Pots & Pans
The essentials: I use these on an almost daily basis and if I had limited space, these are the ones I’d get.
- A small saucepot– This one from All Clad is expensive, but the only one you need. I use it almost daily. It’s perfect for rice, sauces, compotes- you can cook about 2 cups of dry rice in it.
- 6 Quart All-In-One-Pan– Perfect for stir frys, sauteeing veggies, browning meat, pretty much everything. My number 1 pan. Don’t underestimate the practicality of the double handles here- makes a huge difference with how easy it is to move, put in the oven, and store.
- Moderate Size Dutch Oven– I personally like the 5 1/2 quart size. It’s enough to make a large batch of chili in and is moderate enough that it’s not gigantic. If you’re looking for one to make really large batches, go for the 7 1/4 quart one.
- 12” Fry Iron Cast Pan– I use these for a variety of things, including small roasted chicken and cakes. Lodge has a great lower price option too.
If you can add a few more:
- Enameled Cast Iron Braiser– This one from Le Creuset is a great size for cooking for 2-4. The 12” diameter is the perfect size for most weeknight meals and I love the colors! It is great for cooking on the stove top and also goes in the oven.
- Small Dutch Oven– Good for a smaller batch chili, stew, or soup and baking homemade bread! Le Creuset has a similar size option if you prefer to stay on the same brand, but I love switching it up. This has a similar function to the moderate size dutch oven, but is better for smaller batches/recipes.
- All Clad Non Stick Pans– After having gone through a lot of nonstick pans, All Clad is my favorite brand. I personally recommend getting a really large one and then a medium size one, but I feel like everyone has personal preference on sizes. I prefer to go slightly larger and find that I can usually do smaller items (even eggs) in them just fine.
Other Brands/Price Points: If you’re looking for more moderately priced cast iron, go for Lodge. It’s also a great brand if you’re looking for a lower price point. Staub is also a great brand and is on the same price point and quality as Le Creuset.
The Ultimate Standing Mixer– If you like baking, this is worth it! If you don’t like baking, I wouldn’t invest in this piece. This is great for meringues, cookies, cakes, and more. I also use to it shred chicken and have gotten their pasta attachment to make pasta and ice cream attachment to make ice cream.
Instant Pot– A great item if you like meal prep. I use it mainly for shredded chicken and beef, as well as making soup (particularly homemade broths). I prefer this over a slow cooker, and used this in place of a slow cooker when in our apartment.
Large 13-Cup Food Processor– I don’t have this exact model (ours is over 5 years old now), but I do use this large food processor on a weekly basis. While I wouldn’t say it’s a must have, if you like to cook, it’s a great tool. I use it for things like making sauces and dips like hummus, salmon and black bean burgers, and nut butters. I’ll also occasionally use it for desserts. I like this one because it has a grater attachment so if you need to grate a ton of carrots like for carrot cake, this is a breeze.
Vitamix– Similar to the food processor, this is an investment item. I got one when I was 19 and ten years later, it still works as if new. So I promise you that even though it’s expensive, it will last you forever. I made this an investment piece for me a while back because I had seen just how amazing these are in culinary school- they are able to blend everything from nuts to herbs in such a smooth way that if you like to make your own dressings or nut milks, it’s worth it. I also use it to puree soups.
For me, it’s quality over quantity. I would much prefer to have 2-3 really good knives than a set. In fact, I don’t have a set. I have two large knives a pairing knife, and one serrated knife.
Shun 6 1/2” cleaver knife– While it’s a bit of personal preference, I love this slightly smaller knife that still acts like a large one because of its shape. The cleaver knife is perfect for vegetables and meats and it’s usually the knife I use when preparing anything.
Shun Classic Chef’s 8” Knife– another one of my favorites. Similar in function to the cleaver knife, but a little larger. This is more classic and traditional, so if you are only going to get one knife, this is my recommendation. You can get a larger one- I have a 10” and it’s quite large and I think next time I would get a slightly smaller one unless you butcher a lot of meat or something!
Pairing Knife & Serrated Knife– You can stay with Shun if you prefer one brand and a nice matching pairing knife is nice to have! For my serrated, I’ll be honest- I’ve neglected it. I use it so rarely that it’s an item that’s good to have, but I didn’t spend much money or time on it.
Odds and Ends
I don’t have links for these items yet, but these are small tools that are a must in my kitchen!
Still working on this list. Stay tuned!
- 8 Inch Square Glass Baking Dish– A good staple to have for brownies, small batch ziti or baked pastas, and even cakes or bars. I like this one because it has handles on the sides, as well as a lid- perfect for storage or transportation.
- or…. 8 Inch Aluminum Baking Dish– Very similar to the one above, so you don’t necessarily need both, but this one is aluminum. If getting one, I’d get the glass. However, I do use this one a lot too.
- Sheet Pans– I like baking sheets that have a rim to prevent anything from falling off or juices flowing over. These do the job and aren’t too expensive.
These aren’t staples, but if you like baking, it may be worth getting.