Everyone has their own ideas for what should be considered essential kitchen tools. These are the small appliances, gadgets, and other items that someone can’t imagine surviving without in their kitchen. For some it’s a coffee maker, and others it’s a mixer. Here are my favorite kitchen essentials that I continue to rave about, year after year!
I love spending time in my kitchen. If I didn't have so much other random stuff to say I may have considered being a food blogger but I've got a big mouth that loves to share all sorts of other stuff and I really don't have too many original recipes (or at least not enough for years of blogging) so story blogger it is. (And holy run on sentence, Batman!)
The kitchen is my happy place. It's probably one of the places in the house where I feel the most joy on a constant basis. I know if I'm having a rough time that I can spend some time in the kitchen and feel better. Whipping up a meal, or even better - a dessert, can almost always fix a grumpy attitude. But I can’t do that without the right tools!
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My Must-Have Kitchen Items
There are certain items in my kitchen that are my go-to., essential, must have kitchen items. These are the helpers that I'm not sure how I got by without them before I found them. I'm sure you have them too! Yes, I know I'm perfectly able to function without these items since I did so before I discovered them, but I'd rather not go back to that time, you know?
Duh, right? We were given our Kitchen Aid mixer as an engagement gift by Micah's parents and at that point I really wasn't spending much time in the kitchen... like, at all. I think we had it for a year and it got used a handful of times. The first Thanksgiving we were married we hosted and while using it to make dinner rolls the motor burnt out. Ugh. I put it in a cupboard and there that darn mixer sat for another two or three years!
Then I learned about Kohl's amazing return policy so I figured I'd give it a shot. Even though the mixer was broken they took it back and gave us a good amount of store credit! We combined that with the 30% off and paid about $80 out of pocket for a newer, nicer model plus a meat grinder attachment. It gets used two or three times a week now! I dream of having multiples or the HUGE one. But I really do love mine. We’ve also added a pasta attachment, ice cream maker, and shredder/slicer attachment to the family. Next up is a spiralizer attachment!
I never realized I needed a flat whisk until I saw Ree Drummond using one while making a roux for her sausage gravy. I mentioned it to Micah and I got it for Christmas that year. Um, regular whisks cannot stack up when it comes to gravy or sauce making! I love the way this thing gets into the edges of a pan the way a balloon whisk can't even try to do. How did I make gravy before this?
All my other whisks (besides the flat whisk) were giant balloon style whisks because that's what people own or gift, right? Well I saw these little guys and put them on my birthday list. My wonderful in laws got them for me last year and I use them nearly every day. They are the perfect size for whipping up scrambled eggs, small batches of pancakes, and mug cakes!
These mats aren't the exact style that I have but the concept is the same: ditch the parchment paper and canned spray stuff and line your cookie sheets with these bad boys. My breadsticks and cookies release with ease and make clean up soooo very easy. I used to only have one but with the increase in family size (which lead to an increase in food production) meant needing a second mat.
Because we make pizza every week this comes in sooo handy for making sure the crust is just the right size for the pans. This pastry mat is super flexible and folds fairly compact to fit in a drawer and is oven safe if I want to use it like the above baking mats. And an added bonus? The dusting flour stays on the mat (or at least the majority of the flour) so clean up is significantly easier. I'm sensing a theme with things that make cleaning up go more smoothly... yeah, it's true.
Obviously this is one of those tools that one can easily live without. I did for YEARS. My parents never had one growing up. I didn't get a cookie scoop until four or five years ago. But once I got one? AWESOMESAUCE. Equally portioned cookies that bake the same? Fantastic. Same sized meatballs? Perfect. Even sized sausage balls? Superb. It also works so handy for portioning out batter into muffin tins. Significantly less drips! I now own three cookie scoops in a variety of sizes!
Eggs, pancakes, gravy, roasted chicken breasts, burgers. Everything goes in these pans. I think the only things I don't cook in them (partly due to size and partly due to logistics) are omelettes, crepes, and noodles. I've made brownies and giant cookies in cast iron skillets. I make our homemade pizza in them every week. They are magical. And despite some people thinking they are SOOO hard to care for, they really aren't. Read up a bit and basically - no soap. It seems weird but super hot water, a good stiff bristled brush, oil, occasionally some salt for stubborn spots, and a hot oven and we've never had an issue. We currently have three 10.25-inch skillets, two 15-inch skillets, an 8-inch skillet, and a 5-inch skillet. The small ones are perfect for desserts!
I love to bake. Love it, love it, love it. We go through a 25lb bag of flour every few weeks. I like to keep a really good amount of flour as close to my mixer as possible. In came this flour bin. It's super easy to fill and easy to scoop. I know I should fill my measuring cup with a separate scoop and then level but I don't (shhhhh). I'm a rebel, ha! I do wish the bin fit a full 25lb bag of flour, but it does hold about 18+lbs. I keep the rest in the freezer or pantry until I’m ready to refil the bin.
Micah actually introduced me to immersion blenders when we were dating! He had inherited an old one from his mom when he moved out. He used it for making chili since he won't eat chunks of tomato. I never needed one before that (because chunks? big deal) but now that I do, it's AWESOME! And blending up salsa into picante (because again, chunks) is so simple. Plus after we burnt out that first one we got this one that also comes with a whisk. It's amazing for making some whipped cream really fast!
I talked about this contraption in one of my very first menu plans but not very in depth. Another item I received for a gift (can you guess what my lists usually look like now?) and I'm so very glad I did. This thing gets used two or three times a week. We make pancakes and french toast on it (when I don't use the cast iron), grilled cheese, paninis, waffles (with the waffle plates), and best of all? Breakfast burritos. We grill them after they are assembled to help everything melt together. Every week. Nom.
I know, I know. Everyone and their mom has an Instant Pot and can't stop raving about them. But seriously, for busy families or scatterbrained cooks (hello, me!) this pot has been a lifesaver! I've only owned it for a month and already it's made a huge impact in our cooking life. Last week I made mashed potatoes and meatloaf in it at the same time and it was ready the moment we walked in the door from church. Okay, I take that back, I had to mash the potatoes and add the butter and milk but that's what, five minutes, maybe? While the kids unwind and we get the table set. Awesome. And hard cooked eggs. I've yet to have one that doesn't peel nicely and we've made dozens so far. Oh, and ground beef that cooks from frozen chunks! WHAAAAAT??? Yeah, it's true.
We have the 8qt Instant Pot because there are seven of us but for most families I think the 6qt would be fine. We’ve also added an extra pot, this egg cooking stand, and a silicone lid since getting our Instant Pot. Next on my wishlist is extra silicone rings and a small springform pan
Warning: This cookie pan is HUGE. Like, it takes up one whole rack in my oven type of huge. But it's soooo great. The non-stick coating works like magic. I've had burnt sugar come off instantly. Full disclosure, because it's dark coated you are going to want to lower the temp of the oven because it can overbake bottoms otherwise. As a large family I greatly appreciate having a pan that can handle a full "one pan" dinner for our family. Or can fit a whole cut up loaf of French bread that I'm turning into croutons. Or a bunch of tortilla pizzas. It's by far my new favorite sheet pan I've ever owned!
If any of these things disappeared I know I'd find a way to survive (obviously) but man they make my job in the kitchen easier and more enjoyable! I've found new recipes and learned new techniques because of these things! They've helped me branch out as a cook and baker so I love having them around.