The Kitchen Essentials Guide

The Kitchen is the heart of the home, and it’s important to keep it fully functional and well stocked. But there’s no set rule to furnishing a kitchen. Products and appliances can be bought all at once, or collected throughout the years.

And while no kitchen is created equal, each kitchen needs the same set of essentials. It’s simply vital to have everything needed to prep, cook, entertain and clean. Here’s our definitive list of every essential product, item, and appliance.

Want to find out more? Check out our definitive product guides to learn everything you need to know.

Prep Tools & Essentials

Cutting Board

boosblock

John Boos Block

The best wood edge grain reversible cutting board.

Unless you want your tabletops to look like something out of a slasher film, a cutting board is a must have kitchen item. From slicing breads to paring meats and cheeses, cutting boards are essential buffers. They come in a dizzying array of styles and and materials, but can be purchased cheaply and generally cleaned easily.

Chefs Knife

Global_chefsknife

Global Chefs Knife

Rounded design for comfort with a professional grip.

No chef, amateur or professional, is at home in their kitchen without a sharp and well made Chef’s knife. They’re one of the most important investments you can make in your kitchen. A proper chef’s knife can be used in the general utility of almost every aspect of cooking and preparation. Trying to slice something with a dull or poorly made knife will drive any cook crazy. One of the best investments you can make in your kitchen is a Chef’s Knife, and while they can sometimes skew towards a more expensive item, trust us when we say it’s worth it.

Dry Measuring Cups

laxinis_measuringcups

Laxinis Steel Cups

Highly satin brushed set with made with quality stainless steel.

Whether you’re prepping a meal from scratch or simply trying to appropriately size out your pet’s breakfast, dry measuring cups are a must have for the kitchen. Dry measuring cups refer to units for “dry” ingredients (think flour or spices rather than measuring out liquids). Precise measurements require reliable tools, and a set of measuring cups can go a long way towards making your life in the kitchen easier. A set generally comes in 4 different sizes ranging from a 1/4 to a full cup, although some sets come with more, and others include measuring spoons as well. Purchasing a reliable set of measuring cups is an investment that should last your kitchen a life time.

Can Opener

mastersmoothopener

Kuhn Rikon Opener

Five separate opener functions within a single gadget.

A can opener may not be vital for every day use, but it certainly is essential when the need arises and a layer of tin needs to easily pulled back. Save yourself from frustrating episodes of trying to improvise with forks and knives, haphazardly trying to pierce through sturdy metals. Your hands don’t need accidental scars, and no one needs blood in the cranberry sauce. Throw your can opener in a kitchen drawer, always readily available when needed.

Spatula

Victorinoxspatula

Victorinox Turner

Slotted for flexibility with high carbon stainless steel head and wooden handle.

Spatula’s are essential whether you’re flipping burgers on the grill or pressing down a grilled cheese sandwich on a cast iron skillet for that extra crisp. When cooking over a burner or a searing hot appliance, Spatula’s help keep you away from the flame and are multi-faceted enough to turn, flip, prod, spread or mix during food preparation. While they come in all sorts of materials, we recommend nabbing a metallic or heat resistant silicone that are sturdy simple to clean.

Tongs

oxo tongs

OXO Good Grips

Sturdy stainless steel tongs feature silicone heads.

A dependable pair of tongs goes a long way, whether you’re trying to secure a better grip on a slippery food object over the grill, or removing boiled items from a scalding pot. You’ll want to make sure that the tongs that you get can stand the test of time; metal or silicone coated tongs can help reduce the wear and tear that working over sustained heat can cause. At the same time, tongs should be versatile; they’re just as useful for tossing a fresh salad as they are being used over a searing hot burner.

Colander

bellemain colander

Bellemain Colander

5-quart fast draining colander that can fit over 5 pounds of spaghetti

If you’re planning on enjoying some pasta for dinner, or perhaps ready to clean a freshly plucked batch of vegetables from the garden, a Colander is a vital kitchen tool to use. These strainers help drain water while leaving the desired food item behind, so you don’t have to fret about creating a kitchen mess. Colanders can be made of plastic or steel, and are generally durable and easy to clean. They can come in various sizes, and some even come with attachments that allow the colander to fasten to the sink, helping to create a hands free experience.

Whisk

spring whisk

Endurance Whisk

Blends faster than standard whisks. Perfect for eggs, gravies, and salad dressings

Whether you’re a master baker starting a cake from scratch, or a hopeless amateur cook trying to scramble some eggs for breakfast, one thing is for sure; a whisk is one of the most helpful and readily used utensils found in the kitchen. Trust us; don’t waste time trying to whip up ingredients using a fork. If you’re planning on cooking or baking from scratch or just throwing together a quick salad dressing or sauce, a whisk is simply a must have item. Whisks are very lightweight and can come be made with a few different materials, but for our money we prefer stainless steel. It’s easier to clean and super light weight!

Sheers

turata scissors

Turata Sheers

Easily cut a variety of raw meat and poultry, scrape fish scales, open caps and crack nuts.

A pair of scissors might seem to make for an odd fit in the kitchen, but that is certainly not the case. A good pair of Sheers can go a long way; From cutting through poultry and fish to cutting up vegetables. Sheers can help lend power and control when trying to cut up unyielding produce that you can’t always find with a knife. They can also help slice open packaging cleanly. Most models also have detachable components so that they can be cleaned efficiently and thoroughly.

Pot Holders

kitchen aid pot holder

Kitchen Aid Pot Holder

Durable and heat-resistant cotton, will help shield your hands from heat up-to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Anyone who has accidentally touched a searing pan or the interior of an operating oven will agree that pot holders are essential kitchen items. Pot holders allow you to remove items and pans from high heat areas without burning yourself, while also providing a convenient surface area for cooling that won’t warp or ruin your surfaces. Pot holders are generally made with a cotton or polyester fabric, and sometimes can be found in a silicon mold as well. You don’t need to go crazy buying up Pot Holders; we recommend just one or two for the kitchen, and they tend to last a life time.

Potato Masher

Mix N'masher

Mix N’Masher

Mixes and mashes potatoes and other softer cooked foods in a single cooking tool.

A handy tool to have tucked away in a utensil drawer, a potato masher helps alleviate some of the headaches that come with preparing vegetables and foods like peas, apples, pumpkins, and of course…potatoes! These tools help to make thick sauces and mashed vegetables by breaking down softly textured foods. While automatic mashers and mixing products are available and certainly helpful, manual potato mashers ensure that homemade mashed potatoes and apple sauce are light and fluffy by breaking down less starch while preserving a creamy and desirable texture.

Potato mashers can be bulky and sometimes prove challenging to clean. Keep an eye out for stainless steel models that can be run through a dishwasher. But when it comes time to whip together a bowl of mashed potatoes for a dinner party, you’ll be thankful to own a potato masher.

Liquid Measuring Cup

oxo measuring cup

OXO Measuring Cup

Patented angled surface lets you read measurements from above

Not all measuring cups are created equal, and so it is quite important to ensure that your kitchen is stocked with both liquid and dry measuring cups. Liquid measuring cups excel at giving you an accurate reading for the volume of liquid you are adding to a dish (surprise, surprise!), that could be a struggle to accurately read while using dry measuring cups. These liquid measuring cups are often made of glass or plastic to allow see-through comparison, which is extremely helpful for accurate reading purposes. The glass and plastic component also make them a breeze to clean, either by hand or dishwasher.

They also come with handles to make adding the measured liquid to the next phase of your cooking prep as seamless as possible. Most liquid measuring cups allow you to break down the volume of liquid in a variety of ways, from designations ranging from cup sizes, to milliliters, to quarts.

Cookware & Bakeware

Cast Iron Skillet

lodge cast iron

Lodge Cast Iron

Pre-Seasoned 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillet with handle holder for better control.

When something works well for thousands of years, generally it’s a good idea to leave it unchanged. Enter the cast iron skillet. Humans have been cooking with cast iron forever, and they are incredibly efficient at preparing your food. Cast Iron gets extremely hot, so searing steaks and meats is an easy joy when using a skillet. Additionally, most modern day skillets are coated with non-stick sealants, so they’re not a nightmare to clean. A well maintained cast iron skillet can last you a lifetime, and while they’re not always cheap, it pays to spring for quality. They’re also versatile; just as useful on a stovetop, in the oven, or even on a grill.

To clean, avoid the dishwasher. Instead, use the sink to wash under warm water. A sponge and some dish soap will go a long way towards making your skillet spotless.

Nonstick Pan

All-Clad Non Stick

Ideal for searing, browning, and pan-frying everything from eggs to meats.

If you’re preparing or cooking something in a nonstick pan, you’re committing kitchen malpractice. Traditional frying pans can be a nightmare to clean, even with the help of a dishwasher, and nothing can make your kitchen cleanup more tedious then spending 20 minutes trying to scrape some encrusted burnt cheese off a pan. Cooking can be a messy endeavor, but nonstick pans can go a long way. The slippery coating on the pans means that food slides off rather than sticks on. While many models will claim to be machine washable, we would recommend steering clear from the dishwasher and instead giving the pan a good soak. The sealant that makes non-stick pans so special can wear down and come off more quickly when washed in a machine.

Sauce Pan

cuisinart sauce pan

Cuisinart Sauce Pan

Cast-stainless-steel handle stays cool to the touch and comes riveted for strength.

You don’t need to be an expert chef to get great use out of a sauce pan. While they are absolutely essential if you plan on making sauces or soups, sauce pans come in handy when simply reheating left overs or just preparing a bowl of Kraft Mac and cheese.

Sauce pans can come in a variety of sizes, and we recommend having a few different types. Sizes can range from holding a single quart of liquid to a few quarts as a time. Most pans will also come with a fitted lid to ensure that you can entrap heat while boiling and steaming. Since boiling liquids can make for a messy cleanup, and so it is essential to find a sauce pan that is easy to clean.

We love pans that come with non-stick properties or that are made from stainless steel. These are easy to soak and clean. Also be sure to grab a pan that isn’t too heavy or cumbersome; it is essential to be able to easily and neatly pour the contents of a pan without having to worry about any splatters.

Baking Sheet

nordic whale baking sheet

Nordic Baking Sheet

Made of pure aluminum which will never rust for a lifetime of durability

Don’t let the name fool you: A baking sheet is a sturdy, oven safe, shallow, rectangular pan that is ideal for baking or roasting food. They are ideal for baking breads and sweets, and are also very effective for baking chicken or fish for a healthy meal. Baking Sheets are made from metal, predominantly from aluminum or stainless steel. The edges of the pan are generally raised, to help provide a grip when removing an item from the oven so that your baked goods don’t spill on the floor when baking is completed.

Serving Tools & Utensils

Serving Platter

dowan serving platter

Dowan Serving Platter

Oval plates made of durable porcelain, chip-resistant and more sturdy than stoneware.

When sitting down at the table for a family dinner, make sure that you have a large round platter for serving purposes. While large round platters offer value in helping to transport foods, we love the visual aesthetic that it lends to a dinner or party. Make sure to grab a platter that is machine washable. Most platters can be made with a wide variety of different materials like plastic, porcelain, or even glass, and are finished with straight lines or in some cases unique designs. We love using dinnerware that comes in a glossy, white coloration. The clean, minimal aesthetic is perfect for showcasing food!

Kitchen Towel

zeppoli flour sack towel

Zeppoli Classic Towels

100% Natural Cotton Dish Towels are built to last long with strong, durable fibers.

A trusty kitchen towel is a practical addition to any kitchen. Kitchen towels won’t replace the need to keep paper towels as well, but are frequently used on their own. They can help quickly clean up messes, create a buffer between hot items and devices, and to wipe off your hands when in a cooking pinch. While they are generally durable and have a long kitchen life-span, be mindful to frequently wash your dish towels, as repeated use can make them unsanitary over time. As such, we recommend a light, cotton dish towel to withstand repeated washings.

Drinking Glasses

duralex glasses

Duralex Glasses

The original french tumbler, made by the company that invented tempered glass.

You can never have enough drinking glasses, that’s just a fact. We’re even in the school of (completely unscientific and unproven) thought that certain glasses can make your drinks colder, and taste better. So stop sipping directly from that carton of milk; instead invest in a practical and eye catching set of glasses that provide a pleasant drinking experience and can serve your family for years.

Drinking glasses can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are small glasses that are appropriate for a splash of orange juice in the morning, to larger ones that hold up to a 16 (or more) ounces of liquid. If you can, try to accrue a varied mix. We think it’s important to have a few complete sets, as different situations and events can require different glasses. Unless you repeatedly drop or crack your glasses, they should last you a long while. Try to have at least double the amount of glasses as people per household. That way you’re covered with fresh glasses when running the dishwasher, or for unexpected guests and large parties.

Coffee Mugs

coffee mugs

Sweese Porcelain Mugs

Perfect size, shape, big handle, and colors are beautiful, bright, with a bit of gloss.

If you or a member of your family enjoy coffee, tea, or any other heated beverage, a proper set of coffee mugs is vital in keeping your drink of choice warm. Most mugs are made from a ceramic property that helps insulate your drink, but you can also find eye catching mugs made from steel, glass or other materials. A set of 4 mugs to start should do just fine. It’s entirely possible that throughout time you will collect coffee cups of varying types and designs, but to start make sure you have at least one mug per member of your family.

Additionally, while coffee mugs excel at keeping your drink warm, a new type of coffee mug has emerged that aims to keep your beverage hot indefinitely. Temperature controlled ceramic mugs from Ember sit atop an electronic tray that emits heat, so you don’t have to worry about hurrying to finish your morning cup before it gets cold. While they can be slightly pricy, if you’re a big coffee or tea drinker, it’s worth it.

Wine Glasses

paksh wine glass

Paksh Red Wine Glass

Made in Italy, this wine glass set feels luxurious and luminous in Italian-crafted glass.

When enjoying a nice glass of wine after a long day at work, it’s imperative to use a wine glass. Look, we’ve all been forced to endure using a solo cup or mug in the past for wine, but that doesn’t mean that we have to. When you’re looking to stock a kitchen, ensure that you have the proper glassware. Wine glasses help ensure that the aromatic and taste sensory properties of the bottle you’re having are properly enjoyed. Wine glasses come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with a specific and unique function depending on what kind of wine you plan to enjoy. Go to a fancy restaurant and you’ll find the tables set with a few different wine glasses.

While it certainly helps to own a variety of glasses for their different functions, don’t be ashamed to start with a standard set that you can enjoy your wine from. A passionate wine aficionado or aspiring Somali may find distinct glasses a necessity, but if you’re like us and just want to kick back with a glass of red or white, you don’t need to go too crazy with the specifics.

Keep in mind that while most wine glasses are dishwasher safe, their delicate stems and thin interiors can make them easy to shatter upon washing. Make sure that if you plan on using a dishwasher to clean, that you also have the proper attachments that help keep them fastened in place so that they don’t shatter. Also – if you purchase a set of crystal wine glasses, avoid the dishwasher entirely. They’re simply too delicate and likely expensive to risk breaking.

Salt & Pepper Grinder

salt and pepper

Salt and Pepper Shaker

Professional quality carbon steel grinders that are fully adjustable from fine to coarse.

Adding a touch of fresh salt and pepper can help elevate the taste of any dish. While standard salt and pepper shakers are sufficient, it helps to have a grinder handy to add a dash of each element, unprocessed, in its purest form. The simplest way to purchase these grinders is in a set, and chances are that even though you’ll be using them often, it can take a long while to run low and have to refill either grinder. Salt & Pepper grinders are also a surefire way to help control the amount of sodium or spice that you’re adding to a meal as well.

These kitchen musts can be found at almost any online retailer or brick and mortar kitchen store, and are available in a wide range of materials. We love to use grinders with glass properties, allowing you to see the amount and color of the product within. Salt & Pepper grinders in that vein can also help add a visual touch to the kitchen counter or table, another big plus in our books. Prices for salt & pepper grinders can vary to fit any budget or visual preference, but the impressive durability and functionality ensures that they will be kitchen staples for years to come.

Box Grater

cuisinart box grater

Cuisinart Box Grater

Perfect for fine shredding, coarse shredding, fine grating and slicing blades.

Box graters are an indispensable tool that can be to grate or zest various food products. While they might be most famous for providing a snowy coating of parmesan cheese over a steaming bowl of pasta, these tools are multi faceted. Box graters generally have multiple sides with grates and holes of varying sizes, allowing the ability to choose between different levels of thickness when grating or peeling food. These kitchen products are ideal for use with cheese or potatoes, citrus, or harder vegetables like garlic and roots.

Breaking up hard food items can be strenuous. But the box grater makes this process simple and quick. These products are generally made from stainless steel and are easy to cleanse and maintain. Skip the pre shredded containers of cheese and produce, and instead grab a box grater to keep things fresh.

Ladle

zulay ladle

Zulay Ladle

Made from premium, heavy-duty stainless steel polished to a beautiful mirror finish.

These specialized spoons come with a long handle and deep bowl, ideal for serving and pouring soups, stews, sauces, punch and other liquids. Keep the mess and spillage to a minimum with these nifty utensils that should be in every kitchen. A typical ladle will hold a half cup of liquid, perfect for portion control purposes.

Ladles can be made from a ton of different materials, with metal, plastic, and wood constituting some of the most popular options today. Keep in mind that cleaning, maintenance, and longevity will vary depending on the material. For that reason, we recommend stainless steel ladles, which are sturdy and exceedingly easy to wash.

Storage & Cleaning

Sponge

Nano sponge

Nano Sponge

Made from two unique weaves of Nanolon fiber. One side scrubs, the other absorbs and wipes away.

Even if you enjoy the benefits of a dishwasher, no kitchen or cleanup is complete without having a good spongy at the ready. While you may feel confident that your dishwasher can tackle the mess left on your silverware and dinnerware, grime has a way of creeping up in the corners and crevices of every kitchen. And nothing helps combat filth like a sponge.

While sponges are easy to clean, don’t forget to replace them often. Old and dirty sponges can be a cesspool for the filth that they are designed to combat against, and as a rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to have some fresh, unopened packs of sponges below your sink, ready when needed.

Look for sponges with a coarse bottom that will eliminate grime without tarnishing your tableware.

Knife Sharpener

knife sharpening tool

Sharpening Rod

Knife sharpening steel rod is for all types of knives, including kitchen, household, sporting, and pocket knives.

If you spend a lot of time, or even a moderate amount of time cooking, it’s a given that you’ll be using a variety of knives and blades daily. Over time, and with repeated use, the blades and edges on knives tend to ultimately become dull and lose their general effectiveness. The good news is that it’s quite easy to restore the trademark sharpness of any knife. The bad news is that most people do not have the means to do so in their own homes, and thus are forced to endure a blade that has lost it’s edge.

While certain stores have days where they allow you to bring in a knife for sharpening, it is quite a hassle to to transport cumbersome and dangerous objects out of the home. And seeing how knives can be quite expensive, it makes little sense to dispose of them and purchase a new set.

Enter the knife sharpener. While there are manual ways to restore the edge on your blades using sharpening stones, honing steel, and the like, these days it has never been easier to quickly and effectively tune up your favorite knife. Instead, all in one knife sharpeners allow you to cut out the multi step process and prove a one stop shop for a quick and effective blade tune up.