As we head towards the holiday shopping season, I wanted to share some of my favorite kitchen items with you all. When friends or clients reach out to me for help setting up their home kitchen, one of the most frequently asked questions I receive is, “What products do I really need?”. Walking into a home goods store is a surefire way to feel overwhelmed by choices. The reality is that you don’t need much. The “must-have” staples for me are:
- Sturdy cookware, stainless steel or cast iron
- High-powered blender or food processor
- One good chef’s knife
- Baking sheets
- Parchment Paper
- Giant wood cutting board (with non-slip rubber on the base)
Beyond this, you can definitely tinker with some fun gadgets, but most people don’t need the fancy one-use stuff. Below, I’ve listed and linked some of my favorite fun kitchen gifts. I’m not sponsored by any of these, I just genuinely love and use them most weeks if not everyday.
Pro-Tip: follow these brands on instagram or via email newsletter to get the info on their upcoming holiday sales. Don’t miss out on saving some dough!
I honestly don’t think a week goes by without me using this contraption. Most people assume immersion blenders are for pureeing soup but I use it for all kinds of culinary exploits. It’s a quick way to mash bananas for paleo pancakes or banana bread, make a quick butter coffee or creamer without using the upright blender. Just remember to detach the wand from the motor when cleaning to avoid an ER visit (may or may not be speaking out experience).
My favorite addition to my kitchen stuff this past year is, without a doubt, silicone food storage bags. They are so great for packing food on-the-go and not having to worry about taking up a ton of space with glass or plastic containers. Before I purchased these, I was never a ziploc buyer. I just couldn’t get behind the one-time use plastic and I also was never fully confident in their durability. These bags have really made snacks and leftovers easier to store and carry day-in and day-out.
Who likes trying to separate ground meat in a skillet while also keeping tiny meat pieces from flinging out onto the cooktop? Ya, me neither. Enter the incredibly useful ground meat chopper. I’m not super into kitchen gadgets, especially ones with a single function, but this thing is AWESOME. It’s also easy to clean which is helpful when you’re using a gadget for only one purpose. Great stocking stuffer for the home chef.
I held off getting a garlic press for a long time. I don’t like cleaning them out and when I would be cooking with a ton of garlic at work, the press almost made everything take longer than if I just minced by hand. For one dish home cooking, I really enjoy using it and not inundating my cutting board with a garlic fragrance. Another fantastic stocking stuffer. Sometimes you just don’t want to peel garlic.
Do not. I repeat DO NOT buy nut milk bags that are specifically marketed for that use. These work just as well and you get a ton of them for a fraction of the price of one single “nut milk bag”. These are reuse-able mesh produce bags, but the fine mesh is the perfect size to strain your homemade nut milks. I’ve been using this hack since graduating from culinary school. Pro tip for me is now a pro tip for you.
I know what you’re thinking…Why not just use a regular whisk? Because sometimes you need to mix something in a small container or bowl. Or whisk 2 eggs. Or re-mix a dressing or sauce in a small mason jar. I use this lil’ guy ALL. THE. TIME. I didn’t think it would come in handy so often, but it does. So it’s going on the list.
Rarely do I use this for fish. But when I do make fish, it is also useful for that. I find that a lot of spatulas are too wide or too thick or too flimsy (insert inappropriate joke here) to effectively flip or pickup something in a skillet. I use these for pancakes, burgers, plantains or serving baked goods. The rigid metal won’t work well with any non-stick cookware, but since i use mostly cast iron or stainless steel, it’s a good thing. I believe you can find them with a silicone edge if you need some protection for your sensitive pans.
If you are or know someone who routinely uses citrus, garlic, or ginger while cooking, the microplane is valuable piece of equipment. There’s a larger version and smaller ones. I would just spring for the larger one. The smaller can be just as useful but I find it’s harder to handle and clean.
I don’t use these everyday, but I am thankful for them on the days I bake. Grain-free baking can be murder on your bakeware, and no one wants to spend that much time scrubbing egg off of a muffin tin. These are affordable, reusable, and give you all the muffin you baked, not just the muffin you scrape out of a paper baking cup (if you know, you know).