10 Things Everyone Should Have Somewhere in Their Kitchen

published Nov 5, 2022
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From dishcloths to skillets to measuring cups, there are certain items you need for a kitchen that’s outfitted for cooking (Apartment Therapy has you covered with that list!). Then there are the items that aren’t quite basic — but they’ll make your time in the kitchen even more enjoyable. 

These are the things that make your weekends more relaxing, meal prep easier, and entertaining effortless. From preparing you to cook the best steak of your life to elevating your cocktails and setting a table for date night at home, think of these 10 items as the 201 of stocking a kitchen.

And, as someone who has all 10 of these in my kitchen, I can vouch that, beyond my initial investment in matching dishware and utensils (a total game changer!), these are the items that made my kitchen feel its most grown-up. 

1. A Cast Iron Skillet

From cornbread to perfectly seared steak, a cast iron skillet is a workhorse in the kitchen. If you’re lucky, a grandparent may have passed theirs down to you but, if not, there are plenty of affordable options out there. And, remember, no matter what, don’t wash your cast iron skillet with soap and water! Those meals and memories add seasoning to your skillet.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

2. A Dutch Oven

The minute there’s a chill in the air, it’s soup season, and there’s something so satisfying about dragging your wooden spoon across the smooth, ceramic surface of a Dutch oven as you prepare a roux or caramelize onions. You can splurge on the classic Le Creuset or save with a Lodge. Both will carry you through the colder months as you make roast chicken, butternut squash soup, and a bevy of Ina-worthy comfort food recipes.

3. An Apron

They may seem like a relic of a bygone era, but aprons are so incredibly functional, particularly if you’re cooking your grandmother’s Sunday gravy recipe or trying your hand at baking bread. It’ll save your outfit and, if you hang it in plain sight, it can add a touch of retro whimsy to your space.

4. A “Slow” Coffee Maker

While a Keurig or Nespresso is great for busy weekdays, it’s a treat to have a slower, more intentional coffee experience for your weekends. A French press, pourover, or moka pot all brew delicious coffee.

Gianpiero Gaglione, owner and principal designer of GG Interior Designs, always turns to his Bialetti moka pot. “I’m half Italian and rely on caffeine to jump start my day, so I have a traditional Italian coffee maker that I use every morning to help me get my caffeine fix,” says Gaglione. 

Credit: Carina Romano

5. A Santoku Knife

A Santoku knife is one of the most versatile tools in the kitchen and should be one of the first items to stock your knife block. You can use it for chopping, mincing, dicing, and more. Gaglione explains, “I had only previously used regular cutting knives, but once you use a really sharp Japanese knife, you can’t go back. It’s so sharp that we often refer to it as the sword. But really, it makes light work of anything and is probably the most used tool in our kitchen.” 

6. A Crock Pot

Trust me, you will never feel more on top of your to-do list than when it gets to be 6 p.m. and you remember you put dinner in the crock pot eight hours ago (though you probably won’t even need to be reminded since the delicious smell of chili or buffalo chicken or bolognese will be wafting through your home all day). 

Credit: Brittany Conerly

7. A Silicone Ice Mold

Cocktails and mocktails at home became a hobby for many over the past couple of years and, if you’re like me, you learned fridge dispenser ice just doesn’t cut it. You want one of those giant cubes like you’d get at your favorite craft cocktail bar. Luckily, they’re easy to have on hand with one of these silicone ice molds.

8. Cloth Napkins

Millennials may have “killed” the paper napkin, but cloth napkins are still holding their own. They’re the easiest way to add a touch of sophistication to your dinner table, while also avoiding waste. You may even find yourself pulling them out for every meal once you realize how much fancier it feels than a paper towel.

9. Candlesticks

Want to make a weeknight dinner feel special? Cooking for a new, ahem, friend for the first time? Candlesticks are the answer. They add a sparkly ambiance to your meal, even if you’re dining at the kitchen counter. Plus, they take up minimal space in your cabinets.

10. A Speaker 

April Gandy of Alluring Designs Chicago, says, “Everyone should have a wireless speaker somewhere in their kitchen! Music always makes time in the kitchen so much more fun!” A favorite playlist can make your morning oatmeal and coffee routine into a main character moment, and it can transform a Friday night cooking dinner into a memorable date night.