My essential kitchen kit list

Anyone who has been in one of my classes will have heard me tell why I’m a tough customer when it comes to gadgets. So I decided to write my ultimate list of the pieces of equipment I can’t live without.

How to use this list

I’ve split the list into my absolute essentials, nice to have, baking kit and investments. Use this as an opportunity to have a good clear out of old, useless things. Donate them to charity or sell them on eBay. Read my post about how to organize your kitchen here.

How buying from this list helps

If you buy these bits of kit through the UK and US Amazon links below, the price you pay doesn’t change, but I get paid a small fee. This helps fund the time I spend blogging and recipe testing and keeps my class prices down. I will never ever recommend anything I don’t love, even if I’m offered a fortune!

Just click on the red links (double tap if you’re on a phone or tablet) and you can add the item straight into your Amazon cart to buy later.

Need help

If you’re debating a big purchase just let me know and I can help you find the product for what you need.

The Essentials

These are the things I am tempted to put in my case when I travel. They are also the items my students find the most life-changing.

Microplane fine grater

For zesting citrus, mincing garlic. Buy in the US or UK.

Microplane coarse grater

For grating ginger, Parmesan, carrots and apples. Don’t buy the plastic handle version as it tends not to last as long. Buy in the US or UK.

Silicone spatulas

I have 8 of these as I use them for everything – don’t just keep them for baking as I know many people do.  Throw away your wooden spoons and use these instead. They can go in the dishwasher and can be used at super-high temperatures so they are great for stirring food in a pan. They get every last bit out of your pans and bowls so you don’t waste a spot of food, making clean-up easier. Buy in the US or UK.

Mini silicone spatulas

To get every last bit out of the jar. Immensely satisfying and thrifty. Buy in the US or the UK.

Pepper grinder

This is probably the thing most of my students rush to buy after class.  I love how easy it is to refill – just pour your peppercorns through the wide chute, instead of scattering them all over your counter, like what happens with most fiddly pepper grinders. It grinds a ton of pepper in one go, making you quicker in the kitchen. Buy in the US or the UK.

Citrus juicer

A hit of lemon or lime at the end of a recipe is essential for brightening flavours. This gets the most juice out of your lemon and lime with the least mess. Buy in the US or the UK.

Maldon salt

Another one of my obsessions, and one that my students love and quickly adopt. The texture and flavour is amazing. Buy in the US or the UK.

 

Onion goggles

They may look weird but they are my lifesaver because I bawl when I chop onions. These are the only things that have ever worked and I have tried EVERYTHING! Buy in the US or the UK.

Frying pans

Scanpan pans are fabulous and well worth the investment and have a lifetime guarantee. They are non stick without being coated in scary Teflon. Health benefits of avoiding Teflon aside, these pans are great to cook with, they work on induction as well as gas and electric. You can use metal in them without the non stick surface being affected.

I use mine every day. I use a bigger one for meals for our family of four – stir fries, meat and fish with pan sauces, eggs, pancakes etc. I use a smaller one for cooking smaller amounts, or when I need two pans on the go. If you are just getting one, get the bigger one. Be sure to buy the ones with metal handles so that you can brown something in the pan and then put it in the oven or under the broiler [grill] to finish off cooking. Buy in the US or the UK

I also love the lidded chef pan they make and use this to cook bigger quantities, or instead of a wok, or for stews and braises in the oven with the lid. Buy in the US or the UK

Digital scales

I’m trying to convert all my lovely Americans to the merits of weighing rather than using volume when cooking. And if some of you decide to start using grams instead of ounces too I’ll be over the moon! Weighing is more accurate and less messy than using volume cup measurements; meaning you’ll get much more consistent results when you bake. They are also a brilliant way to get children to practice their numbers. Just put any bowl on these scales. Press the re-set button to cancel out the weight of the bowl then add your ingredients. Zero out (or re-set) after each ingredient and add the next. Simple. Buy in the US or the UK.

Measuring cups

Because so many US recipes are in cups, I keep a set of these on hand. They work best when recipes are less precise or less fine-tuned.  Think rough and ready cookies rather than recipes that require more precision. Buy in the US or the UK.

Measuring spoons

This set is brilliant as the shape means it will fit in even narrow spice jars. Buy in the US or the UK.

Measuring jugs 

I love the way these jugs have the measurements on the side but can also be viewed from above, meaning you’re not always bending down to see how much something measures. I have them in various sizes as I cook a lot. If you’re just buying one, get the biggest size. Buy in the US or the UK.

Dutch oven or cast iron pans

I love my enamel-coated, cast iron Le Creuset pans. They are one of the most expensive items in my kitchen but the quality is unbeatable and I will have them forever. They work on induction as well as gas and electric. I don’t have a crockpot [slow cooker]. Instead, I use my Le Creuset pans to cook stews and soups low and slow in the oven while I go off and do what I need to do. Buy the biggest you can afford – round or oval doesn’t make any difference. Be sure to buy the cast iron enamel rather than the stoneware pans as Le Creuset make both. I’ve bought all of mine by being lucky (and not fussy about the colour) in the sales at and TK Maxx (TJ Maxx in the US).

If you can’t wait to lurk in the sales or need a certain colour, buy them in the US or the UK.

This shallow one is great for smaller family meals. Buy in the US or the UK.

Cookie sheet/baking tin

I use this really sturdy baking sheet for much more than baking. I mainly use it to roast vegetables or other one-pan meals as it copes well with high temperatures and doesn’t buckle like cheaper ones can. But it is also great for all kinds of baking and is a handy pan lid for lidless pans! I often use mine to transport food around instead of a tray too. Just be sure to check that this size will fit in your oven! Buy in the US or the UK.

Baking tin liners

I usually line my baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat reusable silicone liner to make clean up easier and to avoid things sticking. Again, check you are buying the liner that fits your tray. Buy in the US or the UK.

Saucepans

I like stainless steel pans with a nice heavy bottom, metal handles and lids so I can put them in the oven. Even with all the cooking I do, I only have a set of 3 saucepans. I actually got mine at TK Maxx (TJ Maxx in the US), I find they always have the best quality at the best prices and I usually mix and match between ranges to get what I need. Be sure to check yours are induction compatible if that’s what you cook on.

Potato masher

I use this for potatoes but also for mashing other veggies and beans and for mashing soup when I want a chunkier texture. I’m a mashed potato addict so trust me that I’ve tried all sorts of mashers to come to this verdict. Buy in the US or in the UK.

Or if you want to be super fancy, buy a potato ricer in the US or the UK. I use my ricer for fancy dinners and Christmas and Thanksgiving as it takes more effort but the results are restaurant quality. Be sure to add plenty of warm butter too to get that restaurant effect.

Scissors

I use these to snip bacon, sausages and chicken into a pan rather than a knife and board. I also use them to snip herbs or salad greens. The blue ones from Ikea are brill – I buy 5 pairs at at a time (see the picture at the top of this article). If you can’t face an Ikea run, buy in the US or the UK.

Cutting boards

I don’t like to use wooden boards as I find them hard to clean. I also don’t like glass boards as they blunt knives. I buy 2-3 of these inexpensive plastic boards and change them every 6-12 months when they start to stain or scratch. They can go in the dishwasher which is the best way to get them clean. If you are in Ikea any time soon, theirs are also brilliant and cheap as chips. Buy in the US or the UK.

Metal tongs

These should feel like an extension of your hand and essential for lifting and flipping things in pans or on trays. I have 4 pairs because I like to use one pair when I’m handling raw meat or fish and then switch to a clean pair when I’m handling the finished, cooked item. Buy in the US or the UK.

Slotted spoon

I use this to pull things out of pans when you want any cooking liquid or fat to be left behind. Buy in the US or the UK.

Ladle

For serving soups and stews easily. I also use mine for making pancakes. Buy in the US or the UK.

Can opener

It is amazing how complicated and tough to use many of these can be. This one isn’t. Buy in the US or the UK.

Box grater

Most people only use these to grate cheese. I use it mainly to get my raw veggies into chewable sized prices. The more work the grater does, the less work my jaw has to do! Use the slicing side (two, horizontal blades) to shred fennel and cabbage for slaw. When my boys were younger, I used it to grate raw apple into their oats in the morning too, easier than using apple sauce. Be sure to buy one that is sturdy and ideally has a rubber anti-slip base. Buy in the US or the UK.

Colander

To drain pasta, boiled vegetables and potatoes. Also to wash lettuce, berries and other fruits and vegetables. I like to have a bigger one. Buy in the US or the UK. And also these little ones for washing berries and draining canned beans. Buy in the US or the UK.

Kettle

I was amazed how many people in the US don’t have this. In Britain, a kettle is usually the first thing anyone buys when they leave home. Even if you don’t drink tea, use this to quickly boil water for boiling pasta, rice or vegetables and you’ll save at least 10 minutes of waiting time. Buy in the US. I’m guessing everyone in the UK already has one!

Knives

You only really need three knives; a chef’s knife, a paring knife and a serrated bread knife, maybe a smaller knife for children to use too. The blocks with loads of knives in only really serve to make the knife companies lots of money rather than to help you. I’d much rather you use a good chef’s knife for most jobs and really get used to using it confidently.

My favourite knife manufacturer is Global as the handle and blade are all from one piece of metal so are not going to break. They are pricey but will last a lifetime. At a lower price point I like Victorinox. I’d spend money on a Chef’s/Cooks knife and spend less on the bread and paring knives rather than but a cheaper set of all 3.

These are the 4 knives I’d invest in…

  • Cook’s or Chef’s knife (at least 8-10 inch) To chop and slice meat, fish and vegetables. I use this knife for 90% of the jobs in my kitchen. Buy in the US or the UK.
  • Paring knife To cut smaller, more fiddly things Buy in the US or the UK.
  • Serrated bread knife To slice bread, cakes, tomatoes and peppers and to carve joints of meat. Buy in the US or the UK.
  • Children’s knife This is the knife my children have used from being toddlers. The round ended knife in particular is great for little hands and gets them used to using knives safely. I also use this to cut tomatoes. Buy in the US or the UK.

Knife sharpener Technique aside, the biggest impact you can have on your knife is to get it sharpened regularly. Ask the chef at your local restaurant where they get theirs done or use one of these knife sharpeners. And please don’t put knives in the dishwasher as it blunts them really quickly. Buy in the US or the UK.

Peeler

I use this to peel vegetables but also to create long ribbons of carrots, cucumbers and other vegetables to add a nice texture to salads. Buy in the US or the UK.

Food processor

My advice to buy the one with the biggest capacity and high powered motor you can afford. I tend to only use a couple of the blades my processor came with – the grater and the standard chopper. Don’t be swayed by food processors with multiple blades as you won’t really need them for most recipes. I use my processor at least five times a week to make pesto, bread crumbs, curry paste, cauliflower mash and this lifesaver cake. Buy in the US or the UK.

Whisk

I use this to mix sauces to get rid of lumps. I also use it to whisk dry ingredients together when I’m baking instead of sieving them. Buy in the US or the UK.

Glass mixing bowls

To use when microwaving, prepping or baking. You can also use them to serve salads or other sides or to store things in the fridge. Buy in the US or the UK.

Roasting pans

I like to have a sturdy metal deep sided roasting pan for roasting turkey, chicken or other meats. I like metal because I can use it on top of the hob/stove too, usually to make a pan sauce after the meat has finished roasting. You can also use it to bake a lasagna. Buy the metal roasting pan in the US or the UK (investment) or this UK (mid price).

I also have ceramic roasting pans in various sizes which are great for any foods you want to make and freeze, or to bake in the oven and then serve straight to the table in the same pan. Buy the ceramic roasting pans in the US or the UK.

Serving platters

The modern way to go to make the food you’ve worked hard to make look pretty. They also mean no delicious ingredients get buried as they can in a bowl. I like to use plain white plates and platters so that food stands out. Most of mine have come from yard sales and junk shops as I like to mix and match patterns. Buy them new in the US or the UK.

Salad servers

I love these ‘hands’ for tossing and serving salads and roasted veg, and other dishes where large quantities need mixing well, such as granola. Buy in the US or the UK.

Nice to haves

Mini food processor

I only bought one of these recently. I’d never thought I needed one as I use my big food processor so much. But, this little one is so useful for making quick pestos and for grinding breadcrumbs and nuts for my dukkah. Because it is so small, it is easy to grab out of the cupboard and can be washed very easily. If I had to only have one food processor I’d still go with a bigger one but if you can fit two in your life this is really handy. Buy in the US or the UK.

Immersion blender

I use this so much. It is the easiest way to blend soups in the pan you cooked them in. It is so easy to wash. I also use mine to make speedy homemade mayonnaise and smoothies. You don’t need to buy one with lots of add ons. Buy in the US or the UK.

Steamer

I tried bamboo and metal steamers in the past but never got along well with them. Then I found this brilliant silicone one. The feet sit on the bottom of any pan and the flexible shape bends to fit inside any size pan. And it goes in the dishwasher and doesn’t absorb smells making it wonderful for spicy foods and fish. I have both the large and small, but if you’re just getting one I’d get the large. Buy in the US or the UK.

Pyrex storage containers

I avoid storing food in plastic, especially when I’m freezing. These containers come in various sizes but can go straight into the freezer and can also be used to cook in. Ditch your plastic containers and re-stock in a range of sizes, you’ll find leftovers more inspiring and will fill your freezer with goodies. I have most sizes from 1 cup size for leftover sauces and pesto all the way through single serving soup and curry sizes (about 2-3 cup size), up to containers big enough to hold a family-size lasagna or shepherds pie. Buy in the US or in the UK.

Baking kit

In addition to the spatulas, whisks, bowls and scales I’ve included in the list above, these are my top bits of baking kit:

Stand mixer

I use my Kenwood Chef stand mixer to make cakes, cookies and to whip cream and egg whites. My grandma and mum both had a Kenwood so it was not even a question what I’d buy when I got married and finally had the budget for one. They have just launched stateside and are brilliant. Alternatively, you can buy the American classic, Kitchenaid, stand mixer. If you are a keen baker it is well worth investing in a spare mixing bowl, particularly if you are making recipes that involve egg whites to be whipped separately from other ingredients. Buy a Kenwood in the US or the UK. Buy a Kitchenaid in the US or the UK.

Cake stand

These Jadeite cake stands display your creations in the most beautiful way. To avoid storing mine, I use it to hold bananas instead of a fruit bowl when I’m not using it for cake. Buy in the US or the UK.

Cooling rack

This will help you cool your creations without the dreaded soggy bottom! Buy in the US or the UK.

Disposable piping bags

I shy away from disposable things, but if you’ve ever tried to clean a piping bag you’ll understand why I will break the rules and buy these! Buy in the US or theUK.

Rolling pins

These are not just for rolling dough. I use mine to bash meat to make it thinner. I use it to crush ice cubes or cookies for crumbs. My sons try to use them as weapons. The list goes on. Buy in the US or the UK.

Sturdy muffin pans

For, well, muffins and small tarts. I can’t really say much more than that. Buy in the US or the UK.

A non stick spring form cake pan/tin

This will enable you to easily remove your cakes and cheesecakes from the pan with minimal sweat. Buy in the US or the UK.

The classic pie plate

As American as apple pie. I use mine for pie but also to roast small amounts of meat and veg when I’m making a fast dinner for my boys. Buy in the US or the UK.

Pastry or basting brush

If you want to brush egg wash onto your bakes, or brush oil onto your equipment, these silicone brushes are the hygienic, easy to clean way to go. Buy in the US or the UK.

Scone or cookie cutter set

For perfect scones and cookies use metal rather than plastic. Buy in the US or the UK.