I am by no means a gourmet chef but I do know my way around the kitchen and have experienced trial and error with a number of tools and appliances over the years. In response to inquiries about my favorite knives, pots, pans, etc., I have gathered my favorites, aka major key kitchen tools in today’s post. Most of them are very budget friendly and, for those that are more of a splurge, I’ve provided affordable alternatives. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
- A good set of round pans is key if you’re even remotely interested in baking. Most people think their use is limited to cake making but I’ve also made pot pies and cinnamon rolls in them. They can work for many different types of dishes in a pinch. Round pans can be found in just about any grocery or department store or on Amazon. I’ve built up a collection from many sources over the years but recommend starting with two.
- Stand mixers are the #goals thing to have and I totally want one but haven’t decided to drop the coins just yet. In the meantime, my food processor does absolutely everything I need it to! It whips cream, beats batter, creams butter, mixes up frosting, and more like a freaking champ. I’ve used it to make all of the following recipes and more: pineapple nice cream, no-churn ice cream, bourbon vanilla birthday cake, bourbon sweet potato pecan pie, veggie rose tart
- You can’t make it too far in the kitchen without a solid cutting board. My preference is wood over plastic or any other kind of man-made material. The one I use (linked just above) is currently on sale for over half off!
- After moving out on my own, I picked up my own set of cooling racks for baking–hadn’t realized how much I was leaning on my mom’s set! They come in clutch for cooling multiple cake layers, batches of cookies, and donuts.
- A cast iron skillet is super versatile and something of a trendy item these days. I have a few different sizes (actually, had–my giant one went missing, somehow). The mini one is perfect for making one or two servings of anything from eggs to cobblers to dutch babies. This size is a good all-around skillet to have on hand–you might have seen me fry dodo or sear chicken in it on the blog before! As far as brands, Lodge is the king of cast iron and the only brand I have used.
- Kamikoto Knives are an investment and would make a great gift to your favorite cook. You can buy them on Amazon here and there are almost always great discounts available on their website (currently “79OFF” gets you 79% off!). A good sharp knife is a game-changer in the kitchen. I’ve had my share of struggle knives so, when I first got a great knife, it took a bit of getting used to–I cut my fingers a few times! Kamikoto knives are pricey but worth it if you’re serious about cooking and want to make your kitchen life easier. I use their Santoku Chef Knife but If you’re more budget conscious, I recommend this knife set.
- Did anybody else ever get their hand popped with a wooden spoon growing up? Childhood trauma aside, a good wooden spoon is a staple in my kitchen. They don’t scratch your pots like metal or plastic spoons sometimes can. One thing to note is that these require a tiny bit of diligence with regard to cleaning. Wood (and most natural materials) absorb stains and scents easily so don’t let them sit in a sink of water or in the dishwasher for days waiting to wash! I’ve used many different wooden spoons over the years and don’t have a preferred one or think they need to be expensive by any means. Check out places like Walmart, Ross, and Marshalls for yours.
- I tend to use this rubber spatula mostly when making baked goods and other sweet things. It gets every single drop of batter, frosting, sauce or whatever you’re trying to scoop and is right up there in rotation with my wooden spoon for hand mixing. These hold up well but I’ve gone through a few over the years due to my own negligence.
- Aside from being absolutely adorable, I find these oven mitt-lets to be more nimble than traditional full-on mitts. They’re easier to grab with and take up less space if you’re tight on kitchen square footage.
- This sponge cleans well and doesn’t get gross! I initially felt a bit silly including a sponge in this post and won’t expound too much on it but it’s truly the best dish sponge I’ve ever used and, since I don’t have a dishwasher, it’s get more than a fair amount of use.
- I love this apron [c/o] by Bespoke Binny because it combines form and function. Hello, ankara fabric and large pocket! Natalie, the designer behind Bespoke Binny, makes aprons, oven mitts, lampshades, table runners, and other household items that are beautiful. Each item is unique and arrives with a booklet of African proverbs! Even better, I take pleasure in purchasing from a small, black-owned, woman-owned business.
- Glass bakeware is a little more elegant than metal and is great to serve from as part of a spread. Also, glass conducts and retains heat better, which can result in faster and more efficient baking. I have a number of glass pieces but my most-used are this square pan, oblong pan, and a couple of pie pans.
- I have a few different sets of traditional measuring cups and spoons but find this this Pyrex one to be quite useful for gauging large quantities when I’m baking or cooking for a crowd. It also makes for easier cleanup and is simpler if you’re short on storage space. Add usage of this tool to the list of ways I’m similar to Jay Z and Gucci Mane. 🙂
- Sealable glass bowls are integral to prepping and storing. I use a set with different sizes and love them for saving leftovers, taking lunch to work, and keeping prepped components fresh.
- A baking pan with a lid is a must have for me because it’s so versatile. If you live alone or with just one other person, you likely have leftovers when making cakes and casseroles, which are easy to store in this pan. I use it in my meal prepping routine and for entertaining, as well. I also love this one from Calphalon. I’ve baked this super popular cake and this baked oatmeal in it.
- Not sure what I was doing before I found this nonstick skillet but “I don’t want to go back, Stebie!” Perfect cheesy eggs? Check. Skillet dinners? Check. Crispy breakfast potatoes? Check. Basically, it’s versatile and very necessary in my kitchen. Mine is part of a set and I love all the pieces but use the skillet the most.
- The slow cooker is bae. If you’ve been reading here for awhile (even just a couple of weeks) you know I live for a good slow cooker recipe. Crockpot, slow cooker, whatever you want to call it–it can do no wrong in my book. I have a few different sizes and styles, which come in clutch for whipping up a yummy meal or dessert while I run errands or work AND keeping food warm while entertaining (more on that here).
- I use a big sheet pan to do everything from bake big (and small) batches of cookies to make sheet pan dinners to catch drips while baking pies. This one cleans up well and isn’t horribly sticky in those instances where I forget to use parchment paper…or am just in too much of a rush. 🙂 A half sheet pan is next up on my list of things to purchase and a quarter sheet pan would work extremely well for cooking for one. You can get all three in a set here.
I previously chatted about my cooking journey and favorite tools on this podcast (episode 8) earlier in the year and would love for you to give it a listen! I also have a shop page full of everything that’s in my kitchen. If you have kitchen tool suggestions or any questions, please let me know below. Thanks for reading!