I get a lot of questions from brides, new cooks, and recent college grads about what kitchen products I recommend. I totally understand that you want to get these purchases right because, hello, these things are expen$ive! So I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite essentials that are worthy investments and will help chefs of any level feel more confident in the kitchen.
All-Clad d5 4-qt. Sauté Pan – This is hands-down my FAVORITE all-purpose cooking pan. It is so wide so you can use it like a wok for a huge stir-fry, and you can also use it as a saucepan for items like meat sauce or a custard base for ice cream. I also like to use it for bi-level cooking for meat, poultry, and fish (stove-top searing, covering with a lid, then transferring to the oven). Take note, it weighs a TON when filled with food so it’s nice to have a friend nearby to help you transfer the food to a serving dish! 😉
Calphalon Unison Slide Non-Stick Fry Pan Set – These nonstick pans are fantastic for cooking eggs along with a dab of coconut oil. I’m usually not a fan of cookware “sets” but in this case it’s nice to cook with two separate pans at the same time because Mr. Peaches doesn’t fancy kale and ungodly amounts of garlic in his scrambled eggs like I do. I also own an All-Clad brand nonstick pan which is also great, but to be honest, I think the Calphalon ones are more ergonomic and feel slightly more comfortable in my hand.
Cast-Iron Skillets – These are the cheapest and best tools for grilling meat and poultry indoors for those of us who don’t have outdoor grills. They are able to get SUPER hot so they’re great for searing meat (just don’t forget to add lots of cooking fat). I don’t recommend them for cooking scrambled eggs or delicate filets of fish because I find that these items stick easily to the bottom of the pan. Unless you’re into that sexy look of diagonal grill marks, I recommend the flat skillets over the “griddle”-style skillets with ridges because they allow the meat to sit comfortably in the cooking fat. Doesn’t really matter what brand you get – just get a size and shape that you like.
9½-Quart Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron French Oven – People always ask me what size Le Creuset pot they should buy and I LOVE the big, 9.5-quart size because of its versatility and ability to cook a LOT of food at once. You can use it to make a huge batch of soup or chili or alternatively as a vessel to cook a huge piece of meat like a leg of lamb, a roast, or whole chicken. I can’t deny that it weighs like a load of bricks but it’s worth it because the larger pots are more capable of feeding a crowd.
Wüsthof Classic Ikon 8-inch Hollow Ground Chef’s Knife – I’m sure you ladies out there can relate with me when I say that most of the 8-inch knives out on the market are hard for our smaller hands to hold comfortably, but this particular one is lightweight, easy to maneuver, and not to mention, super sharp! I recommend using knives with shallow indentations in the blade because they don’t stick as easily to food as the flat blades do.
Shun Classic Kitchen Shears – I use these puppies ALL. THE. TIME. For cutting meat, chopping up salad greens, opening boxes and packages, and other around-the-house stuff. It even comes with a magnetic case that you can tack on to your refrigerator for easy grab-and-go use.
Electric Carving Knife – I believe an electric carving knife is indispensable when you have a boatload of guests in the dining room and you need to carve your Thanksgiving turkey or a roast beef tenderloin fast. I know meat purists advocate carving meat by hand but trust me, my parents have used one of these for years and no one has ever complained that their meat was sliced with an electric knife. 😉 Make it easier on yourself. This Hamilton Beach one is cheap and works well.
Cuisinart 14-Cup Elite Food Processor – I actually own the 12-cup version of this food processor but I feel a slightly bigger one would be better for instances in which I’m chopping lots of veggies or pureeing a soup. I like this food processor because it’s powerful and also comes with a disc attachment for shredding food like cabbage for coleslaw, cheese, and carrots. The device kind of a pain to clean and store but c’est la vie.
Thermapen – It’s expensive but this gadget will tell you the internal temperature of your meat INSTANTLY. This is key for someone like me who can’t tell the difference between rare and overcooked meat just by using the finger poking method. Invest.
Traditional Finish Bakeware – Okay, this is your first lesson in Baking 101 people. If you like to bake, invest in traditional finish bakeware, NOT nonstick. Marketers love to push nonstick bakeware on customers but nonstick makes baked goods too brown along the edges! Get traditional finish and just grease your pans with butter. Problem solved.
Aluminum Half Sheet Pans – Half sheet pans are great for throwing roast veggies in the oven, and the ridges on the side ensure that food or cooking fat doesn’t spill over the side. Line with parchment paper to make clean-up easier.
Apilco Porcelain Serveware – Okay, this stuff is LEGIT people. Literally you can throw this porcelain against the ground and it will not break. It’s also oven-safe you can plate your food and then keep it warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve dinner. Trays are indispensable for entertaining so I recommend getting them in all shapes and sizes.
Cheap Mixing Bowl Sets in Metal and Glass – Don’t waste your money on those expensive stainless steel All-Clad mixing bowl sets. Cheap ones are best. Metal is great because it’s lightweight, glass is great it’s microwave-safe (perfect for melting chocolate or butter or coconut oil, reheating food, etc.).
Industrial Plastic Wrap – Those miniscule grocery store Cling Wraps ain’t got nothin’ on industrial-size plastic wrap which is key for keeping large trays of pre-made food fresh when getting ready to serve a crowd. Invest in it if you have the space in your kitchen.
Onion Goggles – You can make fun of me all you want, but these things are a LIFESAVER when you’re chopping a lot of onions by hand. I cannot even be in the same room as a sliced onion without tearing up so I am very grateful to have these nerd-a-licious goggles to protect my eyes.
Now tell me, what are some of your must-have kitchen products?
peaches and cake