Not sure what should be on your list this Christmas to make cooking and baking easier and more fun next year? These 21 kitchen essentials will support all your culinary ambitions (even if your kids don’t).
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(From left to right, top to bottom)
- Erin was super ambitious and sent several ideas, including this Le Creuset Dutch Oven. She says, “If ever there is a fire in our home, I’m leaving my wallet and taking this beauty. From soups, to big pastas, to oven roasting, it cannot be beat for its versatility, even cooking, and presentation too.”
Side comment: could someone forward this post to my husband and tell him I NEED one of these?!
- Janelle added this Lodge Pre-seasoned Cast Iron Skillet to my list and told me she “loves it so.” If you get one, you can make her zucchini gratin in it!
- Yours truly got the Cuisinart Food Processor a couple years ago for Christmas, and it’s everything I hoped for and more. I make doughs, salsas, and sauces in here, on top of using it to chop massive quantities of veggies.
- Speaking of chopping, Joanne said, “One of my least favorite cooking tasks is mincing garlic, and this (Oxo Mini Chopper) makes it a breeze. It is pretty small so it doesn’t take up much space in the kitchen, and it saves me a lot of time and chopping frustration!”
- Baking sheets. You probably have some, but do you love them? Erin loves hers from Nordic Ware: “Some of the most bang for your baking buck, ever. I use these inexpensive pans almost every single day and have owned the same ones for years. They are perfect for roasting, making sheet cakes, and even double as a tray to my food props from room to room.” Roasted Brussels Sprouts, anyone?
- Ali is a slow cooking hero (like cranberry sauce or mashed potatoes!), so it’s no surprise she recommended this Crock-Pot. “I would say that everyone could use an extra “cook” in the kitchen — a slow cooker! I have owned this Crock-Pot for years, and use it constantly. And I feel like I’m still discovering new ways to use it every week! Seriously, slow cooking has evolved far beyond traditional stews to everything from soups to lasagnas to mashed potatoes and more. So find one with a timer so that you can truly set it and “forget it”, and get to slow cooking!”
- If you get the baking sheets, don’t forget silicon baking mats. Philia says, “I received silicone baking mats as a Christmas present last year and I have to say, they totally changed my baking life! Gone are the days when I’d have to sit there scrubbing cookie sheets trying to get them clean. You simply place cookie dough on the mats, bake, and then enjoy your cookies without a clean up hassle! Silicone baking mats make a great present for any baker. Happy Holidays!”
Side note: Erin also recommended baking mats, just a different brand. I’ve heard good about both.
- Tongs. I put tongs on the list because, honestly, I use them for everything. I’ll go from flipping bacon in one pan to stirring pasta in another. I may or may not use them to pick things up if I have one (or two!) kids in my arms, so hey, multi-purpose! Get the long handled ones.
- I do not care how many cookbooks you have. There is always room for one more! Kristen told me, “Right now I am absolutely in love with The Skinnytaste Cookbook. I use it multiple times each week and think even if you aren’t trying to cook “skinny” it’s a great resource!” The Chicken Caprese Pasta she made from this book makes me want to clear shelf space for yet another cookbook.
- If Allie’s blog doesn’t convince you that she does her fair share of baking, and is thereby qualified to give us the run down on mixers, nothing will. But it’s not just for baking! “My number one recommendation for any baker or cook would have to be the KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer. Barely a day goes by that I don’t use mine. It’s great for everything from batters to pulling pork.”
Erin gave the KitchenAid a +1 too (and so do I, for that matter).
- Becky (and Janelle too) added the Cuisinart Immersion Blender to the list of must-haves. “I use my immersion blender more than I ever thought I would! And all the colors!! This is a fun gift for any foodie!” I recently got one of these little guys and love it too.
- I’m a big believer in functional kitchen items (no avocado slicer for me), but the Bamboo Cutting Boards that Ashley told me about are fun and functional! “A chic bamboo serving board is the perfect gift for any food lover. Simple foods like cheeses, breads, fruits, and vegetables can be served with such style and minimal effort. I love that these boards are in the shapes of states, which makes it easy to give a gift with a personal touch.” (So in case you were concerned that only Nebraska was available, like my husband, fear not!).
- If you struggle with spontaneous, no-recipe cooking, Meg has a solution. “I highly suggest The Flavor Bible as it is extremely helpful to creating fun new dishes!” It’s full of lists telling you what flavors, foods, and combinations work well together. Be adventurous with this book!
- I feel like my contributions to this list are insanely understated. But if you do not have nesting bowls like these, I beg you to get a set. I use at least a couple of them every.single.day. They’re durable, wash up quick, and don’t eat up cabinet space.
- Ok, fine, a cappuccino maker is probably not “essential” but Becky says this Keurig Rivo “is one of my very favorite kitchen items!! Cooking in the kitchen is so much more fun with a homemade cappuccino by my side!” And since a happy cook is a good cook, so maybe it’s more essential than we think.
- Erin’s last recommendation was for these USA baking pans. “I’ve used dozens of brands of baking pans, and USA are by far my favorites. They cook evenly, are easy to clean, and create perfect edges to my brownies and quick breads every single time.” Perfect brownie edges = definitely essential.
- If you have any doubt about buying an ice cream maker, Victoria will remove it for you. “Let me tell you. This is a must have in your kitchen! Who doesn’t like homemade ice cream? And if you haven’t had it, then you better try it. The best part is, this is so easy to use! Throw ingredients into this frozen bowl, turn it on, and you have ice cream 20 minutes later. Doesn’t get better than that!”
Side note: may or may not have bought one of these while pregnant. It was one of the few purchases I made while pregnant that I didn’t regret later
- Do you have pressure-cooker-phobia? You know, the fear of a pressure cooker spraying braised beef all over your ceiling when it explodes. Lynn swears by this Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker. Her Butternut Squash Risotto was made in it but, “I’ve also done lentils, beef stew, artichoke risotto, etc. It’s AMAZING.” Risotto in 10 minutes IS amazing. I’m a fan!
- Despite what I said about never having too many cookbooks, if I had to clear my shelf of all cookbooks and save just one, it would be How To Cook Everything Vegetarian (or really any of the How To Cook Everything… books by Mr. Bittman. He is my foodie-crush. Andrew knows, no worries.). While we’re not strictly vegetarian, we do try to eat loads of veggies, and this is a resource full of flavor, technique, and menu inspiration.
- To address the previous question of “is a Vitamix all it’s cracked up to be?” Meg says yes. “I use it daily for everything from smoothies, to making peanut butter to shredding potatoes or cauliflower.” Anything you use daily better be a work horse, and this blender is!
- My last recommendation is for a Cuisinart Stainless Skillet. This is another use-every-day kitchen essential that I adore. It’s heavy, heats evenly, cleans up easily, and looks like it did the day I got it (a few Christmases ago). I make my fried rice and nearly every other non-soup-or-salad meal in this pan.
So there you have it. I (with the help of the fabulous ladies who contributed to this post – thank you!) have spared you 1,000 word essays on which cookbooks or appliances to buy. If you’re looking for a couple fun holiday-inspired ideas, Victoria found these pancake molds which are super festive, and Becky showed me these hand towels, because kitchens shouldn’t be boring. They’d be perfect for stocking stuffers or friend gifts.
Which of these essentials are you oh-so-subtly suggesting that Santa should bring you? (coughHunnyINeedAVitamixcough)
Happy Shopping, Everyone!