Kitchen Guide

I have been building my kitchen over the last dozen or so years and have found some tools to be essential, while others I use rather infrequently. Here is a list of some of my favorite kitchen tools & gadgets, cutlery, cookware, bakeware, and small appliances.

Tools, Gadgets & Utensils

Serrated Vegetable Peeler
They don’t mess around when they call this peeler the Piranha. The teeth are so sharp that peeling is a breeze (just be careful with your fingers when using and cleaning!). I’ve had mine for a decade and it’s still razor sharp. Shop Now: Kuhn Rikon Piranha Swivel Peeler
Whisks
I’m kind of a whisk nut. I have three different whisks and use them all. I have two wire whisks – one is a classic balloon whisk and the other is a French whisk, which has a tapered shape and is great for getting into the corners of a pot. The third whisk is a coated whisk, to avoid scratching and damaging those nonstick pots and pans. Shop Now:
Ballon Wire Whisk OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk
French Wire Whisk Best Manufacturers 12-inch Standard French Wire Whisk
Balloon Coated Whisk OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Silicone Balloon Whisk
Microplane Grater
A multi-functional tool, perfect for zesting citrus or grating Parmigiano-Reggiano over a hot bowl of whole wheat pasta. Shop Now: Microplane Professional Coarse Grater
Box Grater
As a real foodie, this is a great tool for shredding your own cheese straight from the block or grating zucchini for homemade quick bread. Box graters are pretty standard, but I love that this one comes with a container attachment to collect your shredded food! Shop Now: OXO Good Grips Box Grater
Measuring Cups and Spoons
No kitchen is complete without measuring cups and spoons. Sure, you could buy the standard spoons and cups. Or you could step it up a notch and get a set of odd-size measuring spoons and cups. You may think this is laziness, but it actually saves on washing and dishes and makes for more accurate measurements. I have an old set from Williams Sonoma, but I’m kinda coveting this colorful set. Shop Now: Prepworks From Progressive 19-Piece Measuring Cup and Spoon Set
Glass Measuring Cups
The classic Pyrex version is all you need. I use my 2-cup version all the time, but find the 4-cup version can also be very useful. Shop Now: Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup
Multi-Purpose Pastry Scraper/Chopper
Another versatile tool. You can use it for everything from scooping chopped vegetables into a pan or bowl to cutting up pieces of dough. Shop Now: OXO Good Grips Multi-Purpose Pastry Scraper/Chopper
Metal Colander
Perfect for draining pastas or washing potatoes or other vegetables. I love the look of stainless steel, but plastic works great, too. Shop Now: ExcelSteel 5-Quart Stainless Steel Colander
Mesh Strainer
Great for small jobs like rinsing berries or a can of organic beans. This 8-inch size is great, but there are smaller and larger ones to suit your needs. I love that this strainer has two hooks so you can rest it on the inside of a bowl or pot, freeing your hand. Shop Now: Winco 8″ Double Fine Mesh Strainer
Olive Oil Mister
I confess. I spent years using Pam cooking spray and occasionally would use my fantastic olive oil mister from Williams-Sonoma. I finally ditched the cooking spray and wouldn’t you know it – after 10 years my mister bit the dust. I’m sad to report that the Williams-Sonoma version is no longer available, but this one from Misto satisfactorily fills its place. Shop Now: Misto Olive Oil Sprayer
Citrus Juicer
I prefer this style of citrus juicer as the press is inverted, making for easier pressing and more juice. The long handles also give you good leverage. Great for lemons and limes and other small citrus fruit. Shop Now: Norpro Stainless-Steel Citrus Juice Press
Kitchen Utensil Set
Buy them in a set with a canister or one by one – whatever you prefer. The sets can provide savings and give you the basics: a large spoon, slotted spoon, spaghetti spoon, pancake turner, and ladle. Great for everyday use. Shop Now: Cuisinart Crock with Tools
Wooden Spoons & Rubber Spatulas
Another everyday essential. Again, you can buy these one by one. I thought this set looked nice and offered a variety of options that are great for use with nonstick pots and pans. Shop Now: Anolon Advanced Tools Natural Beechwood 5-Piece Tool Set
Pizza Cutter
A pizza cutter not only slices homemade pizza, but can also help with other tasks, such as cutting dough into crackers. Shop Now: OXO Good Grips 4-Inch Pizza Wheel
Pastry/Basting Brush
This brush can be used for all sorts of tasks from basting meats to brushing egg-wash on breads. Shop Now: OXO Good Grips Silicone Pastry Brush
Wood Cutting Board
I love my end-grain wood chopping block, a gift given to me several years ago. I use it to cut just about everything but meats (see flexible cutting mats, below). It’s seriously heavy duty, my knives feel great on it, and it’s gorgeous to look at on my counter. There are hundreds of styles of wooden cutting boards in a wide range of prices. You’ll want to care for it with oil to keep it in tip-top condition. Here’s one similar to the one I own. Shop Now: John Boos Reversible End Grain Maple Chopping Block
Flexible Cutting Mats
In addition to my wood-grain chopping block, I love my flexible cutting mats. The flexible plastic makes it easy to tranfer cut foods into a bowl, pan, or storage container, and the material makes for easy clean-up. And I like having separate mats for poultry, red meat, vegetables and seafood to help prevent cross-contamination. They don’t make the ones I have anymore, but these come highly rated. Shop Now: Flexible Cutting Boards
Remote Digital Thermometer
This thermometer is not only great for checking the temperature of meats cooking in your oven, but also useful for other temperature checks. I use to it test the water temperature before activating yeast for baking. Shop Now: ThermoWorks Cooking Thermometer
Digital Scale
I have a scale but not a digital version. It’s extremely helpful in measuring out recipes, especially when baking. This one is on my wish list! Shop Now: EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale

Cutlery

Paring Knife
I prefer the 4.5-inch paring knife to smaller paring knives. This is a versatile knife, great for small to medium slicing or cutting tasks. When it comes to the length of the knives you select, it will all depend on personal preference and what feels good in your hand. Shop Now: Wusthof Classic 4-1/2-Inch Utility Knife
Boning Knife
At first I wasn’t so sure how much I’d use a boning knife. I was newly married and this was one of the knives that came in our Wusthof knife block set. Little did I know how useful this knife would be. It’s slender design is perfect for slicing through meats, filleting fish, and trimming off fat from chicken breasts, pork and more. 5- and 6-inch versions are available (I have the 6″). Shop Now: Wusthof Classic 6-Inch Flexible Boning Knife
Bread Knife
Bread knives are usually 8-10 inches and are perfect for slicing those baked goods you’re making from scratch. The serrated edge cuts right through those whole wheat breads, bagels, banana breads, and more. I like the 8″ or 9″ but pick the one you love. Shop Now: Wusthof Classic 9-inch Double Serrated Bread Knife
Chef’s Knife
Chef’s or cook’s knives can be anywhere from 6-10 inches in length. When I was in my early 20s, I took a knife skills class and had the opportunity to try out a number of different lengths. It always surprises people when they see me use it, but I LOVE my 10-inch cook’s knife. You might be more comfortable with a shorter length. Again, try out a few in your hand and see which one feels right. Shop Now: Wusthof 10-Inch Classic Cook’s Knife
Santoku Knife
This knife is not essential, but is a great addition to your collection. It’s particularly great for chopping and dicing vegetables as the hollowed sides prevent food from sticking to the knife. Shop Now: Wusthof Classic 7-Inch Santoku Knife
Knife Sharpeners
The key to easy dicing, chopping and mincing is keeping your knives sharp. You’ll greatly reduce the risk of injury and have a much easier time cutting those winter squash in half! I have two Wustof knife sharpeners. This special one for my Santoku knife, and a standard one for my other knives. Shop Now: Wusthof Asian Edge Knife Sharpener
Kitchen Shears
These shears are useful for everything from opening packages to snipping herbs. Mine even came with a convenient magnetic holder, which lives on the side of our refrigerator so these shears are always at the ready. Shop Now: Kitchenaid Classic Shears

Cookware

Nonstick Frying Pans
Two classic-size frying pans – 10″ and 12″. These are probably the most-used pans in our kitchen. Good for everything from cooking a pair of eggs over easy to sautéeing vegetables. Shop Now: Calphalon Contemporary Frying Pan Combo, 10-Inch/12-Inch
Extra Deep Multi-Use Pan
When I started stocking my first kitchen, I found a deep pan like this one for about $20 and have been using it ever since. It’s great for stir fries, risottos, and other dishes that require a larger pan for sauteeing and simmering. This one has a similar feel to the one I own and is oven-safe. Shop Now: Circulon Infinite Hard Anodized Nonstick 4-1/2-Quart Extra Deep All Purpose Pan
Medium Nonstick Saucepan
I love the Calphalon Contemporary series when it comes to pans. They’re good quality at a great price, and I like the simple, seek look of the line. This 3.5-quart saucepan is extremely versatile and an essential in any kitchen. (I noticed this one is even more clever than mine – it has a pour spout!) Shop Now: Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick Pour and Strain Sauce Pan, 3.5-Quart
Stock Pot
A stock pot is one of the most versatile pots in your collection. Boil water for eggs and pasta, simmer soups and stews, cook chili and so much more. I use mine at least 3-4 times each week. There are so many sizes from which to choose. I like Calphalon because it heats up quickly, but there are also great stainless options (with steamer inserts, too.) Lots of choices! Shop Now: Calphalon Nonstick 8 Qt. Stock Pot with Cover
Glass Stacking Bowls
I have a set of glass stacking bowls and use them all the time. They’re great for prepping for a recipe. Chop, cut and measure and have all of your ingredients ready in these bowls, which range in size from 1 ounce to 3.5 quarts. They’re great for mixing sauces, batters, and more. I have a set similar to this one. Shop Now: Duralex Stackable 10-Piece Bowl Set
Small Casserole
Great for small casseroles, baking fish and more. There are many brands, shapes and sizes from which to choose. I love this oval baker from Le Creuset. Shop Now: Le Creuset Stoneware 9-Inch Oval Baking Dish
Large Casserole
A 9×12 casserole dish is the perfect size for enchilada casseroles, lasagnas and other family-size dishes. Just like the small casserole, there are many brands, shapes and sizes from which to choose. Shop Now: Le Creuset Stoneware 12-1/2-by-9-1/2-Inch Rectangular Baking Dish

Bakeware

Rolling Pin
There are a lot of options (and opinions) out there about rolling pins. Wooden pins, tapered pins, etc. I like this Kitchenaid rolling pin. It is heavy duty, easy to clean and has non-stick grips. Shop Now: Kitchenaid Gourmet Rolling Pin
Flour Sifter
A baking staple. A sifter removes any lumps from dry baking ingredients such as flour and baking soda to ensure smooth batters and doughs. The 3-cup size is pretty standard, but if you bake in larger batches, you might consider the 5-cup version. Shop Now: Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Crank Flour Sifter, 3-cup
Loaf Pans
Another baking staple. Perfect for all those delicious quick breads. I have one glass and one metal, but I prefer the metal. I highly recommend having two on hand for those recipes that make more than one loaf. Shop Now: Farberware Nonstick Bakeware Loaf Pan
Muffin Pan
There are a lot of brands and options out there. I prefer a standard 12-cup muffin pan and this one had pretty high marks from a brand I trust. Shop Now: Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 12-Cup Muffin Pan
Donut Pan
Ok, ok. So a donut pan is hardly a kitchen “essential”, but at $7, it sure is a lot of fun to make homemade baked donuts. Shop Now: Wilton Nonstick Donut Pan
Baking Sheets
Baking sheets aren’t just for baking. While great for cookies, they are also great for roasting vegetables, baking chicken and fish, broiling steaks, and much more. I suggest two sheets at a minimum, but find that having 3 or 4 in stock is great. Shop Now: Calphalon Nonstick 2-Piece Baking Sheet Set
9×9 Baking Pan
This pan is a classic size for brownies, but I also use it for granola bars and other baking needs that don’t require a large pan. The plastic snap on lid is great for taking to picnics and parties. Shop Now: Wilton Recipe 9×9 Covered Pan
9×13 Baking Pan
These are great for sheet cakes and brownies and other baked treats. I like to have two on hand and the plastic lids make storage and travel a snap. Shop Now: Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 9×13 Cake Pan with Lid
Wire Baking & Cooling Rack
Many racks are only safe for cooling, but this one is oven-safe, and you can use it for baking chicken (great for baked wings!), potato and veggie chips, and more. The rack raises up your food on the pan and allows heat to circulate around it for better cooking. Extra fat also drips to the pan below, leaving you with a healthier dish. Shop Now: Culinary Institute of America 10″ x 15″ Rack
Wire Baking & Cooling Rack
Short on counter space? Stackable cooling racks are the way to go for cooling cookies, cakes, brownies and all those other homemade baked goods you’re whipping up these days. Shop Now: Wilton 3-Tier Cooling Rack

Small Appliances

Blender
Perfect for blending smoothies for breakfast or pureeing soups to create smooth textures. I’ve had a Kitchenaid blender for a long time and it struggles with pureeing frozen fruit, which is pretty key to making smoothies. This is a reasonably priced yet highly rated blender. Shop Now: Hamilton Beach Power Elite Multi-Function Blender. Of course, if you really want the best, you’ll invest in a Vitamix. Owners of this incredible machine swear by it – a Vitamix can even heat soups as it purees! Shop Now: Vitamix 5200s
Food Processor
I like this 11-cup size processor from Cuisinart. It’s great for making hummus, pesto, chopping vegetables and much more. Shop Now: Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus 11-Cup Food Processor, Brushed Stainless
Hand Mixer
I love my KitchenAid mixer, but sometimes a hand mixer is needed to do the trick. The paddle on my stand mixer doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl, so a hand mixer is key to making homemade mayonnaise, beating egg whites and more. Plus, hand mixers are cheap – I bought a Hamilton Beach years ago and it’s still working great. Shop Now: Hamilton Beach 6-Speed Classic Hand Mixer
Stand Mixer
I love my red KitchenAid mixer. I use it to make cookie and brownie batter, to knead bread dough, mix dips, and much more. I don’t have any of the fancy attachments, but you may find them useful in your own kitchen. Shop Now: KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer, Empire Red
Bread Machine
My sister gave me this bread machine for my birthday and I’m pretty sure I will never buy bread off a grocery store shelf again. We use it at least once each week. Prep takes under 5 minutes and in just a few hours you have a delicious loaf of bread. Clean up is a snap, too. My machine came with a recipe book (though not all are real-food friendly), and the machine has a number of program settings. Shop Now: Cuisinart 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker
Slow-Cooker
The best $50 you’ll ever spend. I don’t know how I would live without my slow cooker. I’ve slow cooked whole chickens, made soup, pork carnitas, and so many other great real food dishes. It’s a quick way to have a hot meal ready and waiting when you get home from work. Shop Now: Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart

Storage & Lunch Packing

Ziploc Bento Lunch Container
Portioning lunches is easy with these affordable plastic bento boxes. The compartments keep foods separate and the top seals tightly. Shop Now: Ziploc Container, Divided Rectangle
Silicone Baking Cups
You might use these to bake muffins, but I think they’re great for lunchboxes, when you want to pack additional small items in your Ziploc bento box but don’t want the foods touching each other. Plus, they’re fun and colorful. Shop Now: Pantry Elements Silicone Baking Cups
YumBox Lunch Box
I don’t currently own one of these but it’s on my wish list. A step up from the Ziploc boxes and with more compartments. Great for kids. Shop Now: Yumbox Leakproof Bento Lunch Box
PlanetBox Rover Bento Box
And for those of you with bigger budgets, I am totally in love with these PlanetBox lunch boxes. They are eco-friendly and made out of non-toxic recycled materials. Shop Now: PlanetBox Rover Lunchbox
Ball Wide-Mouth Freezer Jars
I recently bought these for storing and freezing bone broth, marinara sauce and more. Cook large batches of your favorite soups and sauces and save them for later. It’s a great way to save money and time. They also come in a range of sizes for whatever your needs may be. Shop Now: Ball Mason Jars Wide-Mouth Can or Freeze

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