, or are registering for a wedding, here is our list of the 15 kitchen must-haves to own. From tools to pans, we’ve got you covered with everything to make cooking a breeze!
1. Airtight Containers/Jars
When it comes to keeping ingredients fresh and easily accessible, large airtight storage containers and jars are the best way to go. Airtight jars come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials, and some even come in sets. With so many options, it is best to look for one that will fit your needs. For things like flour, sugar, rice, and even chocolate chips, you can’t beat airtight containers.
2. Fish Spatula
Fish spatulas are probably the best tool in the kitchen… and no, they aren’t just for fish! Fish spatulas are very thin and flexible compared to a regular spatula. Their thin and flexible build is why these spatulas are used most often for cooking delicate fish. However, the build of these spatulas make them the best tool to use for flipping pancakes, cooking meat, and more. It is a very versatile and inexpensive item for your kitchen, which is why it’s a kitchen must-haves item.
3. Cast Iron Pan
Cast iron cookware requires a little bit of elbow grease to take care of and cook with, but nothing beats the versatility and dependability of a trusty cast iron skillet. Cast iron is unbeatable when it comes to searing cuts of meat and getting tasty crusts sans-grill and is even great for baking delicious treats like cornbread and cinnamon rolls. Cast iron is king in many kitchens because the material keeps an even temperature throughout. In pans that are made of stainless steel or copper, they can often carry and disperse heat differently and unevenly throughout the bottom and sides. With cast iron, you can trust even heat everywhere at all times.
4. Stand Mixer/Handheld Mixer
If you bake you need a mixer. Stand mixers may take up some space and can be pricey but they are as versatile as they are powerful. We all remember a time where we were mixing a thick and sticky dough for what felt like hours, feeling like nothing was being mixed together despite our forehead sweat and arm muscle telling us otherwise. Stand mixers take this grunt work out of baking and speed the process up. If a stand mixer is out of the question, we suggest that you still invest in a handheld mixer. While they aren’t as powerful as a stand mixer, hand mixers can still cut through the most basic of batters and doughs with ease.
5. Kitchen Shears
This is the most reached for tool in our kitchen, which means it deserves a spot on our kitchen must-haves list! We aren’t talking about a regular pair of scissors here: get a spring loaded shear with hand grips that look comfortable and blades that look sharp. Kitchen shears are a must because they can cut through almost anything. Sometimes, kitchen shears look more like gardening clippers than they do regular scissors, but shears can not only cut through pesky food packaging, but can be used to cut herbs, meats, and even veggies!
From tossing and serving salads, turning chicken wings in a hot oven, and grabbing a fresh funnel cake out of hot oil, tongs are the workhorse of a kitchen. For things that we can’t or don’t want to use our hands for, tongs come to save the day. We recommend having at least two pairs as tongs can be so multipurpose that you might need more than one pair for the dealing with the components of one single meal.
7. Mini Sieve
A 3-inch stainless steel fine mesh sieve seems pretty useless unless you were making three pieces of pasta, but we promise you this tiny tool is necessary to own. It’s the one item you’d never think about owning but is also the one item you’d nearly cry about not having the second you need one randomly. When it comes to skimming fat off of broths and stews, running the sieve along the surface keeps all the flavorful broth without losing any while removing fat and tiny particles that float to the surface. A mini sieve is also great for straining out pulp from fresh squeezed juices and can even be used for cocktails! This small but mighty kitchen must-haves item is seriously a must!
8. Good Knife Set
A kitchen and a chef is only as good the knife set they equip. You need a good, well-rated, and well-researched knife set to be a pro in the kitchen. Believe it or not, nice knife sets don’t need to run you hundreds of dollars, but you should be weary of super cheap knife sets too, since it usually indicates the quality is lacking. However, there are many great affordable knife sets that just require a bit of research to find. Remember: dull blades are more dangerous than sharp knives so it is important to buy a kit with a honing rod and a sharpener, too. Every great knife collection needs a chef’s knife, serrated knife, carving knife, paring knife, small-tooth serrated knife, and of course, a few steak knives, for a complete set.
When it comes to fresh fruit zest and sprinklings of parmesan cheese, a basic hardware store item plays some double duty in the kitchen. A microplane makes it easy to grate fresh citrus for recipes that need it and is also a great tool to use when it comes grating hard cheese. We all know how life-changing a sprinkling of fresh cheese is over pasta at a restaurant can be, so why wouldn’t we do that at home?! It is time to ditch the plastic shakey-tube of bad parmesan and upgrade to a nice block of cheese and a trusty microplane. A microplane is a kitchen must-haves staple!
10. Glass Food Storage Bowls with Airtight Lids
If you like to have leftovers or meal prep, glass food storage bowls with airtight lids are the only way to preserve food (well, in our opinion). Glass bowls, made by Pyrex and Anchor to name a few brands, are great for storing for a few days in the fridge or for months in the freezer. Because they are airtight, it is harder for food to spoil and if you do freeze food, harder for freezer burn to occur. So too, these bowls are great to pack lunches in as they won’t leak in your bag or briefcase on the commute to work. Best of all? They are eco-friendly and can be owned for years without a sign of any ware. We love them. You should love them, too.
11. Food Processor
Food processors are crazy little machines. From grinding, chopping, slicing, and even making rad dips and sauces, food processors are a must if you want to save time and make some dishes that are hard to make without one. From hummus to pestos, to even fresh nut butters, a food processor will be your biggest help in the kitchen when it comes to grinding and finely chopping!
12. French Press
There is something so luxurious about coffee from a French press, so we put it on our kitchen must-haves list! Not only does serving a cup of coffee from a french press look stylishly impressive, but there is something about french press coffee that tastes so good! While much of the quality of the coffee stems from the coffee you use, the french press will help bring out flavor and will serve it perfectly.
13. Pepper Mill
Fresh cracked pepper is way better than the stuff that you probably have in a little shaker on your counter or tin in your spice drawer. Fresh cracked pepper is great atop of salads, pasta, meat, veggies, sauces, dips, and more. Simply, there isn’t one thing that cracked pepper can’t go on. Fresh pepper elevates the taste of any dish, which is why you need a pepper mill.
14. Prep Bowls
Speaking of seasonings, you need small prep bowls. When you are cooking big dishes that need many spices and additions, having small prep bowls that can hold 1 to 3 tablespoons will be a lifesaver. Before you start cooking, measure out any spices you will need to add individually into these tiny bowls, then add them in as needed. Not only will this make cooking easy, but these small prep bowls are also great to hold condiments and sauces that you might want to dip or pour on something! This is our most underrated kitchen must-haves item!
15. Meat Thermometer
Wondering if your meat is cooked is always a fear that lingers over one while cooking, even for seasoned chefs. Cutting open into a piece of meat to check if the center is cooked to your liking isn’t the best way to gauge if something is cooked through, which is why meat thermometers are a lifesaver in the kitchen. When you cut into meat to see if its cooked, not only does is ruin the presentation of the dish when you serve it, but if it’s undercooked, can change how the inside continues to cook. And if it’s overcooked, well, it’s too little too late. A meat thermometer is an accurate way to tell if your meat is where you need it to be.
We know many of your kitchens are already stocked full with gadgets, that you can’t possibly think of filling up another drawer’s worth, but we hope that you can make some space for a few of the items here if you don’t already own them. While we believe that anyone can be an amazing cook with one or two simple tools, cooking is sure made easier with the aid of these tools. Most professional kitchens are stocked with a majority, if not all of these items, and we can see why! These kitchen must-haves make cooking a breeze… and your food taste that much better. Bon Appetit!