Make Cooking Easier in 2022 With These Ten Kitchen Essentials
With the start of a new year, many have made resolutions to help accomplish goals and improve their well-being. For many, cooking at home to save money, create a healthier lifestyle, or reduce single-use plastic waste is a popular resolution. Whether you already cook at home or have made it a goal for 2022, I have some recommendations of kitchen essentials that will make your life easier. Whether you are preparing meals for one, a family, or even hosting a dinner party, these essentials will hold up meal after meal and save you time. The ten items listed below are items I use weekly, if not daily, when cooking. None of the products are sponsored and are hand-selected for this article.
Cast Iron Dutch Ovens
Cast iron is one of my favorite types of cookware to use in cooking. When seasoned properly, cast iron cookware is non-stick and cleans easily. It also offers even temperatures and the added versatility of cooking on stovetops and in ovens. If I could only recommend one piece of cookware, I would suggest Legend’s cast-iron Dutch oven. Both the pot base and lid are solid craftsmanship, and they’re well-seasoned out of the box.
Dutch ovens are fabulous for starting recipes on a stovetop and finishing in an oven. I’ve used mine to bake stuffed peppers, artisan loaves, homestyle mac n’ cheese, and soups. I’ve even cooked a whole small chicken with veggies, and stock added, taking advantage of the lid helping to retain the moisture. With Legend’s Dutch oven, the cover also functions like a skillet. Dutch ovens take up space, and I would rather make the most out of every cookware. Because of the versatility, cast iron Dutch ovens make the list of my kitchen essentials.
Mesh Strainers is One of My Most Used Kitchen Essentials
The fine mesh allows you to separate citrus pulp, seeds from berries, and even scrambled egg pieces that have cooked in curds. The ability to separate smaller seeds and materials creates sauces and curds silky smooth and pulp-free cocktails. Fine mesh sieves can also create a decorative dusting of powdered sugar and cocoa on top of baked goods. When cooking polenta or quinoa, fine mesh sieves will also prevent smaller grains from slipping through colander holes when straining out water.
The mesh sieve that I use is available here. Two handles allow for more control, and the closed-loop handle can also keep the strainer suspended over small to medium pots. That comes in handy when preparing cooked sauces and curds, straining directly into a pot. I usually hand wash strainers, but I have added this to a dishwasher without the mesh tearing or rust developing. I’ve used it for about three years now, and the bowl has maintained its shape.
Master Maison's 19-Piece Knife Set
A quality knife set is one of the best investments you can make when cooking at home. The set that I use at home is Master Maison’s 19-piece set. The blades are razor-sharp out of the box, and I love the balance and weight of the knives. I’ve had no issues with the blades rusting or the handles cracking. I will note that I never wash my knives in the dishwasher, only by hand. I immediately dry them with a soft towel and place them back into the holder. Master Maison’s knife set covers the basic knife styles without paying hundreds of dollars, and the quality will last! If you want to upgrade your current knives or invest in a first set, I highly recommend Master Maison’s knives.
A Kitchen Essentials Knife Guide
Having a range of knife sizes at your reach helps select the best for the task at hand. Chef knives work well when cutting meat cuts into smaller cubes, chopping fruits and vegetables into larger chunks, and cutting through bone joints. Santoku knives are my go-to for dicing onions, mincing garlic, and finely chopping herbs. Bread knives are serrated to help distribute pressure points across the surface of the bread and grip the bread, easily slicing without crushing a loaf. Paring knives are perfect for trimming strawberries and other smaller fruits and veggies where a chef knife would be cumbersome.
Metal Probed Thermometers
Thermometers make the list of kitchen essentials for two reasons, food safety being number one. As a consumer, properly storing and cooking food are two of the best defenses against food-borne illnesses. When cooking food, checking the internal temperature significantly reduces serving contaminated food. Thermometers are also kitchen essentials because some ingredients need to reach specific temperatures, such as tempering chocolate or making caramel.
Whether checking the internal temperature of foods or tracking cooking stages, I trust ThermoPro thermometers. The readings are quick and accurate, but the units are affordable and durable. There’s a built-in magnet so you can easily store the thermometer on the fridge when not in use, and there’s even a list of internal temperatures on the back!
Kitchen Scales Make Measuring Ingredients and Portions Easy
Kitchen scales can often be undervalued in terms of their usefulness in a kitchen. While they’re most commonly associated with a portion control diet, that’s only half of their use. When baking or cooking a recipe, weight is always more accurate than volume measurements. Depending on how much flour and sugar packs into a cup, two different scoops may not be the same amount. When baking, not having an exact amount of an ingredient can throw off the texture of a bake.
Etekcity makes the scale that I use. It’s a small scale that helps save counter space and cabinet space when stored. My favorite feature about this scale is an internal rechargeable battery. That eliminates the need to spend money on batteries and reduces the waste of single-use batteries. For weighing spices and smaller portions, measurements register as light as a single gram for accuracy. When cleaning after a recipe, the scale is IPX6 waterproof and can be placed under a running faucet to wash away food stains. Etekcity’s scale is one of my favorite kitchen essentials for ingredient accuracy.
Peelers Are Must-Have Kitchen Essentials
Having a quality vegetable peeler on hand can save you tons of time and help you achieve some decorative touches! While peelers are great for potatoes and apples, the versatility doesn’t stop there. What makes peelers a kitchen essential for me is removing thinner skins, such as mango, kiwi, and even ginger root! While you can use a knife to remove skins, peelers can shave thinner layers more easily, preventing you from hacking away at the flesh of fruits. Peelers are also perfect for creating decorative accents. Easily create chocolate curls on top of cakes and hot cocoa, orange peel curls for an old-fashioned, or lemon curls for fresh squeezed lemonade!
One of the best peelers I’ve owned is made by Spring Chef and has lasted me years. While the logo letters have worn off the silver oval, the blade has remained sharp. The swiveling blade is also perfect for peeling between the tight areas of ginger roots. The quality, price, and versatility easily make Spring Chef’s peeler one of my most used kitchen essentials.
Kitchen Shears Are One of the Most Versatile Kitchen Essentials
If you’ve been using office scissors in your kitchen, it’s time to upgrade to a pair of kitchen shears. Having a designated pair of shears for use only in the kitchen will help reduce cross-contamination and extend your shears’ life. You can use Shears for a variety of purposes, including
- Prepping whole chicken wings into party wings (check out my crispy oven-baked wing recipe!
- Cutting pizza slices
- Trimming herbs
- Cutting cooking twine, produce ties, and packaging open
- Cutting raw bacon into smaller pieces before cooking
The list could go on, but you get the idea. Kitchen shears may not seem like a big deal, but I use them all the time. The pair that I have used and like most are by Oxo. Don’t be fooled by the lack of a nutcracker, bottle opener, or screwdriver tip on the handles. Those aren’t bells and whistles that I miss, and Oxo’s shears make up for the simplicity with sharpness, durability, and comfort. I cut my party wings from whole at least monthly with these, and they’re sharp after using them for a year. The blades also have notches close to the screw that you can use to strip rosemary and thyme leaves from the stem. The handles also come apart when cleaning, which helps ensure no bacteria is left behind. Oxo’s shears are absolutely a kitchen essential for the price and quality.
Reuseable Piping Bags and Couplers
While piping bags are commonly associated with decorating cakes, that’s hardly the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their versatility! Outside of icing work, piping bags can pipe macarons onto trays, fill doughnut and muffin trays, and create delicate lines of chocolate decorations. Disposable piping bags are available on the market, and you can even use a gallon-sized storage slider bag in a pinch. However, while disposable bags offer convenience, the cost and environmental impact add up over time.
Reusable piping bags are perfect for reducing disposable bags’ long-term cost and landfill waste! One of my favorite piping bags to use are Wilton’s featherweight bags. The bag’s exterior is a polyester material with a coated interior preventing butter grease absorption. I find fabric and polyester bags offer durability and a more comfortable grip than silicone bags. In addition, the opening of Wilton’s featherweight bag is reinforced and can be cut to use with piping tips and couplers.
Couplers are a great way to ensure thicker frosting doesn’t push tips out of the bag from the pressure. They also have ridges that can accommodate various sizes of piping attachments. The best advantage of couplers is that you don’t need to empty the bag if you want to change piping tips. Instead, simply unscrew the coupler’s collar, change the tip, and replace the collar.
Wire Rack and Baking Sheet Combos
Every kitchen should have a durable baking pan, whether roasting vegetables or baking cookies with perfectly browned bottoms. When paired with a baking rack, you can bake bacon, perfect fries, and crispy wings while collecting grease and crumbs on the tray. Ultra Cuisine makes both the baking tray and baking rack I use. I recommend this pan and tray set because both contain stainless steel without an aluminum core.
I avoid cooking acidic foods in aluminum pans as it can alter the flavor. Steel may not be as much of a heat conductor, but it’s more versatile. The baking rack can be cleaned in a dishwasher, while the baking tray should only be hand washed. I store the baking rack nested inside the pan during storage to help save space in my cabinets. The bonus is if you’re ever baking cookies in the tray, you’ll know exactly where to find the rack for cooling the cookies!
Dash Chef's Deluxe Immersion Blender Combines Kitchen Essentials
When shopping for kitchen items over $50, I look for three checkmarks: quality, cost comparison, and versatility. If I am spending money on a product, I don’t want it to sit tucked away unused. I started using a Dash immersion blender and food processor last year, and so far, it has met all three marks. I’ve used Dash’s food processor for over a year now and use it a few times a week. Over the past year, the blades have remained sharp, and the motor still runs smoothly. I use my food processor for:
- Creating fresh salsas, guacamole, and dicing fruits and vegetables
- Pureeing soups using the immersion blender
- With the potato masher attachment, mashed potatoes cream effortlessly
- I’ve even made almond flour with blanched almonds
The best design feature is all the attachments, mixing cup aside, store on top or within the food processor, eliminating clutter in drawers. The height is about 19 inches tall, 11 inches wide, including the handle, perfect for smaller kitchens. If you are looking to make cooking easier with fewer appliances, this is a must-have for kitchen essentials.
This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission by purchasing items linked to Amazon. There is no added expense for you, and it will help support Flavors of Paradis LLC. All products recommended are hand selected by Flavors of Paradis unless otherwise stated as a sponsored product.