Whether you’re just beginning your cooking adventures or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s a few things I always recommend having in your kitchen.
The following list of items, I believe, are kitchen essentials that will make your cooking experiences successful, easy, fun and delicious!
1. Instant Read Thermometer
An instant read thermometer is number 1 on my list of kitchen essentials. The reason is simple, it’s your window into knowing if food is done. Almost all recipes which include meat will have a “cook to” temperature. For most chicken recipes, you want an internal temperature of 165°(F). For most pork recipes, you want an internal temperature of 145°(F). Instant read food thermometers are inexpensive and beyond valuable for cooking your food just right! Don’t skip this one!
2. Sharp Knives and Knife Sharpener
Have you ever tried to chop, dice or slice anything with a dull knife? It’s terrible. Everything rips and makes a big mess. A good sharp knife remedies that by doing the job it’s meant to do. And no, you absolutely do not need a fancy, expensive knife. At the very least, a good sharp butchers knife, as well as a knife sharpener, will make the task SO much easier for you.
3. Cutting Boards
Speaking of using a sharp knife, you need something to do the cutting on. Trying to use regular plates or paper plates as a cutting surface is very ineffective and not the safest or best way to use a sharp knife. A wooden or plastic cutting board will make your slicing and dicing adventures much more productive. Again, you don’t need to get fancy and expensive here. I like using the smaller, plastic cutting boards that don’t take up a lot of space and come in sets of a few for usually under 10 bucks.
4. Measuring Spoons and Cups, 2 Sets
You’ve got to measure the ingredients properly, right? Get a couple of sets of measuring spoons and cups. You’ll be glad you have 2 when you reach for 1 and find it’s already in the sink to be cleaned. They can be super inexpensive and will save a lot of headaches.
5. Mixing Bowls
During your recipe making you’ll often be mixing ingredients, marinating, etc. Having a couple of larger bowls for this purpose is ideal. I like the glass bowls that are available in most supermarkets or big box stores.
For turning foods and flipping foods, you’ll need to get a good grip on the food. No need to fiddle around trying to do the job with a fork or other utensil. A good pair of tongs will make you flip for joy when reaching into a hot air fryer or oven to turn that food.
7. Wooden Spoons
A set of wooden spoons will make your stirring and mixing so much easier. Also, wooden spoons are perfect for “deglazing” a pan or Instant Pot during cooking.
8. Baking Sheet
A sheet pan, a baking sheet, a cookie sheet, whatever you call it, you need one. Maybe a couple. I like to keep the half sheet size and quarter sheet ones on hand. Some foil or parchment lined on the sheet also helps for easy cleanup. The most common size you’ll find is the “half sheet” size which is approximately 13″ x 17″.
9. Glass Baking Dishes 8×8 and 9×13
Glass baking dishes have been around forever and are very common for oven baked or roasted meals. The basic 8×8 and 9×13 sizes are the most common.
10. Ingredient Basics
There’s certain ingredients that should be staples in your pantry, cupboard or refrigerator. These ingredients are used in SO many different recipes.
Paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, Italian blend seasoning, rosemary, thyme, kosher salt, ground pepper, sugar, brown sugar, ground mustard, Worcestershire sauce.
11. Ziptop Bags
Gallon sized ziptop bags are great for mixing and marinating. For example, you can add several chicken legs, some cooking oil and seasonings and do the whole “shake” thing and get those chicken legs ready for cooking. And cleanup couldn’t be easier… just discard the bag!
12. Kitchen Timer
Most kitchen appliances we use such as ovens, air fryers or Instant Pots already have timer functions. But sometimes you need an extra timer if you’re working on multiple dishes at once. A simple kitchen timer will help you to not forget to take those potatoes out first! Your smartphone probably has a timer function, or, simple and inexpensive kitchen timer are easy to come by.
13. Storage Containers
These kind of go without saying. You’re gonna have leftovers, or you’ll be making something that’s meant to be enjoyed another day. Those disposable storage containers are super helpful. I like to keep several sizes on hand and within easy reach. And be sure to keep the lids matched up to the right ones! 🙂
I’m the first to raise my hand a scream out to the streets “I want a bigger kitchen!” But until I’m able to make that happen, I try and make the most of the space I have. Keeping the kitchen uncluttered and having counter space will make your cooking adventures so much more enjoyable.