Kitchen Essentials – How to Set Up Your Dream Kitchen

new kitchen checklist (Last Updated On: May 24, 2021)

Whether you’re moving into your first apartment or you’re moving to a new house, the kitchen will be an important part of your new home.

Our checklist of kitchen essentials has all of the tools, utensils, cookware, and gadgets you’ll need to whip up some delicious meals.

Below we’ll cover the necessities you should have for your first kitchen as well as some nice-to-haves that will help expand your cooking repertoire.

Our list below has two categories for every section – Essentials are things you shouldn’t be caught without, and Splurge items that you could consider buying if you have room in your budget, think you’ll use them, or want to up your game as a chef.

We’ve kept our budget for our essential items capped at $500, so if you’re outfitting your kitchen for the first time you won’t have to break the bank.

Shopping for quality

You’ll always need to eat, and no matter where you live you’re going to have a place to cook.

When we created our list of kitchen necessities, we wanted to make sure we considered the quality of every item as well as the cost. In most cases, you’re better off spending a little more on a utensil that comes with a lifetime guarantee and is going to last for decades over a cheap product that will only last until your next move.

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, the author of The Food Lab, is a world-renowned chef and food experimenter. Many of the items on this list are recommended as part of his essential toolkit for any aspiring chef.

Most of the items are under $15, are battled-tested by professional chefs, and will last you for years.


Kitchen Utensils List

Utensils are one of the most used tools in the kitchen. They don’t need to be fancy or expensive, but if you’re like us, buying the right items can make your time in the kitchen much more enjoyable.

Tongs

Save 18%
OXO Locking Tongs, 9-Inch, Steel
OXO Locking Tongs, 9-Inch, Steel
Brushed Stainless Steel; Non-slip gripping pads; Tongs lock closed for convenient storage; Dishwasher safe
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OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Stainless-Steel Locking Tongs
OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Stainless-Steel Locking Tongs
Contoured handle design provides control while chopping and cutting; Soft, comfortable handle ensures a safe, non-slip grip, even when wet
OXO Good Grips 16-Inch Stainless Steel Locking Tongs
OXO Good Grips 16-Inch Stainless Steel Locking Tongs
Ideal for grilling and turning large cuts of meat; Versatile for cooking, tossing and transferring food

We love OXO kitchen products. These budget-friendly 9” Stainless Steel Locking Tongs by OXO are a steal at under $15, are sturdy enough to flip a steak, and have nearly replaced all of our other kitchen tools.

Spatulas

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New Star Foodservice 43068 Wood Handle Fish Spatula, 6.5' Blade, Silver
New Star Foodservice 43068 Wood Handle Fish Spatula, 6.5" Blade, Silver
Quality brushed stainless steel blade; Solid smooth wooden handle securely riveted with three stainless steel rivets
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Save 14%
OXO International 2151400 Stainless Steel Fish Turner (1130900)
OXO International 2151400 Stainless Steel Fish Turner (1130900)
Oxo International; 2151400; Cookware
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OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Fish Turner
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Fish Turner
Great for lifting, turning and transferring whole fish, filets, seafood cakes and more; Sturdy, oversized, stainless steel head
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Flexible Turner, Large
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Flexible Turner, Large
Flexible spring-steel head; Large head accommodates fish filets and omelets; Useful for lifting cookies
OXO Good Grips Large Silicone Flexible Turner
OXO Good Grips Large Silicone Flexible Turner
Medium Silicone Spoon Spatula is ideal for mixing, scooping and tasting; Safe for coated and non-stick cookware and bakeware

Our spatula of choice is OXO’s fish spatula. It’s slotted, which means you can drain off any liquids before transferring them to a plate.

It’s stiff enough to handle a thick cut of meat but flexible enough to wedge into the nooks and crannies of your pan.

We also recommend getting a silicone spatula to use for non-stick pans so you don’t scratch the surface. Again, OXO makes a sturdy, high-quality silicon spatula that we love.

And we’re not the only ones – it’s rated 4.5 stars on Amazon with nearly 1,500 different reviews. At about $10, it’s a great value buy.

Ladles

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OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Ladle
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Ladle
Sturdy stainless steel ladle neatly scoops soups, sauces and gravy; Dual-sided pour spouts make serving easy for right-and left-handed users
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OXO Good Grips Nylon Ladle
OXO Good Grips Nylon Ladle
Contoured handle is comfortable to hold whether you're feeding from the front or the side; Small bowl fits easily in baby's mouth
OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Ladle
OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Ladle
Sturdy brushed stainless steel construction; Subtle, soft, non-slip grip; Stainless steel surface for safely leaning utensils on hot cookware
OXO Good Grips Silicone Everyday Ladle
OXO Good Grips Silicone Everyday Ladle
Flexible ladle conforms to curves to scrape up every bit of sauce for serving; High heat-resistant silicone is gentle on non-stick surfaces
OXO Good Grips 4-Piece Nylon Tool Set
OXO Good Grips 4-Piece Nylon Tool Set
Set includes: Spoon, Slotted Spoon, Square Turner, and Spaghetti Server; Safe for non-stick cookware

For soups, stews, chili, and other liquids, you’ll want something to scoop your delicious creation out of your pot and into your bowl. Again, it’s OXO to the rescue with this nylon ladle for $7.

It’s hard to argue with over 1,000 reviews rating it at 4.5 stars on Amazon.

Utensil holder

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Oggi Jumbo Stainless Steel Utensil Holder, 7'
Oggi Jumbo Stainless Steel Utensil Holder, 7"
HIGH QUALITY & BUILT TO LAST: Requires minimal care and cleaning. Hand washing recommended
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Save 17%
Cook N Home Stainless Steel Utensil Holder Jumbo 2PC set, 5.5-inch x 6.3-inch and 6.3-inch x 7.08-inch, Silver
Cook N Home Stainless Steel Utensil Holder Jumbo 2PC set, 5.5-inch x 6.3-inch and 6.3-inch x 7.08-inch, Silver
Made of food safe stainless steel 18-8; Satin polish exterior giving it a modern and elegant look
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Save 6%
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Rotating Utensil Holder
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Rotating Utensil Holder
Holder rotates to make tools easy to locate; Large capacity holds over 15 large-handled tools
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Estilo Stainless Steel Utensil Holder, Jumbo-7 x 7 inches
Estilo Stainless Steel Utensil Holder, Jumbo-7 x 7 inches
Made of High Grade durable brushed stainless-steel.; Heavy and solidly build, so it will not easily tip over.

Now that you have all these great tools, make them easy to reach with a utensil holder for your kitchen counter.

We think this jumbo stainless steel utensil holder looks great on our counter, but they come in tons of flavors.

Splurges

Whisks

Save 50%
Binging with Babish: 100 Recipes Recreated from Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows
Binging with Babish: 100 Recipes Recreated from Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows
Book - binging with babish: 100 recipes recreated from your favorite movies and tv shows; Language: english
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Save 33%
StarPack Basics Silicone Whisk, High Heat Resistant to 480°F, Non-Stick Safe Silicone Whisk (Cherry Red)
StarPack Basics Silicone Whisk, High Heat Resistant to 480°F, Non-Stick Safe Silicone Whisk (Cherry Red)
VERSATILE AND ESSENTIAL KITCHEN TOOL - Contains: 1 x Whisk: 9.8" x 2.4"
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Save 8%
Amazon Basics Stainless Steel Wire Whisk Set, Gray - 3-Piece
Amazon Basics Stainless Steel Wire Whisk Set, Gray - 3-Piece
3-piece wire whisk set includes 9-inch, 10-inch, and 11.5-inch sizes; Popular balloon shape for optimal whipping; ideal for everyday use
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OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Silicone Whisk - Red
OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Silicone Whisk - Red
Size 20 scoop makes 3.5-in diameter cookies; Large scoop holds 3 tablespoons of dough; Stainless steel scoop cuts through dense dough or thick batter

In most cases a whisk isn’t necessary, you could get it by using a fork. But if you’re a baker, pancake enthusiast, or just like the convenience of a whisk, we recommend this basic 9″ whisk for $9.

You only need one whisk in your life, and this one will do you just fine.

Cooking chopsticks

It might seem odd to some, but chopsticks make an excellent cooking utensil. Great for stirring, tossing, or placing food, they’re especially useful when cooking in a wok or other rounded pans.

We like these 14” stainless steel chopsticks for cooking.

Skimmer

For soups & stews, we also recommend having a skimmer on hand as well, in case you want the liquid to drain before scooping something up.

These can also be very helpful when frying foods. There are plenty to choose from, but we like this highly rated steel strainer with a bamboo handle for under $10.


Kitchen Knives and Cutlery

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J.A. Henckels International Statement Kitchen Knife Set with Block, 15-pc, Chef Knife, Steak Knife set, Kitchen Knife Sharpener, Light Brown
J.A. Henckels International Statement Kitchen Knife Set with Block, 15-pc, Chef Knife, Steak Knife set, Kitchen Knife Sharpener, Light Brown
Fabricated from high quality stainless steel. Handle Material: Plastic; Single piece Precision stamped blade construction provides durability
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Save 53%
J.A Henckels International Classic Kitchen Knife Set for Beginner, 3-pc, Chef Knife, Utility Knife, Paring Knife, Stainless Steel Knife Set, Black
J.A Henckels International Classic Kitchen Knife Set for Beginner, 3-pc, Chef Knife, Utility Knife, Paring Knife, Stainless Steel Knife Set, Black
Made in Spain; Fabricated from high quality German stainless steel; Fully forged construction offers durability and a seamless transition from blade to handle
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Cuisinart C55-12PCKSAM 12 Piece Color Knife Set with Blade Guards (6 knives and 6 knife covers), Jewel - Amazon Exclusive
Cuisinart C55-12PCKSAM 12 Piece Color Knife Set with Blade Guards (6 knives and 6 knife covers), Jewel - Amazon Exclusive
High-Quality stainless steel blades; Nonstick ceramic coating for easy slicing; Color coding reduces the risk of cross-contamination during food preparation

There are a few basic knives every kitchen should have, and they don’t need to break the bank.

When considering a good knife, we look for a sharp, sturdy blade, a comfortable handle, and durable construction.

These knives will hold up through years of use, can be resharpened over time, and many come with a lifetime guarantee.

8” Western Chef’s Knife

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HENCKELS CLASSIC Steak Knife Set, 4-piece, Black/Stainless Steel
HENCKELS CLASSIC Steak Knife Set, 4-piece, Black/Stainless Steel
Made in Spain; Fabricated from high-quality German stainless steel; Fully forged construction offers durability and a seamless transition from blade to handle
−62%
Save 59%
J.A. Henckels International Classic Knife Block Set, 16 Piece, Black
J.A. Henckels International Classic Knife Block Set, 16 Piece, Black
Fabricated from high quality German stainless steel; Fully forged construction offers durability and a seamless transition from blade to handle
−59%
Save 48%
J.A. Henckels International Classic Chef Knife, 8 Inch Chef Knife, Kitchen Knife, Professional Chef Knife, Black
J.A. Henckels International Classic Chef Knife, 8 Inch Chef Knife, Kitchen Knife, Professional Chef Knife, Black
Made in Spain; Fabricated from high quality German stainless steel. Handle length - 4.72 inch
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J.A. Henckels Classic Series Rapture 45-Piece Flatware Set, Service for 8
J.A. Henckels Classic Series Rapture 45-Piece Flatware Set, Service for 8
45-piece flatware set with eight 5-piece place settings, plus a 5-piece hostess set; Crafted of 18/8 stainless steel in durable one-piece construction
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Save 41%
HENCKELS CLASSIC Carving Knife, 8-inch, Black/Stainless Steel
HENCKELS CLASSIC Carving Knife, 8-inch, Black/Stainless Steel
Made in Spain; Fabricated from high-quality German stainless steel; Fully forged construction offers durability and a seamless transition from blade to handle
−41%

Sturdy, sharp, and pointed at the tip, these knives are great for cutting through meat, bone, and hearty vegetables. They’re built to rock back and forth as you cut, and generally have some heft to them.

We like the J.A. Henckels Classic 8″ Knife, with its full tang blade and triple-riveted handle. It’s has a comfortable grip with a bolster that makes it easy to maneuver while chopping.

We think it’s the best chef’s knife you can buy for $50, and it comes with a lifetime guarantee.

7” Santoku Knife

Save 29%
J.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL CLASSIC Hollow Edge Santoku Knife, 7-Inch, Black/Stainless Steel
J.A. HENCKELS INTERNATIONAL CLASSIC Hollow Edge Santoku Knife, 7-Inch, Black/Stainless Steel
Made in Spain; Fabricated from high quality German stainless steel; Fully forged construction offers durability and a seamless transition from blade to handle
−29%
Save 21%
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature Kitchen Knife, German Chef Knife, Santoku Knife, 7 Inch, Stainless Steel Knife, Black
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature Kitchen Knife, German Chef Knife, Santoku Knife, 7 Inch, Stainless Steel Knife, Black
Manufactured in Germany; Special formula high carbon NO STAIN steel; Ice-hardened FRIODUR blade starts sharper stays sharper longer and has superior resilience
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Miyabi Black 5000MCD67 7-inch Santoku Knife
Miyabi Black 5000MCD67 7-inch Santoku Knife
Authentic, thin, Japanese blade comprised of ultra-premium MC66 micro-carbide steel; Blade consists of 133 layers of steel, resulting in a gorgeous floral Damascus pattern
−20%

Santoku knives come from Japan, designed by chefs to slice, dice, and mince. Unlike a western chef’s knife, santoku blades are not meant for chopping through bone or hearty vegetables like carrots or squash.

However, their straight, sharp edge makes them great for chopping just about anything else, and they are far more agile and maneuverable than a typical western chef’s knife.

Having each style of knife in your kitchen means you’ll have the right tool for each job.

Our pick for santoku knives is the Victorinox 7” Fibrox santoku knife with its ice-tempered carbon blade makes for a high qualified knife that handles well.

Victorinox (makes of the Swiss Army Knife) includes their patented Fibrox non-slip grip on this knife, giving it a textured handle that is comfortable to use while still allowing for a firm grip.

Save 10%
Victorinox Swiss Army Cutlery Fibrox Pro Santoku Knife, Granton Edge, 7-Inch
  • VERSATILE KITCHEN ESSENTIAL. Slicing, dicing, mincing -- this knife can do it all. This Santoku knife's combines the features of a cleaver and a chef's knife with a unique shape that allows it to be used as a spatula to scoop up whatever you are chopping.
  • GRANTON EDGE. Featuring a Granton edge that prevents food from sticking to the blade and minimizes friction. The flat cutting edge doesn't rock, creating a highly efficient chopping motion and is ground in two directions to create long-lasting sharpness.
  • EASY HANDLING. This knife features an ergonomic Fibrox Pro handle for a non-slip grip -- even when wet. This exceptional knife is weighted and balanced for easy handling and comfort.
  • KNIFE DIMENSIONS. Stainless steel blade -- 7" in length. Meets the strict National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) standards for public health protection.
  • TRUSTED SWISS QUALITY. Expertly crafted in Switzerland in 1884, Victorinox provides a lifetime guarantee against defects in material and workmanship. Making a lifetime commitment has never been so easy. Handle material - Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE)

Steak knives

Great steak knives are worth the investment, and shouldn’t set you back much. J.A Henckels, the maker of our pick for a western chef’s knife, makes a beautiful 8 piece steak knife set.

We like these for the same reasons we like their chef’s knife – full tang blade, sturdy rivets, a comfortable handle, and a lifetime guarantee.

Splurges

Paring Knife

Save 42%
Mercer Culinary Renaissance Forged, 3.5 Inch, Black Paring Knife, 3.5-Inch
Mercer Culinary Renaissance Forged, 3.5 Inch, Black Paring Knife, 3.5-Inch
Shortened bolster exposes full blade edge, allowing for easier sharpening; Full tang runs the entire length of the handle for superior balance
−42%
Save 33%
HENCKELS Solution Paring Knife, 4-inch, Black/Stainless Steel
HENCKELS Solution Paring Knife, 4-inch, Black/Stainless Steel
Fabricated from high-quality stainless steel; Single-piece precision-stamped blade construction provides durability
−33%

Bigger isn’t always better. We like this 4 in. Victorinox paring knife for peeling fruits and vegetables or making other fine cuts.

Bread Knife

Save 45%
Mercer Culinary Millennia Bread Knife, 10-Inch Wide Wavy Edge, Black
Mercer Culinary Millennia Bread Knife, 10-Inch Wide Wavy Edge, Black
Textured finger points provide slip resistance, grip, and safety. Protective finger guard.
−45%
Save 36%
HENCKELS Statement Bread Knife, Cake Knife, 8 inch, Black/Stainless Steel
HENCKELS Statement Bread Knife, Cake Knife, 8 inch, Black/Stainless Steel
Fabricated from high-quality stainless steel; Single-piece precision-stamped blade construction provides durability
−36%
Save 10%
Mercer Culinary Millennia 9-Inch Offset Wavy Edge Bread Knife, Black
Mercer Culinary Millennia 9-Inch Offset Wavy Edge Bread Knife, Black
Ergonomic handle- a combination of Santoprene for comfort and polypropylene for durability
−10%

A long bread knife is great for cutting up soft bread, hard bread like baguettes, cutting sandwiches in half, or even slicing meats in a pinch.

The Victorinox bread knife is great, but at nearly $50 is a little indulgent. This 8” bread knife from OXO will do the job just fine.

It’s highly rated with nearly 600 reviews on Amazon and comes in under $10.

Meat Cleaver

If you’re sold on a santoku knife, but looking for an alternative to the western chef’s knife, a meat cleaver is a great alternative pairing.

Handy for cutting through thick meat, bone, and hearty vegetables, but also surprisingly good when it comes to finely mincing herbs or other vegetables.

A basic heavy-duty meat cleaver should last you a lifetime, and for just under $10 it’s worth having in your kitchen on the off chance you need it.


Appliances

We do not consider any of these items essential, these all fall squarely in the Splurge category. You may consider a toaster oven, microwave, coffee maker, or blender, but we’ve found we can get by without them.

This is especially true if you don’t have a lot of cabinet storage or counter space, single-function appliances are hard to justify.

However, there are two items we want to call out because they are multi-purpose, and they have changed the way we cook for the better.

Instant Pot

Save 43%
Mediterranean Instant Pot: Easy, Inspired Meals for Eating Well
Mediterranean Instant Pot: Easy, Inspired Meals for Eating Well
Hardcover Book; English (Publication Language); 192 Pages - 12/31/2019 (Publication Date) - America's Test Kitchen (Publisher)
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Save 42%
The Complete One Pot: 400 Meals for Your Skillet, Sheet Pan, Instant Pot®, Dutch Oven, and More (The Complete ATK Cookbook Series)
The Complete One Pot: 400 Meals for Your Skillet, Sheet Pan, Instant Pot®, Dutch Oven, and More (The Complete ATK Cookbook Series)
English (Publication Language); 432 Pages - 11/03/2020 (Publication Date) - America's Test Kitchen (Publisher)
−42%
Save 17%
Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 Quart 9-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, Warmer & Sterilizer, 15 One-Touch Programs,Stainless Steel/Black
Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 Quart 9-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, Warmer & Sterilizer, 15 One-Touch Programs,Stainless Steel/Black
EASY SEAL LID automatically seals when the lid is closed; 10 plus PROVEN SAFETY FEATURES including overheat protection and safe-locking lid
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Save 12%
Instant Pot Tempered Glass Lid, Stainless Steel Rim, for 5 Qt/L or 6 Qt/L Models
Instant Pot Tempered Glass Lid, Stainless Steel Rim, for 5 Qt/L or 6 Qt/L Models
It is 23 cm (9 inches) in diameter and designed to fit all Instant Pot 6 quart models; Instant Pot is the No1 selling brand of electric pressure cookers in the US
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We can’t help but highlight our favorite kitchen appliance to date – the Instant Pot. The Instant Pot Duo 9-in-1 won our top pick for best pressure cooker, and for good reason – this little pressure cooker has garnered itself a cult following, with nearly 500,000 people on their Facebook group and plenty of sites dedicated to Instant Pot Recipes.

And it’s popular for good reason – it requires almost no set up, it’s easy to use, and is a 9-in-1 appliance – use it as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, egg cooker, sauté, steamer, warmer, sterilizer and it makes cake too!

Because it’s so diverse, you can cook just about anything with an Instant Pot – from obvious dishes like soups and carnitas to more surprising meals like beef gyro or rotisserie-style chicken.

On top of everything else, the Instant Pot is built to be convenient – some models can be controlled with your smartphone.

This makes it easy to prep a meal before work, start the cooking process on your way home, and come home to a delicious homemade meal. The Instant Pot will be your new best friend in the kitchen.

Sous Vide

Save 80%
Sous Vide Made Simple: 60 Everyday Recipes for Perfectly Cooked Meals [A Cookbook]
Sous Vide Made Simple: 60 Everyday Recipes for Perfectly Cooked Meals [A Cookbook]
Hardcover Book; Fetterman, Lisa Q. (Author); English (Publication Language); 192 Pages - 10/09/2018 (Publication Date) - Ten Speed Press (Publisher)
−80%
Save 52%
Sous Vide for Everybody: The Easy, Foolproof Cooking Technique That's Sweeping the World
Sous Vide for Everybody: The Easy, Foolproof Cooking Technique That's Sweeping the World
English (Publication Language); 232 Pages - 09/25/2018 (Publication Date) - America's Test Kitchen (Publisher)
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Save 51%
Sous Vide at Home: The Modern Technique for Perfectly Cooked Meals [A Cookbook]
Sous Vide at Home: The Modern Technique for Perfectly Cooked Meals [A Cookbook]
Ten Speed Press; Hardcover Book; Fetterman, Lisa Q. (Author); English (Publication Language)
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The Sous Vide Kitchen: Techniques, Ideas, and More Than 100 Recipes to Cook at Home
The Sous Vide Kitchen: Techniques, Ideas, and More Than 100 Recipes to Cook at Home
VOYAGEUR; Hardcover Book; Wylie, Christina (Author); English (Publication Language); 288 Pages - 06/01/2017 (Publication Date) - Voyageur Press (Publisher)
−40%

Using a sous-vide has changed the way we cook, especially for larger groups. To cook using a sous-vide, you place your food in a sealed bag and use a water bath to heat it to the perfect temperature.

It becomes impossible to overcook a cut of meat with a sous-vide, it’s the easiest way to get juicy, tender meals with almost no stress.

It’s definitely not for everyone, but the cost of a sous-vide appliance has dropped dramatically in the last few years. The Anova cooker with Bluetooth, our favorite sous vide, usually sells for $150.

You can often find it on sale at Amazon, so it’s worth checking to see if you can get a deal on it.

If you decide on a sous-vide, we highly recommend you try these sous vide ribs from Serious Eats.


Pots, Pans, and cookware

Of all the things you’ll buy to outfit your kitchen, the easiest place to blow your budget is with your pots and pans.

With all the different sizes, shapes, metals, and types of cookware, it’s hard to know what you will need, what you’ll use day-to-day, and what to avoid buying.

Our picks below are enough to account for most of your cooking needs. We think “less is more” when it comes to pots and pans – you can always expand your collection over time if you find you are consistently missing something to cook a dish.

But we can assure you, there’s no rush to buy that specialty paella pan right out of the gate.

Pans

Cast Iron

Save 45%
Cook It in Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for the One Pan That Does It All (Cook's Country)
Cook It in Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for the One Pan That Does It All (Cook's Country)
Americas Test Kitchen; English (Publication Language); 304 Pages - 02/23/2016 (Publication Date) - Cook's Country (Publisher)
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Save 27%
Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Set 3-Piece - 6 Inch, 8 Inch and 10 Inch
Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Set 3-Piece - 6 Inch, 8 Inch and 10 Inch
3 piece set includes 10 inch, 8 inch and 6 inch pans; Cast Iron cookware is comparatively less smoother than non stick cookware
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KOHLER K-5871-5UA3-0 Riverby Single Bowl Undermount Kitchen Sink, White
KOHLER K-5871-5UA3-0 Riverby Single Bowl Undermount Kitchen Sink, White
36-inch minimum base cabinet width; Single bowl configuration; 2-degree basin slope toward drain minimizes water pooling
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Save 19%
The Complete Cast-Iron Cookbook: A Tantalizing Collection of Over 240 Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Cookware (Easy Recipes, Home Cookbook, Simple ... for Foodies) (Complete Cookbook Collection)
The Complete Cast-Iron Cookbook: A Tantalizing Collection of Over 240 Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Cookware (Easy Recipes, Home Cookbook, Simple ... for Foodies) (Complete Cookbook Collection)
Hardcover Book; The Coastal Kitchen (Author); English (Publication Language); 464 Pages - 09/11/2018 (Publication Date) - Cider Mill Press (Publisher)
−19%

Cast iron skillets can’t be beaten. They’re sturdy, easy to clean, they last for generations, and they don’t break the bank.

If you’re on a tight budget, you can try to find these at a local swap meet or thrift store – just make sure you’re ready to go through the process of cleaning & seasoning a used cast iron skillet.

We like Lodge brand skillets for a number of reasons. We recommend the 12″ skillet from Lodge, which is big enough to make most dishes but still small enough to use in a standard size oven.

Save 34%
The Best of Lodge: Our 140+ Most Loved Recipes
The Best of Lodge: Our 140+ Most Loved Recipes
The Lodge Company (Author); English (Publication Language); 288 Pages - 11/20/2018 (Publication Date) - TI Inc. Books (Publisher)
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Save 34%
The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious Recipes
The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious Recipes
Paperback with flexible binding; Includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desert recipes; Explains cooking basics and open air cast iron cooking and grilling
−34%

Lodge pre-seasons all of their cast ironware, which makes it easy to use and ready to cook without the box. At under $30, it’s hard not to love these things.

Adding a potholder makes using a cast-iron skillet much more convenient, so either buy a skillet that includes a silicone handle cover or make sure to buy a potholder separately.

Non-stick pans

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Cuisinart Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 10-Inch Open Skillet
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 10-Inch Open Skillet
COOL GRIP HANDLE: Solid stainless steel riveted handle stays cool on the stovetop.; DRIP-FREE POURING: Rim is tapered for drip-free pouring.
−13%
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Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Nonstick 2-Piece 9-Inch and 11-Inch Skillet Set - Black And Silver
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Nonstick 2-Piece 9-Inch and 11-Inch Skillet Set - Black And Silver
18/10 mirror exterior finish for a classic look and professional performance; Dishwasher cleaning for ease and helps to maintain the mirror finish
−9%
Save 9%
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Open Skillet with Helper Handle
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Open Skillet with Helper Handle
Oven safe to 500 degrees F, with tapered drip free rim
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Cuisinart 622-30G Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Skillet with Glass Cover, Black
Cuisinart 622-30G Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Skillet with Glass Cover, Black
Oven safe to 500 degrees F, with tapered drip free rim.Unsurpassed Heat Distribution
Cuisinart 722-24NS Chef's Classic Nonstick Stainless 10-Inch Open Skillet
Cuisinart 722-24NS Chef's Classic Nonstick Stainless 10-Inch Open Skillet
Aluminum encapsulated base heats quickly and spreads heat evenly and eliminates hot spots; Titanium reinforced Quantanium nonstick interior for healthful low fat cooking options

Even though we love our cast iron skillets, it’s nice to have a non-stick pan on occasion. A good non-stick pan is a great compliment to a cast-iron skillet and comes in particularly useful for cooking eggs, sauces, or delicate meats.

Again, no need to spend big here. This Cuisinart 12″ nonstick skillet is a classic – well made, can be baked in the oven up to 500 degrees and comes with a helper handle to make it easy to maneuver when it’s hot.

It’s rated at 4 stars on Amazon with over 800 reviews, and for about $35 it’s the only non-stick pan you’ll need.

Pots

Saucepot

A 3-quart saucepot will be your go-to for boiling water, whether it’s too hard to boil eggs, whip up some pasta, or cook some sweet potatoes. They also come in handy when making sauces or small batches of soup.

Our top pick is a 3-quart stainless steel saucepot from Cuisinart. It has a high-quality build and includes a pour spout on the side to help avoid spills. It’s a great deal at about $35, especially considering it comes with a straining lid.

Stockpot

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Le Creuset Enamel On Steel Stockpot, 16 qt., Cerise
Le Creuset Enamel On Steel Stockpot, 16 qt., Cerise
Convenient quick heating and superior heat distribution; Tight-fitting lid locks in moisture
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Carote 4.3 Quart Casserole Dish with Lid, Nonstick Cast Aluminum Dutch Oven, Stockpot with Glass Cover…
Carote 4.3 Quart Casserole Dish with Lid, Nonstick Cast Aluminum Dutch Oven, Stockpot with Glass Cover…
Eco-Friendly Stone Coating – From Switzerland ILAG, PFOA FREE; Non-Stick & Easy to Clean – Less oil more health. Easy to cook even the first time.
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Hell's Kitchen 6QT Stockpot
Hell's Kitchen 6QT Stockpot
6QT Non-Stick; Pressed Alluminum; Tempered Glass Lid; Soft Touch Handles

It’s always good to have a large pot on hand for soups & stews. A basic stainless steel stock pot will handle almost anything you throw at it, no need to get splurge here.

Baking sheets

They are truly all the same. Get this great set of 3 backing sheets from Amazon for $15 and don’t overthink it.

Splurges

Small cast iron skillets

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Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Set 3-Piece - 6 Inch, 8 Inch and 10 Inch
Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Set 3-Piece - 6 Inch, 8 Inch and 10 Inch
3 piece set includes 10 inch, 8 inch and 6 inch pans; Cast Iron cookware is comparatively less smoother than non stick cookware
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Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Iron Handle Skillet, 10.25' (1-3/4 qt.), Cerise
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Iron Handle Skillet, 10.25" (1-3/4 qt.), Cerise
Black enamel interior requires no additional seasoning, unlike other cast-iron cookware
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Lodge 6.5 Inch Cast Iron Skillet. Extra Small Cast Iron Skillet for Stovetop, Oven, or Camp Cooking
Lodge 6.5 Inch Cast Iron Skillet. Extra Small Cast Iron Skillet for Stovetop, Oven, or Camp Cooking
6.5-inch Skillet can saute, sear, fry, bake and stir fry; Pre-Seasoned and ready-to-use; Superior heat retention and even cooking
HAWOK Cast Iron Miniture Skillet, mini server, Balck Round Mini pan DIA 5.3inch Pack of 6
HAWOK Cast Iron Miniture Skillet, mini server, Balck Round Mini pan DIA 5.3inch Pack of 6
Set of 6; size:20.7cm/8.15inch(with handle)x14.7cm/5.8inchx2.2cm/0.87inch; shallow skillets

We love our cast iron skillets so much we can’t help but get more of them.

An 8” skillet comes in useful when you’re preparing multiple dishes at once and need a second pan, and these 3.5 inch skillets are great for baking personalized dishes that can be served in the skillet, like an egg bake or corn bread.


Kitchen necessities

Cutting board

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OXO Good Grips Prep Cutting Board
OXO Good Grips Prep Cutting Board
Compact 7.23-in x 10.75-in Prep Board is ideal for smaller slicing tasks; Double-sided, non-porous surfaces resist odors and won't dull knife blades
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OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board
OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board
Large 10.39-in x 14.78-in Utility Cutting Board is ideal for big meals; Double-sided, non-porous surfaces resist odors and won't dull knife blades
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OXO Good Grips Carving & Cutting Board - Translucent
OXO Good Grips Carving & Cutting Board - Translucent
14.34-in x 21.11-in Carving & Cutting Board holds roasts and poultry; Double-sided non-porous surfaces resist odors and won't dull knife blades
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OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Cutting Board Set
OXO Good Grips 2-Piece Cutting Board Set
One 7.25-in x 10.75-in Prep Board and one 9-in x 12.9-in Everyday Board; Double-sided, non-porous surfaces resist odors and won't dull knife blades
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You don’t realize the importance of a good cutting board until it’s too late. For us, a good cutting board has a large work area, does not slide around on the counter, and is easy to use.

Our top pick is a 10.5” x 14.5” cutting board from OXO. It’s large, has rubberized edges to grip the counter, and cleans up in a snap.

It also has a nice channel around the perimeter of the board to make sure any liquids won’t leak onto our counter (think juicy meats that you’re slicing to serve.)

Bench Scraper

OXO Stainless Steel Good Grips Multi-Purpose Scraper & Chopper, 1 Count
OXO Stainless Steel Good Grips Multi-Purpose Scraper & Chopper, 1 Count
Stainless steel blade includes quarter inch markings for easy measuring; Soft, comfortable non slip handle
Dough Bowl Spatula & Bench Scraper,Multipurpose Kitchen Tool,Set of 2 Pieces - White,Green
Dough Bowl Spatula & Bench Scraper,Multipurpose Kitchen Tool,Set of 2 Pieces - White,Green
Food grade PP plastic, non-toxic, reusable,flexible; Size: 4.65" x 3.66"; Use widely for chopping cream,baking,cake, cheese, chocolate, pastry dough, fondant, etc.
Amazon Basics Multi-Purpose Stainless Steel Scraper/Chopper with Contoured Grip, 6-Inch
Amazon Basics Multi-Purpose Stainless Steel Scraper/Chopper with Contoured Grip, 6-Inch
Broad, rectangular-shaped, stainless-steel blade with square edge; 1-inch measurement marks along blade edge for creating perfectly even portions

Ever used a knife to scoop something up off of a cutting board? Scraping your knife blade across a hard surface is a great way to dull it or even chip it.

Bench scrapers are built to scrape the sticky dough off of a work surface, but they’re also great for scooping up chopped veggies or meat off the cutting board without ruining your knives.

Ramakins

We might catch some flak for considering this an essential, but ramakins are great for holding chopped food when you need to make room on the cutting board. Our favorite is sold as “custard cups”, $12 will get you 4 of them.

Mixing Bowls

Another game-changer, we think this might be the best investment you make in your kitchen (next to a good cast iron skillet and some good knives).

A basic set of stainless steel mixing bowls will make your life easier when it comes time to marinate some meat, mix veggies, or toss a large salad, and they’re incredibly easy to clean.

Our top pick features 6 different size bowls for under $25 – a very worthwhile (and budget-friendly) investment.

Tupperware

Tupperware Vent and Serve Microwaveable 7 Piece Set in Indigo Mist
Tupperware Vent and Serve Microwaveable 7 Piece Set in Indigo Mist
The Silicone Valve is easy to open, close and clean.
Tupperware Wonderlier Bowls
Tupperware Wonderlier Bowls
Includes 2-cup/473 mL; 3-cup/700 mL; 4-cup/1.5 L; 8-cup/2 L; and 12-cup/2.8 L sizes.; 5 Bowl Set
Tupperware Healthy Beverage Tumbler Set of 5 with Flip Top Lids
Tupperware Healthy Beverage Tumbler Set of 5 with Flip Top Lids
Set of 5 Tupperware 16 ounce tumblers with flip top drinking seals; Tupperware classic "straight" tumblers have been a favorite for generations
Tupperware Rare Set of 5 Wonderlier Bowls Vintage Pastels Pink Blue Yellow Green
Tupperware Rare Set of 5 Wonderlier Bowls Vintage Pastels Pink Blue Yellow Green
Airtight, liquid-tight, classic style; Nesting for space saving storage; BPA-Free, dishwasher safe (not meant for microwave use)

With all this cooking going on, you’ll need somewhere to keep the leftovers. Tupperware is an area where buying cheap usually means buying a new set every few months.

This 28 piece set from Rubbermaid is easy to wash, easy to store, is shatterproof, and should last you a while – for under $40 it’s a no-brainer.

Bottle Opener & Corkscrew

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a large stainless steel bottle opener that pops a top with ease.

For wine, we like this professional-grade wine key, and for under $15 it comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Measuring Cups/spoons

New Star Foodservice 42917 Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons and Measuring Cups Combo, Set of 8
New Star Foodservice 42917 Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons and Measuring Cups Combo, Set of 8
Stainless steel measuring cups and spoons set; Measuring cups: 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, and 1/4 cup
Jamie Oliver Measuring Cups Set, Nest for Easy Storage, Stainless Steel
Jamie Oliver Measuring Cups Set, Nest for Easy Storage, Stainless Steel
Ideal for measuring Dry or liquid ingredients; Measurements clearly marked on handles in cups and ml
Cuisinart CTG-00-SMC Stainless Steel Measuring Cups, Set of 4,Silver
Cuisinart CTG-00-SMC Stainless Steel Measuring Cups, Set of 4,Silver
1, 1/2, 1/3 And 1/4-cup sizes on a storage ring; Stainless steel; Dishwasher safe

A staple of every kitchen. No need to get fancy here – we like this stainless steel measuring cup set from Chefland.

Less than $10, highly rated by thousands of buyers, and eligible for Prime shipping on Amazon. What more could you ask for?

Ice cube trays

We prefer silicone trays because they’re much easier to get the cubes out of. This two-pack of trays makes 20 perfect cubes per tray.

Oven Mitts

These aren’t your grannie’s potholders (though she might enjoy these as much as we do). The Grill Armor Oven Gloves are wearable oven mitts that will protect your hand up to 932 degrees.

Are they ridiculous? A bit. But getting burned sucks, and having full use of all of your fingers when handling hot items is a game-changer.

Splurges

Instant read thermometer

Don’t ever overcook your dinner again. Having a thermometer in your kitchen solves two problems – the fear of undercooking your meat, and the disappointment of overcooking it.

This $15 instant-read thermometer is the best budget-friendly option. If you avoid overcooking one great cut of meat by using it, it has paid for itself.

Kitchen Scale

A kitchen scale will change the way you cook for the better. Is it nerdy? A bit indulgent? Yes to both, but it’s the best way to get precise measurements in the kitchen.

This scale is a great option to test the waters with.

Garlic press

If you cook with garlic regularly, you know that mincing it with a knife is a pain. A garlic press makes this process quick and easy.

An added bonus – using a press will keep your fingers from having that funky garlic smell for the rest of the night.

Salt Cellar & Pepper Grinder

A minor purchase, but a major convenience. Having these at the ready will make cooking easier, and they look great on your table as well.

Tea Kettle

If you regularly make tea or use a french press for coffee, you might consider getting a kettle – it’s far more convenient than whipping out your sauce pot every time you need to boil water.

Colander

Our recommended saucepot comes with a straining lid, so you could get by without one.

But if you’re regularly making pasta, or want an easy way to wash and dry your fruits and vegetables, a colander or strainer could be a worthwhile investment.

A few other odds and ends:

  • Kitchen rug / Standing mat
  • Can Opener
  • Magnetic hooks – great for hanging things off the side of the refrigerator.
  • Step stool – Worth considering if you are storing your new kitchen goodies in hard-to-reach places.

Bon appetite

We hope you enjoy cooking in your new kitchen. We’ve hand-picked all of these items because we know they work.

They’re cost-effective, useful, well designed, and should last for years. Once you’ve assembled your dream kitchen, it’s time to get cooking!

Didn’t see your favorite kitchen utensil? If you feel like we missed something please drop it in the comments!

If you’re in need of some inspiration, we highly recommend The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. It’s by far the most fascinating look at the cuisine that we’ve seen, and the New York Times says it’s “The one book you must have, no matter what you’re planning to cook or where your skill level falls”.

What better way to celebrate moving into your new home and put your new kitchen to the test?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Last update on 2021-08-30 from Amazon / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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