It’s finally here!! My kitchen essentials that I use the most often in my home. All of the items you will see listed and pictured below are my own, which you may be able to tell as a few items appear “loved” (or used over and over again). I use these items at home & in culinary school, so I pretty much swear by them. I will continue to add to this list, and update links as frequently as possible. Every item has been linked, so feel free to click on the underlined text or images if you see something you’re interested in.
1. Chef’s Knife & Paring Knife
These are the number 1 kitchen essentials. Every home cook needs a good chefs knife and paring knife. You don’t have to go crazy and buy a whole knife set if that isn’t in your budget, but I highly recommend investing in these two knives. They are the most used knives in the kitchen, and having a good sharp knife will definitely make cooking easier and safer for you. I use this Wüsthof Chef’s Knife & this Wüsthof Paring Knife.
2. Honing Steel & Whetstone
Speaking of a safe kitchen, keeping sharp knives is an essential tip when it comes to having a safe experience. You have more of a chance of injuring yourself with a dull blade than with a sharp blade. This is because objects roll under a dull blade, causing you to slip and cut your fingers instead of your food. Keep your beautiful knives sharp! I like to use the honing steel after every couple of uses to keep the edge fresh and straight, however once I notice the knife is becoming dull I’ll use the whetstone to resharpen the edge.
This is my favorite tool to zest lemons & grate parmesan cheese, ginger and garlic, and whole spices like nutmeg & cinnamon. Anything you grate on here becomes very fine in size, so if a recipe calls for “minced” garlic or ginger, I use a microplane to get that result quickly.
4. Measuring Cups & Measuring Spoons
There are two types of measuring cups: a liquid measuring cup that measures out wet ingredients and usually has the measurement values of cups and fluid ounces on them; and dry measuring cups used too measure dry ingredients such as flour and grains that range in measurement values from 1/4 cup to 1 cup. Measuring spoons are used to measure out items in small quantities (teaspoons and tablespoons) such as spices, oils, and extracts. I like to use Pyrex Liquid Measuring Cups because they will not crack if I pour hot liquids into them.
For dry measuring cups and spoons, I always use these stainless steel ones because they are more accurate and less prone to warping overtime like plastic can.
I love y-peelers because the shape is optimal for easy and fast peeling of potatoes, carrots, squash, citrus, and so much more! Your hand will rest comfortable on this tool & peeling will be a breeze.
6. Cutting Boards
Plastic OXO cutting boards are my favorite! I use an 14×21 inch board at home and in culinary school, which is great because there is so much space to work with. You never want your board to make you feel like you have limited space. It’s perfect for carving meat/poultry, and cutting vegetables/fruit. If you want smaller options, there is an OXO 2-Pack that I also own for cutting a smaller quantity of items. These are kitchen essentials I cannot live without.
Everything in its place! This is the translation of “mise en place” and the first rule we learned in culinary school. These little bowls are the first thing I grab when I’m preparing any meal at home. The key to efficient cooking is having every single ingredient measured out and ready to go before you start any cooking. Once you start following this method, cooking will become seamless.
8. Mixing Bowls
Probably my most used tools (aside from my knives) because I am always baking in my free time. These OXO Plastic Bowls are great because they have a rubber rim on the outside which stops the bowls from sliding around on the countertop while you’re mixing.
I also love stainless steel mixing bowls. They’re always big enough to get the job done and they come in a variety of sizes.
9. Dutch Oven
I use these to make braises and stews, to deep fry, and even to make pasta sauce! They are a true work horse in the kitchen, and I couldn’t imagine cooking without them.
10. Sheet Pans & Cooling Racks
Speaking of work horses, these sheet pans are my life line! Kitchen essentials, indeed! Perfect for roasting vegetables and chicken, finishing off steaks in the oven, baking cookies, and so much more. We use these every single day in culinary school & I use them just as much in my home kitchen. I have the quarter sheet pans and the half sheet pans with matching cooling racks by Nordic Ware. The quarter sheet pans are half the size of the half sheet pans and are perfect if you only make one to two servings of food. Half sheet pans are great for making larger amounts of food and can easily fit a dozen cookies on them.
My favorite skillet is the 10 inch stainless steel All Clad frying pan. These are the only pans we use in culinary school & I am fell so in love with them that I just had to have them for my home kitchen as well. They create the most perfect sear on different types of meat, and the crispiest chicken skin. You can also get most perfect pan sauce out of them from the fond formed by the seared meat. I also make french toast in here with clarified butter and turns out perfectly every time.
The possibilities are endless with a good stainless steel pan. The trick to cooking with them is to get them super hot with oil before adding anything you plan to cook. This way you will have less of a chance of the food sticking to the pan. I definitely consider this to be in the top 5 of all kitchen essentials.
12. Nonstick Pan
I love a good nonstick pan for scrambled eggs! The pan I’ve been using the most this year is the Always Pan by Our Place.
They come in an array of beautiful colors (the one I bought is pictured here in the color Sage), and are equipped with a lid, a steamer basket, and a wooden spatula that fit right onto the handle and in a little indentation built in the lid.
I think I use these more than I use cooking spoons. These silicone spatulas are used every single day in every single application you can think of. They are described as “flexible, heat-resistant, and non-scratch”.
14. Fish Spatula
This is the only type of spatula we use for cooking in culinary school. It is long and narrow so it’s easy to flip steaks, fish, vegetables and burgers with. It is also very light and thin, so you won’t damage your food trying to get underneath it.
15. Kitchen Scale
In my opinion, the two most important tools in any kitchen are kitchen scales & thermometers. We’ll get to thermometers soon, but as for kitchen scales, they provide accuracy when you’re trying to follow a recipe. They are super important when it comes to things like baking, fermentation, and making brines. I use a kitchen scale in every cooking application. (The kitchen scale pictured is an OXO 22 pound scale, however it is currently sold out on amazon. I also own an Escali Primo scale that I have linked in its place & it works just as well. It’s also more affordable.)
Kitchen thermometers might be the most important kitchen essentials you could own. I use this Thermapen Mk4 by Thermoworks for quick & accurate readings on the temperatures of my proteins. This tool will save you from undercooked or overcooked food (especially chicken and beef, which is important to get right). Chicken is safe to eat at 165°F, and white meat is usually dry and overcooked past that temperature. You never have to guess the doneness of your steaks again when you own a food thermometer. It’s like magic!
17. Stand Mixer
My best friend!!! I love my stand mixer with all of my heart, and I use it way more than I ever thought I would before purchasing it. I own the KitchenAid Artisan Series 5 Qt Stand Mixer in the color Blue Willow. This mixer comes with 3 mixing attachments (a paddle, a whist, and a dough hook) and can be used in so many different ways. I use it to mix desserts like cakes, muffins, cookies, icings and creams. I also use it to roll out and cut fresh pasta dough with the pasta extruder attachment. There are so many different attachments you can but for this machine such as a cheese grater, a meat grinder, and even a food processor cup! The possibilities are endless with this mixer and in my opinion, it has paid for itself 10x already.
18. Food Processor
This food processor gets the job done! I have here the 14-Cup Food Processor by Cuisanart, and its perfect for kitchen tasks such as chopping up vegetables & nuts, making salsas and sauces such as salad dressings, pesto and hummus, and bringing pie doughs together. I use this pretty often since I’m always making batches of sofrito. I also recently used it to make homemade almond butter. A food processor can also be used to mince large batches of garlic or ginger in seconds instead of chopping it up by hand.
Keep Up with The Latest Recipes
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My Culinary School Journey
Interested on taking a dive into what I’ve been learning in Culinary School? Check out all of my “What I learned in Culinary School Is…” posts, here.