5 Everyday Kitchen Essentials for the Amateur Chef
From knives and cutting board to pans and one essential plug-in, these are the tools any aspiring chef needs in their kitchen.
Today, I’m going talk a little bit about some of my favorite items to use in the kitchen. These are non-negotiables for me. These are things I use pretty much every time I’m in the kitchen. There are five “kitchen essentials” I’m going to talk about in detail in this article, and they’ll be easy for you to find if you want to outfit your own kitchen.
Watch the video to see all the kitchen essentials I’m talking about:
2 ESSENTIAL PANS
First, let’s talk about pots and pans. Two I really like to have available in the kitchen are my Le Creuset and a cast iron skillet.
The size of the Le Crueuset is really important. I like to have a big pan. It’s great for sauteing. It’s great for searing and then being able to finish in the oven. It’s just a really versatile pan, and I use this pan probably every single time I cook.
The Le Creuset is very heavy and has a ceramic coating, so it’s a nice nonstick. But the ceramic coating is great because you don’t have that chemical nonstick coating so many other pans have. Another great thing about these is that you don’t have to heat them on high. It actually can hurt the pan and you can get burnt places on the bottom if you heat it too high. So it’s a nice pan to have on low to medium heat and allow it time to heat up so you can sear.
Another pan I love to have in the kitchen is the cast-iron skillet. I have a couple of different versions of these. You can buy these in different shapes and sizes, and they’ve got some nice flat ones now, too. They even have grill pans, so you can mimic the grill marks on a piece of protein even if you don’t have access to a grill. You can cure these in the oven with lard or coconut oil on your lowest setting and they become nice and nonstick.
Even when they are cured, though, if you heat them up too hot, you’re going to have the same issue you have with the Le Creuset ceramic coating in that you can cause a burned spot. I remember my grandmother had these, and I really would like to have her cast-iron skillets because I imagine they are cured very nicely with some lard.
1 ESSENTIAL PLUG-IN
The next thing is an Instant Pot. I was a late bloomer in getting an Instant Pot. I thought, “I’ve got my Crock-Pot. I don’t really want to pressure cook anything. No big deal.” Then, I found the Instant Pot on Amazon on sale, so it was low barrier to entry for me and I grabbed one. And I am so glad I did. I would pay full price for one now if I didn’t have it, knowing what I now know.
These things are amazing for last-minute cooking and just in general. It doesn’t matter what it is that you want to cook. They cut one-pot meals down to a quarter of the time you need for a slow cooker. You don’t have to cook things overnight and there’s tons of recipes out there. So, it’s a nice way to have a quick dinner that otherwise might take a long time to prepare.
And if you’re a rice person, the Instant Pot doubles as a rice cooker. And it even can be a slow cooker if you want to cook something low and slow.
PICK 1 ESSENTIAL KNIFE FOR 1 ESSENTIAL BOARD
Last but not least, one of the most important items is a good knife. And along with a good knife, I like to have a sturdy cutting board. You can see in the video that I’ve got one that sits on legs and has a nice thick base to it. There’s something about this cutting board that I absolutely love. And even when the legs get messed up, I fix them because I just adore this cutting board. It’s nice and sturdy and keeps everything level for me to cut.
I have three different styles of knives I like to use under different circumstances. I’ll tell you why I like each knife and then you can pick one based on your needs and preferences (and if you watch the video, I’ll actually show you a total of four specific knives that I like to use):
- The first is a santoku-style knife that was my favorite knife for a long time. I cut everything from garlic to proteins with it, and it’s a very nicely weighted knife. (While we’re talking about knives, make sure you have your knife sharpened on a regular basis because a dull knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp knife. Dull knives lead to kitchen mishaps and you can get some dents (or worse) in your fingernails).
- My favorite knives now are from Al Mar. My dad’s an antique pocket knife collector and he got me my Al Mar knives at a knife show. Their chef’s knife is now my favorite. It’s light and one piece, it stays super sharp, and I don’t have to sharpen these as often as I do my other knives. It’s also nice because I’m a small-statured person and I have teeny-tiny hands. Some of the chef knives (like the Shuns) are too heavy for me and my wrist gets sore if I’m chopping too much.
- I also have an Al Mar paring knife. You can use these if you’re cutting something small, but I don’t use little knives that much. I prefer a larger knife.
If I had to say one of these knives is my favorite, it would be the Al-Mar chef’s knife — and I adore it. I’m so glad my dad’s a pocketknife collector and I was able to get this amazing knife.
So, these are the things I use on a regular basis and if you don’t have some of these in your kitchen, I highly recommend them. If you have questions on any of these kitchen essentials (or any others you’re wondering about), feel free to post in the comments below.
Amber Lewis is the visionary behind The Good Kitchen. She founded its preceding concept, modPALEO, and grew it into a small business that supports small farms, sustainability, a community of good people, and healthy living. Her passion for food grew out of her own personal journey to wellness, where she discovered the transformative powers of eating real food. She’s a sucker for a farm visit, and loves to discover new dishes that complement her healthy and active lifestyle.