Ultimate Checklist Of Kitchen Essentials: 49 Must-Haves

Ultimate Checklist Of Kitchen Essentials: 49 Must-Haves

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Your Ultimate Checklist Of Kitchen Essentials For A Complete, Comfortable, And Seamless Kitchen Experience At Home

You spend most of your time at home, so why not make life at home more enjoyable by having a well-stocked kitchen?

Most of us think that we only need the bare essentials of a frying pan, a cooking pot, a spatula, and a microwave or air fryer to get by. But that’s it. 

These are not only far from the bare minimum, it’s also not enough to make the most of your home kitchen be it for entertaining or for your daily food preparation tasks.

Which is why we’ve compiled the ultimate high quality kitchen essentials checklist for you to tick off whenever you’re in the zone (or budget) to shop for new kitchenware. To make things easier, we’ve also organised them into their respective categories so that you won’t be frantically hunting aisle by aisle when you’re at the shops.

Whether you’re aiming for a minimalist kitchen or an entertaining haven, we’ve covered them all. Because with these items, cooking simple meals to elaborate feasts and weeks of meal prep will become easier and more enjoyable than ever! 

That said, if you’re a first-time homeowner I highly recommend checking out our other comprehensive article on buying first home kitchen essentials instead.

The Ultimate Kitchen Essentials Checklist Of 49 Must-Haves For A Truly Complete Kitchen

Essential Cookware

Cosmo Fry, a non-stick frying pan from Cosmic Cookware.

1. Non-Stick Pan

Every home needs a frying pan for basic stir-frys and sautés. But not just any frying pan will do. What you’ll want is a nonstick pan because you can enjoy healthier cooking with less oil and butter, while cooking delicate ingredients such as fish, eggs, and pancakes without breaking it apart! 

The best part? It simplifies the cleaning process because you no longer have to deal with scrubbing off stuck food.

Cast Iron Skillet. Photo by Anshu A.
Photo by Anshu A.

2. Cast Iron Skillet

A cast iron skillet is essential for cooking foods that call for high heat because regular exposure to high heat will damage non-stick pans in the long run. Think searing steaks, baking, and grilling. Not only does it retain heat exceptionally well, but it also serves as a real kitchen workhorse with its near indestructible durability. 

The only downside is that it needs regular seasoning to maintain it as a nonstick skillet, which may not be too ideal for homecooks who prefer to keep things low maintenance.

Enamelled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. Photo by Odiseo Castrejon.
Photo by Odiseo Castrejon.

3. Dutch Oven

Dutch ovens are cooking powerhouses that come in either a stunning enamelled form, or a rustic bare cast iron form. It’s a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid that is perfect for slow-cooking, braising, roasting, and baking thanks to its even heat distribution and fantastic heat retention. 

A Dutch oven is a must-have, especially if you enjoy cooking soups, stews, and baking bread. If you entertain regularly, I recommend getting an enamelled cast iron Dutch oven in a beautiful colour of your choice so you can serve in style from oven or stovetop to table. (Don’t forget to wear your oven mitts, the pot is blisteringly hot!)

Cosmo Casserole, a family-sized ceramic non-stick stockpot.

4. Stockpot

Find yourself batch cooking regularly? Or perhaps you have a large family to feed daily? Then you’ll definitely need a stockpot. It’s essentially a large cooking pot that is primarily used for making large volumes of stocks, soups, stews, and for boiling large quantities of pasta or potatoes.

Cosmo Pan, a ceramic non-stick sauté pan.

5. Sauté Pan

Even if you have a frying pan, a sauté pan will still come in handy for dishes that have a light amount of liquid. The straight and taller sides of a sauté pan allow you to sauté, stir-fry, fry, brown food, and flip food easily without spillage. Its typically large surface area also makes it versatile enough to handle various types of recipes and cooking methods.

Cosmo Saucepan, a ceramic non-stick saucepan.

6. Saucepan

I like to call saucepans my go-to instant noodle pot, or soup pot whenever I’m craving a small portion of something soupy and comforting. A saucepan is a small, deep pot with a single handle that is used to cook sauces, boil liquids, and make small batches of soups, stews, pasta, and noodles. It’s also called a milk pan in some instances, especially when it’s a small saucepan.

Must-Have Kitchen Knives

Chef's knife during food preparation. Photo by RDNE Stock project.
Photo by RDNE Stock Project.

7. High Quality Chef’s Knife

A high quality chef’s knife is one of the most fundamental non-negotiable kitchen essentials. Its design and weight make it an incredibly versatile all-purpose knife that can be used for all your chopping, slicing, dicing, and even mincing food preparation tasks. 

It does it all and does it well. So much so that if you could only have one knife in the kitchen, it absolutely must be a chef’s knife.

Serrated knife slicing bread. Photo by Felicity Tai.
Photo by Felicity Tai.

8. Serrated Knife

The uniquely designed serrated knife, sometimes known as a bread knife, finds itself added into the list of kitchen essentials because its serrated edge allows you to cleanly slice through crusty bread, soft bread, cakes, fruits, and vegetables without crushing them. Think tomatoes for example - a serrated or bread knife can cut through its tough skin without splattering the juice all over.

Paring knife and avocados. Photo by Kelly Sikkema.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema.

9. Paring Knife

Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to bring out the chef’s knife when it comes to cutting a small portion of fruits and vegetables. Which is why a paring knife is one of the best kitchen essentials for peeling fruits and vegetables, deveining shrimp, and other small kitchen tasks that require accuracy. But if the idea of using a small knife puts you off, you can always replace it with a sharp peeler instead!

10. Boning Knife

A boning knife and fillet knife may look the same with its thin and curved build, but boning knives are more versatile thanks to its sturdier build. It’s used to efficiently and cleanly debone meat and fish, so that you get the most out of your cuts.

The Right Cooking Utensils

Silicone Spatula. Photo by Sunny Chiu.
Photo by Sunny Chiu.

11. Silicone Spatula

Spatulas are available in various materials, such as stainless steel, nylon, wood, and silicone. But out of all, a silicone spatula will give you the most bang for your buck, making it one of the top kitchen essentials when it comes to cooking utensils. 

That’s because its natural flexibility and high heat resistance makes it ideal for mixing, folding, scraping, and spreading ingredients easily no matter the temperature and surface type. And did we mention it’s also gentle on all types of cookware, even non-stick cookware?

Stainless Steel Turner.

12. Stainless Steel Turner

When it comes to cooking techniques like flipping pancakes, burgers, and grilling meat, one of the best cooking utensils you can use is a stainless steel turner. It features immense durability, high heat resistance, and strength to help you flip heavier foods with precision. Plus it has a thin edge that allows it to easily slide under foods.

Wooden cooking spoon in a utensil holder. Photo by Greg Schmigel.
Photo by Greg Schmigel.

13. Wooden or Silicone Cooking Spoon

Wood and silicone are your best bets when it comes to picking the best cooking spoon material. They are gentle on cookware, especially non-stick cookware, and last far longer than nylon cooking spoons. You’ll typically use a cooking spoon to stir, mix, and serve food, which is why it is sometimes called a stirring spoon.

Stainless steel ladle.

14. Stainless Steel Ladle

Ladles are often left in the pot after serving, which is why stainless steel ladles are far better kitchen essentials when it comes to ladles for the sake of health, hygiene, and durability. Think of these as cooking spoons with a deeper bowl, where it’s used to serve dishes with ample liquid such as soups, stews, and sauces.

15. Stainless Steel Slotted Spoon

Sometimes you just want to scoop and serve meat and vegetables from stews or pasta from water without excess liquid or oil. This is where a durable and heat-resistant stainless steel slotted spoon will come in handy to help you separate the ingredients you want with little to no hassle.

Rainbow silicone whisk with whipped cream. Photo by Isabella Fischer.
Photo by Isabella Fischer.

16. Whisk

One of the most overlooked kitchen essentials is the humble whisk. This particular cooking utensil is used to blend and mix ingredients for a smooth, lump-free consistency - think whipped cream, fluffy scrambled eggs, pancake batter, sauces, and salad dressings. It’s a must-have for kitchens because it definitely beats mixing ingredients with the tedious and old fashioned way of using a fork!

Kitchen Tongs. Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem.
Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem.

17. Tongs

Tongs are one of the most underrated kitchen essentials. They make serving hot food and cooking that much easier by allowing you to effortlessly grip and lift foods precisely - all with a squeeze.

18. Kitchen Shears

Kitchen shears are not your everyday scissors. These scissors are sharp as knives, making them heavy-duty kitchen essentials for various kitchen tasks like cutting herbs, trimming meats, and even cutting through poultry bones. It’s great for tasks that are difficult with a knife, which is why they are a must-have multifunctional tool in your kitchen.

Essential Kitchen Tools

19. Can Opener

You don’t want just a can opener. What you want is a multi-purpose opener that will open a tin can and bottle caps when the situation calls for it. So when you’re shopping for a can opener, get one with a bottle cap remover. And if you regularly host with a wine bottle at hand, then get a multi-purpose bottle opener with a corkscrew too!

Garlic press with fresh garlic within. Photo by Eva Bronzini.
Photo by Eva Bronzini.

20. Garlic Press

Every kitchen needs a garlic press. After all, who wants fingers that smell of garlic?! A garlic press easily minces garlic cloves into a fine paste with a quick press, saving you heaps of time while cooking aromatic and flavoursome dishes.

Classic box grater. Photo by rivage.
Photo by Rivage.

21. Grater

There are two types of graters, the classic box grater and the finer Microplane grater. I say get both. That’s because box graters are used to grate larger ingredients such as cheese and vegetables, while the smaller Microplane grater is used to prepare smaller ingredients such as citrus zest and spices like nutmeg.

Stainless steel colander. Photo by cottonbro studio.
Photo by Cottonbro Studio.

22. Colander

When you’re preparing a large batch of food with ample liquid to be drained, you don’t want to scoop it out multiple times with a ladle or slotted spoon. A colander’s round perforated base allows you to quickly drain excess liquid just by emptying your cooking pot into it - think draining pasta.

The best colanders are made from durable stainless steel as opposed to the more fanciful but health-concerning plastic ones in various colours.

Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons. Photo by Joseph Sharp.
Photo by Joseph Sharp.

23. Measuring Cups

Measuring cups typically come in a set of various sizes, allowing you to easily scoop and measure different volumes of dry ingredients such as flour, sugar, grains, and spices. It’s one of the home baker’s must-have kitchen essentials for consistently successful baking results.

24. Measuring Spoons

Don’t think that you can avoid measuring spoons just because you have measuring cups. Measuring spoons are a set of small spoons that come with their respective measurements, so that you can accurately scoop and measure small amounts of both dry and liquid ingredients with ease.

25. Wooden Cutting Board

A kitchen without a cutting board is a hazardous place. Cutting boards provide you with a sturdy and safe surface to cut, chop, slice, dice, and prepare your ingredients while protecting both your countertops and knife. 

Ideally, you’ll want a wooden cutting board because they are durable, naturally resistant to bacteria, and somewhat soft, which will prevent your knives from getting dull quickly even with regular use.

Cooking thermometer. Photo by Gustavo Fring.
Photo by Gustavo Fring.

26. Thermometer

Love a precisely well medium rare cut of steak? Then you’ll want to invest in a kitchen thermometer, especially an instant read thermometer. This handy kitchen essential quickly measures the temperature of foods to ensure they are properly cooked and in the desired temperature.

Silicone Basting Brushes in various colours. Photo by Burst.
Photo by Burst.

27. Basting Brush

If you find yourself regularly roasting dishes, then you’ll probably want to invest in a good silicone brush. This is one of the handiest kitchen essentials when it comes to enhancing the flavour and texture of your food as it is heat-resistant, making it easy to evenly distribute hot liquids, sauces, marinades, and oils on food. Did we mention it’s also easier to clean than the regular basting brush’s ordinary bristles?

Fine mesh strainer. Photo by Cristina Matos-Albers.
Photo by Cristina Matos-Albers.

28. Fine Mesh Strainer

Say goodbye to clumps of flour and powdered sugar, lumpy sauces, and lengthy rinsing times for quinoa and rice when you have a fine mesh strainer on hand! It’s one of the best kitchen essentials to ensure lump-free results in recipes by allowing you to easily sift dry and liquid ingredients.

29. Honing Steel

Don’t confuse a honing steel or honing rod with a knife sharpener. A honing steel is used regularly to realign the edges of your knife blade to maintain its sharpness for effective cutting tasks.

30. Knife Sharpener

Remember how a honing steel is used to maintain the knife’s sharpness? Well a knife sharpener is used to restore the sharp edge of a dull knife by shaving away material to create a new, sharp edge. In essence, a honing steel is used to maintain the existing sharpness, while a knife sharpener is used to create new degrees of sharpness.

Citrus Juicer. Photo by Rob Wicks.
Photo by Rob Wicks.

31. Citrus Juicer

Making freshly squeezed orange juice or extracting lemon juice by hand can be incredibly taxing, which is why a citrus juicer is one of the most underrated basic kitchen essentials. Having a citrus juicer allows you to efficiently extract the maximum amount of pulp-free juice from lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits with minimal effort.

32. Digital Kitchen Scale

Measuring cups and measuring spoons can only go so far when it comes to accurate measurements because there are times where air gets caught amidst the dry ingredients. Which is why a digital kitchen scale is handy to measure the weight of ingredients accurately over the visible measurements on measuring cups and measuring spoons.

Potato Masher. Photo by Wouter Supardi Salari.

33. Potato Masher

Mashing potatoes, avocados, and baby food is a time consuming task without the right kitchen tool. That’s where a potato masher comes in. It’s one of the best time-saving kitchen essentials that quickly and efficiently mash foods into deliciously smooth, lump-free perfection.

34. Half-Sheet Wire Rack

A half-sheet wire rack is one of the handiest kitchen essentials when it comes to cooling baked goods, to elevate roasts for greater air circulation and even cooking, and to drain fried foods of excess oil. All you have to do is to place it on your baking sheet and watch it work its magic.

35. Salad Spinner

It’s far more hygienic to enjoy salad greens when they’ve been properly rinsed and dried. Which is why a salad spinner comes in handy to wash and efficiently remove excess water from leafy greens and vegetables because they are less likely to become a soggy mess even after having salad dressing poured over it.

Ice cube tray. Photo by Ron Lach.
Photo by Ron Lach.

36. Ice Cube Tray

Ice cube trays are one of the most basic kitchen tools that you may or may not need, depending on whether your freezer has a built-in ice maker or not. That said, there are certain ice cube trays that feature larger moulds, allowing you to freeze batches of broth, juice, or leftover sauces for easier than ever access.

Kitchen Essentials For Bakers

Baking Sheet with cookies. Photo by Kari Shea.
Photo by Kari Shea.

37. Baking Sheet

A baking sheet, also known as a sheet pan, is a flat, shallow pan used to bake and roast a variety of foods. It’s a more versatile version of cookie sheets with slightly higher walls. A baking sheet’s large, flat surface ensures even baking and roasting, be it cookies, roasting vegetables or meat. Pair baking sheets with a half-sheet wire rack for best results!

38. Baking Pan

Think of a baking pan as a deeper version of the baking sheet. Baking pans are metal pans with high walls that are used for baking cakes and bread. It’s a kitchen essential for baked dishes that call for a higher volume of batter and layers, which is exactly what you need when it comes to baking cakes, brownies, and more.

Muffin pan with freshly baked muffins. Photo by TSI.
Photo by TSI.

39. Muffin Pan

A muffin pan is especially handy when you frequently batch cook delicious muffins, cupcakes, and other small baked goods. Think mini quiches, mini tarts, breakfast muffins, or single-serving meatloaves. It’s one of the best kitchen essentials for easy portioning and even baking!

40. Rolling Pin

Enjoy baking pies and pastries? Then you’ll likely need a rolling pin to smoothen your dough out and crush ingredients effortlessly. The best rolling pins are typically finished wooden rolling pins because they come with a non-toxic coating on them to protect the wood, which also has the added benefit of making its surface smooth and non-stick.

Glass mixing bowl. Photo by Sincerely Media.
Photo by Sincerely Media.

41. Glass Mixing Bowl

Mixing bowls come in many shapes, sizes, and materials. But I highly recommend getting a glass mixing bowl for your kitchen because it’s microwave safe, dishwasher safe, resistant to stains and odours, and its see-through body allows you to see ingredients as you mix them for thorough results.

Lasagna in a baking dish. Photo by micheile henderson.
Photo by Micheile Henderson.

42. Baking Dish

A baking dish is a deep dish that is usually made from oven-safe glass, ceramic, or enamelled cast iron. While it functions similarly to a baking pan, its heat-retentive properties, depth, and often aesthetically pleasing appearance makes it a better choice for avid entertainers to serve delicious lasagnas and pasta bakes in style from oven to table.

Essential Kitchen Appliances

43. Food Processor

Sometimes you just can’t bring yourself to chop a mountain load of ingredients by hand. That’s where a food processor comes in handy. It quickly slices, shreds, grinds, and purees a wide variety of ingredients at the push of a button, saving you time and effort in the kitchen.

Blender. Photo by cottonbro studio.
Photo by Cottonbro Studio.

44. Blender

There are two particular options when it comes to blenders; the traditional blender that we all know and love, and the immersion blender, also known as the stick blender. If you have a large family or if you find yourself regularly cooking in batches, I recommend getting the traditional blender as it can handle blending up larger volumes of food or drinks quickly.

Whereas if you typically cook smaller portions, an immersion blender would be more than enough for your kitchen as it also gets the job done well.

45. Electric Kettle

Skip boiling water the old and lengthy way via the stovetop. An electric kettle is one of the top non-negotiable kitchen essentials for every household because it quickly and efficiently boils water, be it for coffee, tea, instant noodles, or other hot beverages and food, while being energy-efficient to boot!

Kitchen Organisation and Storage Essentials

Tea towel and hot coffee. Photo by Arina Krasnikova.
Photo by Arina Krasnikova.

46. Dish Cloths and Tea Towels

Both dish cloths and tea towels are definite kitchen essentials if you don’t want to keep purchasing single use paper towels. Dish cloths are typically used to wipe countertops and mop up spills and mess, whereas tea towels are commonly used to dry dishes, hands, and in place of oven mitts to hold hot dishes, pans, or pots.

So in essence, a dish cloth basically keeps the kitchen clean and dry, while a tea towel is a handy, multipurpose essential kitchen tool.

Cosmo Square Mitt and Oven Glove.

47. Oven Mitts and Apron

Oven mitts and the apron are classic basic tools to have in the kitchen for two reasons - to protect your hands from burns while handling hot pots, pans, and dishes from the oven, and to protect your clothing from spills and splashes as you cook or bake. 

Both of these kitchen essentials are specially designed to make your time in the kitchen more comfortable and as mess-free as possible.

Glass containers arranged in a stack. Photo by Rebootanika.
Photo by Rebootanika.

48. Food Storage Containers

There are two ways to store food and ingredients; either you keep it in its respective dish and cover it with a dish cover, cling wrap, or aluminum foil before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer, or you keep it in food storage containers.

Between the two, food storage containers are far more versatile because it saves you heaps of money in the long run, allows you easy storage for leftovers and ingredients, and keeps your household’s environmental footprint as low as possible from reduced waste.

Dishes on a dish rack. Photo by Ron Lach.

49. Dish Rack

Do you find yourself leaving dishes and cookware to dry overnight in the dishwasher after having it cleaned? It’s time to stop that and properly organise your kitchen’s newly cleaned dishes, cookware, and coffee mugs on a dish rack.

The dish rack will then allow your dishes, cookware, and coffee mugs to efficiently air-dry quickly, preventing water spots and the dreaded damp odours. It also typically comes with a try below to gather and drain excess water, making it one of the most functional kitchen equipment.

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