Joni Sare, cooking instructor

Kitchen gear, gadgets, tools: the necessities

Reaching a new automatic pilot that works for you, your health goals, your standard of living, requires having the right setting, the right scene, the right tools for the job.

So, I’ve put together a list of…

necessary pots, pans, tools, gadgets and small appliances for the kitchen

I came up with 2 lists:

  1. THE BASICS: The first list is for those folks who want the very very basic tools and or who have a very limited space for storing these items and or who do very minimal cooking.
  2. THE BASICS+: The second list is for those who will be in the kitchen cooking who follow recipes now and then.

Where to buy:
First of all, the items below are easy to find (online and at most kitchen stores/department stores). Be careful though, you’ll pay more at the kitchen stores that have prime locations (you end up paying for the locality/ convenience, and prestige). The links are not specific brands they just show the styles I like.

#1 — THE BASICS: tools and gadgets you need in the kitchen

All-purpose items:

Cooking on the stove top:

Cooking in the oven:


For food storage:

#2 — THE BASICS+, add these items to the list above:

Cooking on the stovetop:

  • a long-handled wood spoon
  • a rubber scraping spatula
  • a two-cup liquid measurement (this can be used for dry measurements, too)

Cooking in the oven:

  • roasting pan
  • baking sheets (jellyroll pans)

More info, and more items


A chef knife is a very personal piece of equipment. I urge you to go to your nearest kitchen store and try them on for size. There are many variables to consider:

  • the tang (the handle varies in thickness and material /texture)
  • the weight and balance of the knife will feel very different for each person
  • a thick or thin blade, an Asian style or European/American style
  • a long heel
  • the length:  I recommend 7 or 8-inch
  • the material:  ceramic, carbon stainless steel, stamped or forged
  • the thick or thin bolster
  • the curve of the tip and belly

    Anatomy of knife

Cutting boards

  • BAMBOO! get a large 16-inch x 12-inch, or so. Go for this size if you have the room on your counter. I like the type of with a groove to catch juices (like pineapple juice, watermelon juice, meat juice)
  • or get a solid hardwood board
  • I highly recommend a double sided board, with a groove on one side.
  • I am not a fan of plastic cutting boards.

Measuring spoons and cups

  • I like stainless steel for most of these things

Mixing bowls

  • I like glass, ceramic and stainless steel. Stainless steel is the lightest.
  • multi-sized bowls are good to have
  • with lids is huge bonus
  • have at least one extra-large stainless steel bowl (I have a 16-inch, 18-inch and 20-inch)
  • 4-cup glass bowl with pour spout is good to have, but not mandatory

Pots, pans and skillets

  • THE BEST, I believe, is cast-iron enamel coated, stainless steel is runner up
  • One large stockpot (10- to 12-quart pot is more versatile)
  • One 6- or 8-inch skillet (slanted sides)
  • One 5-quart saucepan with glass lid
  • I’ve been coveting this Dutch oven (flip it over and the cover doubles as a skillet, and the pot becomes the lid — will cook similar to a Moroccan tagine)

Small appliances

  • Food processor (I have four: but my 7-cup machine gets the most use, and the smaller 2-cup is used at least once a month, ….skip the 13-cup size unless you are cooking for an army. I have found over and over again that the 4-cup machines are an awkward size, either too small or too big.
  • High-speed blender (I favor the Blendtec — and use the 6-cup and 4-cup carafe)
  • Immersion blender (I love mine)
  • Spice grinder (most coffee grinders will do, just be sure to designate it for spices only b/c the coffee aroma is hard to deodorize)
  • Rice cooker, stainless steel (I have similar to this one)
  • Slow cooker
  • Instant Pot
  • Air Fryer
  • Sous Vide
  • Counter-top smoker

Hand-operated gadgets

Tools, utensils


  • Timer (two-in-one is best)
  • Thermometer (many kinds out there, just need one that reads low and high temps, wireless probe huge bonus, this one is way cool)
  • String, twine
  • Parchment paper (I buy the non-bleached version)
  • Nut milk bag

Glass storage containers

  • with tight-fitting lids
  • multiple sizes
  • stackable
  • square, rectangle are easiest to stack and store

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