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Our top 10 must-have kitchen tools to make cooking better and easier

We own and use each of these items and couldn't live without them. In no particular order, here are our top 10 favorite utensils, appliances, and cookware.


Chef's Knife

Why You Need It

A good chef's knife is absolutely essential in any home kitchen. Incredibly versatile, you can use it to chop vegetables and herbs, cut meat, and mince garlic and onion.

We Use & Recommend

Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef's Knife We use this knife every day, sometimes multiple times. Keep it sharp (we use a 2-stage sharpener like this one), ALWAYS wash it by hand, and it will serve you for a lifetime. ( $35.98, Amazon.com)


Cutting Board

Why You Need It

Unless you plan on cutting veggies on your countertop, you need a cutting board. We love butcherblock end-grain style boards because knife edges slice between the woodgrain instead of across it, which is easier on both the knife edge and the cutting board. For meats, poultry and fish, we use a poly cutting board that can be washed in the dishwasher.

We Use & Recommend

Catskill Craftsmen Super Slab Sturdy and solid, it's like a mini butcher block countertop. We use this one for veggies and fruits only. ( $116.99, Amazon.com)

Prepworks 9-1/2 in x 15 1/2 in Poly Cutting Board For meats, fish and poultry, we use this plastic cutting board. The edge reservoir collects any juices, and it's dishwasher safe. ( $15.07, Amazon.com)


Small Cast-Iron Skillet

Why You Need It

A cast-iron skillet cooks better and more evenly than a non-stick skillet, and pulls double duty and an oven-safe baking dish. When properly seasoned, it is completely non-stick, and will last a lifetime, compared to a 2-3 year lifespan of a teflon-coated skillet. 

We Use & Recommend

Lodge 10.25 Inch Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Pre-seasoned and ready to go, we love the durability and the affordable price of this Lodge skillet. Whether you're frying an egg or searing a steak, it will hold up to high heat and provide even cooking. ( $15.92, Amazon.com)


Dutch Oven

Why You Need It

Again, versatility and durability are the greatest features of a dutch oven. Use it to boil stocks or make jellies and jams on the stove top, or use it in the oven to braise meats or roast a chicken.  Its heavy bottom ensures even cooking, and an enameled version is easy to clean and non-stick.

We Use & Recommend

Lodge Enameled 6-Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven Again, durability and price are the best features of our Lodge dutch oven. You can never go wrong with a Le Creuset, but you'll definitely pay for the name (upwards of three times the price of the Lodge). We've used it to make grape jam, chicken noodle soup, root beer braised short ribs, and oven-roasted chicken. It occupies a permanent place on our range top in the wintertime.( $70.36, Amazon.com)


Baking Sheets

Why You Need Them

Baking sheets aren't just for cookies and biscuits. Use them to make healthy, oven-baked versions of many fried foods, like sweet potato fries, chicken wings, and potato pancakes. You can also use them as a prep surface for raw meats when transporting them to the BBQ. We always line our baking sheets with parchment paper for a non-stick surface and easy cleanup.

We Use & Recommend

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baking Sheets (Half Sheet and Big Sheet) Nordic Ware is known for it's lifetime warranty and high quality. We love these baking sheets because they don't warp in the oven and provide even heat when cooking foods in the oven. Make sure to hand wash them. ( $33.28, Amazon.com)

Extra Credit 

Kirkland Signature Non-Stick Parchment Paper Available at Costco or online, this is our favorite parchment paper. Use it to line baking sheets for a nonstick surface with the added bonus of easy cleanup. 


Tongs

Why You Need Them

Tongs are one of the most versatile utensils in the kitchen. Use them to toss a salad, turn steaks on the grill, stir the stir fry, or reach in a hot oven.

We Use & Recommend

OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Stainless Steel Locking Tongs We use these tongs for everything. Rather than opting for several different sizes and a special pair of tongs just for the BBQ, we have settled on this sturdy 12-inch set from OXO with its comfortable grips and locking handles for easy storage. ( $12.95, Amazon.com)


Instant-Read Thermometer

Why You Need It

From ensuring meats, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe temperature — but not dry and over-cooked; to double-checking water temperature for baking yeast breads, an instant-read thermometer is your best friend as an enthusiastic cook. Grill, cook, and bake with confidence!

We Use & Recommend

Epica Ultra-Fast Meat Thermometer Our personal choice, this thermometer is affordable, quick, and accurate. We use it every time we grill, and the included storage case protects the metal tip. ( $18.95, Amazon.com)


Food Scale

Why You Need It

If you've ever had a loaf of bread come out flat, or dough that is too sticky or too dry, you know that baking is a science, not an art. Enter the simple kitchen scale: the key to getting that perfect loaf of bread or just-right cinnamon roll. When you weigh baking ingredients instead of measuring volume, you eliminate guesswork, and therefore end up with consistently great results.

We Use & Recommend

EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale It's simple and inexpensive, and displays ounces, pounds, grams, and kilograms (accurate to 1/10 oz or 1 gram). Its maximum weight of 11 lbs covers most baking and cooking needs, and it's easy to tare. ( $19.95, Amazon.com)


Prep Bowls & Ramekins

Why You Need It

Mise En Place. It literally means "put in place" and it's the way all restaurant chefs cook. Chop all of your veggies, measure all of your ingredients ahead of time and place them in prep bowls and ramekins, which makes for focus, organized, efficient cooking.

We Use & Recommend

Duralex Lys 6-3/4 Inch Stackable Clear Bowls These durable glass bowls are the perfect size for a couple of eggs, a whole chopped onion, or 3 cups of liquids. ( $33.67 for 6, Amazon.com)

Norpro Porcelain Ramekins  Perfectly sized for minced garlic, scallions, lemon zest, and smaller items for mise en place. ( $14.99 for 6, Amazon.com )


Slow Cooker

Why You Need It

Coming home from a long day at work and smelling a delicious roast cooking when you open the door: it doesn't get much better. This tried-and-true kitchen work horse can cook anything from a delicious roast to oatmeal with the press of a button.

We Use & Recommend

Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker This model's temperature probe stops the cooking process when your roast is done, and keeps it warm without overcooking until you get home from work. Its larger size is nice for whole chickens or large hunks of meat. ( $49.99, Amazon.com)

Crock-Pot 3-Quart Manual Slow Cooker We also have a smaller manual crock pot that we use for sauces and for our homemade sous vide controller box. Buy one new, or grab an older one at a thrift store or garage sale. ( $20.99, Amazon.com)


This guide contains affiliate links for products we love, recommend, and use regularly. We hope you will find them as useful and helpful as we do! Thanks for browsing and clicking!



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