I recently got a few questions about my favorite kitchen products that I use when cooking and developing recipes for the site. A few years ago I wrote a giant post with all of my favorite cooking tools, and decided that it was probably time for an update! Quite a few of the tools from the first post are still on the list, like my beloved OXO 9” Tongs. There are plenty of new additions too; I finally found the perfect Everyday Pan after years of searching and I sing the praises of the current “it” kitchen tool: an Instant Pot. This list has all of my essentials and is fairly comprehensive of the items I use daily. The most important thing to note is that most of these things aren’t very fancy, and you’ll only notice one or two specialty items. I believe in a lean, simple kitchen with a few quality tools that keep me inspired and my recipes accessible. Take a look at my favorites:
Chef’s Knife. I feel like if there is one item in your kitchen that you should rely on the most, it’s got to be a good chef’s knife. I don’t have a crazy fancy or expensive set of knives (in fact I don’t even have a full set, I’ve bought a few individual ones that work well for my needs). This particular one is around $30 and I love it. It has a really heavy, ergonomic handle that I feel gives me a ton of control in the kitchen, and at 8” it’s a bit more petite than most similar knives. I grab this knife nearly every single night when prepping dinner, it’s my favorite.
Kuhn Rikon Garlic Press. There is one item on this list that is a major investment, and no it’s not a knife or a fancy pan, it’s a garlic press. A $40 garlic press. It is worth every.single.penny though, I could write you a long love letter about how amazing this garlic press is. It’s so effective that you can put a whole garlic clove, still in the peel, inside of it and you’ll get every last drop of minced garlic pressed out the other side. It’s easy to clean, works incredibly well, and is probably the best kitchen investment I’ve ever made (I’ve had it for years!).
OXO 9” Tongs. I can guarantee that these are my most-used kitchen tool, and it at $12 it’s almost silly that I don’t own several pairs of them. I’m going to go order another pair on Amazon right now in fact. I love the size of these tongs, the silicon tipped ends, and their ease of use. I always gravitate towards OXO products and think they’re the best brand for quality, affordability and usability – these tongs are the best example!
Quarter Sheet Pans. A few years ago I ordered this set of quarter sheet pans by accident. I was looking for a half-sheet pan and had clicked on these by mistake because the set of two was under $10, it was a great deal but I didn’t realize they were smaller. I’m so happy I made that mistake because they’re the most versatile pan. I use them most nights for dinner prep, whether it’s roasting brussels sprouts, or seasoning a steak to bring out to the grill, they’re so useful. In fact I love them so much that I ordered a set for my mom so I could use them when I cook at her house! They’re also a nice size for serving at casual gatherings; you often see them used at BBQ restaurants in lieu of plates! I also always keep a box of Reynolds parchment sheets in the cabinet to make clean up easy, I love the pre-cut sheets so everything stays neat
Everyday Pan. I have spent years cycling through pans that wore too quickly, pans that had cumbersome handles, and some that I just downright hated using. I finally decided this year to clear out my pantry of the dozens of pans that annoyed me, and find one great pan that I loved and would use for everything. I actually hunted for this pan for weeks and finally found this Calphalon Everday Pan. It’s around $55 and I’m so happy I purchased it; I love the depth and size, the non-intrusive handles and the durability of the non-stick surface.
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. A good cast iron skillet is a must-have in your kitchen. I have the 12” one and it sells for about $30, and it should pretty much last a lifetime (maybe a few lifetimes, some people hand them down to their grandchildren!). My favorite part about the skillet is that it works great on the stove top and inside the oven; I’ve even used it on the grill – it’s super versatile!
Williams-Sonoma Wooden Spoons. I have a favorite wooden spoon that is used so often, it’s like an extension of my arms. It’s from Williams-Sonoma and I love the smaller size, that it doesn’t scratch my pans, and this particular one cleans up really nicely. I hate when wooden spoons start to dry out and get splintered, this one has lasted me for 6 years and seems to get better (and well-seasoned) with age.
Silicon Spatula Set. One good set of silicon spatulas is another must-have in my utensil crock. I have this set that comes with a spoonula, a regular spatula, and skinny one that is great for scooping ingredients out of jars. I’ve has this set for 6 years as well, and they still look brand new even though I use them all the time.
Slotted Stainless Steel Spatula. This slotted spatula/flipper (sometime referred to as a fish turner) is another one of my go-to favorites that I grab out of my utensil crock daily. The end has just a little bit of flexibility in the material to make it really pliable and give you great control in a pan.
Cotton Kitchen Towels. Maybe about two years ago, my husband and I realized how much waste we were creating with paper towels and made the decision to switch to kitchen towels that we could wash and reuse instead. We have two big sets of these towels: we use red ones for the kitchen, and blue ones for the bathrooms. They are great for easy clean-ups, to use as napkins for dinners, and we just throw a big load of them into the laundry every few weeks. It’s cut down on a ton of waste and saved us money.
On the topic of kitchen-items that have helped us go green, two of my other favorite eco-friendly additions to our home this year are our countertop compost bin which helps us cut down on organic waste going into the garbage, and these reusable mesh bags that I use for produce – I have gotten so many questions about them when I check out at the grocery store!
Kitchen Scissors. I just use a plain old pair of $6 Fiskars scissors in my kitchen, but I make sure to have them designated as kitchen-only scissors that stay in my utensil crock next to the stove. They’re so handy, and wash easily in the dishwasher!
OXO Salt and Pepper Grinders. I cycled through several salt and pepper grinders in my years, and always get so frustrated when they break! I’m not sure if that’s a universal problem, but at the frequency I use mine while cooking, I’ve worn through several sets. When that happens, I usually take to the internet and get my research on until I find a replacement that comes with lots of rave reviews. That’s how I landed on these salt and pepper grinders, another OXO product that I love. They’re really durable, have several grinder size settings, and clean up very easily (which is super important since they live right next to my stove for constant use!).
Olive Oil Bottle. This another simple kitchen tool that is always within arm’s reach next to my stove top while I’m cooking: an olive oil bottle with a pourer spout. Because I’m cooking quite a bit at home, I love the ease of having a bottle that can give me a quick olive oil drizzle in a pan or a marinade or dressing. I just fill it up once a week from a much larger bottle of olive oil (which also saves me money when I can buy oil in larger quantities!).
Instant Pot. I’ve written a lot about my love for meal-prepping (here and here) on the blog, and the Instant Pot is a game-changer in the prep department. I mentioned earlier that I’m not big on having tons of specialty equipment in my kitchen, but this is a tool that I will make an exception for because it is so versatile. We use it as a rice cooker, we use it as a pressure cooker, and we use it as crock-pot. It’s like three big kitchen appliances in once. People often ask me if it’s worth investing in if they already own a crock pot and I always passionately say YES. My favorite part of the Instant Pot is that it has searing capabilities, so you truly can cook everything in one pot (I hate crock pot recipes that tell you to sear meat in a pan and then add it to the slow cooker, what’s the point of using the slow cooker if I have to get a second pot dirty in the process?!).
Glass Tupperware. In the same spirit of meal prepping, and our effort to be more eco-friendly in our kitchen we have a big set of glass Tupperware that we use for lunches, leftovers, Jane’s meals, and storing ingredients. I love this stuff because it doesn’t get the gross discoloration stains you see on plastic containers. It’s also microwave and oven safe, so it cuts down on dishes when we can reheat or bake food inside of them! And I’m delighted to say I haven’t purchased Ziploc bags in months, we cut down majorly on the waste created from those (and saved money!) by using these containers.