If you’re new to cooking, or moving into your own place for the first time, you’re probably wondering what you need in your kitchen. If the kitchen aisle of your local homegoods store feels overwhelming, we’re here to help. These are the basic tools that every cook should own. Once you have the essentials, you’re free to daydream about fancy blenders or specialty appliances.

A chef’s knife

A chef’s knife is a true workhorse, and no kitchen is complete without it. In our version, an 8.2” blade makes a knife that’s versatile enough every day use, but formidable enough to break down a chicken. The handle is made from composite wood. This knife will make slicing, chopping, and carving a cinch. After use, hand wash and wipe dry to prevent rusting.

A cutting board

To make the most of your knife, you’ll need a cutting board. We love this beautiful wooden cutting board for prepping vegetables. Cut meat on a non-porous material, like plastic or silicone.


We use our tongs for tossing salad, flipping large pieces of protein, and serving just about anything. A good pair of tongs will feel like an extension of your own two hands. Our favorite set of tongs is this smooth silicone-tipped pair, available in both 9 inch and 12 inch (we have both).

Wooden spoon

No tool in the kitchen can replace the humble wooden spoon. A wooden spoon is strong enough to scrape up sticky caramelized fond, but soft enough that it won’t scrape a nonstick pan. Wood doesn’t conduct heat as quickly as a metal. That means that you can stir a pot of boiling soup without worrying about a scalding hot handle. If you’re in the comfort of your own home, you can use your wooden spoon to sneak a taste. You’ll be less likely to burn your mouth. 


A ladle doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s just a simple way to transfer liquid from one vessel to another. No need to risk sloshing soup all over the counter while pouring out of a heavy pot.


When it’s time to emulsify a dressing, beat an egg, or combine dry ingredients for baking, you’ll need a whisk. A solid whisk will make thorough mixing a joyful task. A bit of an upper body workout is just an added bonus.


The word ‘spatula’ can be used to describe multiple tools. We love our favorite fish spatula for flipping everything from filets to pancakes, but you can’t beat a silicone spatula for scraping the sides of a bowl. 

Nonstick pan

A great nonstick pan will spare you frustration in the kitchen. For certain foods that are prone to sticking, like fresh fish and fried eggs, a nonstick pan will make all the difference between transferring your seared flounder filet to your plate in one piece and leaving too many scraps stuck to the pan.

Cast iron pan

Perhaps no piece of cookware is more iconic—or dependable—than the cast iron pan. This tried-and-true kitchen staple is beloved for its durability and versatility: you can fry, sauté, braise or bake in it. Best of all, with proper care, cast iron actually improves with use. Below, we break down how to maintain it.

A Microplane

What do shaved chocolate, garlic paste, and freshly-grated Parmesan have in common? Two things: they’re all ingredients that can finish a dish with a powerful punch of flavor, and they can all be easily created at home with a Microplane. 

A baking sheet

A baking sheet is an irreplaceable tool for tasks like baking cookies, roasting vegetables, or preparing sheet pan dinners. A simple aluminum half sheet (or quarter sheet, for those with small ovens), is an essential item that you’ll find yourself using almost every day. 

A Dutch oven

We’d love to recommend a whole set of pots: large ones for pasta, medium for sauce, small for grains, and a few others just for fun. If we must recommend just one, nothing compares to the versatility and durability of a heavy bottomed dutch oven. A good Dutch oven can bubble happily on the stovetop as a vessel for soups or stews. Wash it out, and use it in the oven for baking bread or long, slow braises.