10 Kitchen Essentials to Fuel Your Own Culinary Journeys - Vox Creative

10 Kitchen Essentials to Fuel Your Own Culinary Journeys

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This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and BP. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

The kitchen gadget world is packed with single use products — I'm looking at you, avocado slicer! — and gizmos that look impressive on infomercials. What they all have in common is that they're all things you don't really need. This plethora of options can make stocking your kitchen somewhat daunting. Instead, hone in on the essentials: the 10 items every kitchen needs to churn out an amazing meal. Here, you'll find the core items that drive a top-notch kitchen.



To get the most bang for your buck, you can't beat the value of a mandoline. There are fancy (and more expensive) versions around if homemade waffle fries and crinkled carrot slices are your thing, but for straight slicing, the cheap plastic ones work just as well, if not better than, expensive models. There is no easier or more efficient way to thinly slice your fruits and vegetables: make homemade potato chips, slice apples for pie filling in minutes and quick-pickle onions with speed and ease. That said: safety is incredible important. There isn't a chef alive who suffered from the knick of a mandoline, so learn from their mistakes and keep the tips of your fingers clear of that blade by always using the hand guard.


Chef’s knife

Essential is the most apt way to describe a good chef's knife. Because you'll use this so much, we recommend going to a store to try a few out for size. They will all feel different in your hand, and since you'll be using this more than anything else in your kitchen, you'll want it to be comfortable, both in grip and weight. The Japanese make exceptionally good blades that will make slicing through a butternut squash just as easy as julienning basil. Somewhat unfortunately, price is a fairly good indicator of value — you'll get what you pay for — so it's worth spending the extra cash and making sure you get it sharpened on a regular basis to upkeep your investment.


cast-iron pan

A well-seasoned cast-iron pan is indispensable in the kitchen, and like a fine wine, they only get better with age. This workhorse of a tool can be used as a roasting pan, a pizza stone, a sauté pan, and even a pie plate. It’s ideal for searing meats and vegetables — it distributes heat evenly and retains it — and it can be thrown into extremely hot ovens. It's a naturally nonstick pan, though it requires some specific care. New pans need to be seasoned (heated up several times in an oven and covered with lard so the oils seep into the iron's pores) though cleaning a well-seasoned pan is a cinch: just wipe it down with some warm water, and leave the soap out of it.


non-stick pan

A non-stick pan is the one item, besides your chef's knife, that you'll use most often. Sautéing, simmering, scrambling: you name it, this pan does it. It is essential for making the perfect eggs (the secret to the softest scrambles and omelets is near constant stirring on medium-low heat), but any vegetable or protein can be cooked just as effortlessly. The beauty of a nonstick is how easy it is to clean (just keep abrasive sponges away, you'll start breaking down the nonstick sealant).


instant-read thermometer

An accurate, consistent cooking temperature is essential to mastering the art of cooking at the most basic level. And, there’s not better way to do so than with an instant-read thermometer. Versatile, compact and relatively inexpensive, this handy tool can be used to tell you when your steak is a perfect medium-rare, alert you when a pot of oil is ready for frying, and help regulate sugars to make candy. Do a little research before you buy one — a model with a quick response time (less than 10 seconds) is ideal.


food processor

Pie dough, salad dressing and pesto can all be made by hand, but having a food processor makes these tasks infinitely easier with superior results. Most processors come with various blades with the option to shred, dice, mince or mix, making this one of the most versatile appliances in the kitchen. Though food processors can be a bit irritating to clean (several moving parts are involved), you'll realize it's all worth it the first time you can dice a handful of onions with not so much as batting a (watery) eye.


Good cutting board

Remember all that money you spent on a great chef's knife? You want to treat it well. Like putting premium gasoline in your car, investing in a well-made wooden cutting board will extend the life of your knives immeasurably. Maple is the ideal wood, and if you can find one that's edge-grain — which gives it a slightly rough surface — it'll help grip the knife's edge and keep it from sliding around on your counter. A bit on upkeep: oil the board regularly and never let it sit in standing water or be put through a dishwasher cycle, this will keep the board from warping and rotting. Also recommended, two separate boards: one for raw fruits and veggies, the other for fish and meat.


Stainless steel bowls

No matter what you're cooking, you'll certainly get a ton of mileage from a quality, standard set of nesting bowls. Economical on space, they'll become the go-to option for all of your mise en place needs, not to mention a must-have for baking. Doubling as low-key salad bowls for impromptu dinner parties, you'll use a set of these for almost everything. Stainless steel is also non-reactive so you can use them to marinate and beat egg whites to your heart's content without affecting the flavor.


Sheet Pan

The sheet pan is perhaps most commonly known as a vessel for baked goods, but seasoned at-home chefs know it's the perfect tool for preparing an entire meal — from vegetables to greens to protein — quickly and beautifully. The key to using the trusty sheet pan for meals is staggering the cooking time for each component: hard root vegetables should go in first, proteins are added later, and more delicate greens right at the end. Pro tip: invest in a roll of parchment paper, which can be used for steaming fish as well as lining the baking sheet for easy cleanup.



In professional kitchens, tongs are almost an appendage. On busy stoves, they're used to shift the many pans heating sauces and to pull pastas out of roiling pots of water. They're used to pull steaks off grills or chicken thighs out of ovens. In a home kitchen, you'll reach for them constantly as you're shifting sautéed vegetables around a pan, pulling that steamed artichoke out of the sauce pan, or moving those ribs to a cooler place on the grill. Find a pair that locks shut, for easier storage for the rare occasions when you're not using them.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and BP. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

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