Okay…are you ready for it??? I’m pretty sure this is my longest post to date! So, if you need to, take a bathroom break and then grab your water and get comfortable! 😉
This is probably the most complete list of kitchen gadgets ever shared on the internet! ha! Okay, not really…but, it is pretty thorough! I always enjoy hearing about and seeing what other people have in their kitchens, so I thought I would share what I keep in mine! I tend to be a very detail-oriented person, so I couldn’t make a list of the gadgets I use without including EVERYTHING! This includes all of my kitchen tools, gear, and appliances; the things that make eating ‘real food’ in my kitchen just a little easier on a daily basis. Not everything is a necessity…some are just fun to have! (This list does not include any food, though; that will be coming another day…)
So, how complete are we talking here? Well, I went through every single drawer, cabinet, and pantry shelf to come up with this list! Feel free to use it as a checklist for items you might like to own some day (if you don’t already). Have a birthday coming up? Maybe you’ll find something interesting on this list that you had never heard of before! Or, if you’re like me, you have a running list of gift ideas on your phone. Christmas? Mother’s Day? I keep a list of gift ideas for my kids, too, but I admit, my list is always longer than theirs. ha! I’m not sure what the says about me…but, I do like useful and practical gifts! 😉 Every time I think of something I could use, I add it to my list and hope that someone will buy it for me eventually. Or, I finally get anxious enough and just buy it for myself! 🙂
I’m probably missing something from this list and I will admit that I left a few random items off of it. We all have them. Items you may only use once every three to five years, but you keep them around anyway because they don’t take up much space…and you just never know when you may need to use them again!
Recently, I’ve had a few people ask me about the kitchen appliances I use and which ones were the ‘best ones’ to invest their money in right away. Should they buy a food processor? What type of blender? What are my favorites? So, I decided now would be a good time to put together a list of “My Must-Have Kitchen Appliances.” Everyone has their own personal favorites and these are mine. I included a link to most of the items that I already own and would recommend. For some of the more “regular” items (like measuring cups or a baking sheet), I figured no one really cares what brand I use…so I didn’t spend the time to link it! Of course, if there is something specific you would like to know, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I’m always happy to share! 🙂
First, I’ll share my Top 10 list of the “must have” tools used in my kitchen (in the order of how much they get used) and then I’ll share the tools that are really nice to have (especially when I make so much from scratch). I’ve also included a list of what I assume most people already have in their kitchens…because I know you are all just dying to see the ENTIRE list of what’s in mine. 😉
My Top 10 List of “Must Have” Kitchen Tools
Any guess on what my #1 choice is???
10) Slow Cooker (crock pot) – I use this probably once a week. I always love it when I can prepare my dinner earlier in the day and hardly have any prep work come dinnertime. Besides dinner, I also use it to make taco beans and chicken broth!
9) Muffin tins, mini muffin tins, & donut pans – For me, these are all about having pre-portioned out snacks that are kid-friendly, lunch or breakfast-friendly, and freezer-friendly. Pretty much any bread recipe (banana bread, zuchinni bead, etc.) can be made in muffin, mini muffin, or donut form. Just bake for less time. The smaller size is easier for kids to eat…and who doesn’t like muffins and donuts?!?! You can also bake mini meatloaves in the muffin tins. (I have two of each type of pan below, because if I’m baking, I like to have enough for the freezer, too!)
8) Food Scale – This is something I only started using a couple of years ago, but I can’t imagine cooking without it these days. I use it to measure out my flour when making bread and pizza dough so I have consistent results every time. I also use it to keep track of the leftover sauce amounts I freeze so I know how much I have, as well as other uses. I use it almost every day.
7) Smoothie Straws – I love, love, love my smoothie straws! I bought a package of 4 and we use them every single time we have smoothies (which is several times per week). I love that we don’t throw away plastic straws anymore and these clean up so easily. Just rinse after using and then whenever you wash dishes next, there is a little straw cleaner that you just run through on the inside…and that’s it! They are even thicker than regular straws so nothing gets stuck on the insides while you’re trying to enjoy your smoothie.
6) LOTS of storage containers – Super large, large, medium, small, tiny…you will use them all! And quite frequently. I try to buy glass when I can, but I also have many BPA-free plastic containers. I use them daily to store foods in the freezer, the pantry, leftovers, my husband’s lunch, and more. I find myself running out of containers more and more these days–so I’ve had to buy several more storage containers since switching to ‘real food.’ I have several of these OXO pop storage containers in my pantry to store things like flour, nuts, oatmeal, seeds, popcorn, etc.
5) Air popper – Microwave popcorn is a big no-no due to the artificial ingredients and packaging. I love how easy it is to pop popcorn with this air popper. We definitely use it at least once a week! Just melt a little butter on top and sprinkle with a dash of salt…perfection!
4) Olive oil sprayer – I use this any time I need to grease a pan (since regular cooking sprays are filled with all sorts of junky, artificial ingredients). See post: Why to Avoid Cooking Sprays
3) Cheese Grater – Now that I no longer buy bags of pre-shredded cheese, I use my cheese grater several times a week (if not a few times per day). It’s actually cheaper to buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself! Yes, it takes a little adjustment to get used to this extra step, but I honestly have forgotten all about the packaged stuff and think nothing of shredding my own these days. I only have one, but a second one would definitely come in handy when the first one is in the dishwasher!!
2) Bread Machine – It was a toss up with this one and my number one selection! I was so nervous to buy this machine thinking that I wouldn’t use it…but that has not been the case at all! I use it 4-5 times a week, every week. Homemade bread, pizza dough, sandwich buns, and more! And I always have the ingredients on hand to make whatever I need. Love it!
Bread Keepers – This goes along with my bread machine…can’t make homemade bread and then not have something to store it in! I actually have two of these. One to keep our sandwich bread and another for whatever ‘bonus’ bread item I’ve made. Sometimes both are on my counter, sometimes one is sitting empty in my pantry, but I’m glad I have two. Homemade bread doesn’t keep as long as store bought because it isn’t filled with preservatives, but I think this bread keeper does a great job at keeping bread fresh a little bit longer. Plus, I like that I can see the bread sitting on my counter. It looks pretty…and we don’t forget about it this way. (Not like that would ever really happen, though…) 🙂
Any my number one most used “real food” kitchen tool???? Did you guess it correctly?
1) Blender – I use this ALL the time! If not daily, then definitely every other day. I know there are many other expensive models on the market, but those were out of our price range when I had to replace my old one last Spring and I’ve been extremely happy with my Ninja. I use it for everything from smoothies to making breadcrumbs. There hasn’t been a job I’ve given it that it hasn’t been able to handle! (Even raw carrots!)
And here is the list of all the rest of the tools and appliances I keep in my kitchen (in NO particular order). They may not all be “necessary” for eating real food, but I’m so glad I have them.
Butter crock – This is extremely new to me (just came in a couple of days ago!), but I’m already in love with it. I plan to write more about it soon, but this will allow me to keep my organic butter fresh and spreadable. (It sits on the counter, not in the fridge.)
Cupcake decorating set – Totally NOT necessary, but if you plan to make homemade cupcakes or cakes, then you’ll be so glad you have this! Makes your homemade treats look “professionally” done and since the bags are disposable, it makes for super quick clean up.
Electric Griddle – This is something I use fairly frequently these days. I mostly use it for pancakes and tortillas…but if you needed to make a large batch of grilled cheese sandwiches or breakfast foods all at once, this is the way to do it!
Chopper – I’ve been using my Pampered Chef chopper for the entire 10 years of our marriage. It’s the same one and it’s NEVER jammed up on me. The reviews on other choppers aren’t so great. If you want my recommendation, it’s worth the extra money to buy this one. I use it to chop onions, beans, and even chocolate! (Note: I have no idea what this costs directly through Pampered Chef…so that might be worth checking out too if you’re considering buying one.)
Fine mesh nut bag – I use this when I make homemade almond milk. (I bought mine from Whole Foods.) This seems to be the most comparable version (but I can’t attest to how well it works).
Egg Slicer – Not necessary, just convenient for quickly slicing an egg for a salad or dicing several eggs for egg salad sandwiches. Again, I have the Pampered Chef version. It’s held up awesome all these years.
Potato Peeler – I use this to peel potatoes…but also to peel apples, carrots, cucumbers, and more.
Immersion blender – My mom just gave me one that she had in their house for years, but never used. I’ve only used it once, but I think it will come in handy for making lots of applesauce this Fall. Using this eliminates the need to transfer foods into a food processor or blender to get a smoother consistency…it can be done right in the pot! This isn’t the one I own, but it’s what I had planned to buy.
Tortilla press – This is a new purchase for me as well. I’ve made good corn tortillas with it, but I’m still perfecting my flour tortilla recipe (I need to try again soon). If you want to make homemade tortillas, this is definitely a recommend tool so you can quickly press your tortillas thin enough.
Salad dressing mixer – I use this more in the summertime when we eat salads frequently. I like that I can whisk or shake my ingredients all together and then store the leftovers (if there are any) in the same container. No store bought salad dressings in this house anymore!
Painter’s tape & a permanent marker – Huh? 😉 I use this to label the food I store in the freezer and pantry. It sticks for as long as I need it to be there and then peels right off when I’m done without leaving any yucky residue behind.
Fancy Serving-ware – No, not necessary…but when I entertain guests/family, I like to have something pretty to display my food. I love my Wilton Armetale platters and bowls. I received several pieces in the ‘reggae’ pattern when we got married almost 10 years ago and I would recommend them to anyone!
Food Processor – If you’re just starting out and slowly acquiring kitchen gadgets, I think this is something you could probably hold off on a bit. I’m glad I have mine and I do use it from time to time, but not quite as much as I originally thought I would. I’m guessing my Ninja blender could handle ‘most’ of the tasks that I use my food processor for these days. However, it is nice to have a second option available.
Ice Cream Maker – I got one of these for Christmas this year and I’ve been having so much fun experimenting and trying new flavors of ice cream. Even the ‘natural’ brands have ingredients that I would prefer to skip and the cost of organic ice cream is so expensive! I now make my own organic ice cream at home and it’s been great! My husband and I will usually eat ice cream a couple nights a week when watching a movie. I know this will get lots of use!
Waffle Maker – While I don’t make waffles every week, we do enjoy them from time to time. The maker we own was actually a gift from Santa Claus this year for my daughter. She asked our Elf on the Shelf for one…and, surprisingly, there was one under the tree for her!! 😉 It worked out great, too, since our old one wasn’t working well anymore. My daughter doesn’t mind that I store it in our pantry and use it on occasion. 🙂 I especially like the fluffy waffles it makes AND that the batter never sticks to the surface. Clean up is so much easier with this new one.
George Foreman grill – Again, not something I use all that often, but since I don’t use the grill on my own (maybe someday I’ll learn…), I usually use this if I’m making hamburgers.
Ball jars in various sizes – Not only do I can in these jars, I also use them to store foods throughout the year. I store my taco seasoning in a jelly jar (labeled with blue painter’s tape, of course). 🙂
Canning utensil kit – If you’re going to can, you need this basic kit to get started.
Silicone baking liner – This is a new purchase for me. Not necessary, but I love that I don’t have to waste parchment paper as often now. It will save me money in the long run and will be getting lots of use in this household…granola, cookies, etc.!
Silicone muffin liners – I don’t actually use these as much as I thought I would. I usually bake my muffins without liners and if I’m baking cupcakes for a party, I prefer to use paper liners for ease of cleanup. However, they still get used from time to time. They also would make for a cute (but practical) snack cup in a lunch container. (FYI-these are sold in packs of 6 for this brand. I bought two.)
Circle cookie cutters – I use these when I make my sandwich buns. I also sometimes use them to cut the seeds out of the middle of apple slices. I like that I have a circle cutter in any size I need (but they’re definitely not a necessary item).
Insulated casserole carrier – I use this if I take a hot dish to a potluck style party. It keeps food hot for the travel time there AND while it’s sitting around waiting for everyone else to arrive.
Knives – I have two that I use more than any others. A long serrated knife for cutting our homemade breads and a tomato slicer for pretty much everything else. In fact, I need to get myself another one. I’m constantly washing this one knife over and over again throughout the entire day!
Meatloaf pan – I like using this Chicago Metallic “Healthy” meatloaf pan because it drains fat into the bottom so my meatloaf isn’t cooking in grease. Much healthier this way!
The remainder of my list doesn’t need much explanation. I’m guessing most people already own these and don’t need to see a picture with a link. These, to me, are the basics that every well-stocked kitchen should have:
- 2 sets of measuring cups and spoons
- Electric mixer
- Cutting boards, various sizes (never cut raw meat on the same board that you cut fruits and veggies)
- Baking sheets and pans
- Cooling racks
- Pizza pans
- Pizza wheel cutter
- Steamer basket
- Round baking pans
- Kitchen scissors (never use regular household scissors when dealing with food)
- Meat mallet
- Glass pie pan
- Flour sifter
- Mixing bowls, small to extra large
- 9 x 13 baking dishes (I have two)
- Regular bread loaf pan
- Rolling pin
- Rubber spatulas (scrapers)
- Cooking utensils – spoons, slotted spoons, spatulas, etc. (Someday I’m going to stop using the utensils I had in college and buy myself a nice set!! Seriously, it’s been long enough…)
- Basting brush
- Whisk (I have one small and one regular size)
- Saucepans, pots, and skillets
I also own a sandwich maker and a quesadilla maker…but I never use them anymore. They were used frequently back in the days before kids, when I would just make one or two of something at a time. Now I prefer to use either my griddle or large skillet. I also have an electric carving knife…that’s been used maybe once.
I’m sure I forgot to add something to this list…but, I have to say, this is probably about 95% of everything in my kitchen! I’m not a fancy cook and I know there are a lot of items I don’t have, but these are the tools that are important for the way I cook and bake. (I’m definitely thankful for my walk-in pantry and large kitchen so I have room for everything!)
What would you add to this list that you didn’t see on mine? Did you see anything that interests you? Or was there anything that you had never heard of before? I would love to hear! (I am also interested in hearing about gadgets you think I might like!)
You may notice that I did NOT include a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. I used to have one (it was a gift, not something I asked for)…but I only used it maybe 3 times in the 8 years I had it. It was so big and bulky that I never wanted to bother with it. I left it on the counter at our first house, but it just collected dust. When we moved to our current house (7 years ago), I put it underneath a cabinet and didn’t use it even ONCE for several years. I finally sold it and haven’t missed it since…and it opened up a bunch of space underneath my cabinet! I’m perfectly happy using my hand mixer, though, I know many people would disagree with me on this one. 🙂
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