The Top 20 Kitchen Essentials Guide
When you think about all the big and small occasions in life with family and loved ones - sitting down and enjoying a home-cooked meal is possibly the first thing that comes to mind. And, it's easy to make cooking these meals even more enjoyable when you've got the right kitchen tools and equipment.
Whether you're just getting started as you settle into your first home or are looking to upgrade and ease into advanced meal-making territory, our top 20 kitchen must-haves guide will help you accomplish all this and more, in the most hassle-free way.
- Commonly Asked Questions
- What kitchen essentials do I need?
- Cookware & Appliances
- Tools & Utensils
- Time-saving Kitchen Gadgets and Equipment
- How to choose the right materials for your kitchen products and utensils?
- The most commonly available kitchen materials
- Find the best kitchen essentials and utensils for cooking
Commonly Asked Questions
Why should you be cooking with the correct utensils?
Using the correct utensils in the kitchen saves you time and makes cooking more enjoyable. That's because each tool or utensil is designed for a specific purpose. When you choose the right one, it helps decrease effort, increase speed and enhance your food's taste. It also means you'll finish cooking on time and eat your meals on time.
What is the difference between kitchen tools and equipment?
The words kitchen tools and utensils are often interchangeably used. Essentially, tools are hand-held implements to use during the cooking process. Think tongs, forks, spoons, whisks, pots, saute pans, spatulas, etc. Essentially anything to eat, stir, whisk, slice, chop or peel can be included in a kitchen utensil list. Equipment on the other hand refers to appliances that help with baking, mixing, juicing, blending, freezing, and processing. These could be manually operated or automatic.
Are wooden utensils safe to use?
Wooden utensils make for an eco-friendly option compared to their synthetic alternatives. They're also safe to use unless they're chipped, cracked and stained. Damaged wood utensils pose health risks for people with food allergies and sensitivities.
What is the difference between nylon v/s silicone materials?
Nylon and silicone are popular materials in your kitchen utensils. Both offer good heat resistance and non-stick benefits. They're generally dishwasher safe. The difference is usually with their life spans. Silicone utensils offer more longevity and as a result, tend to be priced higher as well.
What are some popular kitchen tools and equipment that save you time?
Transform the way you cook with our list of 5 time-saving kitchen aids. These include
To get into the finer details of each of these kitchen tools and equipment, refer to our time-saving kitchen tool guide.
What Kitchen essentials do I need?
Know exactly what tools you need to get started or better still, graduate to more advanced meals and cooking options, with our top 20 kitchen essentials checklist.
Cookware & Appliances
1. Non-Stick Fry Pan
A frying pan features at the top of our list, and with good reason. A non-stick surface is essential when it comes to making sauces, cooking eggs, sauteing vegetables or searing meats. We recommend a 25-30 cm diameter non-stick pan for pan-frying seafood, chicken, vegetables, or cooking omelettes and pancakes. Remember to invest in more than one pan, and vary their sizes to ensure you can cook more than one dish at a time.
Whether you're boiling potatoes or simmering sauces, a saucepan's depth makes it perfect for heating or cooking liquids. A large 14-16cm diameter saucepan is ideal for sauces. Alternatively, you could use it for steaming/boiling 3-4 servings of vegetables. Check out this delicious Bearnaise sauce recipe that chef Miguel Maestre whips up in a saucepan to complement a juicy steak. A great addition to your utensils list for cooking.
From soups, stews, and stock to boiling pasta, noodles and seafood - stock pots are among the most essential things you need for a kitchen. With a tall, large and deep shape, they're versatile enough to help you whip up a variety of dishes. If you're looking for one that's easy to clean, a stainless steel option is good to consider. Alternatively, for equal heat distribution, we recommend a hard anodised pot.
One of the most popular utensils for cooking especially with East Asian recipes, the wok is a must-have if you're a fan of stir-frying. But there's more to a wok than meets the eye. This kitchen tool is great if you want to fry, sear, toss, mix, as well as stew and braise. We highly recommend a non-stick wok for any home cook.
5. Cast Iron Pots & Skillets
Cast iron = longevity. Both pots and skillets are heavy, robust, naturally non-stick and can last you a lifetime. Ideal for searing and roasting meats, or scrambling eggs and sauteing vegetables. Their rustic good looks ensure you can carry the cookware straight from the stovetop to your table. Check out these yummy cast iron pot recipes, for more inspiration.
If a roast lamb is a Sunday family favourite or something you love making when entertaining, a roasting pan will make life easy. A roaster is oven-safe, comes fitted with a rack and is your go-to for large meat cuts. The rack's design helps trap all the juices underneath, creating sufficient airflow to help cook the meat evenly. Get tips on cooking roast lamb like a pro with our latest guide on the hub.
7. Slow Cooker
For those who are time-poor, but love a delicious home-cooked meal - a slow cooker is an excellent investment. With built-in heating and cooking capabilities, food cooks unsupervised on low heat for a few hours, making the process feel absolutely stress-free. We've also put together an extensive pressure cooker v/s slow cooker guide to help you make smart choices for your kitchen.
8. Rice Cooker
While you may be comfortable cooking rice on a stovetop, a rice cooker can simplify the process. The upside is that your rice will come out cooked perfectly. We highly recommend investing in one.
9. Baking Trays
From non-stick options to enamel surfaces - baking trays are essentials for making cakes, brownies, muffins, pies and so much more. A must-have for the home baker.
Puree like a pro and save time during cooking with an electric blender. Soups, smoothies, sauces - it's effortless to make them with this kitchen essential.
Tools & Utensils
Whatever your ambitions in the kitchen, there's little you can do without a knife. From slicing to dicing and chopping - knives serve a variety of purposes. If you're making a list of must-have utensils in the kitchen, a chef's knife is non-negotiable. Why? Because you'll use this knife for the majority of all your food preparation. Knives should feel comfortable to hold. It shouldn't be heavy, nor too flimsy. Other knives to consider are a serrated knife and a paring knife. Serrated knives make slicing into tomatoes or bread, seem effortless. Remember to invest in a quality product and take good care of it.
12. Measuring cups
Whether you love baking or cooking, don't cut corners when it comes to measuring cups. From ensuring accurate measurements for all your recipes to measuring liquids more efficiently - measuring cups are one of our absolute favourite kitchen must-haves.
Spoons made from materials like silicone, wood, and nylon are kitchen essentials to invest in today. These non-abrasive materials are gentle on your cooking surfaces and if cared for properly, will last you a long time.
Flip big pieces of food without breaking into a cold sweat. Or, move ingredients around smoothly in a frying pan without risking burns. Metal tongs are sturdy, and with the right care, will last you a lifetime. Think of tongs as finger extensions. A must-have in your kitchen utensil list.
When you're setting up the kitchen with all the basic tools and equipment, make sure to have a sharp peeler handy. Composed of rigid or swivelling stainless steel blades fitted into the handle, the design makes it super easy to peel layers off fruits and vegetables.
You can't go past a colander, especially when it comes to draining pasta, noodles or rice. This nifty kitchen utensil is handy for draining freshly washed vegetables.
Timesaving Kitchen Tools and Gadgets
17. Mixing bowls of all sizes
We recommend mixing bowls of all sizes for food prep, baking, organising ingredients or mixing salads. Available in material options like stainless steel, melamine, glass and ceramic, there's something available for every kitchen style. Also perfect for storing in the fridge or freezer.
Blend, whip, stir, eliminate lumps or incorporate air - whisks are particularly useful during baking and cooking. Choose a whisk with a handle that sits snug in your hand. Don't forget to include this time-saving and handy kitchen tool in your kitchen essentials checklist.
19. Chopping boards
Every kitchen needs a few good-quality chopping boards. Whether it's prepping for a vegetable stir fry, chopping salad ingredients, or cutting meat and fruits - it's impossible to go past the utility of a chopping board. That said, chopping boards are also breeding grounds for bacteria, so remember to clean them thoroughly. It's also a great idea to invest in more than one board, to avoid cross-contamination. Some popular materials include bamboo, graphite, acacia wood and more.
20. Silicone spatulas
With a flexible silicone construction, silicone spatulas are elastic enough to help extract every last drop from your food processor or the sides of a mixing bowl. Unlike plastic, they're chemically inert and are less likely to react with your ingredients. Also, they won't scratch cooking surfaces and are easier to clean compared to other spatula materials. If you tend to use a lot of garlic in your cooking, keep in mind to have a separate spatula for sweets and desserts.
How to choose the right materials for your kitchen products and utensils
Working through your kitchen essentials checklist? A good rule of thumb is to think of materials. From wood, and glass to synthetic options like nylon, plastic and silicone - kitchen utensils and tools are available in a range of material options. Take care to ensure you choose the material best suited to your cooking style or method. Other factors to make an informed and hassle-free choice include:
- Cleaning ease
- Safety level
- Oven/Microwave safe
- Heat conduction
- Dishwashing safe
The most commonly available kitchen materials
As a bad conductor of heat, nylon features heavily in a variety of cooking utensils. They're flexible, making them easy to use. Nylon won't scratch cooking surfaces, improving the longevity of your cookware.
Popular for: spoons and spatulas
Silicone is safe to use and does not react with food. Their elasticity makes it easy to reach nooks and crannies in your pots and pans. What's more, they're non-abrasive, pairing beautifully with other non-stick coated surfaces.
Popular for: spatulas, spoons, whisks
Stainless steel is rust-resistant, dishwasher safe, scratch resistant and durable. It's also a good conductor of heat when combined with aluminium or copper at the base of the utensil. Use on low-to-medium heat to avoid scorch marks.
Popular for: Stock pots and saucepans
Used in many traditional and modern kitchens, wood kitchen utensils offer a combination of durability and longevity. They won't scratch non-stick surfaces and are generally non-reactive with food. Unlike their synthetic counterparts, wooden kitchen tools are 100% biodegradable.
Popular for: spoons, chopping boards
With its stylish see-through appearance, glass is a must-have in your kitchen. Glass is 100% recyclable, is likely to retain heat for a longer time and is convenient to clean in a dishwasher.
Popular for: pans, plates, baking trays, cups and dishes
This natural material is non-stick, scratch resistant, and smell and stain resistant. Touted as one of the safest materials, ceramic cookware will last you years with proper maintenance. Their popularity also stems from being able to retain heat. Look for PFOA-free ceramic cookware, if you're after healthier alternatives.
Popular for: pans, bowls, rectangular bakers, ovenware bowls, ramekins
Aluminium is lightweight, non-sticky and a good conductor of heat. However, it means that it can get too hot and cause discolouration in food. That's why most aluminium utensils and cookware, these days come with non-stick coatings or anodised treatments. Anodised cookware, in fact, is particularly popular, as it helps prevent scratching and food discolouration.
Pro tip: Avoid cooking delicate sauces in aluminium pots and pans as it gets too hot and could cause the sauce to disintegrate.
Popular for: frying pans, saucepans, casseroles, skillets, baking dishes
Widely used in a number of kitchen tools - plastic is lightweight, flexible and sturdy. It's, however, not recommended as it can react with food when heated. Nylon or silicone makes for more durable, safe and fuss-free alternatives.
Popular for: spatulas, spoons and won't scratch non-stick surfaces.
Like ceramic, cast iron is safe-to-use, making cast iron pots and skillets essential utensils in the kitchen. Their biggest advantage is being able to retain heat for longer periods. What's more, they're oven safe. In fact, uncoated cast iron has a tendency to get better with time and use. On the flip side, the material can rust if not looked after well. A great alternative is enamelled cast iron cookware.
Popular for: skillets, pots, baking dishes, casserole dishes
Professional cooks love using copper utensils for their stylish appearance. Copper is usually very safe to use in the oven, conducts heat better than iron and stainless steel and helps distribute heat evenly. The flip side is that these kitchen utensils can feel expensive, are hard to clean and have a tendency to react to acidic foods
Popular for: Professional cooking
For more information about choosing the right materials, our healthy cookware guide has everything you need to know.
Find the best kitchen essentials and utensils for cooking
Cook just about anything you like with effortless ease using the right kitchen tools and equipment. Novice home chefs can widen their culinary expertise and cook with efficiency and speed by investing in just a few essential kitchen items.