This page is meant to act as an ongoing list of recommendations for my most highly recommended kitchen tools and equipment. Some of these products have played a large role in improving my overall cooking skills, and I believe anyone who wants to streamline their cooking flow can benefit from them.
All-Clad Sauté Pan
If you consistently cook for 2-4 people like I do, the 3 quart sauté pan is absolutely perfect.
It's sturdy, heats up quickly and evenly, and very easy to clean. It's incredibly versatile too and can be used for frying, sautéing, stir frying, quick braising, and making pasta sauces. All-Clad's quality in unbeatable, and any level cook can benefit from this product.
A Cast Iron Skillet
Cast Iron Skillets are great for many reasons. First and foremost, they're excellent at cooking things like steaks, chops, and chicken because they get very hot and retain their heat well. This high, direct heat is what gives meat that elusive crusty exterior everyone strives to achieve.
Cast Irons can do more than just sear meats. Another reason cast iron skillets are so useful is that they can go from the stovetop into the oven. Therefore, you can first use the skillet to sear something on the stovetop and then pop it in the oven to cook through more gently.
I've had my $40 13-inch Lodge Cast Iron for several years now and am very happy with it.
A Large, Enamel-Coated Dutch Oven
A Dutch Oven is a cast iron pot, coated in enamel. Just like the cast iron skillet, it gets very hot, so it can be used to sear something on the stove before being transferred into the oven to cook more slowly. I use my 8-quart Martha Stewart Dutch Oven to braise big cuts of beef and pork and make large batches of ragu.
There are many brands worth buying. Staub and Le Creuset are probably the most well-known brands of cast iron cookware. They're pricey, but high quality. My Martha Stewart one has served me very well over the last few years, and seems like it's going to last many more years to come. I highly recommend it.
Regardless of which one you choose, make sure it's big enough to hold large cuts of meat like pork butts, and lots of sauce for Sunday Gravies. 6 and 8-quart options are ideal.
On the Smaller Side...
Fish spatulas are great at flipping flaky, delicate fish without breaking them. This is reason enough to purchase one, but they do so much more than that in my kitchen.
The sturdy, thin edge is excellent at removing crispy roasted vegetables and potatoes from sheet pans too.
If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, odds are you're going to need to rip open a tightly sealed package, snip cooking twine, or even slice up a sheet pan pizza. A good knife is also a must, but it cannot possibly replace a handy pair of shears.
A Spider is a special piece of equipment that acts as a strainer specifically designed to easily remove food, mostly pasta in my home, from boiling water. It's also perfect for transferring blanched vegetables directly to a water bath.
Why use a spider instead of a sieve or colander? 1- Strainers typically do not fit properly into a pot of boiling water. 2- We don't always want to dump out the boiling water through a colander. For instance, many recipes call to save the water to blanch more vegetables or to add the water to a sauce for The Pasta Water Method.
Thermapen Mk4 Instant Read Thermometer
This amazing thermometer typically costs $99 which I personally believe is 100% worth it. It is the most useful kitchen tool I own, and can truly take home cooking to the next level. It is on sale for just $69. That is a steal, in my opinion! Here's the link.
The #1 reason to purchase an accurate instant read thermometer is to prevent over/under-cooking meat. Pressing your finger into a piece of meat just isn't accurate enough.
Aside from deciding when meat is cooked, it has other uses. For instance, many recipes call for liquids like water, oil, or milk to reach a certain temperature before completing the next step. Or you may want to be sure frying oil isn't too hot. Trust me, once you own it, you'll use this tool all the time.
That's all for now! I will update this page regularly with new recommendations, but these should get you started.