The Top Kitchen Essentials That Every Home Cook Needs

In this handy guide, you’ll find the top kitchen essentials that every home cook needs to perform any kitchen task from basic to complex.

When it comes to your kitchen, it’s easy to get overwhelmed feeling like you need any and every gadget in the marketplace. Over the years, I’ve learned what items are actually necessary for a well-stocked kitchen. Here, I’m sharing with you some of my favorite kitchen essentials, broken down by category, from baking to grilling to storing it all!

lemon poppyseed bundt cake
Bundt pans for baking

Pot & Pan Essentials

  • Non-stick cookware. I recently invested in an 11-piece set of this GreenPan ceramic non-stick cookware. It is recommended by Cook’s Illustrated and has passed the Family Savvy review.  It is truly non-stick, and I love the glass lids on all the pieces. Best cookware I’ve ever owned.
  • Dutch Oven: A sturdy, do-it-all Dutch oven is a must in your kitchen. Made from cast iron, these pots can go from your stovetop to the oven, so you don’t have to worry about dirtying extra dishes! My favorite product is this enamel-coated Staub Dutch oven. Another popular Dutch oven is this one made by Le Creuset. I use my Dutch oven to make soups, stews, pasta dishes, roasts, and so much more. You can even make bread in a Dutch oven! 
  • Cast Iron Skillet: Every Southern cook needs a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet at her disposal! It’s a kitchen staple for frying and searing food since it gets super hot. Plus, it can also go from stovetop to oven. Cast iron cornbread is the best! 
  • Rimmed Baking Sheets: It’s always great to have a couple of rimmed baking sheets on hand. They’re perfect for roasting vegetables, baking cookies, and cooking fish or chicken.
  • Pasta Pot: A good pasta pot will ensure you don’t spill boiling water on yourself while trying to drain the pasta. This pot has twist-and-lock handles and a built-in strainer in the lid so you can drain water out of the pasta with ease. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe!
essential pots pans
GreenPan Non-stick cookware

Cutting Essentials

  • Chopping knife. This Wusthof 7″ Santoku is my go-to for any chopping task. It quickly and evenly cuts through onion, garlic, vegetables, nuts, fruits or anything that needs to be uniformly chopped or diced.
  • Chef’s knife. This 6-inch chef’s knife is perfect for daily slicing and cutting. 
  • Bread knife. This serrated bread knife has a 10″ blade that will easily through the crustiest, largest loaf of bread.
  • Kitchen shears. I am obsessed with these classic kitchen shears. They are handy for cutting through packages of meat, cutting chicken breasts in half, snipping herbs, cutting bacon in half…..anything and everything.
  • Slicing knife. I use an 11″ knife similar to this one for slicing large cuts of meat, trimming fat off of brisket, ham, etc….and cutting large pieces of meat (raw or cooked).

Baking Essentials

  • Food Scale: Baking is precise, and many bakers prefer to bake in grams as it’s a more exact measurement. A food scale will help you make sure you’re using just the right amount, as well as convert recipes into grams. This one from Oxo is the top pick from Cook’s Illustrated kitchen equipment reviews. 
  • Bundt pans. I make bundt cakes more than almost any other dessert, so this party bundt pan is essential for me. I also love using these mini bundt pans to make smaller cakes.
  • Spatulas: Every baker should have a good set of spatulas, whether they’re offset spatulas for icing cakes or rubber spatulas for scraping a bowl clean and this slim spatula for scraping the inside of jars.  This spatula set also includes everything you need to frost a cake!
  • Nonstick silicone mats: Pastry mats are great for two reasons: 1. They’re nonstick so your baked goods come off easy. 2. They keep your baking sheets clean. After baking, all you have to wash is the mat!

Kitchen Work Horses (the Big Guns)

  • Instant Pot: If you want to cook Southern-style collards or perfect black-eyed peas, nothing does it better (or faster) than an Instant Pot. This pressure cooker cuts cooking times in half — or less. It’s especially great for producing fall-apart roasts, tender chicken, and soups.  The most common and practical model is this 6-quart Instant Pot. Once you learn to use it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
  • Slow cooker. When low & slow are the name of the game, you can’t beat a slow cooker. I love this 7-quart model that locks in place for easy transport when I take food to the lake or someone’s home.
  • Food Processor: A food processor does the hard work for you, whether it’s chopping vegetables or grinding nuts into powder. The Ninja Mega Kitchen system knocks two birds out with one stone: it’s a food processor and a blender. It comes with a smoothie cup which I use to make smoothies on the go.
  • Breville Smart Oven Air with Convection. This Breville workhorse is my most oft-used appliance. It toasts, air fries, roasts, bakes, dehydrates……and more…..without heating up the kitchen. I use this way more than I use my regular oven.
  • Stand mixer: Hand mixers are fine but stand mixers are even better when it comes to baking. Since you can just set them and let them do their thing, it’s especially helpful for doughs that need to be mixed for several minutes. Plus, with different paddle attachments, you can mix up bread doughs, cake batter, icing, and more.
how to use instant pot air fryer
Instant Pot

Gadget Essentials

  • Garlic Press: One gadget I always recommend is a garlic press. Mincing garlic is so tedious, and this will make your life so much easier. You don’t even have to peel the garlic clove with this one!
  • Meat thermometer:  I have written about the importance of food safety and am a huge advocate of meat thermometers. A good meat thermometer doesn’t have to be expensive. I have used this one for years and keep at least 2-3 on hand at all times.
  • Microplane: For those times you need to zest a lemon or finely grate cheese, a handheld Microplane is much easier than using a grater. The holes are finer and this one allows grating in both directions. This white Microplane rasp grater is the best one I’ve ever had.
  • Meat Tenderizer: No one likes tough meat. This double-sided meat tenderizer has a teeth side for tenderizing meats and a flat side for crushing items and flattening chicken breasts so they cook evenly.
  • Citrus juicer. This is a must-have for squeezing every last drop of lemon or lime juice out of the fruit (and without seeds).

Storage & Organization Essentials

  • OXO POP Containers: Get rid of all those unsightly boxes in your pantry and store dry goods in these clear OXO POP containers. This 12 piece set should cover all your needs in the beginning, and more can be added to your collection if the need arises. If you have a label maker, you can use it to label what each container is for.
  • Reusable storage bags: Instead of constantly using plastic bags, consider reusable ones. These colorful (or clear) storage bags are durable, reusable, and dishwasher- and microwave-safe. You can also use them to pack a lunch.
  • Drawer Dividers: Organize your utensil or cutlery drawer so you can easily find what you need (and so you’re not always having a drawer jam). These bamboo drawer dividers are expandable to fit any size drawer and are less bulky than an organizer tray.
  • Spice Rack: Finding a home for all your spices and oils can help you feel more organized and your pantry look better. This rack can accommodate 31 jars on three different shelves, with the option to store utensils and attach hooks. 

I hope this list is useful to you as you stock your kitchen with all the things you need to easily and efficiently prepare meals for your family! As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

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