Okay, so you need to get your kitchen together ASAP. Maybe you just signed a lease on your first ever apartment. Or maybe it just hit you that your roommate’s parents have been generously furnishing your kitchen this whole time…. and your roommate is moving out. Cool. We got you. This is The Daily Twenties’ list of the 25 most basic items you’ll need to cook for yourself and maybe a roommate or two… if you’re nice like that. Disclaimer— this list only covers the basics. If you’re the Mario Batali of undiscovered culinary talent, you might want to check out this next level kitchen essentials list. Otherwise, read on.
A skillet, sauce pan, and large pot are all you should need to get started. It’s usually a better deal when you buy all those items as part of a set, though. Look for an 8-12 piece set somewhere like Amazon, Macy’s, or Costco— those three have the best sales on cookware.
This one is a no-brainer. You need utensils to consume food (well, at least to consume food in a socially acceptable manner). Consider buying set with 20 pieces or so. You might be just one person, but you eat at least three times per day…. and, how often do you plan to wash your dishes? Thought so.
Buy more than you think you’ll need— between two and four bowls, plates, cups, mugs, etc. should set you up nicely. Also, it looks organized and impressive when your dishes match.
4. Oven mitts
Sh&%! will get hot when you cook it. That’s a fact. You’re going to need something to protect your hands when you grab baking dishes out of the oven and hot pans off the stove.
Pretty much the most useful cooking utensil ever invented. Use these to rotate meat or veg on the grill or stovetop, toss salads, and sauté almost anything.
You’ll use this with anything you throw in a pan to cook— meat, eggs, veg, you name it. Make sure to get a wooden or silicone spatula if you have nonstick pans (otherwise you’ll scratch the surface of your cookware).
Same idea as the spatula, but you’ll need this one specifically for sauces and soups.
8. Chef’s knife
One chef’s knife will set you up to chop, slice, and dice pretty much everything— fruit, veg, meat, fish, herbs— the list goes on and on.
9. Paring knife
Because slicing your finger open is a totally amateur move in the kitchen… you’ll want to use something smaller and easier to handle than a chef’s knife to cut things like cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and the like.
10. Mixing bowl
The title is pretty self explanatory. Use this for making dough, combining pasta with sauce, tossing salads, and anything else you need to mix.
If your pasta consumption habits are anything like mine, you’ll need this just for its pasta-draining capabilities. It’s also great for washing vegetables and rinsing legumes, like chickpeas and black beans.
12. Can opener
Have you ever been can opener-less when you needed to open a can? Yeah, it suddenly feels like you’re in the stone age— which is a ridiculous and easily avoidable scenario.
Maybe you have a bottle opener on your keychain. It’s okay. I’m not judging. You’ll still want one of these to open wine bottles and give to your guests if they need to open their beer (unless you’d like to pass around your keys).
14. Glassware set
Glassware is the most responsible, sophisticated way to store your leftovers. It’s microwave and dishwasher safe, doesn’t absorb any flavor or odor from your food, and makes you look like you generally have your life together. It’s more expensive than plastic up front, but it will last you way longer.
15. Cutting board
Bamboo is the choice move here. It lasts longer than other materials, doesn’t contain chemicals (like plastic often does), and won’t dull your knives.
16. Measuring cup
Even if you’re not a baker, you can’t really replicate any recipe without a measuring cup. Not even oatmeal. Get a glass one with a lip for pouring. That way, it’ll be useful for both liquid and dry ingredients.
17. Measuring spoons
If you like to go rogue in the kitchen and have never looked at a cookbook in your life, then this might not be a necessary item for you. Otherwise, these should come in handy when you need to precisely follow a recipe.
18. 8×8 baking dish
Contrary to the name, it’s not just for baked goods. You can use this for anything you want to bake in the oven— lasagne, enchiladas, roasted vegetables, chicken, fish, etc.
19. Baking sheet
I know what you’re thinking, and yes, this is different from the baking dish. You’ll need it to make cookies and anything you want to get crispy or flakey, like roast carrots or broiled fish.
Trust me on this, whisks are superior to spoons for mixing eggs, brownie batter, salad dressings, and more.
21. Cheese grater
Any purchase in the name of cheese is a good investment. You can buy grated cheese from the store, but it will severely limit your selection and it usually costs more.
22. Ice cube tray
Unless you have a fancy freezer with a built-in ice machine…
23. Kitchen towels
Paper towels are great, but they’re not exactly friendly to the environment or good for your wallet. And let’s be honest— at some point in your at-home culinary career, you will spill something.
24. Natural cleaner
Don’t use Windex or Clorox to clean your counter. At some point, you or someone you love will make, drop, or place a sandwich on that counter— and you shouldn’t have to worry about traces of harsh chemicals in that scenario.
25. Dish soap
Get one for hand washing your dishes and another for running your dishwasher, if you have one. Do not make the mistake of using dish soap in your dishwasher… turning your kitchen into a bubble bath might be hilarious in concept, but is actually a pain in the a$$ to clean up (unfortunately, I would know).