Find the top 10 kitchen essentials I use day in and day out to make feeding my family—and general cooking—a little bit easier.
Almost every day, I’m asked for a recommendation on one kitchen essential or another, and since I’ve been cooking for decades for fun and for over a decade for work, I am so happy to share this list of my favorites.
These are the kitchen tools, small appliances, cookware, bakeware, and gadgets I use on a near-daily basis. They are the items that get the most use in my kitchen and the ones that have stood the test of time with durability.
I love sharing the items I use because I truly believe that having trusted kitchen tools can help us cook more efficiently, which is something all of us deserve since cooking and feeding a family is already hard enough!
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I’ve used the same pair of kitchen scissors for over a decade for everything from cutting a split-roast turkey for Thanksgiving to daily cutting of grapes, crusts off of toast, pizza, chicken, and more. This pair from Wüsthof comes apart for easy cleaning, doesn’t rust, and works incredibly well.
(I also recommend Wüsthof knives and use their high-quality chef’s knife and their paring knife daily in my kitchen.)
Silicone Spatula and Whisk
I have a set of basic cooking tools from GIR that includes spatulas, whisks, and more, and it’s become one of my go-tos in the kitchen for both cooking and baking. The tools don’t scratch my nonstick pans and cookware, they’re easy to clean, and they’re virtually indestructable with their solid silicone construction.
Epicurean Cutting Board
I have two large cutting boards (17×13.5 inches) and this type is affordable, washes easily, and doesn’t hold smells or food colors.
Ice Cream Scoops
I use ice cream scoops for ice cream, yes, but more often I use a full-size scoop for portioning out pancake batter and standard-size muffins. And I use a mini ice cream scoop for making homemade Chicken Nuggets, Sweet Potato Tots, Energy Bites, and Baby Cookies. The ones from Oxo last the longest in my testing.
(I don’t have a lot of kitchen gadgets, but I do use these all the time.)
Silicone-coated stainless-steel tongs are a must-have for cooking and serving food in my kitchen. I use them for stirring foods in pans, dishing up pasta and salad, and even as an unexpected utensil for kids to use at the table.
Muffin Tin and Baking Pans
I swear by the Wilton nonstick muffin pans and baking pans because they are reliable and durable, and they heat and bake evenly. (They also last. Be sure to use silicone tools with these pans to avoid scratching them.)
- Mini Muffin Pan
- Standard Muffin Pan
- 8×8-inch Baking Pan
- 9-inch Round Cake Pans
- Nordicware Half Sheet Pans
From single-serving containers for babies, toddlers, and little kids, to family-size containers, freezer containers, and lunch containers, these are my favorite options.
- Anyday Freezer Containers: I use these for leftover sauces to easily make kids meals on future days.
- WeeSprout Glass Jars: I have both the 4- and 8-ounce sizes and use them for yogurt, cut-up fruit, leftovers, salad dressings, juice, other liquids, and more.
- Zwilling Vacuum-Seal Containers: These have been amazing for keeping family-size portions fresh throughout the week.
- Easy Lunchboxes: Both their regular and snack size are my go-to lunch containers for all ages.
(I also have an immersion blender, but I hardly use it because it doesn’t blend foods as well as a stand blender. I also have a stand mixer that I really don’t use and an electric hand mixer that I use only to make frosting. So remember your kitchen essentials list may be different than mine.)
I use my food processor less than my blender, but it’s really handy for grinding vegetables and thick batters into more uniform textures in recipes where you don’t want it to be fully pureed—such as Meatballs, Bliss Balls, Hummus, and more.
I like the most basic food processor from KitchenAid because it’s durable and easy to use. (I have never used any of the extra attachments so I try not to pay for them!)
I have a beautiful French oven that takes a full 30 minutes to preheat, so when I want something ready faster, I use my air fryer. I have the Instant Vortex since it’s small enough that it doesn’t take up all of my counter space but is large enough to make food for my family. And it’s usually priced under $100.
Pots and Pans
The two brands I use most for pots and pans are Tramontina and Green Pan. Tramontina makes stainless-steel pots and pans that are heavy and durable, and they heat consistently. (They have the quality of All-Clad but for a fraction of the price.)
And Green Pan makes the nonstick pans I use in my cooking videos; they also clean easily and are my go-to for making delicate foods that tend to stick including scrambled eggs, pancakes, and more.
- Green Pan Nonstick Skillet Set
- Tramontina 8-Quart Covered Stock Pot
- Tramontina 4-Quart Covered Saucepan
Mixing Bowls with Lids
Mixing bowls are in constant use in my kitchen, and this stainless-steel set with lids is so useful for both mixing and storing foods. You can nest the bowls for easy storage, too, and they’re dishwasher-safe.
- I prefer stainless-steel measuring cups and spoons. Oxo Good Grips is a great, reliable brand.
- I have a regular colander and also a fine-mesh strainer for when I need a finer set of holes for straining.
- An instant-read thermometer for knowing when meat is done can set your mind at ease and help avoid over-cooked meat.
- A ceramic or cast-iron Dutch oven (try the Lodge brand) may be helpful if you bake bread, make a lot of braises, or are looking for pretty cookware that can go from the oven to the table.
- You may find a set of wooden spoons to be helpful along with the silicone ones.
- I have two glass baking dishes that I use for casseroles, roasting potatoes, and more.
- The baking sheet pans from Nordic Ware are the best ones I’ve found.