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You swear to yourself you’re going to start cooking, but when you attempt to slice an onion with a butter knife and boil spaghetti in a sauté pan, you run into problems.
You’re convinced that you’re just not cut out to be a cook. But that’s so wrong. Anyone can cook — yes, even you. You just need the best kitchen gadgets at your disposal.
Unsurprisingly, cooking has become less common in the U.S., as more people rely on fast food, fast-casual joints, and there-in-an-instant delivery options. But learning to cook for yourself can be a really life-affirming experience.
Yes, you’ll save money, and making healthier choices will become easier, but cooking can also be an enjoyable solo task or a nice way to spend some time with your roommate/partner/family.
So, where do you start? The first step is to equip yourself with the best cooking tools. These are the essentials you’ll need to start your adventures… the ones that entail you making a meal, start to finish.
Come on, then. Chop chop.
1. Chef’s knife
A good chef’s knife is one of the most important tools to have in your kitchen. You’ll use this baby for just about every meal you make, from prepping vegetables to breaking down full chickens (you’ll get there eventually).
This 8-inch variety from MOSFiATA is a good start: High-carbon steel (and a titanium coating) means this knife will get sharp and stay sharp, which you’ll soon realize is v. important.
Plus, it comes with a finger guard, which means you won’t accidentally be serving any of your fingertips in your first meal. Once you have the gear, you can learn the skills.
2. Paring knife
Size doesn’t always matter.
This little paring knife will prove its might and be surprisingly helpful when you’re prepping some of the smaller ingredients you’ll be cooking (try peeling garlic without it and you’ll see what we mean).
You can also sub in a good paring knife for more specialized tools like a peeler and a tomato stem scoop (yes, that exists, and it’s a complete waste of money).
Victorinox makes a great paring knife that will stay with you for life.
Yep, we got another one for ya: the serrated knife. These guys are useful for cutting breads and softer foods like tomatoes.
The thought of taking a smooth-edged chef’s knife to a crusty loaf of sourdough is enough to make Gordon Ramsay cry (and he’s known for making other people cry).
So avoid damaging the blade (and your bread) by keeping a serrated knife handy instead.
Since these guys are tough to sharpen, you want a blade that retains its edge over time. While expensive ones do exist, this Orblue knife gets the job done for less than $20.
It’s not just about using a knife.
We know we said a paring knife can sub in for a vegetable peeler, but honestly, this is something you’ll also want to own. Peeling starchy veggies like potatoes with a knife should probably be left to the professionals, anyway.
You can’t use those new knives without something to cut on (unless you want your kitchen counter to hate you).
The cutting board will become your prep station, where ingredients get sliced, diced, minced, and mashed to make your meal delicious.
While plastic cutting boards have become more popular, we still like wood for its aesthetic and durability.
This Bamboo variety will get the job done. It’s big enough to provide plenty of room to work without being so massive that you have trouble stashing it away when you’re not on a chopping spree.
The small liquid collector running around the edges is handy for collecting runoff from cooked proteins as well.
Food needs a place to get warm. This is it.
Cast-iron skillet = cast-iron skillz.
This will become your go-to pan in the kitchen. Sure, you could go with a nonstick or stainless steel variety, but what’s great about cast iron is that it can be used for literally anything.
Sautéing, frying, baking, roasting — all of these techniques are possible with one simple hunk of metal.
You can even put together dope desserts with a skillet.
The American Manufacturer Lodge has been making cast-iron pans since 1896, so it’s fair to say they know a thing or two. This 9-inch version of their pre-seasoned skillet will be a perfect jumping off point for mastering the stove top and oven.
And guess what? It’s only $14.88.
7. Stock pot
Soup is one of the easiest meals to make when you’re a new cook.
It usually only requires one pot, yields large amounts of food (leftovers are everything), and makes you feel cozy in cold weather. That’s a trifecta of winning endorsements for soup.
But you need a big pot to make soup. Same goes for mashed potatoes, spaghetti, etc. A solid stock pot will open the door to exploring even more recipes and techniques (but most importantly, churning out mashed potatoes like there’s no tomorrow).
When buying a stock pot, you want something heavy that comes with a lid. This 16-quart model is on the smaller side, but a high-quality pick for a cook who’s just starting out.
For less than $20, this 1.5 quart version from Cuisinart is perfect for all of those tasks.
Stainless steel means it has even heat distribution, and a tight-fitting lid ensures that heat will stay exactly where it needs to be. And if you’re cooking pasta in it, get to know, because you’ve probably been doing it wrong.
Because every adventurer needs a map.
Thanks to Pinterest, relying on a recipe book is no longer essential to learning how to cook. But the millions of recipes online can be overwhelming (and borderline confusing for those of us struggling to boil a pot of water).
Which is why we suggest going back to the basics and opening a cookbook for some guidance in the kitchen.
There are tons of cookbooks out there, but one that has never steered us wrong is Alice Waters’s The Art of Simple Food.
This classic comes from one of California’s most legendary chefs, who breaks down everything from ingredients and equipment to providing introductory methods designed to teach us the basics. Cooking your way through this masterpiece will make you a better chef, we promise.
There’s no shame in being a learner. But there are ways to make it easier for yourself. And having the best kitchen tools readily available is one hell of a head start
No one’s expecting fine-ass French cuisine within your first month, but it’s also not that hard to produce delicious, nutritious nosh.
We put together a bumper list of kitchen tools here, so you can really fill out your arsenal.