Whether you just moved in to your first place, you need a practical gift idea for that person you just don’t know what to get, or you are looking to add to your personal kitchen stash, this is exactly what you should be reading right now. All of the items listed are things I own myself and use religiously.
- Cast Iron Skillet – You can sear the hell out of a steak, bake a pie, or turn it upside down and crisp a day old pizza crust back to perfection. Hands down, the most used pan in my kitchen. (P.S. If this is your first place and you happen to live alone or do not own a weapon, this doubles as one, okay? Be safe.)
- Dutch Oven – These can be pricey, but HEB carries them for around $30 which is the cheapest I have seen them, and that’s where mine is from. It’s made out of enameled cast iron and it’s heavy as hell, but it is the best pot for stews, soups, chilis, and braising. If someone asked me if I would get this over a crock pot, I would say, “You bet your ass I would.” You can get a pork shoulder fork tender in around 1.5-3 hours depending on how big it is.
- Baking Dishes in various sizes for casseroles, cakes, brownies, cobblers, etc.
- Cookie Sheets for roasting vegetables, baking the obvious cookie, or crisping bacon the mess free way in the oven.
- Mixing Bowls – I have two sets: one glass and one set of Cali Bowls that Erik got me for Christmas. I LOVE them because the sides are spill-proof.
- Wire Rack – used for cooling baked goods so the hot sheet pan doesn’t continue to cook them from underneath, but can also be used to cook bacon evenly in the oven by allowing circulation and the drippings to fall into the sheet pan underneath so it’s not sitting in the grease. (BONUS: Store the bacon drippings in a small glass mason jar in the fridge to use for later cooking or discard in the trash. NEVER put it down the drain!)
- Tongs – I use them for everything. Ev-er-y-thang. Get some with a gripped handle because solid metal can get HOT.
- Wooden Spoon – Doesn’t get too hot to touch, used for scraping up browned bits from your pans when deglazing them or stirring rouxs and sauces.
- Metal Whisk – I personally prefer metal. If you have metal mixing bowls maybe get a silicone whisk to avoid scratching.
- Chef Knife – The end all be all of knives. Seriously, forget about the knife block. This can slice, dice, carve, mince, chop- whatever you need it to do. If you want to be fancy, get a decent set of steak knives if you eat a lot of meat. If cooked properly though, you don’t really need a steak knife to begin with. I am not including a link for this because you need to find one that fits your hand comfortably. Everybody has a different preference. I personally use a 6″ but I have really small hands and am not comfortable using an 8″ knife. However, a burly man might feel like a 6″ knife is a paring knife in his hand so no. Go to Bed Bath & Beyond or a Sur La Table and test out holding the knives they have there to get a feel for something you’ll like.
- Microplane – aka a ‘zester.’ This is used to grate anything from garlic to make a paste, chocolate shavings, citrus, fresh nutmeg, and my personal favorite, Parmesan cheese over a fresh pasta dish. YUM.
- Measuring Cups + spoons – I have this stacked set from Joseph Joseph that I absolutely love. They snap together so they don’t take up ANY space in my utensil drawer and for the price? Pssh, please.
- Cutting Board – a sturdy wooden one is what I use, but I also clean it after every. single. use. and sanitize with fresh lemons after using raw meat which is quite a hassel. Again, Joseph Joseph has saved the day by having THIS bad boy on the market. I have been wanting it for a couple of years now after seeing it in my local Steinmart but failed to take advantage of the $25 discount. I can’t spend that much on a cutting board. I just can’t. Maybe as a gift?
- Fish Spatula – Specially made to get under delicate fish without it falling apart on the flip, this comes in handy for many other things for me including flipping burgers, transferring cookies to a wire cooling rack, but most importantly, getting under a cracked egg and flipping it without the yolk breaking. Step your egg game up and invest in one of these.
- Silicone Spatula – I use this for a multitude of things, but it’s really helpful when you need to scrape the sides of a pan, or the remains out of a bowl or skillet, and icing cakes. I have this exact one that tells me measurment conversions which comes in handy ALL OF THE TIME, but before you get discouraged about the price, I actually found mine at TJ Maxx (along with a lot of other things on this list) for about $4!