Having the right tools makes all your jobs easier! You wouldn’t use a saw to pound in a nail and likewise it’s important to use the right tools in the kitchen.
As a food blogger I get asked a lot about what my favorite products are. I test A LOT of products every week! These are the ones I consider high quality, essential and worth the space even in my home kitchen.
I am excited to share with you some ones you would expect and introduce you to a few brands I’m willing to bet you have never heard of.
Let’s jump in!
Update: This list is constantly updated by me as we use items for the long haul. I also very rarely will add a product I just can’t live without. As such you will see this list is a few more than 12 items now 🙂
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Good knives are the backbone of any kitchen. They make your job easier and faster and are absolutely the #1 thing I recommend investing in first. I absolutely love my WÜSTHOF Gourmet Knife set. I have smaller hands and they are perfectly balanced and ridiculously sharp. The top knife is perfect for larger hands and the center knife is my personal favorite.
I’ve spent years using cheap cutting boards. No more! I am a big believer in upgrading the items you use the most to really give yourself an improved experience in every area of your home. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen this Madeira Teak Edge Grain Jumbo Chop Block is one upgrade you have to put on your list. A quick wipe down after prep and it doubles as the perfect serving board too. Used daily for over a year and has not cracked or warped.
High Powered Blender
A high powered blender is perfect for making smoothies, pureeing soups and sauces, grinding your own bread flour, and can function as a stand in for a food processor if you don’t have the space for both. My
Blendtec Designer Series Vitamix Professional Series 7500 which is used at least daily in our studio if not more and is a total workhorse. I LOVE that it is shorter than the other Vitamix blenders which was my biggest beef with them before.
Update: after extensively testing both the Blendtec Designer Series and the Vitamix for over 2 years Vitamix has taken the #1 spot in this category for me. It’s significantly quieter, blends faster and more consistently. In addition I have had an issue with one of my Blendtec jars going out (which they were super awesome and quick about replacing for free).
The mechanics of the Blendtec vs Vitamix are very different, Blendtec blends with force and dull blades, Vitamix blades are sharp and cut through the items. This aids it in being more stable and overall feels like it is less violent and will last much longer. The Blendtec is still a solid machine and my #2 choice. I have lots of friends very happy with it and I still use my Blendtec at home extensively.
If you go with a Blendtec be sure to grab the post at the bottom of the container and spin it several times before you blend, this helps lubricate the ball bearings inside of it and can apparently help your jars last a lot longer. Also for best results no dishwasher for the jars on either of these. Just spray them out after blending or blend soapy water in them for a deep clean.
A Heavy Duty Mixer
It’s the classic for good reason. I just recently upgraded my KitchenAid stand mixer to this beautiful Professional 6500 version from my hand me down KitchenAid mixer from my grandmother that is still going strong. From making pasta to ice cream, whipping meringue or churning ice cream these machines do it all in style. I am loving the larger capacity on this version, the quieter motor and increased power. Worth the splurge if you plan to use it daily!
A newer option we tried this year is the Bosch Universal Plus Stand Mixer. If you don’t have space in your kitchen for a larger KitchenAid but really need a really heavy duty work horse of a machine the Bosch may be right up your alley. It has a low profile so it fits easily on most counters. I really like it!
It also has a plastic bowl which my grandmother pointed out to me is a huge help to her because she has arthritis so lifting the heavy glass bowl and mixer is harder for her now. I really like that there is no head over where you are mixing too, so adding ingredients is even easier and the head doesn’t get dirty.
Both are used frequently here and have held up great.
Stovetop Safe Slow Cooker with a Timer OR InstaPot
Seriously new technology is the best. It took my favorite time saving appliance of the kitchen and eliminated the need to dirty a pan when you need to brown your meat. I use this Hamilton Beach Stovetop Safe slow cooker constantly. Time works in 30 minute increments too so there is no more ruined over cooked dinners.
The infamous InstaPot! This is a product I don’t personally own yet (it is on the way!) but I have played with one and have SO many friends and family who rave about it that I feel it deserves a mention here. Touted as the hottest new appliance to have in your kitchen it is a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, does Saute/Browning, makes Yogurt, and is a Steamer & Warmer. We will be running lots more InstaPot recipes on the blog here in 2017 so definitely worth the space! If you don’t already have a slow cooker this is a great way to get multiple tools in one.
A Large Sized Food Processor & A Mini Food Processor
From salsa to pie crusts, shredding cheese and chopping nuts, having a food processor is one of those things that just plain makes life easier. Yes you can use a blender for some of those things as well but not all of them and there are some things were you just want to additional real estate that a food processor gives.
This Cuisinart 14 cup food processor is fantastically large but has a compact footprint so it doesn’t take up tons of cupboard or countertop space like some do. Used for over a year constantly and it stands up to all our abuse.
Equally important is a mini food processor. We have a no name one I bought at a grocery store but when it breaks I’ll be buying the Cuisinart Mini-Prep food processor.
A Good Salad Spinner
I cannot properly explain the frustration that a bad salad spinner can cause or the disappointing soggy runny salads that happen if you don’t own a spinner at all. I have thrown away more salad spinners than anything else in my kitchen. Oxo has consistently given me the best result and after dropping ours on tile and breaking it, the Good Grips Salad Spinner was what I immediately went out and replaced it with. They have a mini version that is perfect for herbs or just 1-2 people too!
A Good Non Stick Skillet
A good non stick skillet is essential to any cooks repertoire. I am absolutely in love with my Anolon 12 inch Nonstick Deep Skillet! It’s my go to pan for everyday cooking from eggs to a quick pasta for dinner to taco shells for taco tuesday. Extra deep makes it so versatile. Buy this pan today!
Buy the whole set!
We use this pan set for EVERYTHING at the studio and I absolutely love them. We have gone through a ton of other sets that we either didn’t love or hated. Once I tried the single pan I had to have the whole set!
They are super easy to clean, heavy duty and stand up to high volume cooking without breaking down. The color is also gorgeous and it’s matte so it photographs beautifully and doesn’t discolor like our copper pan set did (so much maintenence on true copper!). Highly recommend.
Enameled Dutch Oven
If I could I would seriously marry this Staub 6 Quart Cocotte. It’s beautiful, cleans easily, and transitions perfectly from stovetop to oven to table in perfect style. Sear, braise, simmer, roast…you name it this pot can do it. The 6 quart is plenty enough for our family of 4 and a nice sized pork or beef roast.
I love using this when I want to go straight from stove or oven to table, it’s so pretty and cooks fantastically. The seasoning on the cast iron is fantastic and has never rusted on us unlike other cast iron we have worked with.
Cast Iron Skillet with Lid
Lodge is a standby in our house and my husband almost exclusively cooks in this pan. Perfect for cooking bacon, searing meats, frying eggs, crisping up buns for burgers and so much more. Get the 12 inch pan and the 12 inch lid for the perfect combo.
A High Quality Rice Cooker
Making rice can be done in a pot it’s true. But with kids underfoot and being slightly ADD I find that a rice cooker eliminates needing to remember something else while putting perfect rice on the table. I used an inexpensive version for years but I recently upgraded to this Zojirushi Induction Heating Rice Cooker and it is fantastic! Not only does it have way more customizations for different varieties of rice but it keeps the rice warm for hours without the bottom of the pan turning into a sticky burned mess. That’s important because as a busy family with weird schedules we never really know exactly when dinner is going to happen. The rice can sit with no concern now without deteriorating in quality. Hallelujah!
An Immersion Blender
An immersion or stick blender is one of my new must have tools! There is nothing more frustrating (or dangerous!) than trying to transfer a pot of hot soup or sauce to a blender. This Cuisinart Smart Stick also makes quick and quieter work of a late night milkshake without waking up the whole house too!
Milk Frother & Insulated French Press
Is it really cooking? Maybe not but coffee around here is definitely considered an essential!
Pairing this little Nespresso Milk Frother with our trusty GSI Insulated French Press truly makes some of the most delicious satisfying cups of coffee for us every morning at the studio. The froth this machine puts out is impressive and it can run hot or cold so your froth is perfect for every cup. Love love love this combo.
We’ve used the frother for 4 months multiple times a day and it is holding up fantastically. We are on our second version of the GSI insulated french press after we dropped the first one and snapped the plastic pour spout after 5 years. It was a wedding gift and used daily at home until then.
Thanks for reading! Leave me a comment below and let me know if I missed anything awesome that you can’t live without in your kitchen!