Are you a minimalist or a gadget hoarder when it comes to cooking? I bet you need fewer tools than you think for a well-stocked kitchen. After spending countless hours in the kitchen as a home cook turned chef, here are my top kitchen tool recommendations for the home cook.
I’ll never forget how overwhelming it was to create a registry of home cookware items. With so many options to choose from, it quickly went from fun to stressful. I began to seriously doubt my confidence in the kitchen, and was confused about the tools I really needed to create easy and healthy meals at home.
Since then, I’ve made more meals than you could possibly imagine. I’ve graduated from home cook to chef, and incorporated cooking into my career. After spending countless hours in the kitchen, in multiple kitchens, I’ve rounded up my essential list of items you need to feel confident as a home cook, while maintaining a minimalist approach.
See my list and how I use each of these items in my cooking below!
- High-speed blender – I currently use a vitamix, but after culinary school, I have to say I am obsessed with the blendtec. The vitamix is great for everyday use, but if you plan to make thick nut-based cheeses or spreads (or something of similar texture), it can be hard to make in small batches. The greatest benefit of the blendtec is the twister jar attachment, making it seamless to blend thick spreads in smaller quantities.
- Single-serve blender – Some blenders come with this attachment, otherwise I think a nutribullet or a comparable single-serve blender is worth the investment if you love smoothies OR don’t want to invest in a higher quality blender, but want the luxury of making nut creams and cheeses. The single-serve attachments make for less cleanup and accurate portion control for smoothie making, and the functionality of the smaller blender surprisingly works well for thicker consistencies.
- Food processor – Most of my cooking involves the mini chopper, except for one thing. Energy bites! The food processor is essential for breaking down medjool dates into the perfect consistency.
- Mini chopper – Use this for small batch hummus, pesto, or chopping nuts easily.
- Immersion blender – I’m a huge fan of creamy soups. You could ladle portions into a blender to get the desired creamy texture, or for less cleanup, use the immersion blender.
- Square baking dish – Needed for brownies or raw dessert bars.
- Rectangular baking dish – I use mine all of the time for enchiladas and lasagna.
- Muffin tins – both regular and mini (because the small versions are great for parties!)
- Baking sheets – I prefer my baking sheets to have a rim to keep any oils or juices from dripping onto the bottom of the oven.
- Set of ramekins – these are great for setting aside individual ingredients while cooking.
- 8” and 10” nonstick pan – I honestly don’t use nonstick often, except for scrambled eggs and omelettes!
- 11” square griddle nonstick pan – Essential for pancakes and french toast on the weekends.
- 8” and 10” stainless steel fry pans – these are great for sauteing a side of vegetables or meat and come in most cookware sets.
- 12” (or 3-quart) stainless steel fry pan with lid – I use this pan the most for searing meats, stir fry, curry, etc. There is enough room so that the pan doesn’t get crowded easily and can accommodate a one-pan meal.
- 2 and 3-quart stainless steel saucepans – I like a variety of saucepan sizes. One that is big enough for cooking rice or pasta, and one that I can use for sauces or boiling eggs.
- 8-quart stock pot – I will be honest and tell you that I don’t use this pot often. However, it comes in most cookware sets which is usually more affordable than buying individual pieces, and if you like to entertain, it can come in handy when making a large batch of soup.
- 5.5 quart dutch oven – This is the pot that I use the most for everyday cooking, everything from making a bigger batch of bolognese to my weekly soup.
Related: Shop my kitchen on Amazon here.
- Wood cutting board – wood is my recommended cutting board material because it is easy on your knife and great for vegetables.
- Plastic cutting board – I recommend keeping a separate non-porous board on hand for cutting raw meat, especially chicken.
- Chef’s knife – This is the knife I use for all of my cooking. You don’t really need any other kind.
- Paring knife – A smaller knife that can be used for limited chopping or slicing avocado.
- Microplane grater/zester – My secret weapon in the kitchen. Use it to grate garlic into recipes that require no cooking (don’t cook grated garlic – it will burn), citrus zest, ginger or a light sprinkle of hard cheese.
- Box grater – I really only use the side with the largest holes, but often for shredded vegetables, fruit or cheese.
- Citrus juicer – I didn’t think this was an “essential” item until a few years ago. I use mine all of the time now, especially for limes to get the most juice out of them that I can!
- Vegetable peeler
- Can opener
- Cookie scoop – yes, you can use this for the most perfectly shaped cookies, but I also use mine to portion out energy bites.
- Pastry dough cutter – no biscuit making going on here. But it makes for an excellent masher of bananas, avocado or beans.
- Pastry dough scraper – use it as a bench scraper to transport a pile of veggies to the pan without needing to make multiple trips.
- Set of nesting mixing bowls – If you have a compact kitchen, the nesting varieties are great for small spaces.
- Variety of measuring cups/spoons/liquid measuring cup – A glass measuring cup is essential for melting coconut oil in the microwave.
- Variety of spatulas/wooden spoons/spatulas
- Offset spatula – Traditionally used for icing, I solely use mine to flip delicate items in the oven, like my baked falafel or veggie burgers.
- Nut milk bag – for homemade nut milks or blender green juices.
- Mason jar funnel – a convenient tool to make pouring liquids into mason jars, mess-free.
Want to know exactly what brands and tools I have in my kitchen? Shop my cookware essentials on Amazon!