This roundup is a continuation of our January 2016 guide, Essential Kitchen Gear. Assuming you stocked up on everything we recommended in that article and want to know where to go from here, today’s guide will help you expand on that original list.
Obviously, every kitchen needs a good baking sheet. This heavy duty half-sheet one by Nordic Ware is the #1 best-seller on Amazon, and for good reason. It has a great heft to it, heats evenly, and is easy to clean.
While the sheet alone is great for making cookies and other baked goods, you really want to pair it with a wire rack like this one for some purposes, such as resting steaks or oven-frying chicken wings.
A saucepan is the next piece of cookware that should be in every kitchen. Whether you’re making sauces, boiling eggs, or cooking oatmeal, rice, or other grains, a good solid saucepan is an indispensable workhorse for getting the job done.
We recommend the Cuisinart’s 2-quart MultiClad Pro stainless steel saucepan. It’s comfortable to work with, it distributes heat beautifully, and the lid handle leaves plenty of room for grabbing with a towel.
If you’ve ever wanted to try sous vide cooking, this 800-watt Bluetooth-enabled immersion cooker by Anova Culinary is the gadget for you. If you’re not already on board the sous vide train, here’s an explainer by Brian Chen at The New York Times about why it’s an awesome method:
Sous vide, which means “under vacuum” in French, involves sealing food in an airtight bag and giving it a hot-water bath. A cylindrical gadget gently circulates and heats the water to a precise, consistent temperature, allowing the food to reach the exact temperature the cook desires without the risk of overcooking. Its advocates say the method is the key to attaining a piece of meat that is uniformly tender and juicy inside.
Now, about the Anova cooker. The way this little beauty works is, you clamp it onto the side of just about any pot or tank you have lying around — which you’ll have to fill with water, of course — then plug it in, set your desired time and temperature, and boom, it starts circulating the water and maintaining that temperature the entire time. That’s it.
While it’s fine to eat food straight out of the bag when it’s done, many sous vide cooks like to “finish” meats by searing, grilling, or broiling them as a last touch before plating. Totally up to you of course, but I do recommend giving it a shot because it can make the difference between “Huh, this is pretty tasty” and “Wow, this is legit steakhouse-quality.”
Note: As of this writing (Thursday, March 16th, 2017), the newer 900-watt version of this sous vide cooker — which sports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity — is on sale for just $40, down from $199. We’re not sure why the crazy price cut, nor do we know how long the sale will last, so hop on it fast if you want one.
The Instant Pot is THE pressure cooker that everyone in the know recommends. Anything with over 17,000 Amazon reviews that still has 4.5 stars is something you know will be a great piece of equipment.
You can use the Instant Pot as a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, or a rice cooker, plus it’s good for sautéing, browning, steaming, warming, and even for making yogurt. Its stainless steel inner pot is also more durable than those with nonstick pots, and the unit as a whole is pretty easy to clean.
The Instant Pot can seem a little intimidating to use at first, but as it happens, the top Amazon review for it is incredibly helpful and offers loads of tips and resources to get you started, including some notes on the pressure cooker’s safety features.
- On the topic of cooking rice: While the Instant Pot does get the job done, nothing beats a true, dedicated rice cooker. For that, we recommend the Zojirushi NS-TSC10.
There’s a good reason why Cuisinart’s 14-cup food processor is The Sweethome’s top pick. It isn’t super fancy — I mean, it only has two buttons: On and Off/Pulse — but this thing is borderline magical.
It chops, shreds, purées, pulsates, and distributes efficiently and evenly, and is surprisingly quiet while doing so. It also has the plus of being easy to clean. The only downside is that it doesn’t come with a dough blade, which is useful for kneading dough and mixing other foods without grinding them.
This set of 12 magnetic spice tins is ideal for anyone with a small kitchen, or for those who always hate digging through a rack of bottles to find the right one while cooking.
These sorts of tins keep spices nicely organized and easily accessible — whether you’re keeping them on the side of your fridge or on a wall-mounted base plate — and their see-through lids (which can be turned for sifting or pouring) help you keep an eye on how much of each spice you’ve got left.
The magnets on this particular set are just strong enough to keep the tins in place without making them difficult to remove when you need them. They also come with a bunch of labels you can use, most of which are pre-filled with common spice names but some of which are blank for you to write something of your own.