20 Kitchen Essentials Every Home Chef Needs, According To A Cookbook Author

We’re staying in, staying home, and in turn, we’re also spending a lot more time in our kitchens. In fact, it may be the first time some of us have stepped into that space other than to grab something out of the fridge or throw something in the microwave. And hey, I like to think of that as a really exciting thing — it’s time to get to know that other room in your space: the kitchen. Whether you’re looking to build up your arsenal or just straight build, know this: a well-equipped kitchen makes cooking/baking better! These are the 20 things I turn to most.

Staub 4-quart Cocotte

Every kitchen should have at least one dutch oven. I use this Staub 4-quart Round Cocotte (another name for a dutch oven) for everything from braises to soups to mac and cheese. It’s the perfect size for a recipe that serves four to six and there are so many things to love about this particular dutch oven. It’s heavy bottomed which means that it distributes and retains heat evenly. It’s got amazing little spikes on the inside of the lid, which basically allow for the condensation that builds up to rain down evenly on your food while it’s cooking. And on top of that, the enamel coating on the inside means that it’s ready to go—no seasoning required here!

Miyabi Birchwood SG28-inch Chef’s Knife

In my opinion, you need two knives, that are properly sharpened, and you’re good to go. This Miyabi Birchwood SG28-inch Chef’s Knife is as pretty as it is functional. Not too heavy, not too light, it’s just right for everything from dicing veggies to chiffonading herbs. Also, it’s sharp and strong thanks to the Damascus steel that’s been sharpened twice on whetstones.

Miyabi Birchwood SG23.5-inch Paring Knife

The other knife you must have is a paring knife and my go-to matches my favorite chef’s knife. It’s your best friend for things like peeling and coring and anything that requires delicate precision.

Staub Cast Iron Fry Pan

Every cook needs a good party trick, and this is the pan you need if you want to make a perfect, restaurant style steak. It gets hot hot hot, which means you can get a nice even crust! And it’s good for way more than that, think skillet cookies, skillet cornbread, pan-fried veggies, the list goes on and on. And just like the aforementioned dutch oven, it too is enamel coated and ready to go straight out of the box.

Food52 x GreenPan Nonstick Skillet (Set of 2)

A set of small, nonstick skillets will make your morning that much brighter. I turn to these pans for my morning scrambles because nothing seems to stick to their Thermalon ceramic coating. Just a small amount of oil or butter goes a long way in these pans and that is great for both end results and waistlines alike.

Pyrex Measuring Cup Set 3 piece

I reach for at least one of these every single day. I use them to pour filtered water into my coffee machine, whisk my eggs for my morning scramble, and measure out wet ingredients when cooking and baking. The three sizes will almost guarantee you have the right size for any kitchen project you are about to tackle.

Le Creuset Stainless Steel Measuring Cups

If you’re planning to follow a recipe at any point, investing in a set of dry measuring cups is a must. These are heavy-duty and should last you a lifetime! Also, did I mention they’re dishwasher safe? Need I say more?

Le Creuset Stainless Steel Measuring Spoon Set

Yes, you need these too. They’re your teaspoons and tablespoon measures and you’re going to want a set that can stay with you. One word of advice, keep these far away from your garbage disposal. I’ve lost way too many to the deep, dark, empty hole that is my sink’s garbage disposal.

Zwilling Enfinigy Digital Kitchen Scale

So you’ve got your wet measuring tools (the glass measuring cup set) and dry measuring tools (the stainless steel measuring cups), why do you need a scale? Well, if you’re anything like me, you don’t always want to be left with to clean at the end of a kitchen session. That paired with the accuracy that comes from a weight measure vs a volume measure, you may want to think of investing in a kitchen scale. Most recipes can be easily converted into metric measure, if they aren’t already.

USA Pan Nonstick Half Sheet Pan

Not just for baking, these half sheets are good for roasting veggies, baking pan pizzas, and simply prepping burger topping to take out to an outdoor barbeque. I reach for these half sheet pans more than any other sized pan in my pantry (and I’ve got a great many). Bonus features include, ridges for even airflow when baking/roasting/etc., an environmentally friendly silicone nonstick coating that makes clean-ups a breeze, and it’s made in the USA!

Microplane Premium Zester and Grater

Not just for citrus zest and finely grated parmesan cheese. This is one of my most used tools in the kitchen. I use it to grate garlic (instead of mincing it), ginger, and spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. You’re gonna wonder how you went so long without it—it’s that good.

GIR Spatula

I use this for pushing along my eggs in a scramble, sautéing veggies, mixing batters, those kinds of things. It’s strong, durable, and super easy to clean. They make a bunch of different shapes and sizes that do a bunch of great things (I do have all of them), but I had to pick one, I’d say the Ultimate is my go-to.

Fish Turner with Walnut Handle

Not just for fish, the fish turner or fish spat, as it’s called in our house, is great for turning almost anything: burgers, grilled cheese sandos, even pancakes can be effortlessly turned with this spat! It’s longer than most spatulas, thinner too, and still strong which makes it the only spat you’ll need. The walnut handle elevates it enough to even make its way on to your dinner table!

Five Two Wooden Spoons from Food52's Product Line

I use wooden spoons when I’m mixing soups, stews, currries and other dishes that will have a prolonged amount of contact with the utensil in question—in this case the spoon. And that’s mostly because it may impart the tiniest bit of its essence, and so I’d rather a woody note rather than a rubber or silicone note in my dish—wouldn’t you?

Best Manufacturers 8-Inch Standard French Whip with Wooden Handle

This is a tiny, mighty wonder. I use this baby whisk multiple times a day. I whisk collagen powder into my morning coffee with it, I use it to whisk my eggs, dressings, marinades, sauces, the list could go on and on. Not only is cute, it’s an every day essential in my kitchen.

Rosti White Melamine Mixing Bowls with Lids Set + Reviews | Crate and Barrel

You’re gonna want a set of nest bowls and these have the added bonus of a set of lids. Which is great for things like marinades—you can whisk them up and then add your meat or veggies, pop on the lid, and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Over-The-Sink Mesh Colander

I have been searching for the perfect colander for what feels like forever. This is the best one I’ve found so far. It’s great because you can prop it up on the sides of your sink when you’re pouring out pasta water and not worry about the pasta sitting in a pool of water in that unavoidable pool of water that forms because the water doesn’t drain through as fast you’d like. It’s also big enough to rinse veggies in and it’s easy to store.

Flour Sack Towels - Set of 7

Giant, absorbent, and lint-free is how I like my kitchen towels. These are the only kitchen towels I buy myself and I’ve been buying them for years.

Zwilling Aurora Stainless Steel 3.5 Quart Saucier

Use this pan for everything from sauces to frying to heating up small batches of noodles. The rounded walls make it so that nothing gets stuck in those bottom inner corners, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And the size is a nice in between, making it the only saucepan you’ll need.

Zwilling Aurora Stainless Steel 8 Quart Stockpot

This is the pot you need for making things like broths and cooking large amounts of pastas. 8 quarts is pretty big, so you won’t have to worry about the water boiling over if you step away to grab something out of the fridge while your pasta’s cooking away in its salted-like-the-sea water. I highly recommend grabbing the matching steamer basket to steam veggies like artichokes and potatoes.

Alana Kysar was born in Hawaiʻi and currently resides in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and their dog, Vienna Sausage. In 2015, she started her award-winning blog Fix Feast Flair, where she shares recipes inspired by her Japanese-American heritage, travels, and life in Hawaiʻi and Southern California. Since then, her photos and recipes have been picked up everywhere from Saveur and Food & Wine to Country Living, BuzzFeed, and Yahoo Food.