You don't need much to outfit your kitchen like a pro.

With so many kitchen appliances out there—from food processors to rice cookers—picking out which tools are necessary for the average home cook (and which are frivolous) is an intimidating task. Should you give into the hype and try the Instant Pot? How many pans are too many pans? If you’re lost in a haze of confusion, with an Amazon cart that’s been holding five different versions of the same slow cooker for the past month, turn to none other than Marcus Samuelsson, chef at Red Rooster and Chopped judge. He knows exactly which simple, reliable tools amateur cooks should always have on hand.

Marcus Samuelsson
Credit: © Winnie Au

“You’ve got to have a diverse kitchen, but you don’t need a lot of things,” Samuelsson tells Food & Wine.

Here are his picks for the four items that will complete your kitchen:

1. A black cast iron skillet

Lodge pre-seasoned skillet, $15 on

2. A sauté pan

Calphalon Classic Nonstick Sauté Pan, $46 on

3. A non-stick pan

T-Fal Professional Total Non-stick Fry Pan, $25 on

4. A steamer and a pressure cooker

Instant Pot 7-in-1 multicooker, $100 on

These tools might not be the “latest and the greatest,” as Samuelsson puts it, but they will serve cooks who regularly make weeknight dinners and more elaborate weekend breakfasts (that non-stick pan is perfect for omelets). Take the pressure cooker, for instance, which is versatile enough to facilitate all your wildest recipe ideas.

“If you’re doing something like oxtail, it will come out perfect [in the pressure cooker],” Samuelsson says. “That steamer, when you want to eat light, just put in some water, some mint, some other fresh herbs, and steam fish.”

When you’re shopping for new appliances, Samuelsson recommends avoiding the latest trendy kitchen tools, and thinking more about how you eat during an average week, asking yourself what you need to make those meals come to life.

“It’s really about thinking through how you want your diet to work,” he says. “You don’t need to have three each of thing. Have one good thing, and take care of it.”

The one item that it’s okay to buy extras of? Cutting boards. He says they should be replaced often. So if you’re looking to go on a kitchenware shopping spree, don’t feel guilty about buying plenty of those.