This is a list of the tools I use most commonly in the kitchen every day! By no means do you need all of these, but they help immensely with everyday tasks and can make magical things happen in your kitchen (hello, food processor). I’ve broken it down by category and unless otherwise noted, have tested and used each and every item! I’ll update this section regularly as items change or I buy new gadgets…and let’s be honest, I’m always on the lookout for new kitchen things!
Appliances and Gadgets
This little Cuisinart mini-prep food processor was one of the first kitchen appliances I got when I moved into my very first adult apartment in New York City. For someone who spent their college years subsisting on dining hall food, pizza, and Lean Cuisines, this was a whole new world. To be honest, I thought it was broken for the first couple months I owned it because I didn’t realize you had to lock in the lid before it would work! It has stuck with me these several years and has power much greater than its small stature might suggest. I use it for chopping vegetables, grinding nuts and oats, and making small batches of biscuit dough. Pie and tart doughs, nut butters, hummus, and other serious projects, however, require a larger bowl and more firepower, which is why I also acquired the 9-cup processor below.
My Cuisinart 9-cup food processor is an amazing machine. This wondrous device can do anything from cutting butter into flour for pie dough, to emulsifying salad dressings, to grinding homemade nut butter. I had the mini processor above for several years before I got this upgrade as a wedding gift, and it’s one of my most versatile kitchen appliances. PLEASE NOTE: as of December 2016, the riveted blade on some models of Cuisinart food processors has been recalled; please check to make sure you purchase the un-riveted blade if you purchase this item!
I personally think this Vitamix is one of the best blenders out there. I had a couple different (cheaper) blenders before I finally took the plunge on the Vitamix, and there is no comparison. It’s so powerful and never gets clogged up or unevenly blended. Plus it cleans itself if you run it on high with hot water and soap – no disassembling and dishwashing necessary. I’ve made nut butters, soups, ice cream, and of course smoothies in this thing. It’s great!
A friend bought me this 4 1/2-qt ceramic Crock-Pot for my birthday in law school, and it works amazingly well! It’s under $30 and totally worth it for the price. Very low-tech (a toggle switch for off, low, high, and warm) but does the job very effectively and it lasts! I’ve made some amazing meals in this little pot – everything from stews, to short ribs and pulled pork, to homemade chicken broth, to hot chocolate for a party. I’m in the market currently for an upgraded and larger model, but for a starter, you can’t do any better than this. Plus there are all sorts of cool designs you can get!
I love my Cuisinart Belgian waffle maker on the weekends. Best part about it is the plates, which snap out when you’re done cooking and you can throw them in the dishwasher. It also comes with interchangeable small pancake plates, which I haven’t used yet but would be cute! Super easy and it makes nice crispy waffles. I’ve never had any issues with caked-on batter at all – these are seriously non-stick!
Homemade ice cream is such a luxury, right? I always thought so until I found this Cuisinart ice cream maker. It’s under $50 and if you love ice cream, it doesn’t get better than dipping a spoon right into the churning cream. The bowl has to be stored in the freezer for at least 24 hours before you churn, so I just keep mine in the freezer during the summer months. Ice cream at a moment’s notice = best day ever.
This glass oblong pan was one of the first investments I made when I got my own kitchen, and I still use it all the time. It’s great for pasta bakes, chicken, enchiladas, and of course brownies and other bar cookies.
I love this 9×13 Le Creuset stoneware baking dish for pretty much everything, but especially cinnamon rolls and cakes. It heats very evenly, is dishwasher safe, and looks so pretty on the table! The best.
Another favorite for making baked oatmeal, brownies, and vegetable sides, this 8×8 Le Creuset stoneware dish is a staple item in my kitchen. It comes in so many colors!
This bundt pan is an essential in my kitchen. I love making bundt cakes because they are so impressive-looking, not difficult to make, and serve a lot of people. Plus, you often don’t need to frost them, making bundt cakes a (tiny) bit healthier option. This pan is truly non-stick and only requires a light coating of butter to get the cakes to release. My trick: instead of waiting 10 minutes before removing the cake, as most recipes advise, wait until the cake is FULLY cool before running a knife along the outer and inner edges of the pan and flipping it onto a plate. It will release so easily! No deformed cakes here.
This stainless steel cookware set from All-Clad is my primary cookware. I use these pans nearly every day, and they never disappoint. While cooking with stainless steel is more advanced than cooking with non-stick surfaces, you can’t beat the sear and the flavor you get with stainless steel. I love that I can put these in the oven, even under the broiler. Plus they are not hard to wash (if you soak for a few minutes in soapy water you can easily scrub off residue), and they are dishwasher safe! Such a win in my book. If you don’t need a whole set, you can buy the saucepan (1.5, 2, 3, or 4-qt), the stock pot (4, 8, or 12-qt), the frying pans (8, 10, or 12-inch) or the sauté pans (2, 3, 4, or 6-qt) individually.
These non-stick Cuisinart skillets are durable and produce great results. They’re great for eggs and everyday cooking. I’ve had them for about two years, and they don’t have any scratches – a rare feat for non-stick surfaces that see a lot of use! They also can go in the oven (below 450 degrees and no broiler).
This Le Creuset dutch oven is a true workhorse in the kitchen. I’ve made everything from soups and stews to pasta to braised meat in here, and it handles it all with ease. The great thing about the ceramic interior is it’s naturally non-stick, and it cleans really easily either by hand or in the dishwasher. It’s an investment, but I honestly believe I will be using this pot for the rest of my life. They’re made to last! Love how many colors there are to choose from, too.
This Le Creuset cast-iron skillet is a classic for good reason. It makes frittatas like nobody’s business, with that lovely browning on the bottom you can only get from cast-iron. The greatest thing about it, though, is that it does NOT require seasoning because it has a black enamel coating on the interior, rather than pure cast-iron. The label says it’s dishwasher-safe, but I prefer to hand wash it because the finish comes out looking a little weird from the dishwasher.
This double-burner grill pan is fantastic for anyone who lives in a tiny apartment with no balcony for an outdoor grill (hi), doesn’t own an outdoor grill, or just doesn’t want to grill outside because it’s terrible out. The first time I used this, I was shocked at how easy it was to clean. I literally took a paper towel and rubbed it along the grates, and everything, even the super-burnt, super-sticky, stuck-on stuff, came off. I barely had to use soap and water after that. This was after having grilled a seriously messy marinated steak. It’s awesome! The size is a a little ungainly I’ll admit, but it’s so worth it when you’re grilling meat and veggies all at once. We stack it with other flat trays and the griddle below in our pantry.
I love this double-burner griddle pan for weekend brunch! No more standing in front of the skillet flipping two pancakes at a time for over an hour – this guy handles 5 or 6 at a time, no problem. I’ve made pancakes, french toast, and even eggs and bacon on this, and it makes everything go so much faster. Just as easy to clean as the grill pan above, and worth every penny if you make brunch as often as I do (if only it were every meal of the day).
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