Kitchen Equipment Essentials
How to Choose a Knife
The ultimate essential. First order of business: Everyone needs a good chef’s knife for chopping, slicing and dicing. It’s such a personal preference, although I do NOT recommend those knives sold by your neighborhood college kid that come serrated and promise to never need sharpening. Just say no! It’s important to have a good quality blade that can be honed and sharpened repeatedly. In cooking classes, we use the 8” Zwilling J. A. Henckels Pro Traditional Chef’s Knife. It’s the perfect all-purpose knife with a wide blade. I especially love the version with the oak handle. I also just purchased a Miyabi birchwood chef’s knife and I’m in love with it. You do need one serrated knife for cutting bread as well as a paring knife.
The Best Pans
You need at least one cast iron skillet that will take you straight from the stove to the oven. Lodge cast iron workhorses are economical and come already seasoned. I use mine for everything from frittatas and fajitas to crisps.
Pans! You guys love to ask about pans! A good basic all-purpose set of pans is a must. I’ve had my All-Clad pans for two decades. If you just need one good sauté pan, opt for this minimalist duo. Don’t fall for a non-stick set of pans: You’ll get a better sear in these. For eggs, I opt for a ceramic pan. And here’s a video on how to make easy scrambled eggs using my fave egg pan!
I also like big, heavy braisers from Staub and keep mine on my stove at all times because I just like looking at it! I also use my Staub Perfect Pan almost every day, and I agree — it’s pretty perfect.
I use my ceramic Emile Henry pans for roasting, lasagnas and casseroles. And Apilco platters for serving almost everything. I also like these old fashioned enamel pans for serving and roasting. And of course a bundt pan, cake pans and loaf pans. I also like metal baking pans for brownies and Christmas fudge.
I’m a big fan of wood cutting boards with moats around the edges to catch drippings. If you wash your boards with warm water and soap and dry them well, they will last for ages. I use smaller boards for cooking classes, and larger Boos Blocks for both chopping and serving food. Here’s a great article about caring for your wooden boards.
Mise en Place and Prep
A mandolin or simple hand held slicer, can opener, colanders, strainers and sieves, box grater and multiple measuring cups and spoons. We love the OXO angled liquid measures and flexible measuring cups. I also collect all the stacking glass bowls and aluminum prep bowls. And of course glass storage containers to put your leftovers away!
Gadgets and Appliances Worth Buying
Slow cookers might seem 1950s, but I still use mine weekly! This is the 6-quart InstantPot I use — and it’s on sale! I also use my food processor in almost every cooking class. A Vitamix is essential if you regularly make smoothies or homemade almond milk. If you’re a baker, invest in a KitchenAid stand mixer.
For small appliances, consider an immersion blender for soups and sauces. It’s so handy!
You need a microplaner if you don’t have one. It’s perfect for zesting citrus, finely grating parmesan, nutmeg, ginger, chocolate and even garlic.
After your lemon is zested, use this citrus press to get all the juice.
Your pastry blender and bench scraper isn’t just for making biscuits or pie crust. The blender is perfect for breaking up ground meat while it’s cooking and the scraper is a handy way to transfer chopped veggies to a pot. We also love silicone pastry brushes, Silpats and silicone muffin tins. You’ll need to use a rimmed sheet pan when using them, so stock up on those too. We use them for sheet pan recipes and making spatchcocked chicken. Sometimes you can even stock up on them at Walmart or Costco.
A flexible fish spatula is the perfect tool for flipping any type of food. From fried eggs to pancakes, you want this in your life. And of course you need a good whisk or two, and a full container of wooden spoons.
We love this 3-piece baking set complete with a sheet pan for cookies and sheet pan suppers. If you haven’t used a silicone baking mat before, you’ll thank me when you’re easily washing your pans and enjoying perfectly baked cookies. And the rack can be used to make these awesome chicken wings.
If you want to keep it to the bare essentials, we have this quick video on the subject! Choose wisely and these kitchen items will last for decades. And as always, leave a comment or feel free to email with any specific questions!