The 7 Kitchen Essentials Every Cook Needs

What makes the perfect kitchen essentials? A lot of it depends on what you’re planning to use your essential items for, but in general, here are the seven essentials every cook needs.

1) Skillet

kitchen essentials

Every cook needs a great skillet. Whether you’re searing meat, making eggs, or sautéing vegetables, a high-quality skillet is essential. Choose a heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless steel option that’s oven-safe and you’ll have something in your kitchen that will last for decades.

2) Roasting Pan

kitchen essentials

A good roasting pan is an investment, but it’s a worthwhile one. Look for one that has relatively low sides and a heavy bottom to ensure even cooking. Opt for stainless steel or hard-anodized aluminum, both of which are durable options that resist heat transfer—so your roast doesn’t dry out—and don’t react with acidic foods like tomatoes and lemon juice. A nonstick coating isn’t necessary; clean-up is easy enough with a quick scrub.

3) Cutting Board

kitchen essentials

Cutting boards can be made from a number of materials, including wood, bamboo, plastic and even glass. However, wood is typically considered best because it’s easy to clean and sanitize (all you need is hot water and soap). Other materials are less hygienic or difficult to clean completely. A well-cared-for cutting board will last for years (or even decades) with proper use.

4) Mixing Bowls

kitchen essentials

When you’re first starting out in your kitchen, it can be difficult to know exactly what you need and what you don’t. A few kitchen essentials every cook needs include a set of mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, a cutting board, knives, and an oven mitt. These items are all must-haves for anyone who cooks on a regular basis.

5) Measuring Cups & Spoons

There’s a reason you always see these two items together in advertisements: They’re absolutely essential. If you can only choose one, it should be measuring cups. In addition to being able to measure dry ingredients, they come in handy for liquids—say, if you need a cup of water or half-and-half in a recipe. Spoons are great for smaller amounts of both wet and dry ingredients. When selecting a set, pay attention to the size and measurements of each spoon and cup.

6) Microplane/Zester

A Microplane is one of the kitchen essentials tools for zesting citrus fruit and grating hard cheeses, ginger, and chocolate. It’s much more precise than a rasp grater (i.e., it doesn’t create shreds of cheese that are too small), so you don’t waste ingredients. If you haven’t invested in one already, try it—I guarantee you won’t be sorry! I use mine several times a week!

7) Salt & Pepper Grinder/Mill

kitchen essentials

One of those basics that people hardly remember to buy is a salt and pepper mill. Salt and pepper are two key ingredients in every kitchen, and it’s essential that you have both on hand—you don’t want to ruin your dish by using subpar spices. Investing in a good-quality grinder will save you headaches when you run out of seasoning on a busy night. It may cost more upfront, but it’ll be worth it.


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