So this list was super hard to put together because there are so many things I love to use, but for every current, aspiring, or curious at-home cook, if you have these basics you’ll be able to cook almost anything.
In no particular order:
- Wooden Spoon/Spatula – While metal cooking utensils look nice they are heavy and scratch what you’re cooking in/on. Wooden utensils are just better all around, but do make sure you keep them clean and dry when not using. Wood likes to expand and warp when left wet or uncared for.
- Cast Iron Skillet – these babies will last forever and only get better with age. Every time you cook end up seasoning and adding flavor to the skillet. They require little maintenance. I don’t even wash mine (don’t judge). While it’s hot I just wipe it out with a paper towel and make sure it stays greased. Keep it shiny! My favorite: Lodge
- Rubber Spatula – from making sauces to smoothies to flipping eggs without breaking the yolks, this tool is great for getting around all the awkward edges to make sure nothing is left behind.
- Chef’s knife – How can you cook anything if you can’t cut anything? All vegetables need to be prepped in some fashion or another. You don’t need a hand-crafted Japanese sashimi knife, just one with a decent handle and even, large blade. Most knifes or knife sets will come with a sharpener. Use it. My favorites: MAC Knives, Wustoff, Tojiro
- Blender – Blenders can get very expensive, but you don’t have to buy the top-of-the-line Vitamix…or that’s what I keep telling myself. There are so many out there to suit many different needs! Most double as food processors now, so don’t worry about getting a separate one of those. Good for soups, doughs, sauces, smoothies, make your own nut milks, there’s a blender for that! Immersion blenders are hand-held type that you put into pots to blend up tomatoes for quicker homemade tomato sauce. My favorite brands: Cuisinart, KitchenAid, Ninja, Vitamix
- Large pot/Stock pot – From making your own stock to poaching a whole bird to making all the pasta, you’ll need a large-sized pot with a lid.
- Rimmed baking sheet – From roasted veggies to one-pan dinners, rimmed baking sheets are a MUST have. And I read recently the more “seasoned” (i.e. stained and awful looking) the better, much like your cast iron they get better with each use. However if you hear a *bang* in the oven, the metal is warping and it may be time for an upgrade
- Pepper Mill – Not only do you get to look fancy while seasoning your Caesar salad, you also can change out the types of peppercorns – white, black, pink, red, mixed – and really have fun with seasoning your food without a lot of effort.
- Pyrex measuring cup – These glass beauties are practically unchanged since the 60s. One of those things where the saying “if it ain’t broke” applies perfectly.
- Dutch oven – I ❤ dutch ovens. Really. They are the original non-electric crock pot. Also cast iron, they’ll get better with each use. Your Sunday bolognese or chicken & dumplings just got a serious upgrade. I love the Staube line far more than Le Creuset, but bang for buck, you gotta go Lodge.