Kitchen essentials list 2023

title of article over image of white kitchen with pans and utensils and background

For some, cooking is something that feels natural and easy. An enjoyable experience that reaps immediate tasty benefits. While others view cooking as an overwhelming chore that needs to get done so they can move onto other things. Then, there’s the crowd who simply ignores the process of cooking altogether and opts for take out or microwave meals. Guess what: all of ya’ll can enjoy this kitchen essentials list.

Which camp are you in? 

  • Love it
  • Hate it
  • Ignore it

If you love it, this kitchen essentials list will help you create more of a minimalist kitchen. One that is easy to work in. You’ll learn how to free up space on your counter tops, in the drawers, and your mind for an even more enjoyable cooking experience. 

If you’re in camp Hate It, this article will help you understand your kitchen better, give you the basics you need to get the job done, and will hopefully inspire you to start to hate it a little less and, dare I say, maybe even enjoy it. 

And for those of you who have ignored cooking most of your life. Whether that be of your own doing, or because you didn’t grow up in a family that spent time in the kitchen, this article will help you save some money from all that take out. And, you’ll learn what tools to invest in and how to use them as you start your cooking journey.

The 2023 kitchen essentials list


Good knives are one of the best investments you’ll make in your kitchen. That’s why they make the top of the kitchen essentials list. If you can afford a knife block, it usually comes with a set that will include the following suggestions. However, if you’re needing to save money, then i’d recommend purchasing these knives individually, 

Knives make your life in the kitchen much easier and cuts the time spent on prepping down dramatically. Its also safer to use good quality, sharp knives, than it is to use dull knives. Dull knives tend to slip off of the food easier, making it riskier to cut your hand. 

If I had to only choose 3 knives to own in my kitchen it would be a chef knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife. And if you want, watch this video of one of my favorite chefs demonstrating knife skills. 

Chef knife

A chef knife is what you’ll use for chopping most fruits and veggies. It’s a large knife that is straight on one side, and slightly rounded to a point on the other side. It has a large handle that is easy to hold in your dominant hand. 

Paring knife

The paring knife is great for smaller cuts like slicing an avocado, cutting an apple, or mincing garlic. Although all of those things can also be done with a chef knife, it’s nice to have a smaller tool to do more detailed or quick cuts. It fits nicely in the palm of your hand and is quick to clean. 

Serrated knife

A serrated knife, aka bread knife, is not completely necessary but if you ever need to slice a loaf of bread, cut a bagel, or carve a turkey, this is the knife you’ll want to reach for. This mini saw-like knife is super handy even if you only use it occasionally. In college I worked for a bagel shop and learned all the ways a serrated knife is useful and just can’t imagine not owning one now.

Cutting boards

While we’re talking knives, it makes sense to discuss the essential cutting boards. At minimum, you’ll need two cutting boards. One for raw meat and one for produce. If you’re vegetarian, you can get by with just one. However, I also like to have a smaller cutting board for quickly cutting an avocado, herbs, fruit, or cheese blocks. 


A 13”x18” cutting board is nice when you have a lot of vegetables to cut and need the extra elbow room. It can also make a simple charcuterie board if you’re entertaining. 


A 9”x12” cutting board is perfect for quickly slicing some fruit, cutting cheese, or mincing garlic. You’ll get by without a smaller board, but it comes in handy very often in my house. 


A second large board is needed for cutting meat. Because there will be tiny crevices created when you use your knife on the board, it’s considered safer to reserve one board specifically for meat and fish to avoid contamination of your produce. 


It is insanely easy to get carried away with cooking utensils. And while some of them come in handy from time to time, I generally use these the most and could definitely do away with the rest. 

Measuring cups & measuring spoons

For recipes I make all the time, I skip using measurements, but if you’re new to cooking or trying out a new recipe, you’ll need measuring cups and spoons. If you’re baking, then you’ll also need to use exact measurements. 

Dry measuring cups are different from liquid measuring cups. For liquids,I have both a 1-cup measuring glass and a 4-cup measuring glass and use both often. For dry, I use a set that came with ¼ cup through 1 cup. 

For measuring spoons, I love my simple metal set that goes from ¼ teaspoon through 1 tablespoon. I much prefer them to plastic ones. 


You’ll need a few different mixing spoons. A wooden spoon is great for stirring sauces or sauteing onions and garlic. A ladle is the best for serving soups and stews. And a large cooking spoon is helpful for stirring and serving mac n cheese, casseroles, and most other dishes. I also like having a pasta spoon for dishing up pasta. 


A wide slotted turner spatula is needed for turning fried eggs or flipping fish. A rubber spatula is used for scraping the sides of the bowl when baking cookies or cake. 

Can opener

Self-explanatory. BUT I recommend investing in a decent can opening. I can’t tell you how many cheap can openers we’ve thrown away after a few months and they no longer grip the sides of the can. 


I love using metal tongs for grilling, serving salads, or turning foods that are too slippery to use a slotted turner spatula. 


The three pans I deem absolutely essential are the saucepan, a 12-inch deep skillet, and a soup pot. If you can, get the lids for all three. I recommend using stainless steelWith these, you can make pretty much any dish you’d like. I also listed the dutch oven, french skillet, and a cast iron skillet as optional add-ons if you have the space.  


I used to get confused on why they call this a saucepan. I always thought it was a soup pan… I use this guy all the time though. Macaroni, cans of soup, ramen, pasta, and of course, sauces are all made in this handy pan.


A 12-inch skillet is used for pan-frying meats, frying eggs, sauteing vegetables, combination dishes, like chicken alfredo, and simmering rouxs are all done in a skillet. I even use this pan to reheat fries and leftover pizza.

Soup pot

A soup pot is a larger pot, with two small handles on each side. This pot is actually the best for making soups. I also steam vegetables in this one. 

If you wanna get crazy, I do love the following pans as well. However, they aren’t 100% necessary so if you don’t have the space, skip ahead to the next section. 

Dutch oven

A dutch oven is what many like to use to bake sourdough bread, slow cook roasts, or stews in. While I don’t use it daily, it does it some good use in the winter when I don’t mind having my oven on for a couple hours. 

French skillet

A french skillet is a smaller, more shallow skillet that many like to use to fry eggs, or stir-fry smaller amounts of vegetables in. It’s lighter and easier to maneuver than a 12 inch skillet.

Cast iron skillet

I use my cast iron skillet all the time. It pretty much lives on my stove top. However, I have a gas stove so it works a little better than those with glass tops who may be concerned about scratching or the heaviness of the pan. Cast iron skillets take a little time to get seasoned to perfection, but once you figure it out, it’s a great pan. 


Mixing bowls

You’ll want a few different sizes. I use the large bowl the most. Usually for mixing up batters or salads. The smaller bowls come in handy when I’m making a dressing or spice blend, or if I need to marinate something. 


You can either get a smaller colander that you can hold in one hand while pouring your pasta and water into it with the other, or grab a colander that will hold itself up on your sink so you can use both hands to pour your pasta into. Colanders are also handy for cleaning vegetables. 

Salad spinner

This is a must-have for gardeners who are growing their own greens. It’s amazing how much water and extra dirt comes off of your greens when they’ve been spun. Your greens will also stay fresh longer in the refrigerator if they’ve been spun dry and stored in an airtight container.

Glass storage containers

Glass containers take a little more space and are heavier than plastic, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Glass tends to keep your food fresh longer because less air will get through the container. They are also much safer to microwave food in. 


There you have it! The kitchen essentials list for cooking in 2023. Cooking is one of those skills that you need to at least have a baseline in for living a healthy lifestyle. Hopefully this list will help you organize your kitchen so cooking becomes a joyful experience and less of a chore. 

Once you have a good set of knives, cutting boards, utensils, pans, mixing bowls, a salad spinner, and storage containers, you’ll be on your way to an enjoyable cooking experience! What did I forget? Leave a comment with items you’d add to the kitchen essentials list!

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