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What I (Actually) Use in my Kitchen

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I was going through emails from a couple weeks back and I found a message from my friend Noel, master accordion-player and soon to be Mrs., asking about kitchen essentials to register for. I’m so glad that 1.) she wrote with the question and 2.) that I rediscovered the message!

It’s a topic that I’ve been meaning to write about for a while (ever since I started BK, actually!). Registering and buying stuff for your kitchen can be so overwhelming: there are a million kitchen items: from serving items to cooking items to pretty items to gadgety items to baking items to…infinity. Or so it seems. Narrowing the field is a hard, but necessary action (especially when you’re a cook in a small kitchen with limited storage!).

Every cook has their own personal must-haves: here is my list of kitchen essentials. I also want to note that I’ve accumulated all this over several years – it’s been a gradual gathering over the last 6 years or so.


First and foremost: A good set of pots and pans. I use stainless steel and I LOVE them. I also have one non-stick pan that I use occasionally, which I’d recommend. You don’t need a ton of pieces, but here are the pieces that I find necessary: a small saucepan, medium saucepan, large pot, small/medium skillet, and a large skillet. You’ll want lids for all of them.

A large dutch oven (Le Creuset or other brand – I have Mario Batali)

A set of EITHER Pyrex or Corningware. I registered for both, but I quickly discovered that I could do just fine with one and so I returned the Corningware. My Pyrex dishes work for everything (casseroles, baked meat, cakes, etc.) and I’m so glad that I don’t have to store both sets.

1 splatter screen

Baking items:

2 baking sheets

1 silicone mat

1 rolling pin

1 muffin tin

Wire cooling rack


Potato masher

3 rubber spatulas

2 flat spatulas

3 wooden spoons

1 meat tenderizer

2 tongs


Slotted spoon



Basting brush

Meat thermometer

Candy thermometer

A good set of knifes (I use Cuisinart that I got on sale at Linen’s ‘n Things before they went out of business; they were much less inexpensive than many knifes on the market, but they have been really great for me and I’ve had them for 3 years.)

Pasta spoon

Garlic press

Vegetable peeler

Spoon rest

Kitchen shears

Whisks (large and small)

Pizza cutter

Can opener (handheld!)

Ice cream scoop

Serving dishes:

3 trays

2 large bowls

1 chip and dip serving bowl

1 glass pitcher

Everyday items: (We went with 12 of each in this category, but I would think about how many people you think you’ll ever make a nice dinner for to help you figure out how many)

Dinner plates, bread plates, salad bowls, soup bowls


Highball glasses (tall glasses)

Double glasses (small glasses)

Specialty drinkware: (We did twelve water goblets and wine glasses, but only four martini, margarita, and champagne.)

Water goblets

Wine glasses

Martini glasses

Margarita glasses

Champagne flutes

Coffee/tea mugs

Martini shaker

1 nice set of shot glasses (Ours are doubles, and I use them for lots of things, including sipping after dinner drinks, or serving chilled soup!)



14-cup food processor (this is in my top 5 of most important kitchen items!)


Handheld mixer OR stand mixer (I just have a handheld and it gets the job done)

Coffee/espresso maker/teapot

2-slice toaster

Ice cream maker (We didn’t register for this, but we have one and I love it. I use it weekly in the summer.)


1 wood cutting board (and polish for the board)

3-4 plastic cutting boards

Salad spinner (I like the ones with holes in the bottom so the lettuce isn’t bathing in its own filth)

3-8 prep bowls (varying in shape and size)

Sturdy mixing bowls with plastic, gripping bases

Liquid measuring cup

Solids measuring cups

Metal measuring spoons (they obviously don’t have to be metal…I just love that mine are!)

Microplane zester

Microplane grater (handheld and box)

2 colanders (one large and one small)


Plastic or glass storage containers for bulk items

Cabinet shelves/hanging baskets (If you need additional storage space)

A variety of shapes and sizes of tupperware (We use the Glad cheapies and they are great!)

Things that I have, but really don’t use:

Electric crockpot

Electric fondue pot

Cappucino steamer

Large pasta pot with strainer and steamer


Reusable grocery bags

Paper towel holder

Napkin holder

Air purifier

Utensil holder

Silverware divider

Step-to-open large trashcan

In-sink drainer

Oil and vinegar carafes

Salt shaker

Pepper grinder

Salt pig

Vegetable scrub brush

2-3 hot pads

1 oven-safe skillet handle

At least 2 aprons (can’t cook without them anymore!)

Lots of dishtowels

Have I left anything off? What are  your kitchen must-haves?

5 thoughts on “What I (Actually) Use in my Kitchen

  1. Thanks so much for this Kellie! Thanks to everyone else for their input! This is very helpful, we are looking forward to completing our kitchen, registering is fun, but the wedding day will be even better. (o: Thanks again!

  2. Nick and I LOVE our 2 in 1 lemon and lime squeezer! We use it all the time for both cooking and drinks! We also just got an egg poacher insert for our pots. LOVE it! mmmm…eggs Benedict.
    We use our “magic bullet” (ours is a different brand) personal blender for tons of stuff too. It is great for smoothies yes, but we also shred cheese, make guac, salsa ect.

    I know this sounds ridiculous, but a couple of months ago we got a Venturi wine aerator and it is amazing!! It totally transforms red wines! And finally I love my Rabbit corkscrew.

    I also agree with a good set of knives–you will CURSE a cheap set!! I also agree with a good set of pots and pans–we also have stainless, but they were CHEAP….I didn’t know how much I could hate a set of pots and pans. I am saving up 🙂 Also, a good blender and food processor is a must 🙂

    Great post Kellie!! Have fun registering Noel!! IT IS SO MUCH FUN!

    1. I’ve wondered about the lemon and lime squeezers! I usually just squeeze citrus into my hands or over my microplane grater to catch the seeds. Glad to hear you like it! And I forgot about the wine corkscrew! A definite must-have. Oh, and a bottle opener!

  3. I would add immersion blender to the must-haves list. Perfect for blending hot soup without having to transfer it from the pot. Not to mention it makes one hell of a good pitcher of frozen margaritas.

    Also for cookie sheets get the jelly roll pan ones with the sides. Good for cookies, roasted veggies or anything that might need a little more on the sides. I think 3 is the perfect number with silicone sheets too.

    Also if it’s in the budget and you love to cook spring for some good knives. If you go to a kitchen store they’ll let you try the different brand in your hands so you can decide which you think feels the best. I know knives are costly but they’re worth it.

    1. An immersion blender is totally on my want list…we got one for the wedding, but I didn’t think we’d really need it. I was wrong. And you’re absolutely right about the jelly roll pans. I have two that are flat and I never use them. Sarah, do you bake with your silicone sheets? I only use mine for rolling out and forming; I’ve never been happy when baking on them. You’ll have to fill me in on your secret!

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