Kitchen Essentials: 27 Tools & Equipment That Will Make Your Life Easier

Just getting started as a home-cook and not sure what you need?

Here are 27 of my favorite kitchen tools and equipment that I like to have around the house.

Granted, you don't need to have ALL this stuff at once, but having just a few things can make your life a whole lot easier.

Let's get started...

Counter-top Blender

Vitamix 5200 Blender, Professional-Grade, 64 oz. Container, Black

If you could pick one item out of all this list, it would definitely be a good counter-top blender. My Vitamix has been my longest-lasting and best kitchen appliance to date. I make everything it it from soups, smoothies to vegan cheese sauces. You can even chop with a blender if you don’t have a knife or aren’t skilled with one.

Vegetable Noodle Maker

The Inspiralizer: Official vegetable spiralizer of Inspiralized

A vegetable noodle maker or spiralizer can help you make pasta dishes with zucchini, sweet potato or other veggies if you feel like cutting down on calories. Using veggies instead of pasta also makes dishes way more nutrient dense. I’m not one of those people who’s against pasta or anything, but eating veggies instead is always healthier and can be just as delicious.

Immersion Blender

Breville BSB510XL Control Grip Immersion Blender

For bigger jobs where your counter-top blender won’t cut it, getting an immersion blender is a better option. It’s great for doing large batches of hummus, large pots of soup and making mashed potatoes (you don’t need to use the blades for this). Immersion blenders are also great for churning out a quick chop salad if you don’t have much time!

Big Cutting Boards

Premium Bamboo Cutting Board Set of 2 Large Chopping Board with Deep juice Groove, Thick Butcher Block. Perfect Gift Idea. By Bambusi

Chopping loads of veggies means that you need a big cutting board. Otherwise, you’ll find that leaves, stems and small pieces get all over the counter-top! Large heads of cauliflower and broccoli are just a few things that come to mind.

I like to keep a bamboo-style one (shown above) for the bigger jobs and smaller plastic ones around for when I’m just prepping for one.

Tofu Press

EZ Tofu Press - Removes Water from Tofu for Better Flavor and Texture.

If you’re a tofu freak like I am, getting a tofu press will change your life. It’s a device that quickly removes all the water from tofu without the need for extra weights or paper towels. This helps flavor get inside the tofu when marinating and creates a better texture while cooking.

It can take your tofu game from a 3 to a 10 over night!

Soy Milk Maker

Idavee Brand - Presto Pure IAE15-1.9 Liter Automatic Hot Soy Milk (Almond, Rice, Quinoa Milk) Soup, Porridge & Cold Juice Maker - 2 Layer Stainless Steel - Recipe Booklet

Soy milk makers handle the task of cooking, mixing and straining soy beans so that you can make delicious and creamy soy milk at home! It’s easier than a blender and a nut milk bag and way less expensive than buying soy milk at the store.

Lemon/Lime Squeezer

Innovee Lemon Squeezer - Quality 18/10 Stainless Steel Manual Citrus Press With Lemon Recipes Ebook

While squeezing lemons manually, it’s easy to let a few seeds slip by. Then you need to pick them out with your hands and it just becomes a big mess. A lemon/lime squeezer makes things a heck of a lot easier. You just cut the fruit in half, place it in the device and use the leverage to squeeze. No juice goes to waste.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons Set: 7 Cup and 7 Spoon Metal Sets of 14 for Dry Measurement - Home Kitchen Gadget, Tool & Utensils for Cooking & Baking - Perfect Wedding or Housewarming Gift

Even though I’m one of those people that likes to eyeball ingredients, that’s just not acceptable if I’m baking. That’s why it’s important to have measuring cups and spoons handy. Get a set that stacks together like these so you can maximize space and minimize your chance of losing them.

A Good Knife

Cuisinart C59CE-8CF  Elements Ceramic Open Stock Chef's Knife, 8-Inch

You don’t necessarily need a whole set of knives, just one that works really well. Having one that’s sharp and nicely weighted also reduces your chances of cutting yourself. Personally, I have both a stainless steel and ceramic knife and I generally prefer the ceramic one. But be careful not to get a cheap ceramic knife, I’ve had good and bad experiences.

I’ve been using this Cuisinart Elements knife and it hasn’t served me wrong!

Wok

Traditional Hand Hammered Carbon Steel Pow Wok with Wooden and Steel Helper Handle (14 Inch, Round Bottom)/731W88 by Craft Wok

Stir fry is a week night staple and having a wok makes it super easy to make. Pots are usually too tall to stir things well and pans usually aren’t high enough to prevent ingredients from flying out while you’re mixing. Either way, a wok is the perfect vessel to make one-pot meals that require a lot of mixing. Technically speaking, you can probably easy one for every cooking task if you’re so inclined.

Decent Pots and Pans

T-fal E765SH Ultimate Hard Anodized Scratch Resistant Titanium Nonstick Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Anti-Warp Base Dishwasher Safe Oven Safe PFOA Free Cookware Set, 17-Piece, Gray

This one is obvious, but quite necessary. If you want to boil a big pot of water or saute up some onions, you’ll need a decent set of pots and pans. Personally, I prefer to have one ceramic or Titanium pan I can rely on to not stick and then a solid set of stainless steel pots that I know are going to last forever.

Apple Peeler, Corer, Slicer

Kitchen Basics Professional Grade Heavy Duty Apple Peeler, Slicer & Corer

If you like to make vegan apple pie or have sliced/peeled apples on hand for your oatmeal, you’ll want to check these out. Apple peelers, corers and slicers handle the task of peeling, coring and slicing the apple all in one go.

Bread Maker

Cuisinart CBK-100 2 LB Bread Maker

I love bread and there’s nothing better than when it’s homemade. Not only can you completely customize the flavors (whole cloves of garlic anyone?), you can also make it a whole lot healthier than store-brought by using sprouted whole grain flours.

This Cuisinart machine is what I’m currently using.

Personally, I love to use my bread-maker for making sprouted pizza dough and loading it up with veggies for a homemade vegan pizza.

Instant Pot

Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer

The thing I love about the instant pot is that it can do everything. Pressure cook, slow cook, steam, keep stuff warm. The list goes on and on.

If you haven’t bought yourself a rice maker, slow cooker, or pressure cooker yet — just get an Instant Pot. It will save you time, space and energy.

Read Later: Instant Pot vs. Power Pressure Cooker XL

Food Chopper / Slicer

Mandoline Slicer Kainnt Adjustable Mandoline with 5 Thickness Settings Interchangeable Stainless Steel Blades -Vegetable Peeler Slicer+One Clean Brush, Food Container

Food choppers, slicers and dicers come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Mandoline style slicers can help with slicing veggies really thin, while the “Slap Chop” style devices are good for doing a rough chop on things like nuts for people that can’t use a knife. Some onion-specific devices have sealed off containers to keep the vapors that make you cry out of the air. It just depends on what you’re looking for!

French Fry Cutter

New Star Foodservice 43204 Commercial Grade French Fry Cutter with Suction Feet, 1/2 Inch and 3/8 Inch Blades, Limited Edition Black

If you’re going cutting potatoes or sweet potatoes into fries en mass then getting a french fry cutter might be a good pick up. You simply load the potato up and smash it through the grates resulting in fries that you can pop right into the oven.

Rice Maker

Oster Titanium Infused DuraCeramic 6-Cup Rice & Grain Cooker with Steam Tray, Silver/Black (CKSTRC61K-TECO)

If you decide to go with the Instant Pot, you obviously won’t need to get a rice cooker. But if you ‘re on a budget (or want your rice to be perfectly cooked via fuzzy logic) then consider getting a dedicated rice maker. 

Food Processor

Hamilton Beach (70730) Food Processor & Vegetable Chopper with Bowl Scraper, 10 Cup, Electric

Because of their large containers, there are tasks that a good food processor is going to be way better at than a blender (although they’re somewhat interchangeable). For example, making pesto sauces, cookie dough and large batches of nut butters are far easier because of how wide a food processor is.

You can certainly have either or, but it’s nice to have both if it’s within your budget.

Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge L8SK3 10-1/4-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet

Who says vegans can’t cook with a cast iron skillet? I love it for pressing down paninis, blistering veggies and legumes, browning mock meats, making pasta dishes and more. It’s a great way to create that charred flavor when you can’t go outside and use the grill.

A Can Opener (That Actually Works)

Swing-A-Way Easy-Crank Can Opener, Black

When you go through as many cans of beans as I do in a week, you need a good can opener. There’s nothing worse than the cheap can openers from the grocery store that just stop working as well after a week. Splurge a bit and get yourself a can opener that won’t frustrate you!

Water Filter Pitcher

ZeroWater 10 Cup Pitcher with Free Water Quality Meter BPA-Free NSF Certified to Reduce Lead and Other Heavy Metals

Where I live, the water quality isn’t the best. Without my ZeroWater, I’d be forced to buy the plastic bottles from the store if I want something that tastes like it’s safe to drink.  And it’s not only about drinking water — having a good water filter pitcher even makes coffee and tea taste better. You probably use water in almost everything you cook, so it’s worth maximizing it’s quality.

If you live in an area with good water quality, then you can ignore this one!

Thermos

Zojirushi SL-JAE14SA Mr. Bento Stainless Steel Lunch Jar, Silver

What good is preparing a meal to go if you can’t keep it warm? A good insulated thermos is affordable and well worth it. Don’t get sucked into buying fast-food during your work break at lunch — a good thermos will ensure that you’re fueled for the entire day.

Cast Iron Teapot

Iwachu Japanese Iron Teapot Tetsubin Silver and Black Goldfish

Tea time anyone? A cast iron teapot or tetsubin is a great way to enjoy a cup of loose leaf tea just like you would in a Japanese restaurant. Most come with an easy to use strainer so there’s no need to buy anything extra or use a teabag.

Heat Resistant Oven Mitts

Grill Heat Aid Grill Gloves | Premium Insulated Extreme Heat Resistant Mitts for Cooking, BBQ, Grilling, Frying & Baking - Professional Indoor Outdoor Kitchen & Oven Accessories. Black One Size

I never realized how bad oven mitts could be until I moved into a new house and got a set from the dollar store. Long story short, I had bought myself a thin piece of cloth rather than a well-made heat resistant oven mitt.

The gloves/mitts with fingers actually allow you to reach into hot spaces like grills or ovens to move ingredients around which is far easier than trying to do so with a pair of tongs.

Convection Oven or Microwave Combo

Samsung MC11K7035CG 1.1 cu. ft. Countertop Power Convection Microwave Oven with Sensor and Ceramic Enamel Interior, Black Stainless Steel

I’m lucky enough now to own a convection oven, but there was a time when my kitchen was way smaller. Back then, I had a microwave toaster oven combo that I used as both a microwave and an oven.

Air Fryer (if no convection oven)

BLACK+DECKER Purify 2-Liter Air Fryer, Black/Stainless Steel, HF110SBD

If you don’t have room for an oven or microwave then getting an air fryer is the next best thing. It’s basically like a convection oven with a fry basket.

Don’t fall for the marketing hype on these. They aren’t some sort of magical appliance that will totally transform the way you eat. but they are a great way to get food crispy with minimal oil if you don’t have a convection oven.

Grill Basket for Veggies

Weber Style 6434 Professional-Grade Vegetable Basket

Grill baskets for vegetables make it super easy to have a vegetarian BBQ. They make it so that smaller veggies don’t fall through the grates of the grill and get burnt to a crisp in the fire below. A must-have for summertime!

So which kitchen tools and/or equipment are must-haves for you?

Let me know below in the comments!

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