9 Essential Kitchen Tools and Appliances Worth Splurging On
If you're a serious home cook, these items will stand the test of time.
Building a well-stocked and efficient kitchen is something that takes time. For many of us, there are specific pieces of kitchen equipment that we replace and upgrade as we evolve as a cook. If you’re ready to swap out that hand-me-down casserole dish or stained plastic cutting board for something chic and high quality, then we’re here to help.
From a centerpiece-worthy roasting pan to the blender that all chefs have in their kitchens, this high-end equipment is worth every penny. Here, nine tried and true big-ticket kitchen tools that every serious cook should own.
1. Dutch Oven
Be it a big batch of soup, a loaf of no-knead bread or braised chicken legs, a Dutch oven can be used to cook just about anything. There are many brands that make cast-iron enameled casseroles (and at all different price points), but Staub makes one of the best. These gorgeous casseroles are definitely an investment, but they are stylish, incredibly well-made and will last a lifetime. The 7-quart size is big enough to handle most jobs, but it won’t take up too much space in your kitchen. (Still unsure? See Which Dutch Oven Size to Buy).
2. Professional Blender
If you’re a serious cook who makes a lot of pureed soups, sauces from scratch or enjoys a morning smoothie, then a Vitamix should be at the top of your wish list. There are less expensive options out there, but a Vitamix works quickly, efficiently and gives you a smoother consistency than just about any other blender. This is the brand that most of America’s chefs use in their home and professional kitchens.
Vitamix Professional-Grade Explorian Blender, $350 at amazon.com
3. Food Processor
You might be wondering if you need a blender and a food processor, but they are used for very different jobs. A food processor makes prepping a big batch of stuffing or 5 pie crusts a breeze. It is best used to expedite any project you would do with a knife. This well-built 12-cup model from Cuisinart is exactly the size you’ll want when prepping Thanksgiving dinner for twenty, but it also has a small insert bowl that works when you just want to make enough pesto for two.
Cuisinart Elite Collection 12-Cup Food Processor, $165 (originally $365) at amazon.com
4. Roasting Pan
If you’re the one in your family who always hosts Thanksgiving or who likes to wow your friends with a jaw-dropping roast, then a quality roasting pan is a must. This copper beauty from the French family-owned company Mauviel is sure to become an heirloom. The thick copper and stainless-steel walls distribute heat evenly and allow it to be used on any stove top or in the oven. (See also: our favorite sheet pans).
5. Wood Cutting Board
Every kitchen needs a sturdy wood cutting board. Boos blocks are heavy, durable and have handles on the sides which makes them easy to lift. With hand-washing and an occasional oiling, these boards will last forever. They also look beautiful on a kitchen countertop and are perfect for large cheese or charcuterie spreads. Quick tip: when picking out a cutting board, make sure that it will fit in your sink!
6. 8-inch Chef’s Knife
There is no tool more essential than a good chef’s knife and it’s worth your money to invest in a good one. We’ve written about this insanely sharp Japanese-style knife from Shun a few times, but that is because it is Just. That. Good. We use this knife in our home kitchens and in our Test Kitchen and it holds up to rigorous use. The forged steel blade also keeps its edge longer than a European-style blade. Despite its durability, this knife does require some special care. Be sure to only hand wash it and either sharpen it yourself every now and then or send it away to have it professionally sharpened (Shun will even do it for free).
Shun Hikari 8" Chef's Knife, $200 at williams-sonoma.com
7. Stand Mixer
A stand-mixer isn’t a necessity for every home cook, but once you have one, you can’t imagine life without it. It makes big batches of cookies and cake batter a cinch, plus all of the attachments (we’re talking about you, pasta roller!) add unlimited potential. The classic KitchenAid stand mixer comes in so many colors that it’s not an eye sore on your kitchen counter either.
KitchenAid Artisan Series 5 Qt Stand Mixer, $279 at amazon.com
8. 9-by-13-inch Baking Dish
If you like to entertain or are super into one-pan meals, then you’ll want a quality ceramic baking dish. This large 3.8 quart baker from Revol is 9-by-13-inches, which is the standard size for most lasagna or casserole recipes. Bonus: it comes in this sexy matte black that looks so good on the table.
Revol 3.8 Qt Black Rectangular Baker, $100 at surlatable.com
9. 10-inch Stainless-Steel Skillet
Stainless steel cookware is durable, conducts heat incredibly well and will give you that perfect sear every time. When it comes to stainless steel, All-Clad is the top-performing brand and worth the splurge. This 10-inch skillet is the perfect size for searing a large ribeye or roasting a whole chicken – the oven-proof handle helps it go from stove top, to oven, to table top.