Let’s talk kitchen tools! Below, you’ll find the kitchen tools that have earned a permanent spot in my kitchen.
These are the small appliances and kitchen gadgets that I personally use everyday, and that I would buy again in a heartbeat, so I feel confident recommending them to a friend or family member, too.
Jump to recommendations:
- Small Appliances
- Pots & Pans
- Kitchen Gadgets
- Reusable Food Storage
- Drink Accessories
- Cleaning Supplies
These are the kitchen appliances I use the most, listed in order of priority.
My Vitamix gets the top spot, because it’s by far the appliance I use the most. I use it multiple times a day, and I would replace it immediately if it broke. The model I own is old (it’s a 5200 series), but the E320 model looks most similar in both function and price point.
Pro Tip: Look for refurbished models to save even more money, with a warranty included. I always buy refurbished, and they arrive looking brand-new.
You can read my Blendtec vs. Vitamix review, if you feel torn between the two. (It’s an older post, but I can’t imagine I’d change my mind at this point.)
Why I love it:
- It pulverizes ingredients into a silky-smooth consistency.
- It makes the best smoothies ever, and when you add ice it turns them into milkshakes.
- It’s great for making vegan nacho cheese and silky vegan cheesecake.
- It can emulsify salad dressings using less oil.
Honorable mentions: I’ve also been impressed with KitchenAid’s K400 blender, which usually comes at a more affordable price point, and the personal-size Ninja blender. (Not the full-size Ninja, though.)
Best Pressure Cooker
It shouldn’t surprise you that my Instant Pot gets the second spot, considering I spent a year of my life writing a healthy cookbook for it. This thing is a game-changer if you’re a busy individual who doesn’t want to stand in the kitchen for long.
Why I love it:
- You can cook 2 dishes at the same time. This made me fall in love.
- The cooking process is hands-off, so you don’t have to be in the kitchen!
- It’s one of the healthiest ways to cook food, since it uses steam pressure.
- Great for cooking batch grains, like quinoa, brown rice, and even pasta.
- It’s the easiest way to cook dry beans from scratch, including black beans, chickpeas, and perfectly seasoned pinto beans. (I use these for burrito bowls!)
- Makes batch cooking easier for meal prep. You can cook protein like chicken breasts, turkey breast, or hard boiled eggs in a totally hands-off way!
- Easy dump meals. Try my Burrito Bowls or Vegan Chili for a fast weeknight meal.
Best Food Processor
I’ve gone through 3 full-size food processors in the last 10 years, and the Breville Sous Chef is my favorite. I love that it doesn’t have a hole in the bottom of the container, so nothing can spill out when you’re processing large batches of food. I use this to make date balls, veggie burgers, pesto, and more.
Pro Tip: I bought this food processor refurbished to save money. It arrived terribly packaged, but it works great! Refurbished models are not always available, but it can’t hurt to look.
Honorable mention: I used a smaller food processor for years when I lived in a teeny-tiny Los Angeles apartment. To save on kitchen space, the KitchenAid 9-cup food processor is also a good choice. There’s another popular brand that is also affordable, but I don’t recommend it because mine broke within 3 months, with terrible customer service.
This is not a “must-have,” but a “nice-to-have” purchase. I use my Breville Juice Fountain almost every day to make green juice, and of all the juicers I’ve tried, this one is my favorite. (It’s also the most affordable of the ones I’ve tried!) Watch me compare centrifugal vs. masticating juicers, if you want to learn more.
Why I love it:
- It has a big chute, so you don’t have to spend much time cutting vegetables before getting started.
- It’s a centrifugal juicer, so it makes juice quickly.
- It’s fast to clean, with only a few parts to scrub under running water.
- It’s affordable, making it a good juicer for beginners.
Honorable mention: I also own an Omega Masticating Juicer, which is great for a serious juicer who can spend 30-45 minutes a day making juice. When I was into juice fasting, this is the juicer I used because you can store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. But, it’s time consuming because the chute is small, so you have to spend time cutting the fruits and veggies into narrow strips. It’s also nearly double the price, so it’s not necessarily for a beginner who isn’t sure they’ll commit to juicing.
Best Air Fryer
I’ve had the hardest time deciding which air fryer is best, and after testing 4 different models over the past year, I’ve come to the conclusion that the NuWave Air Fryer is the model I use most often… so I must like it best.
Why I like it:
- The basket-style air fryer circulates air better than the oven-style air fryers. This gives you crispier french fries and potatoes.
- I love the reheat button. We literally use this function almost every day to reheat cooked meat, vegetables, and potatoes in just 4 minutes. It’s better than a microwave, if you ask me.
The only reason I hesitate to recommend this air fryer is because it has a non-stick coating on the bottom of the basket and it has a weird “burning plastic” smell when you first use it. This has been the case for every basket-style air fryer I’ve tested, and in all cases, I had to move them to my basement to let them air out, because I’m sensitive to smells like that. It no longer has that smell now.
Honorable Mentions: I’m equally satisfied with the results of the Instant Vortex, which is another basket-style air fryer. I also really like Breville’s Smart Oven Air Fryer, but it doesn’t get things as crispy as the basket-style air fryers. The Breville air fryer has other functions that make me keep it on my kitchen counter, though, like the dehydrator function (love!), the “proof” and the “keep warm” functions, and you can also use it as a traditional oven, so it’s much more multi-purpose than the basket-style air fryers. If you don’t need things to be as crispy, the Breville might be the better choice for you, if you don’t mind the higher price point, because I also prefer the stainless steel interior on this model. (Disclosure: I was gifted the Breville & Instant Pot Air Fryers, but that doesn’t prevent me from sharing my honest opinions. I used both for a year before writing this post.)
Bonus Small Appliances
Below you’ll find the extra tools that I don’t necessarily use every week, but they do come in handy when I need them.
- All Clad Waffle Iron. If you love classic-style waffles that fit in your toaster, this one’s for you. It does have a non-stick coating, but it hasn’t flaked off in the 5 years I’ve owned it. Try a stove-top waffle iron if you’d prefer to avoid the non-stick coating that comes on electric models.
- Cuisinart Hand Mixer. I’ve owned this hand mixer for 5+ years and it’s still going strong. I love the compact storage case to keep the accessories together.
- KitchenAid Stand Mixer. To be honest, I don’t use this much, but I’m obsessed with the color I bought (it’s called toffee delight) and the attachments are so fun! I love the vegetable sheet cutter for making healthy roll-ups and lasagna noodles.
- Spiralizer. If you want to make vegetable “noodles” this is the best spiralizer brand I’ve tried! I love that there are no extra blades to switch out, and how the suction really works on my countertop.
The following pans are classics that will last a lifetime, without a non-stick coating.
Stainless Steel Pots & Pans
I registered for this All Clad set when I got married over 11 years ago, and I still use them all the time. Below you’ll find the 3 pots I use most.
- 6-quart Stock Pot
- Essential Pan with Lid (the 3- or 4-quart size is perfect)
- 2-quart Saucepan with Lid
Enameled Cast Iron Pans
I love enameled cast iron pans because they don’t react to acidic foods, the way regular cast iron does. The enamel coating helps slightly with stick prevention, and these pots come in lots of beautiful colors! Below are the pans I use most often:
- 3-quart Dutch oven (exact size varies by brand, 2 3/4- to 4-quart sizes are good, too!)
- 3.5-quart Braiser with Lid (same size as mine, only with a cast iron lid)
- 6-quart Dutch Oven (not necessary if you have a stainless steel one, which will be cheaper)
Honorable Mention: I also use my 10-inch Lodge cast iron skillet daily! See my favorite scrubby pad below in the cleaning section for the tool I use for cleaning all of my pans.
Aluminum Baking Sheets. The best baking pans tend to be made of aluminum, because this metal conducts heat evenly without warping. However, small amounts of aluminum may leach into your food when cooking with it, so I try to avoid direct contact with the metal as much as possible.
When I use an aluminum pan, I always try to cover the bottom with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, so my food won’t come into direct contact with the metal. I like Nordic Ware and USA Pan brands the best when it comes to performance.
Stainless Steel Baking Sheets. In an effort to avoid aluminum baking sheets, I’ve also bought a few stainless steel pans. This is totally satisfactory, but there are a few things you should keep in mind when buying stainless steel pans. I just ordered this stainless steel pan due to replace my old one above.
- It will feel very lightweight.
- Stainless steel usually warps in the oven. You’ll probably hear a “pop” in your oven at some point, and this is the pan bending due to the heat. It will go back to normal later, once it cools down.
- They don’t always wear well. The top pan in the photo above is my stainless steel pan, and it’s only 1-2 years old. It looks pretty rough compared to the aluminum pan below it.
Honorable Mention: For basic cooking, like roasting broccoli or a whole roasted cauliflower, you can also use glass casserole dishes in the oven. Glass is one of my favorite options, since you don’t have to worry about metal leaching into your food.
Aluminum Muffin Pan. This is the most traditional choice, and you can use silicone muffin liners (below) to help prevent your food from coming into contact with the metal.
Silicone Muffin Pans. If you want to avoid an aluminum muffin tin, try a silicone one! Keep in mind that these are very flimsy, and you’ll need to set it on a sturdy baking sheet (ideally one that doesn’t warp, like aluminum) before you add the batter in. You can invert this muffin pan later, to help easily release the muffins.
Silicone Muffin Cups. You’ll see me use these often! They are great reusable liners for when you want to use a traditional muffin pan, and they release easier than paper liners in most cases. They also work well for packing school lunches, if you want to keep things separate in a lunch box.
Instead of using disposable plastic bags to save your leftovers, try one of these reusable storage options instead! This is something I have gradually transitioned to over the last 10 years. There’s no need to buy everything at once.
Glass Storage Options
Working Glasses. Every time I post a photo with one of these glasses, I’m asked about them. They are by far my favorite glass storage jars! I love the wide mouth and easy lids. You can use them as drinking glasses, but I use them most for storing salad dressings and sauces. I own a set of the short working glasses and tall working glasses, which all come with lids.
Large Glass Storage. I use these large rectangle containers to store everything, from prepped salad greens, to leftover meals. This exact set that I own is difficult to locate now, but you can find still find the round version and I own pieces from this glass storage set and love the lids!
Silicone Storage Options
Stasher Bags. These are my favorite reusable bags, because they’re airtight (unlike cloth zipper bags I’ve used before) and dishwasher safe.
Food Huggers. I recently bought this set of Food Huggers and love them! They fit snugly over opened cans and fruit or veggie halves, and they come in various sizes that fit snugly into each other for compact storage.
LeKue Bowl Covers. These silicone bowl covers are perfect for covering bowls that don’t come with lids. You won’t ever need to use foil or plastic wrap again.
Drying Rack. If you’re not sure how to dry your reusable storage containers, this drying rack is a life saver. It folds up to store, and can hang two bags upside down at the same time so they can air dry. I use them for drying and re-using larger plastic bags, too.
Instant Read Thermometer. I use my Thermapen for everything, from cooking meat, to perfect baked sweet potatoes. I love the large digital screen, and how it’s perfectly accurate right away.
Food Scale. When you want to be super-accurate with your recipes (especially with baking) I love using a food scale to measure out the ingredients. This is the food scale I use at home when I test my recipes.
Measuring Cups & Spoons. I got this All Clad measuring set when I got married, and they are still my favorite. I love the odd-measuring cups included, like the 3/4 cup and 1 1/2 cup sizes. I use them all the time! The teaspoon also fits in most spice jars, which is not always the case. The only extra teaspoon I’ve bought is an 1/8 teaspoon measure, which I use often.
Ceramic Knives. I use this knife set every single day. The smaller sizes are great for cutting fruit, and the large size is my go-to dicing knife. You can see in my YouTube videos how easily it slices through everything. The downside to these knives is that they can break if you try to cut into something hard, like an avocado pit or tough squash. You’ll need a sturdy chef’s knife to tackle jobs like that.
Veggie Peeler. This is the best veggie peeler. It’s so sharp, that you have to be extra cautious when handling it. But, it easily peels everything, from squash to carrots, and the other side has a julienne cutter, if you want to make speedy angel-hair “noodles” out of veggies.
If you drink a lot of smoothies, tea, or coffee, here are some things you might love!
Glass Jars with Wide-Mouth Lids. These are our go-to smoothie jars. They hold a lot (24 ounces), and you aren’t drinking from plastic. The con is that they’re breakable, so I don’t recommend using them for making iced tea, if you tend to pour hot tea over ice. (One broke on me that way.) Try these cute stainless steel cups with lids for toddlers, if you want a non-breakable option. P.S. The wide-mouth lids are not always in stock, so check back if you don’t see them– I linked to the brand I bought above, so you’d know where I bought them!
Squeasy Snacker. When my kids were little, I tried every pouch on the market, and these are by far and away the best. They are super-easy to clean, and they don’t leak or spill! I own the 3.5-ounce and 6-ounce sizes, and still use them with my 4-year-old and 7-year-old.
Contigo Travel Mug. Even though I work from home, I use this travel mug every day to keep my morning drinks warm. It keeps them warm for 2+ hours, even when I take the lid off!
Stainless Steel Tea Basket. If you’re concerned about microplastics in your tea bags, or simply want to reduce waste, this is how I brew loose leaf tea every day. (I love using loose leaf Earl Grey tea and Jasmine green tea.)
Branch Basics. I fell in love with Branch Basics about 4 years ago, when the all-purpose spray got a coffee stain out of my carpet that NO other mainstream cleaner could! I’ve been using this brand exclusively ever since, and I love that you reduce plastic waste by using their refillable bottles. (You only need to buy one bottle of concentrate to refill the rest of the bottles.)
We stopped using paper towels over 8 years ago, so their laundry + oxygen booster is a life saver for my kitchen, too! We go through a lot of hand towels every week. I recommend starting with their Premium Starter Kit if you want to try everything out.
Skoy Scrub. My mother-in-law gave me a set of these scrubby pads (they’re also called “Euro scrubbies”) in my Christmas stocking a few years ago, and now I literally gift these to everyone I know! They are the best for getting tough, stuck-on grime off your pans. For extra tough jobs, I’ll sprinkle baking soda onto my pans first, then use this pad. It’s machine washable, and will last much longer than a sponge.
I hope this round-up is helpful, and if there are any tools I haven’t mentioned, be sure to let me know in the comments below! You can also check out my recommendations page for more products, but I can’t be as descriptive there, so that’s why I decided to spill my guts here in this post.
And if you try something, I’d love to hear how you like it, too!
Reader Feedback: What’s YOUR favorite kitchen tool? Let me know in the comments below!