Kitchen Must-Have Tools for Every Home: What to Buy

Each cook has thoughts about the kitchen must-have tools for every home. I have a bit of a different take. I can’t wait to share with you my thoughts on what to buy to increase the function and personal style in your kitchen.

A kitchen is the heart of the home

Let’s set the scene. You are just home from a long day and are looking to unwind. Everyone shuffles toward the kitchen. What in the heck are you going to cook? 

Or maybe some friends you haven’t seen in a long time have popped by unexpectedly, and you want to hang out and chat. What can you come up with to set out while you wait for some take-out?

In either of these scenarios, you gather in the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But being prepared goes a little deeper than just pulling out some food and cool kitchen gadgets. You want to serve in style and make even take-out look good.

Let’s talk about some items that every kitchen should have. Then we will break it down to how it can all work for you.

Kitchen must have tools

Kitchen must-have tools for every home

Kitchen must-have tools go beyond a knife set and different sizes of storage containers. Your kitchen equipment should not only make your tasks easier, but should allow you to enjoy your guests while entertaining. It’s all about the ease of use, easy cleanup, and kitchen enjoyment. 

Kitchen must-have tools for every home parchment paper

I love to have family and friends over. Having everyone bustle around the kitchen and enjoying good food brings much happiness to my heart. But I also want to be in there with them, and not just be the cook laboring over a high heat.

Having the right kitchen tools for your jobs can get you back to the fun of enjoying and sharing meals together. So let’s get to the best kitchen essentials that can help you do that.

Favorite small appliances

These are my favorite small kitchen appliances that get used the most, and make life a bit easier. They also save much time, so you can be doing other things.

  • air fryer – there are many air fryers on the market. I looked high and low for the best one. I love this one. It was a reasonable price and an excellent choice to save time from frying or heating the oven for small portions and quick dinners. Don’t forget parchment liners!
  • rice cooker – this is my absolute must-have tool! This one came highly recommended from my daughter’s friends who have spent their lives making and eating rice within their family’s culture. It comes in different colors and receives high marks for keeping rice moist and ready for days. It can cook a variety of grains too.
  • small food processor – after many years I discovered that the best food processors was my little one. I finally gave my larger one away because I never used it. This size received years of use for decades! I finally bought a second one so I could have one in my cottage kitchen as well.
  • slow cooker – this has been on the kitchen essentials list since the 80s and it still gets plenty of use. Who doesn’t love a fully cooked dinner with just a little bit of effort? I certainly do! If you have a big family, many people keep two on hand.
Kitchen must-have tools for every home slow cooker

The right basics in your kitchen

Everyone has their own list of must-have kitchen tools that they utilize frequently. This short list should be in everyone’s old or new kitchen.

Kitchen must-have tools for every home cast iron skillet
  • cast iron skillet – from a good steak to the best brownies, iron skillets will be your best friend in the kitchen. I love to buy them vintage, already seasoned and worn. Once you know how to properly care for them, you will reach for it often.
  • box grater – I know you can find cheese pre-grated at the store, but I prefer my cheese minus the wood pulp. This could be the one tool I have multiples of, and could not live without. I grate vegetables too.
  • salad spinner – a must for any salad greens. No one likes soggy, wet lettuce. Nobody.
  • vegetable peeler – you need one with a comfortable handle and a good blade to make peeling tasks quick and easy.
  • jelly roll pan – also known as a sheet pan with a higher edge. This will hold in juices when roasting, be the perfect size for a sheet cake, and a million other tasks.
  • parchment paper – this will save you tons of cleaning time. Use when roasting and baking a variety of foods.
  • Swedish dishcloths – these are relatively new to the kitchen and make for easy cleaning. They last for months! I throw mine in the dishwasher each time I run it. They dry quickly and are mandatory for everyday use. What did we do before these came along? Oh yea, smelly washcloths. No thanks.
  • salt dish – used 1,000 times a day in my kitchen. A must have for coarse kosher salt.
Kitchen must-have tools for every home salt dish

Specialty tools to make your life easy

You can easily get crazy with a list of best kitchen gadgets. I will keep it to tried and true and what you will really use.

kitchen must have tools
  • garlic press – in some cuisines, garlic is basically a food group. Be prepared to prep it quick for a variety of recipes. Add a good chef’s knife, and you will always have the perfect garlic size for the recipes you are making. The press will crush your garlic.
  • garlic peeler – yes, I do like garlic. A peeler can help you easily take the skin off quickly if you want to keep your garlic intact. Smashing it with a large knife works too, but crushes the bulb more.
  • immersion blender – a must have for whipping up quick salad dressings and soups. Easy to clean too.
  • meat thermometer – if you aren’t the most seasoned of home cooks and ready for the Food Network, this is a must have. Nothing is worse than over/undercooked meat. This takes the guess work out.

Setting up a quick bar

We are not alcohol drinkers, so I can’t speak to that part of what top shelf offerings and essential tools you should have to make you the cool bartender. As a dry household, our top shelf definitely looks different.

Kitchen must-have tools for every home party drinks

But when we have a party, the most important thing we have available is an ice bucket (with scoop) and bottled waters. Depending on what is being served, we always have a variety of sodas, sparkling water, infused water, and often special French sodas.

I also keep a pod coffee maker on hand (we are not coffee drinkers either), and always offer hot chocolate pods as an option for all ages. Whip cream is standard, duh. Obviously, just have the best tools available for your family’s needs. 

kitchen must have tools

If storage space is not too tight, I think a separate beverage refrigerator makes great sense. It pulls people away from your work zone, and is easy to keep stocked for those times that people pop by. Little things like: straws, maraschino cherries, and lemons/limes make a difference to your guests and provide a way to treat yo’self too!

The right tools when entertaining

This is really my favorite part. Although I do love to cook, the display part of food is just as exciting. After all, we do eat with our eyes first!

Kitchen must-have tools for every home food display

Having the right tools to make a great spread is a great way to put your personal touch on it. You can make the simplest of foods look amazing with an interesting display!

I admit, I do not even like to eat out of take out containers. Serving food looking pretty is a game changer for me.  Everything tastes better when it is out of a styrofoam container.

Kitchen must-have tools for every home pedestal displays

Display and serving

You don’t even have to be a good cook if you can display ingredients in an eye-pleasing manner. Food looks better to me in an artful display.

Since many of us are collectors of vintage, I love to find these items with a bit of patina. Whether new or old, here is what will serve you well and become necessary kitchen tools too.

kitchen must haves
  • display boards – I love the look of old wood ones, but don’t forget about marble and slate ones too! Cheese and citrus can easily be cut on these too.
  • specialty spoons – my favorite are blue enamel to serve up salsas and taco fixings. But you will need a variety of sizes and styles. Keep an eye out while thrifting to find the best for not much money.
  • platters – I love ironstone and transfer ware platters. Make sure you have a few large capacity ones for those bigger holiday parties. 
  • white dishes – white dishes match everything. That’s one of the many reasons I love my milk glass collection.
  • cake plates or pedestal dishes – this will allow the proper highs and lows for your food display. Wood risers are also fun.
  • ramekins or small dishes – these provide soooo many uses! Use on a display board or everyday use for sauces and smaller condiments on the table.
  • appetizer servers – from mini forks and spoons to a fish spatula, don’t forget these smaller tools. A variety of materials keeps your display interesting. Mix metals, wood, bone, enamel and more will provide added interest to your food display.
kitchen must haves

I am a big freak about not wanting to have branded packaging on the table, especially giant ones from Costco. Why else do we have all these little things we collect if we don’t use them everyday? It is easy to add sour cream to a dish and set that on the table. Daily eating should be special, we deserve to effort.

It’s about more than tools:

“That’s the secret of entertaining.
To make your guests feel welcome
and at home. If you do that honestly,
the rest takes care of itself.”

Food staples to have hanging around

Since we’ve got our kitchen fully ready with the right tools, good housekeeping would tell us to be prepared for anything!  You can easily set out a snack tray while waiting for take out to arrive. Who doesn’t love a good pre-game?

Kitchen must-have tools for every home fresh herbs
  • fresh herbs – even if I don’t get the rest of my garden in, I always like to have fresh herbs on hand. My go-to’s are rosemary, thyme, basil, and sage. I don’t grow it too often, but cilantro is the one I buy every time I am at the market.
  • citrus fruits – if you are in a warmer climate and can have a lemon or lime tree, then I am totally jealous. If not, then you’re like me and have to remember them at the market. Limes are always on my list.
  • nuts – this is a snack must-have at our house. Cashews and peanuts can be used in many recipes as well, while mixed nuts are a fan favorite.
  • cheeses – a variety of sliced cheeses are always a good idea, while cheddar is great in a block. Since we have already established that it is best to grate it yourself, it can also be cubed for a quick snack board.
  • crackers or chips – you know what you like. Don’t get caught without a variety.
  • hard salami or deli meats – these are always good to have in the fridge. I even love to keep dried meats as well. Costco has too many tempting good flavors!
Kitchen must-have tools for every home basics

What are you missing?

What essential tools are you missing? Treat yourself to the basics so your work in the kitchen doesn’t feel like work at all.

kitchen must have tools

With all the fun display items to choose from, it will be fun to collect those you truly love and that shows your personal style of living and entertaining. Even basic foods can be made more special with the right display ‘tools’.

Kitchen must-have tools for every home basic foods in a display

Follow along with me as I gather and share more ideas for living with ease and personal style. 

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  1. Kitchen gadgets can be so fun, but I love all the display stuff most!

  2. Oh my goodness! I’m a kitchen gadget hoarder! All of these ideas are great! Love this!

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