People consistently ask me – on social media, via email, and in person – what my favorite kitchen appliances and must haves are. I tend to rattle things off the top of my head and send them on their merry way, but today I decided to put my top ten Kitchen Must Haves on a post. This way, I can easily direct them to this link, where it’s all neatly listed with name, type of product, link to shop, and reasons why I love it.
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Reminder – this is my list of must haves. Yours might look different and that’s okay. Our current situation: we are a family of two, my husband and I. No kids, no pets, living in a small, two bedroom cottage with a kitchen bigger than a gallery kitchen but still the size of a large hallway. We’re both chefs and love to cook, and I also love to bake. These items are specific to our wants and needs, but what I believe to also be a general list of staples I believe everyone needs. It’s up to you to decide what’s right for you!
This list is not in order of importance, but to be quite honest, this food processor is probably my favorite appliance in the entire kitchen. I can make pie crust, shred cheese, grate carrots, blend pesto, make romesco sauce, and so much more. The model I have is an older model that also included the juicer basket, which I also adore. The footprint on the counter is small enough to leave it on the counter at all times, which I also appreciate.
This Blendtec is the ultimate all-in-one appliance. Preprogrammed cycles make it easier than ever to create smoothies, salsas, hot soups, and more. This blender is combined with commercial grade power and incredible versatility, making it just as amazing as the restaurant quality blenders I use at work because it is restaurant quality. I use this blender 6 out of 7 days a week, because it’s the blender that makes my smoothies in the morning. It’s also incredible for soups, beans, and the likes. I prefer this blender over its competition because the blender bottom is wide enough to scrape everything out, versus other blenders I’ve used that have a very small bottom.
Friends will ask me: bowl-lift or tilt-head? I will ALWAYS reply with bowl lift – I can’t pinpoint what exactly it is that I hate about the tilt-head models, but they just aren’t for me. Plus there’s always the issue of making sure you have enough space under your cabinet for that tilt-head to swing back.
I believe almost every kitchen needs a Kitchen Aid Mixer. Unless you do NO baking at all and even then, I could find an argument that it’s also a pasta maker, meat grinder, and ice cream machine all in one as well. This size might be large for a family of two, but when I’m baking, I am usually either testing out recipes or baking for friends, so the size works for me. This machine is a workhorse and its reputation precedes it.
I know I mentioned a stand alone blender above, but an immersion blender has been such a great tool and one I use almost daily. I had a Cuisinart Stick Blender for about 6 years before my husband upgraded it to this Kitchen Aid Hand Blender and it’s fantastic. I love it more so because it also came with the whisk attachment, which makes whipping cream such a breeze instead of having to use the huge stand mixer! It’s also my go to for partially blending soups and beans, part of my every day life in the fall and winter.
My sister in law gifted us this toaster oven a few years ago, and after a year of it in storage because we couldn’t find the right use for it, we now have had it on the counter for over two years and use it almost daily as well. Toast, bake, warm, and broil a variety of foods.
Our kitchen is pretty small, so anything that’s on our counter has to be used enough times to make it worth it, and this is it. I never thought I’d use a toaster oven so much, but the fact that it has up so quickly makes lunch time specifically, very fast.
Oh my coffee maker, I could not live without. I’ve had this coffee maker for over three years and absolutely love it and here are my reasons why:
- there’s no need for any sort of capsule or paper filters – no waste!
- it makes a cup, a travel cup, a half pot, or a full pot of coffee – all things I need
- it has a pause button so I can pause it mid-brew if I can’t wait for the entire pot to fill up
If you want to set a kitchen goal for 2021, maybe consider removing all classic nonstick cookware from your kitchen. There’s so much research online all about the harm that they cause, but my friend Phoebe over on Feed Me Phoebe has an entire blog post about The Best Non-Toxic Nonstick Pans + How to Use Them Safely.
These American Kitchen Cookware pans are the ones I use and recommend, they heat up so nicely and evenly, as they state: “durable tri-ply design features 2 layers of professional-grade stainless steel wrapped around a layer of aluminum to deliver fast, even heating on any heat source.” This skillet set is honestly all you need!
This is the skillet we use probably 80% of the time in our home. If you get anything out of this post, may it be that cast iron is NOT as delicate as everyone thinks it is. We’ve had ours for years – I can’t even remember to be honest – and it’s perfect. A roommate once ran it through the dishwasher (don’t worry, the roommate is still alive), it has been soaked in water for days, it has been washed with soap, it has been scraped, it has been through a LOT and still it persists. Cast iron can hold up to A LOT, I promise you.
Plus, the sear you get using a cast iron is incredible. The way it cooks up most proteins is what I love about it, plus I make my usual scrambled eggs, grilled cheeses, and much more on it.
How I quickly take care of my cast iron: if I’ve cooked something simple like a grilled cheese on it, I do nothing to it, leave the crumbs and move on with my life. If I’ve cooked something like fish or scrambled eggs, I will scrape the crusty bits into the trash and scrub with hot water (I’ll add a bit of soap if needed, but not usually). I dry with a towel and move on. It’s used daily in my house, and I think consistent use is key!
As a professional chef, I’d had plenty of knives through my career, but fell in love with Shun knives and have never looked back. I could only find a picture of the knife block to link to, but definitely recommend buying the knives you most need. I’m a fan of their santoku and chef knives, santoku being the Asian chef knife. Knives are all about how they feel in your hand, so it’s definitely a purchase you want to do in person if possible! Plus, I love this that the brand says about themselves:
“Our brand name comes from the Japanese culinary tradition of “shun.” Shun is a time—the exact moment when a fruit is perfectly ripe, a vegetable is at its best, or meat is at its most flavorful. Home cooks and professional chefs alike celebrate shun in their kitchens, awaiting each season’s bounty and serving every ingredient in its proper time. The Shun name honors this tradition of seasonal, mindful eating and is a mark of our dedication to making kitchen cutlery that is always at the peak of its perfection, too.”
Last but certainly not least, my favorite bowls, this OXO mixing bowls set includes one of each: 1 1/2-quart, 3-quart, and 5-quart bowls. I love the soft, comfortable non-slip handles and bottoms that keep stabilized while in use, so they don’t slide around, which is a pet peeve of mine. Maybe a times at work at the restaurant I have had. bowl slide away from me to almost hit the floor from the stainless steel table. They are a must have!
That’s it – that’s my list of recommended kitchen appliances and tools. Hoping to create another one in the future in regards to smaller hand tools and the likes.
Let me know what you need recommendations on!