When it comes to kitchen supplies, it’s easy to end up with items you’ll never actually use. For everyone who cooks, read on for the kitchen supplies you actually need.
Walking down the kitchen aisle at any homeware store feels like you’re adventuring into a world of untold possibilities. Homeware stores do a great job pitching us specialty tools and “new and improved” kitchen supplies, but they conveniently avoid the truth—we only need a fraction of the products in their entire kitchen section.
Ready to save space on your counters, money in your wallet, and peace of mind knowing you have exactly what you need? If you want to discover which kitchen supplies are truly essential, we’re here to help.
What Are Kitchen Supplies?
Kitchen supplies, or kitchenware, are the tools, utensils, appliances, dishes, and cookware used in the kitchen to prepare and serve food. We’re sure you could have figured that out yourself, but sometimes it’s nice to have things spelled out clearly.
“Kitchen supplies” really does cover a wide range of stuff, some stuff you need, and some stuff you can definitely do without. We know that money doesn’t grow on trees and that not everyone’s kitchen is as big as Martha Stewart’s. So, we’ve put together this handy dandy list covering all the things that anyone who cooks should have - that’s it!
Kitchen Supplies You Should Have
The world of kitchen supplies is more like a universe, so we’ve tried to narrow things down by making some kitchen sub-categories. It’s time to learn more about these kitchen essentials!
Let’s talk knives for a second. A vast, beautiful, well-organized set of knives is precisely the type of thing many of us fall prey to in the kitchen aisle. There’s something about the way the knives are all laid out perfectly, looking all fresh and sharp and ready to use, that just calls our name.
We’ll let you in on a bit of a secret; you don’t actually need a whole knife set—no matter how shiny they look on the display. Instead, invest in a few quality essentials, and you’ll be more than good to go. We’ve narrowed it down to three knives that cover basically anything you’ll need to cut. Of course, you can build on your collection from here, but these three are the essentials.
- Chef’s Knife. A chef’s knife is one of the most versatile and valuable tools in every kitchen - it’s a must-have for chefs and beginners alike. A chef’s knife is usually the largest included in a set of knives and is usually eight to ten inches long, around one inch thick, and the blade rounds at the tip. This knife is ideal for cutting large and medium-sized foods that need to be diced, sliced, chopped, or separated; things like vegetables, melon, and herbs, as well as ingredients like meat, poultry, and fish. Consider this knife your all-purpose go-to and default knife.
- Bread Knife. Bread knives are the long ones with serrated edges, perfect for carving through soft or crusty bread without crushing its delicious inside - flattened bread is no fun for anyone. (Tip: when carving bread with a bread knife, you’ll also want to handle it as you would with a saw to avoid any smooshing of the softness.).
You can also use a bread knife for things like large melons such as watermelon or cantaloupe, where a regular knife may get stuck. Oh, and this is also the perfect knife for slicing sandwiches with no worry of it not making it through your however-many-layers of tastiness.
- Paring Knife. Last but certainly not least, your kitchen needs a paring knife. Don’t underestimate this finger-sized knife - it’s small but mighty and highly versatile. This tool is excellent for cutting small pieces of food, slicing fruits like lemon and lime, gouging, and cutting off small parts. Basically, anything small that needs peeling, chopping, slicing, or mincing likely needs a paring knife. A paring knife is especially perfect for slicing avocado, just saying.
- Cutting Board. This isn’t a knife (obviously), but you’re going to need a sturdy, stable surface to slice and dice all your ingredients, aren’t you? Cutting boards come in all shapes and sizes, but if you need to choose just one, start with a medium size. Medium size cutting boards are considered 10”x 14”, 12”x18”, and sometimes 15”x20”. This board size allows you to cut a few different ingredients at a time while not taking up too much counter space. A wooden cutting board will also prevent your knives from dulling quickly and make any clean-up easy peasy.
We’re specifying “non-toxic” for a reason. As America explores healthy eating for longer, it’s expanding beyond considering just food itself. Not all cookware is created equally, and in some cases, chemicals in cookware leach into our food. Unfortunately, these chemicals don’t discriminate against organic food, either. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been studying PFAS - a group of human-made chemical ingredients in 95%+ of non-stick cookware appliances - and there is a growing body of research confirming that these toxins may be contaminating our food.
All of the cookware we’re about to suggest is made with a non-toxic, mineral-based ceramic coating that won’t leach chemicals into your clean and healthy ingredients. This cookware is also oven safe for temperatures up to 550° (p.s. 500° is the temperature at which traditional non-stick cookware begins to release chemicals, but not these pans!). So, free of heavy metals, PFTE, PFOA, and all the other acronyms standing for scary chemicals we shouldn’t even know about, this cookware offers a healthier way to cook.
- Fry Pan. Fry Pans are flat-bottomed with bowl-shaped rims, perfect for eggs, flipping pancakes, and sautéing veggies. You’re going to want to choose a non-stick Fry Pan because why work harder than you have to? This is the pan you’ll use for any frying, searing, and browning of foods. Do your future self a favor by choosing a Fry Pan that is also oven safe to save yourself time, the hassle, and the mess of needing to transfer food from pan to oven dish.
- Sauce Pan. A Sauce Pan has a smaller base and higher sides than a frying pan, which allows for more volume and cooking with liquids. This is the pan you need for cooking dishes like risotto, mac and cheese, soups, and sauces. For recipes involving boiling water or that are liquid-based, reach for your Sauce Pan. This Sauce Pan is oven safe for temperatures up to 550° Fahrenheit, meaning you can make mac and cheese on the stove and then quickly slip the pan into the oven for a finishing-touch broil.
- Sauté Pan. Yes, you really do need three separate pans—and the Sauté Pan is the most important of them all. A Sauté Pan is the epitome of its namesake. In French, “sauté” means “to jump.” This pan is your go-to ally when you need to cook numerous delicious ingredients at once. The high, straight sides keep in flipping and tossing foods and sizzling oils. A Sauté Pan’s shape also makes it perfect for one-pan meals, sauce reductions, and dishes with stock. Sauté Pans can also be a great help during dinner parties when you want to cook large amounts of food quickly, and they add a pop of color to any dining room table. If you’re a carnivore, a Sauté Pan easily conducts heat to braise or shallow fry meats. It’s a versatile tool no cook should be without.
- Dutch Oven. Even a casual chef needs a Dutch Oven. Dutch Ovens are heavy-bottomed and feature a tightly fitting lid to trap moisture and heat. Dutch Ovens also have higher sides than a Fry Pan or Sauce Pan, making this pot the go-to choice for anything that requires heavy searing followed by gentle, even cooking. This pot is also a lifesaver for one-pot meals, enabling all the goodness of cooking with not so much of the clean-up afterward.
Feeling overwhelmed with buying all these different pieces? As a remedy, think about a Cookware Set that allows you to fully furnish your kitchen in one click of your mouse. Not only is a Cookware Set the easy (and color-coordinated) way to go, it’s the best way to get the most bang for your buck.
Unfortunately, it would be near impossible to cover every last item that different kitchens will need. While we’re focusing on the essentials, there are a few universal must-haves that we would be remiss to ignore. Here are just a few other supplies every well-stocked kitchen should have.
- Mixing Bowls. Just as every show kitchen on television has, your kitchen should have three mixing bowls. Mixing bowls will be some of the most used items in your kitchen, so choose a set made of stainless steel, glass, or ceramic to fight any build-up of stains and odor. Every decent set of bowls will come with a small, medium, and large size, so all you need to do is choose suitable material and a set with pleasant colors or design. (People tend to overlook kitchen supplies when it comes to decor, but small items like these can be an easy way to add a nice pop of color to any kitchen).
- Baking Dish. Baking dishes are usually made from glass or ceramic and come in various shapes and sizes. If you’re not planning on buying a spread of them (as most of us aren’t), we suggest getting a standard rectangular or square dish, suitable for most recipes and optimal for storage.
- Measuring Spoons. Measuring spoons are almost always sold as a set, typically including the sizes of 1/8teaspoon, 1/4teaspoon, 1/2teaspoon, 3/4teaspoon, one teaspoon, and one tablespoon. Choose a set made from food-grade stainless steel so they won’t become stained or rust over time.
- Spatula. Spatulas will be used time and time again to mix, spread, and lift ingredients. You may want to buy at least three; silicone and wooden. The silicone one can be used on cookware without the worry of making scratch marks (like with metal spatulas), and a wooden one can be used without conducting heat.
- Pot Holders. Pot Holders are your go-to kitchen helper and your third arm when handling hot pots, pans, and other cookware. They’re what you’re going to want to reach for when you need to shuffle pots and pans around the stovetop and carry dishes to and from the dining room table. You may be tempted to double duty your tea towels and fold them over a few times to makeshift Pot Holders, but we promise it’s always a better idea to take the extra few seconds to grab your Pot Holders.
If You Cook, You Should Have ‘Em
Whether you’ve been cooking for years, are forcing yourself to learn, or land anywhere in between, these are the kitchen supplies that will get you through it all. Whether you’re in the market for a Sauté Pan or a new collection of measuring spoons, all of these items are kitchen essentials that will save you time and make cooking a breeze. Of course, it’s still easy to be tempted by the kitchen aisle at the homeware store—and we can’t blame you for buying that flashy ice cream maker or an airfryer you’ll only use once. Kitchen supplies are fun to collect, but now you know the items you really need. The rest is just gravy… or a gravy ladle.
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