Kitchen essentials list: Must-have tools, gadgets and appliances for every kitchen

Stocking your kitchen for the first time? Our kitchen essentials list has everything you need for a functional prep space

Kitchen Essentials in a row
(Image credit: Material)

No home is complete without the proper kitchen essentials. It doesn’t matter if you’re just finding your footing in the kitchen or challenging yourself by making a delicious, multi-course meal, everyone needs to fill their cabinets with pots, pans, gadgets, and small appliances.

However, stocking your kitchen can feel like a trip down the rabbit hole. With so many items out there, how do you know which kitchen essentials are absolutely necessary? Plus, how are you supposed to cut though the noise and find the best option for your money? To help, read through our kitchen essentials list, which details the tools every home should have. From utensils, to useful kitchen gadgets, to awesome appliances, consider this your opportunity to stock your kitchen in one fell swoop.

Kitchen essentials: The must haves for any cooking space

kitchen essentials

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1. Nesting bowls

Our pick: Cook with Color Plastic Mixing Bowls with Lids

Specifications
Size: Plastic
Material: 0.32-5.8 Quart
Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Microwave Safe: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Available in a handful of sizes +Stylish+Comes with matching lids +Dishwasher and microwave-friendly+Space-efficient design
Reasons to avoid
-Some reviewers had issues with the lid

Whether you're making some chocolate chip cookies from scratch, storing leftovers, or looking for a convenient place to put your popcorn, a set of mixing bowls is the unsung hero of your kitchen. 

If you're looking for a great style that's designed to deliver, check out Cook with Color's Nesting Bowls. Made with a sturdy plastic, this set features 12 bowls that nest nicely inside of each other. Ranging in sizes from 0.32 quarts to 5.8 quarts, there's something for everything, from surplus sauce to large salads. Each bowl comes with a coordinating lid so you can place them in the refrigerator without worrying about the contents spilling over. Plus, this set is dishwasher and microwave-safe, so you can use them however you please. 

Best of all? With a cool, gradient color palette, these bowls are just as practical as they are pretty.

Kitchen Essentials

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2. A cooking utensils set

Our Pick: Material The Fundamentals Set

Specifications
Size: 7-Piece Set
Materials: Wood and Stainless Steel
Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Available in a handful of colors +Space-efficient design +Has seven useful pieces
Reasons to avoid
-Knives can slip from magnetic walls

Knives, spatulas, and stirring spoons are invaluable for both budding home chefs and cooking connoisseurs. Instead of buying each cooking utensil separately—and racking up a large bill in the process—consider adding Material's Fundamentals set to your cart. When Eunice Byun and Dave Nguyen founded Material in 2017, they wanted to help customers edit down their homes to only the essentials—nothing more, nothing less. 

Fortunately, their Fundamentals set offers an easy and affordable way to buy all your cooking essentials in one fell swoop. This bundle comes with seven pieces: A wooden spoon, metal spoon, spatula,  tongs, chef's knife, and paring knife. Unless you're a Michelin-star chef who need a bunch of obscure utensils, you'll have everything you need to tackle any recipe. 

Another perk: Material's Fundamental set is unapologetically stylish. Not only does it available in a range of color combinations, but it also comes with a wooden holder, complete with magnetic walls. That way, you can keep your utensils organized and on-hand. 

kitchen essentials

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3. Nonstick Cookware

Our pick: AmazonBasics Non-Stick Cookware Set

Specifications
Size: Eight Pieces (Pans: 8-10 Inches, Pots: 1.5-3 Quarts)
Material: Non-Stick Aluminum
Dishwasher Safe: No
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Non-stick for easy cooking and cleaning+Affordable+Comes with multiple sizes+Features cool, soft touch handles
Reasons to avoid
-Not dishwasher-safe-Stock pot sold separately

There's a reason Amazon is often referred to as the Everything Store. Not only does the mega e-tailer sell virtually everything you can imagine, but it also manufactures its own home essentials at a fair, affordable price. With over 13,000 positive reviews on Amazon, a 4.5/5 rating on the site, and an "Amazon's Choice" badge, it's clear its eight-piece cookware set is a crowd favorite.

This popular set boasts an aluminum body that distributes heat evenly and efficiently. Thanks to the non-stick coating, you won't have to worry about food bits sticking to the side. The set's soft touch stay cool as you cook, while the lids are decked out with a small ventilation hole to let steam out.

Since this set features eight pots and pans of varying sizes, there are plenty of options for sautéing vegetables, heating up soup, or boiling for some ooey, gooey macaroni and cheese.

kitchen essentials

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4. A wood cutting board

Our pick: Royal Craft Wood Organic Bamboo Cutting Board

Specifications
Size: 18 Inch x 12 Inch
Material: Wood
Dishwasher Safe: No
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Affordable +Anti-Microbial+Water-Resistant+Durable design+Comes with convenient side handles
Reasons to avoid
-Not dishwasher safe

At first thought, buying a cutting board seems easy; all you need to do is find a sturdy surface. But with over 7,000 positive reviews and a 4.7/rating on Amazon, it's clear Royal Craft Wood's board is a cut above the rest—literally. 

Made with organic bamboo, this spacious cutting board is great place to slice produce and season slabs of meat. This option is sturdy enough to hold its own against scratches and scarring, but won't dull your knives in the process. Not only does Royal Craft Wood claim this cutting board is moisture-proof, but it also features a drip groove around the perimeter to keep superfluous juices from spilling onto your counter. The brand also says this cutting board is antimicrobial, so it can protect you and your family from everyday bacteria and microbes.

Looking to get the best bang for your buck? This cutting board is reversible, so you can use the flip-side as a serving tray. (There's even two built-in handles.)

kitchen essentials

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5. A colander

Our Pick: Qimh Collapsible Colander

Specifications
Size: 6 Quart
Material: Plastic
Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Compact design +Features convenient, extendable arms+Spacious+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

kitchen essentials

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6. A great oven mitt

Our pick: The 'Ove Glove

Specifications
Size: One-Size
Material: Kevlar
Dishwasher Safe: Machine Washable
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Comfortable+Features silicone grip accents+Machine washable+540 °F Degree Resistance
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive -Doesn't come in a pair -Not stylish

Chances are, you've seen the 'Ove' Glove infomercial. But, despite the "as seen on TV" skepticism, this oven mitt is one of the best options around. There's a reason this simple style has 1,600 positive reviews, a 4.6/5 rating, and an "Amazon's Choice" badge.

The 'Ove' Glove reimagines the typical mitt silhouette into a comfortable, snug glove. It also has several silicone, non-slip grips to make it easy to grip onto casserole dishes, baking sheets, and hot pots of water. Speaking of anything hot, this glove can withstand up to 540 degrees Fahrenheit. Turns out, there's plenty of television magic to go around.

kitchen essentials

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7. A food processor

Our pick: Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Stack & Snap Food Processor & Vegetable Chopper

Specifications
Size: 12 Cups
Material: Plastic and Stainless Steel
Dishwasher-Safe: Yes for Blades
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Spacious+Affordable+Multiple settings for extra versatility+Easy-to-assemble
Reasons to avoid
-Requires thorough cleaning

Whether you're looking for a tear-free way to cut onions or an efficient way to avoid using a knife all together, you might want to consider adding Hamilton Beach's food processor to your cart. With a big-mouth feeding tube and large, 12-cup container, this option has plenty of room for all your ingredient. Decked out with a chopping S-blade as well as a reversible slice and shred disk to chop, slice shred, mix, and purée your ingredients to perfection. It also has a 450-watt motor, so you know it will offer some extra oomph to process your food just right.

kitchen essentials

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8. A mixer

Our pick: KitchenAid KSM150PSBX Artisan Series 5-Qt. Stand Mixer with Pouring Shield

Specifications
Size: 5 Quarts
Materials: Stainless Steel
Dishwasher Safe: Ye (Mixing Bowl)
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Versatile mixing bowl+Easy to use +Available in multiple colors+Power hubs offers extra versatility+Comes with dough hook, flat beater, and wire whip
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Tilt head construction not ideal for every space 

KitchenAid has been making high-quality cooking appliances since 1919—and its stand mixers are the crown jewel of any home. While KitchenAid has a plethora of stand mixers in varying styles, colors, and sizes, its Artisan Series style takes the cake with over 16,000 reviews and a near-perfect rating on Amazon.

So what's so good about it? We're glad you asked. With a five-quart mixing bowl, this nine dozen cookies and four loaves of bread. The 12 speed settings can make anything from thick pizza dough to fluffy meringue. Want to up to batches? This stand mixer's clever tilt design makes it easy to add in some extra ingredients mid-recipe. And, thanks to its planetary mixing action, it has 59 touch points to ensure a thorough, efficient mix.  

kitchen essentials

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9. A measuring cup

Our pick: OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup

Specifications
Size: 1 Cup-4 Cup
Material : BPA-Free Plastic
Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Available in multiple sizes+Angled surface makes it easy to read measurements+Displays standard and metric measurements
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

The difference between a mediocre and magnificent meal? Perfectly measured ingredients. If you want to make sure you take on every recipe with the utmost precision, pick up OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup. Not only is this pick available in a handful of sizes, but it also displays both metric and standard measurements. No matter what you're cooking—or how much you're cooking—this measuring cup is designed to take on any recipe that comes its way.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about this measuring cup is its intuitive design. This option features a patented angled surface that lets you monitor your measurements from a bird's eye view. That way, it's virtually impossible to get the wrong measurements. 

kitchen essentials

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10. Measuring spoons

Our pick: Spring Chef Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Metal Measuring Spoons

Specifications
Sizes: 1/8 TSP-1 TBSP
Materials: Stainless Steel
Dishwasher SAfe: Yes
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Slim design can fit in spice jar+Comes with leveler+Plenty of sizes
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive for measuring spoons

That said, a measuring cup can't handle all your ingredients. If you're looking to add some spices or smaller quantities of your ingredients, you'll need a set of measuring spoons to get the job done. Fortunately, Spring Chef's heavy-duty set is here to deliver. With sizes varying from one-eighth teaspoon one one tablespoon, this option is equipped to handle whatever your recipe requires.

But where this set surpasses the other measuring spoons out there is its clever design. The slim construction can fit nicely into most spice containers, so you can grab everything you need with one, simple scoop. This set even comes with its very own leveler, so you can get the perfect amount of spices every time—nothing more, nothing less.

kitchen essentials

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11. A dutch oven

Our pick: Lodge 5 Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Specifications
Size: 2 Quart-7 Quart
Material: Cast-Iron
Dishwasher Safe: No
Microwave Safe: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Spacious+Affordable+Pre-seasoned to add some extra flavor to your food
Reasons to avoid
-Cast-iron requires some upkeep

You might not think of a Dutch oven as a kitchen essential if the extent of your culinary expertise is going into the kitchen and heating up last night's takeout. However, if you like to experiment with casseroles, roasts, and stews, a Dutch oven will be your kitchen's workhorse.

With over 8,000 positive reviews on Amazon, a 4.7/5 rating on the site, and an "Amazon's Choice" badge, Lodge's Dutch Oven is a clear favorite. Ranging from two to seven quarts, this option has ample room for your recipe, but isn't so big that it'll take up too much space in your cabinets. However, this Dutch oven's biggest draw is its cast-iron material. Not only is cast-iron known for distributing heat evenly and efficiently, but its pre-seasoned finish can give your meal some extra flavor. 

Lodge has been perfecting its cast-iron since 1896, so this option won't disappoint.

kitchen essentials

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12. Baking sheets

Our pick: Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Half Sheet

Specifications
Size: 17.88 x 12.88 x 1.06 inches
Materials: Aluminum
Dishwasher Safe: No
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Durable design+Space-efficient construction 
Reasons to avoid
-Not dishwasher-safe

You don't need to have a sweet tooth to find baking sheets essential. Whether you're roasting vegetables or heating up frozen chicken tenders, it can be the gift that keeps on giving. When it comes to buying baking sheets, it's easy to assume any option would suffice. But with 15,000 reviews on Amazon, a near-perfect rating, and place on many roundups,  Nordic Ware's Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Half Sheet

Made with a durable aluminum, which is known to have excellent heat conductivity, this option will take your oven activity to the next level. Nordic Ware finishes each sheet with a reinforced encapsulated steel rim to give them some extra strength. It's also compatible with parchment paper and silicone baking mats, offering an easy clean-up. Best of all? This specific deal has a set of two, so you'll have double the opportunities. 

kitchen essentials

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13. A juicer

Our pick: Zulay Premium Quality Metal Lemon Lime Squeezer

Specifications
Size: 8.7 x 2.9 x 2.1 inches
Material: Plastic and metal bowl
Dishwasher Safe: Yes
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Compact+Compatible with multiple citrus sizes
Reasons to avoid
-Requires some elbow grease-Expensive for handheld juicer

Need a hint of lemon juicer to your chicken piccata? Looking to add some fresh lime to your homemade margarita?  Add a juicer to your kitchen cabinets. While a large, professional-grade juice is a great addition to any space, it can take up a lot of counter space.

That exactly makes Zulay's juicer so great. This handheld design is compact enough to fit inside a drawer, making it a sound, space-efficient way to add some zest to your next recipe. Of course,  size isn't the only thing this juicer has to offer. Made with two sturdy metal bowls,  this option is designed to juice everything from lemons, limes, and small oranges.

Another perk? This handheld juicer is incredibly easy to clean up.  Simply stick it in the dishwasher and you'll be ready to reuse it in no-time.

kitchen essentials

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14. A food thermometer

Our pick: AMAGARM Meat Food Thermometer

Specifications
Size: 6.9 x 2.6 x 1.3 inches
Material: Plastic and Metal
Dishwasher Safe: No
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Affordable +Compact+LED display offers easy-to-read results+Waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Is not dishwasher friendly

Calling all carnivores: If you want to get your meat to the perfect doneness every single time, pick up this meat thermometer from Amagram. With a compact design and waterproof finish, this option is perfect for everything from butter-drenched chicken to charred steaks on the grill. Simple stick the metal probe inside your slab of meat and the LED screen will display the temperature in two to three seconds. (Amagram claims its margin of error is one degree, so you know it will offer reliable results.)

No matter what you're making, this meat thermometer will let you cook with confidence—and allow you to whip up juicy meat every single time.

kitchen essentials

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15. A can opener

Our pick: Kitchen Mama Electric Can Opener

Specifications
Size: 2.76 x 2.17 x 7.09 inches
Material: Stainless steel
Dishwasher Safe: No
Microwave Safe: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Compact+Electric design make it easy to use+Ergonomic construction
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Not dishwasher safe

Whipping up delicious meals in your kitchen is all fun and games until you have a sealed-shut can—and no way to open it. Whether you're looking to open sauces, canned vegetables, or a helping of tunafish, Kitchen Mama's can opener is a must-have for every home. Instead of using a manual can opener—which usually features a couple of sharp edges—Kitchen Mama's model is electric-operated. Simply press a button and Kitchen Mama's gadget will take care of the rest. 

That said, you'll still need to hold onto your can opener. (Very few things are as terrifying as an electric gadget going wild in your kitchen.) Fortunately, this can opener from Kitchen Mama has a comfortable, ergonomic design that will make holding it a breeze.

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