Just as a carpenter needs the proper tools, every cook needs the right
equipment in the kitchen to create delicious meals. While you may not
need everything on this list to get started, it serves as a helpful
reference as you begin equipping your kitchen.
Pots and pans
These kitchen essentials can range anywhere from the inexpensive to the
very costly. There are also many different types. It's a good idea to
talk to some friends to see what their favorites are, and to browse the
department store to see what appeals to you.
Sometimes you get a nice deal by buying a set, but it can also make
good sense to buy one pot to see how well you like it before committing
to an expensive set.
At the minimum you'll need:
Large skillets (10 inch and 12 inch) - preferably heavy aluminum
skillets with nonstick coating (copper and cast iron are great, but
also expensive and sometimes not as "forgiving" to a new cook).
Large pot with lid - an 8-quart pot is big enough to cook pasta,
but if you're going to make stock, buy a 16-quart pot.
Saucepans with lids - a 1- to 3-cup size, a 1- to 1-1/2-quart
size, and a 4-quart size.
Roasting pans - an 8 x 12-inch or 9 x 13-inch metal roasting pan;
and an 8- or 9-inch square metal baking pan.
Bowls - small, medium, and large. Stainless steel are inexpensive
A steamer insert - a collapsible aluminum basket-like utensil,
used for steaming vegetables and other foods.
Baking/cookie sheets - look for the kind without edges for cookies, but
also keep in mind that many cooks use these items to bake other dishes.
A 9 x 13-inch nonstick baking pan - essential for a one-layer
sheet cake and brownies. This size pan is also great for macaroni
and cheese, and dishes like scalloped potatoes; however, some people
prefer to reserve the nonstick pan for desserts and purchase a glass
pan for stickier dishes to preserve the finish. Also note that
nonstick bakeware will last longer if it is washed by hand in warm
Pastry pans - this includes pie plates (9-inch, oven-proof glass),
bread pans (two 9 x 5-inch, nonstick aluminum loaf pans), cake pans
(two or three 9-inch pans), and muffin tins (several inexpensive
Keep in mind that for all of these items you'll need to consider the
type of cookware and bakeware you've purchased. If you've chosen the
kind with nonstick finish, be sure to choose plastic - not metal - utensils.
These will help protect the finish of your cookware and bakeware.
Long-handled heavy-duty spoon
Long-handled heavy-duty soup ladle
Measuring cups (start with a 2-cup glass or plastic cup for
liquids, and a set of 1/4- to 1-cup dry measurers)
Measuring spoons (buy at least two sets)
Brushes (for spreading oil, melted butter, marinades, etc.)
Some cooks swear by wood, and some swear by plastic cutting boards. One
of the nice advantages to plastic cutting boards is that different
colors can represent boards for meat, chicken, garlic and onions, and
vegetables. That way there's less worry about contamination and
transferred food odors.
A good set of knives is essential for chopping, dicing, and preparing
your ingredients. High-carbon steel knives are recommended by chefs and
experienced cooks alike. A versatile knife that is essential is the
8-inch chef's knife - an all-purpose blade used for chopping and slicing.
Don't bother with a carving or slicing knife right away - you won't use it
very often, and your chef's knife can handle most of those duties for a
while. You'll need two or three paring knives (3 or 4 inches long) for
peeling, trimming, and other precise cutting. A serrated bread knife is
a must, too. And buy a blade sharpener to keep your knives working at
Some may seem obvious, but still worth consideration in equipping your
Can opener (that would be one of those obvious ones!)
Colander (any type with holes in it to drain liquid or through
which to force through pureed food)
Metal racks (for cooling baked goods, and roasting)
Handheld or box grater (for grating cheese, lemon peel, etc.)
Melon baller (for coring pears and apples)
Ricer (for making mashed potatoes)
Rolling pin (for making pie crust)
Food processor - it can grate large amounts of anything in short
order, and it can make pie and bread dough in minutes
Electric mixer - especially if you plan to bake
Blender - a traditional upright or handheld miniature