Gift Guides

build your own smitten kitchen

Does anyone run out of ways to spend their hard-earned money? I suspect they do not and it is for this reason that I generally shrug at gift guides. I mean, really? That a $3,400 razor set has been marked down to $1,700? Oh thank heavens! I was wondering what to do with this money tree in my backyard that never stops growing.

But all most sarcasm aside, I do, you know, spend some time in the kitchen. And my kitchen is tiny, even tinier than the one I had when I wrote this, which means that paring down my kitchen purchases to the most utilitarian items is more essential than ever. These are the things I couldn’t get by without. My interest is in items that are practical, well-constructed, clever enough to multitask, pretty enough to move from kitchen to table, and — look, this is just my personal schtick as I fear things that melt close to temperatures I routinely use when cooking — involve as little plastic and silicone as possible.

So why do these fairly basic things make great gifts? Because I think the best presents are the things that you either might not think of or might not want to shell out for but end up making your life easier, everyday. More than one-off, silly or amusing kitchen tchotchkes, odds are people will be using these same ten items in ten years, fondly remembering that kick-ass person who bought it for them in 2009.

total showoff

1. A Dutch Oven [Which Doubles as Both a Doorstop and Exercise Weights, which comes in handy when you need to work off all of the lush things you cooked in it] Heavyweight pots that go from stove to oven are essential for any and every type of cooking, especially the stewy soups and braises this weather demands. Staubs are my personal favorite; I not only like their cool industrial design but two features that others do not have — little divots, called “self-basting spikes” under the lids and handles that are steel, not plastic, meaning that you do not have to worry about them melting should your oven exceed 450°F. You only *need* one but I’ve been unable to resist two over the years. My 7-quart oval [more colors here] is great for big meals, dinner parties and is large enough to hold a whole roast or bird, i.e. 6 to 12 servings. My 5-quart round [more colors here is the perfect size for everyday cooking, i.e. 4 to 6 servings.

Can’t get enough? I’m hopelessly in love with Staub teapots [sadly,the square are no longer available unless your stalk stores with dwindling supplies], but the obsession is form, more than function. I mean, they work just fine but mostly I just find them real purty. Slightly more functional, you probably see this 2-quart roasting dish about three times a month on this site. I bought it over two years ago and haven’t put it away since.

[Links: Staub 7-Quart Oval Dutch Oven, plus more colors; Staub 5-Quart Round Dutch Oven, plus more colors here; Staub Round Teapots, Staub Oval Roasting Dish]

one knife only

2. A Great Big Knife [Because Nothing Says Love Like a Very Sharp Knife] I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t understand what half the knives in those giant blocks do. Partly due to laziness, partly due to an inherent desire to do more with less, I get everything I need done with one big chef’s knife, and I’ve used it long enough that it feels like a faster, more fierce extension of my hand. Globals are my first choice, but I warmed to Wushtofs after receiving one as a gift. I keep both sharp on a Furi, but try to take it for professional sharpenings every month, er, when it happens.

If you want to buy two knives, get a good bread knife. Until recently, I never used to understand why people spent good money on bread knives. Seeing as you cannot sharpen a serrated knife, I didn’t understand why the quality of the blade mattered. So I had a $5 one and tried to pretend everything I cut with it didn’t look like I’d chewed the loaf into slices. Then someone lent me this one and my life was changed forever. It glides through bread, it sweeps across the tops of cakes, and it slides effortlessly through marshmallows, bar cookies and chocolate, giving you a clean-cut edge you though previously only existed in the pages of Martha Stewart Living. So yes, occasionally a second knife has its merits, too.

[Links: Global 8-inch Cook’s Knife, Wusthof 8-inch Chef’s Knife, Furi Knife Sharpener and a F. Dick 8-inch Bread Knife that not only makes me weepy with joy, but will land an entertaining flux of Google searchers on this site]

salt and pepper grinders

3. Salt and Pepper Grinders [That Promise to Last Forever] You probably don’t realize how much you care about having a set that can last forever until you’ve had three in a row that so ineffectively chewed peppercorns that you were constantly met with the unwelcome surprise of a sharp crunch in a delicate pile of salad greens. And then they broke on you. Sometimes I want a fine grind, sometimes I want a coarse grind and I decided it was time I had mills that did both equally well, when I told them to. I adore my Peugeot set I keep in the kitchen and a Vic Firth set [sadly, can no longer find a link for these online] we keep on the table but I couldn’t say I’ve extensively vetted other brands of grinders. Regardless, these are still working great, the Peugot set for over 5 years now and the Vic Firth for close to 3.

[Links: Classic Peugeot Set, plus an assortment of colors, including the Dijon one I have, over here]

favorite mixing bowls

4. Favorite Mixing Bowls [That Double As Serving Bowls] Could I go on about my four-bowl set anymore? Probably not, but I will anyway: I just love them. They hold their volume more vertically than horizontally, which means that they take up less real estate on my single, sorry 24″x36″ counter, they nest so they save space in my nonexistent kitchen cabinets, they’re minimal enough that only the food commands your attention, oh and they’re dirt cheap which comes in handy when you’re as clumsy as I am.

What could go wrong? They’ve been unavailable on Amazon for a while. I have dug and dug, and only found a 3-piece version of the set on Overstock for, uh, twice what I paid for the four-piece but if you can get past that, we’re still talking about only a tiny investment into something I’ve kept in constant rotation since the day I brought them home.

[Update: As astute readers let me know where they’ve found these bowls, I try to keep an updated list of sources linked below. Thanks, astute people!]

[Links: Anchor Hocking 3-Piece Bowls on Amazon, Full 4-Piece Set at The Brooklyn Kitchen (new!), Anchor Hocking 3-Piece Bowl Set on Overstock, Anchor Hocking, 1-, 2- and 3-Quart Bowls, sold separately on Web Restaurant Source and the whole 4-piece set is available at Kohls.]

favorite ramekins

5. Favorite Ramekins [That Double As Ingredient Prep Dishes] Look, I just really really like my ramekins. Buy a dozen and you can use them for everything, from individual portions of bubbly baked dishes to big muffin cups, in a pinch. Heck, buy two dozen! They barely cost a thing.

[Link: Stockholm Ramekins]

a scale is easier

6. A Digital Scale [That Doubles As A Sanity-Saver] You know what’s a pain? Measuring out 2 3/4 cups of flour over two one-cup measures, one half-cup measure and one quarter-cup measure. You know what’s easy? Weighing out 12 ounces on a digital scale. Unfortunately, most American recipes and yes, regrettably, this site (as of now; I have hopes…) are geared towards measuring cups, not weights but if you have a digital scale, a world of recipes is open to you, not to mention huge time-saving shortcuts where equivalent weights are offered. My Salter scale works great, is inexpensive (and you can often find them on sale at the big box stores for less), easy to use and — this is key — easily switches between ounces and grams.

[Link: My Salter Scale]

round cutters

7. Various Space Savers [Because An Uncluttered Kitchen is the Best] Strainers that double as sifters. Round cutters that I use for everything from cookies to hand pies, dumplings, biscuits and you name it. A solid timer than hangs out on my fridge, not counter which both ticks quietly and rings clearly. A simple, space-efficient pot rack that gets them out of the way, but leaves them easy to grab.

Finally, my newest, funny little space saver tiny pot that has all but replaced our microwave. You see, when I moved into an even tinier kitchen, I realized that there was no reason to give up precious real estate to a microwave, when I barely used it. Yet still, I missed it every time I needed to melt a single stick of butter or simmer half a cup of cream, and I’m too incompetent to be able to pour from a small saucepan into a bowl without half of the liquid dribbling down the sides. I brought this tiny, pour-spouted pot home two weeks ago and have used it almost every day since. It will so be used to reheat baby food down the road.

[Links: Strainer/Sifters, 11-Piece Round Cutter Set, Fridge Timer, Slimmest Pot Rack I Could Find and A Tiny, Two-Spout Pot]

whisks aplenty

8. Favorite Gadgets and Gizmos We all have giant messy drawers of gadgetry, right? These are the standouts in mine: Pastry cutter (for the flakiest pies), pastry scraper (no easier way to clean a counter), tongs (I don’t remember how I did anything before these), whisks aplenty and at least one flat one (for the corners), an inexpensive mandoline, an offset spatula (that I use for everything from icing cakes to lifting cookies) and an array of microplanes which I find easier to store and less cumbersome than a box grater; my favorites are the classic zester, the extra-coarse grater and something new I’m playing with, the large shaver.

Borderline-ridiculous gadgets I generally don’t admit to owning, but make me happy all the time: A garlic press that actually works (no garlic left behind!), apple slicer and corer and a fancy grapefruit knife that piths (piths!). Gosh, I feel better getting that off my chest.

cookware and bakeware

9. Cookware and Bakeware If there is one place it is nearly impossible to rein in kitchen clutter, it’s cookware and bakeware. You can try to tweak and redistribute recipes whenever possible, but fact is that a loaf pan is a loaf pan and it looks nothing like a pie dish, and simmering two cups of stock in a 7-quart Dutch oven feels absurd. So, after you get your Dutch oven, how do you get started? I vote for figuring out which things drive you the most crazy that you don’t have. I started there and built my way up to the, well, way-too-much that I own these days. [Hey, I baked a wedding cake. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.] What I decide I need may be different for you, but in the interest of hey-you-never-know, these are the pieces of cookware and bakeware I get the most mileage from. My preferences? Heavy pans, squared-off sides for clean edges, and I only put up with nonstick on cake pans. For pots and pans, I link to All-Clads below because that’s what I have (my first set were from the MC2 line, but I was unhappy with them because they’re not dishwasher-safe and had a permanently wrecked finish if you ran them even once by accident; I’ve since switched to their Stainless line which are a little pricier but at least last forever). While I like them, I am not overly devoted to any brand of everyday cookware. For bakeware, I tend to go high or low — either something cheap and not meant to last forever from a baking supply shop, or, when I know I’ll want to use this pan size for a long time, I’ve been very happy with the Williams-Sonoma Gold Touch pieces I’ve invested in; some look perfect even a decade old.

[Links: A 12-inch Cast Iron Frying Pan (my go-to, as good for stovetop as it is for roasting vegetables and even a whole chicken), 3 or 4-Quart Sauté Pan with Lid (a bit more of an investment, but mine has lasted forever and is indispensable), One Small/Medium-ish Saucepan. At Least 3 Baking Sheets (which double as roasting pans; I use quart-sheet pans because my oven is small but buy the size that works for you; I’ve been happy with the weight/heft of Chicago Metallic brand), a 9×13 Ceramic (this is my favorite, by miles; inexpensive, washes up perfectly, so I own two) or Metal Pan, Loaf Pan, Pretty Little Pie Dish or Tart/Quiche Pan, and a 9- or 10-Inch Springform]


10. Something Pretty On Which To Display Your Hard Work: Essential? Probably not. Does your cooking deserve a great big “ta-da!” when you set it out? I think it does. The set that you see in almost every picture on this site is from Martha Stewart. They’re not only inexpensive, you can (slightly precariously) stack three of them to make a cookie or cupcake stand. Beyond that, you can get really far with one sturdy porcelain platter and the kind of wide bowl that holds pastas, salads or, heck, even a pretty centerpiece display.

[Links: Martha Stewart Whiteware Cake Stands, A Giant Octagonal Serving Platter (or Oval, if that’s more your thing), A Large, Wide Serving Bowl]

And if you really want your own Smitten Kitchen… You’re going to need one of these arm’s reach from the kitchen. For one of these to chill in. While you do things like this.

An apology: To my people! Hanukah is just minutes away and wow, I did not see that coming this year so I got this out a little late. Would a great latke recipe make it up for this oversight?

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396 comments on build your own smitten kitchen

  1. esther

    This list reminds me of Laurie Colwin’s list of required kitchen gadgetry- I think she calls it the “low tech person’s batterie de cuisine.”
    Also- I have a little boy a couple of weeks older than yours and I can definitely vouch for the handiness of that baby swing!

  2. I’ve got 9 down, just need the big fancy and “sharpened” knife to go! My dulled down Ikea knife ain’t doin’ me any justice anymore. *hmmp

    Actually, I take that back, I need a Dutch Oven too! Accept I’m really good at buying tv dinners than cooking fresh. I’m a baker, not a cook. A-hem…there’s a difference!

    Anyways, thanks for the guide! You rock!


  3. Talk about a fun, exhaustive, space- and money-saving culinary gift guide! Fantastic. All of your readers will be thanking you for putting this together for sure. Only problem is, my kitchen is already overflowing with tchotchkes and is not exactly big on space. Oh well, what’s one more spatula gonna do, right?! :) Thanks for the latke recipe too, nice bonus. Happy Chanukah to you and yours !!

  4. beth b

    I love your website and especially like the picks of Jacob helping you cook. I try to make two new Smitten recipes a week (I have to make up for the 3 years before I got smitten bitten.)

    Here’s a super source for any one who wants to mimic your OCD spice collection

  5. Jeff Carroll

    Also, if you are a fan of All-Clad, there is a cheaper, comparable alternative. Stainless-clad Tri-Ply Tramontina. You must get the tri-ply and make sure the tri-ply is not just on the bottom–some pots sold directly in the stores have it only on the bottom. It is slightly thinner than the All-Clad, so the saute pan doesn’t work as well, but the price of $129 for an entire set at Wal-Mart is less than you might pay for one All-Clad pot. I’ve been using this set (which includes their Dutch Oven) for two years and love the way they conduct heat. Here’s the purchase link:
    And a discussion on ChowHound about the comparison:

  6. In our house, I am Baker & boyfriend is Chef. We’re both very serious about it. He’s opening a restaurant in the next two years.

    Yet we own such a mash of things from our moms, cheap stuff we bought in college, and castoffs inherited from friends who raked in wedding registry gifts; streamlining and selectively owning beautiful kitchen tools is becoming a top priority!

    Inspired by your love for your Staubs, and looking forward to gift-giving season, I recently asked him if he needed or wanted a Dutch Oven… and learned that has another definition which made for some amusing misunderstanding!!

    Tart/quiche pan is definitely the next item on this wish-list for me. And I really must strenuously agree with this whole list!

    I have to say we keep about a dozen clear pyrex ramekins and use them for absolutely EVERYTHING, from prep to serving. When I made him a Millennium Falcon birthday cake, I whipped up different colored frosting in each one! And my nesting glass mixing bowls, which go from Jacob-sized to ramekin-sized (and which I keep in a deep drawer for easy access!), are probably the very first thing I’d rescue in a kitchen fire (my boy would grab his One Great Big Knife!)

  7. I am madly in love with my Peugeot pepper grinder. We, too, went through three inferior products that ended up either being too difficult to grind or turning the peppercorns into little cubes rather than grinds until we found our Peugeot. It’s a bit expensive but so worth the cost.

    I do need a nice cake stand. In our last move, my pretty cake stand was the only kitchen item to break (sad, sad, sad). Luckily, it was a Target $10 item so I wasn’t too devastated but you just reminded me that I need another one.

  8. Anna

    My kitchen collection is currently a motley mix of Ikea purchases and hand-me-downs. But! I’m getting married next October and this list will totally inform my registry choices. Thanks so much!!

  9. Cook on Bainbridge

    I’ve got a great scale and love recipes with weights used instead of cups. Where’s a good place to find how much a cup of flour or sugar should weight etc… for converting my recipes that use cups?

  10. Lori N.

    Love this list! BTW – they sell those Anchor Hocking mixing bowls individually at Wal-Mart. I have them and love them, since I too have a small kitchen.

  11. My kitchen scale is awesome. It measures my ingredients for cooking and I can also use it to weigh my yarn to see how much yardage I have left in a skein. Best thing I every bought!

    Your baby is too adorable. Makes me want to start baby making right now!

  12. Your baby is so absolutely gorgeous! So much hair!!
    And I love your Kitchen Wish List … simple, yet practical. I love having the right tools for the right jobs, but appreciate an uncluttered kitchen at the same time.
    I very much enjoy your blog.

  13. Michelle

    This is an awesome list and I’ll even happily forgive you for it being so close to Hanukkah and thus missing my list that I had to give to everyone. I think I’ll just make a few key purchases for myself and my tiny kitchen :) I love new kitchen toys, this just made my crappy Thursday much better!

    Slack-awesome! I will be heading to Kohl’s this weekend thanks for the info!!

  14. Le Creuset has finally also figured out about the perils of plastic knobs (what do you mean I can’t put it in the broiler?!) and has come out with a replacement knob made of steel for its pots. Here’s the Amazon link:

    It’s no self-basting spike, but for the already-Le-Creuset-enabled, it might be worthwhile!

  15. caroPDX

    Soon you will learn that your ramekins are indispensable for serving up baby-size portions of puréed peas and the like. They are tough enough to knock off a high chair tray onto anything but a tile floor, they don’t offend the eye like all the plastic dreck, and they can be microwaved without the plastic hysteria du jour. Couldn’t live without mine.

  16. Amanda

    I really love those Anchor Hocking mixing bowls. I’ve been watching a lot of daytime Food Network lately, and most everyone of the chefs HAVE THESE BOWLS. Anyone ever noticed that? I understand their liking, as this way cameras can see through them and look at the goodies inside. Anyways, once my current collection of mixing bowls starts to really dwindle, a chip here, a crack there … I am buying these bowls asap!

  17. Epizephyrii

    Excellent list… there are a few things on there that I still need like a kitchen scale and something to organize all of the dishes and things we already have.

    I have one suggestion to add to the list that I find irreplaceable: silicon coated tongs. They are fantastic for doing any work on non-stick or other easily scratchable surfaces and having something that can grip and stir AND handle high temperatures is an great thing.

  18. Kim

    OoooOooO you’re such an enabler! (in a good way). :-) Most of your list is already in my daydream-of-kitchen-gadgets head… thanks for the useful comments of how you use them too. My kitchen is tiny also. I live in a small 2 bedroom apartment built in the 70s. With 70s cabinetry, flooring and stovetop too.

  19. For folks looking to buy “the” chef’s knife, if you can, get ye to a store that carries many brands, and test them all out: hold them in your hand, make the cutting motions. You shouldn’t “feel” it at all – it should be part of your hand. If it’s not comfortable and natural in the store, it will never become comfortable and natural at home. I love Shun knives, but they’re not for everyone. There are several really good quality brands out there that will last you a lifetime, so there’s a choice: do the research. There’s nothing worse than a knife that makes you feel like you’re wrestling with your ingredients.

  20. Alexandra

    Anyone have a suggestion for a great blender? We have an old cheapie and recently my hubbie has started loving smooties. I was told about the Blendtec ~ but it’s so pricey! Is it worth it? Comments or suggestions please and thank you :)

  21. great list! i’m a sucker for kitchen gadgets…wouldn’t mind an apple corer or a mandolin, myself. i’m going to link this post on my blog.

    i’m also going to try your coffee toffee this week. couldn’t find parchment paper @ the grocery store (i don’t know why), but wax paper should work to??

  22. BHT

    Are the ramekins stackable? Can you stack a half dozen of them, or does the pile get too high and tippy?

    I got rid of my straight sided ones years ago becuase they wouldn’t stack and were hard to store. These look like they might not have that problem.

  23. Here’s from one tiny kitchen to another! Thanks for the great tips! My in-laws were just asking for my amazon wish list, and I was just thinking about upgrading my pots & pans (can you believe I don’t have a Dutch oven?!).

    And I love how you snuck in a picture of Jacob at the end. Brilliant!

  24. I want a Memoria kitchen haha…or a bigger physical kitchen with every, single gadget in existence. Thanks for the big list. I have a million tabs on my web browser now.

  25. Thanks for all the great ideas. I have those ramekins and love them. I should go get more. And yes, they do stack, but I’ve only tried 4 high (since that’s all I have). I’ve been wanting a tart pan, and think I’ll have to get the one you suggested. Also, couldn’t agree more that desserts deserve to be set out on something lovely. I’m adding that cake stand to my wish list.

  26. linda

    this is a spectacular post! with wonderful insight into the workings of your kitchen…& great gift ideas…thank you!
    btw: the adorable photo of jacob more than makes up for “hanukah is just minutes away!”
    happy h to you & your family!!

  27. Thank you for the great guide! Though I have a fairly larger kitchen I don’t like clutter so this is perfect. I’ve already “saved for later” quite a few things in my shopping cart!

  28. Dan

    The cradle swing is a must; we inherited the aquarium model from my sister and it’s proving to be a life/sanity saver.

    No paring knife? I mostly use an 8″ chef’s knife, but have found a paring knife extremely handy on occasion.

    Have a lovely holiday!

  29. I was just talking about this with some friends – essential, practical gifts that make your friends swoon with joy. I had already planned to get my friend Katie a temperature gauge for her steamed milk. Thanks for supplying all the great links. Many an inspiration.

  30. Those ramekins are exactly what I’ve been searching for. They’ve been on my list for years, but I hadn’t yet found the perfect ones (I mean sure I could have gone with classic vertical ridges).

    Regarding butter melting and no-microwave – when it is for baking I’ve taken to putting butter in a small oven-safe bowl and placing that in the oven while it preheats and set a timer and you might need to stir, depending on how much butter you melt.

  31. Rhonda

    Since my husband likes all your posts (food-wise) I am hoping he’ll find something on your list that I don’t have…well he knows my wish list and has definitely said no to a baby so kitchen stocking it is.

    Happy holidays to you and your family. And yes to the latke recipe.

  32. I have always used my bread knife more for slicing tomatoes than bread – serrated edge just seems to work better than a regular knife. So, even more reason to follow Deb’s tip #2!

  33. I have the same All Clad butter melting pan! When I got it as a hand me down, I thought it was the most absurd thing, but since I don’t have a microwave either, I use it to do all those things you mentioned.

  34. Chris S.

    This post is so great! A link should be sent to my husband and family as you have listed all the things that I have been dreaming of having in my kitchen!!! Thanks for compiling all these things and providing links! Easy shopping! NO EXCUSE!

  35. Sasa

    If you ever make crumpets (I have to – I’ve never been able to find them in the tiny corner for Austria I live in, sob) you’ll find *yet* another use for your round cutters, yay for multi-tasking! You probably know this but the batter is so loose they need to be cooked in egg rings which, um, weirdly enough I never got around to stocking up on so I substitute.

  36. Ha! I just smiled my way through this whole post. First, I patted myself on the back for the items that I also have (peuguot salt grinda, what! what!) and then I ooed and ahed at the things I need but can’t afford (dang it I need to get married already, so I can get the STUFF) and then I died laughing a little bit when you said (Pith!) because my last name is Pithie, and my nickname in high school and beyond was always Pith and now I feel even closer to the smitten kitchen, just a little teensy bit. Happy Hannukah Deb and fam!

  37. Laura

    Great post. I agree with most everything but would add a good cutting board as good knives and countertops don’t agree with each other. Oh and THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!! to Sarah for posting about the replacement knobs for Le Creuset and a link to them on Amazon. Those knobs are the only thing about my Le Creuset I don’t like.

  38. Rebecca

    Hi Deb, what about your camera? Your pictures are amazing and I’d love to know what you use to capture the great images of your food and your son.

  39. Sarah

    regarding the little stockpot and reheating baby food….if you serve your little guy room temperature baby food, and he likes it (or learns to) then things are much easier when you are out and about….and you don’t have to wash that pot 3x per day! just a thought….

  40. e

    Hi Deb! I can’t seem to find a medium or small pie pan/dish. I don’t always want to make a 9″ pie! I’d love to have a 6″ pie pan. Have you ever seen one? Or any smaller size but same general shape?

    Happy holidays of whatever flavor!!

  41. Joelle

    Deb. You *still* have not revealed what food processor you use…despite the fact that you seem to use it constantly! It’s “next” on my wishlist…and while you’re doing my bank account a favor, I really would like to know what I’m coveting!

  42. Kate

    Smitten – when I saw the picture of the Anchor Hocking bowls I wondered if their flatter bottoms inhibited being able to mix as well as a bowl with a rounded bottom?…especially if one ever uses a hand mixer?

    I like the way they look!

  43. good knives. yes. i just got my very first adult kitchen knife (ok, so i’m lucky and I got a few) but WOW, it’s amazing the difference a good knife can make. and double agreed with the bread knife! also, i recommend trying a Shun knife if you ever get the chance… amazing!

  44. laurie

    Thank you so much for creating this for us! I can’t figure out when you have time to do these things. The picture of Jacob literally took my breath away. Happy Chanukah! I’m cooking latkes for 30 tomorrow. It’s at a friend’s house so I’m thrilled to do it. I’m partial to Edward Schneider’s latkes. He posted his recipe on Mark Bittman’s blog last year. It’s how my husband’s grandmother made them, how my mother made them, and now how I make them. It’s all in the magical ACME grater.

  45. Angela

    I love, love, love my digital scale. A good space saver is…a cutting board(s). You can prep something and move it to another surface, using the original area to prep something else on another cutting board.

  46. This is really bad for me. I already have far too much kitchen stuff (store some things in the garage and others in the basement). But, I might have to go buy the mixing bowls (swoon) and the ramikens, even though I already have perfectly good ones in my kitchen. I may love the tools almost as much as I love the cooking!

  47. I had been looking and looking and waiting and waiting for those same mixing bowls – and I found them FINALLY – at – they’re the set of 4 splashproof bowls – he used the same ones on his show, and I guess they had stopped making them (as many paths I pursued all ended in “unavailable”) – but they’re here now! WOO!

  48. I can’t wait to get a dutch oven. It’s on my registry. Can’t bring myself to spend hundreds on a kitchen item for myself, but family/friends can go right ahead…is that bad?

  49. Susan

    Great list! I’ve collected most of the cookware I’ll ever need except the Dutch Oven. Thanks for the reasoning behind the Staub recommendation. A good bread knife I do need, but I never really missed that until I started baking good crusty bread. And last, the round cutter. I’ve been using a soup can, but the edge just isn’t sharp enough! I also want your wavy edged cutter set. Man..those sets are expensive, that’s what’s been holding me back..I just can’t justify based on the amount of usage they’d get, uh, but I want them anyway!

    1. deb

      e — Yes. Fat Daddio (love the name, love the cheap, restaurant supply-ish bakeware) makes a 6-inch pie pan. Which reminds me that I have this set of four 4-inch mini pie pans. The rationale behind the set of four is that you should be able to use it to make four small pies from one standard 9-inch pie recipe (I believe that is the conversion…), or say, two mini-pies from half a recipe.

      Dutch ovens — Yes, they make great gifts. My 7-quart was a first anniversary present from Alex. We joked that it would double as a baby bassinet one day. I had totally forgotten about that until now, and I believe it calls for a photo-op, no? (P.S. We’d need two of them to fit Jacob now!)

  50. Hey I guess I have a real Smitten Kitchen or maybe just a replica, since I don’t have a cute little boy and actually my little girl is one now. I’m actually setting them up with a play kitchen next to mommy’s kitchen since the swing no longer keeps them occupied. But thanks for finishing my wish list for me. I was wondering where to get a few of those things.

  51. Barbi

    My son loved that swing also. It actually replaced his bassinet when he was 6 weeks old! He slept in it for 3 months. And I soooo need that tiny little sauce pan. When yours gets to be 5( and 2) you will heat up lunches for small people in such gadgetry.

  52. K

    deb, what about the little pyrex glass storage containers with the plastic lid? can’t beat them for storing leftovers (i know you’re averse to leftovers, but still…) and throwing it right from fridge into oven to reheat. they’re also great for work lunches for those of us who, like you, dislike using plastic!

    1. deb

      K — You know me so well! My next project is getting rid of every bleeping plastic container — The lids never fit! They never look or smell clean! They make me fly into a rage sometimes, I confess — and replacing it with a mega-set of those Pyrex. I even considered including it on this list, but I don’t use them (yet) and I wanted to keep it honest. (I seriously dislike plastic so much we have glass bottles for the baby. And I might be less leftover-averse if they were in less sketchy packaging.)

  53. “And if you really want your own Smitten Kitchen… You’re going to need one of these arm’s reach from the kitchen. For one of these to chill in. While you do things like this.”

    Makes me think that I could do it… oh, that would make my husband so happy… I want to, but, yikes!

  54. I had to laugh at “Nothing says I love you like a very sharp knife” because last year for Christmas, my boyfriend gave me an 8″ Wusthof chef’s knife (which I love and is the most used thing in my kitchen). And then a few months later, he got to drive me to the ER when I cut my hand pretty badly with it… Ok, so it’s actually pretty funny now, but at the time it was horrible!

  55. K

    i am completely with you on all aspects of plastic container usage. blech. if you put anything tomato-y in there, they stain. anything oily? they get sticky. and i’m skeeved out by microwaving in them, lest toxins leach out into my food. and i won’t lie — i’m also drawn to the aesthetic aspects of the pyrex. what, i’m a girl. btw, you can sometimes get good deals on the huge pyrex sets at target, assuming you feel like lugging it back home!

  56. Meagan S

    Wow, and here I thought paying $17 for my razor blades was rediculous.

    I love everything on this list and must have it all! Thank you :)

  57. Fun to see a wish list posted. Great recs…especially agree with dutch oven (I love my red le creuset…makes me smile every time I use it) and knives (yes on bread knife…live and learn). Simple extras that I love: my Microplane zester/grater and my little wooden hand juicer. Great wish list!!

  58. Ed

    fantastic stuff…i’ve already made my wish list, but i’ll definitely think about getting some of the more economical items for myself.

    i too am a One Big Knife person. mine is a Shun 7″ santoku. the asymmetrical handle sold me.

    i could probably transition to a Global now that i’ve had a couple years practice. when i bought the Shun i was still a bit of a novice and the Global metal handles seemed a bit slippery for me.

  59. Susan

    Speaking of storage..The Working Glass. I have a set I bought at Crate and Barrel eons ago and I still love them. The small hold 16oz and the large 24 (I think?) They come with plastic lids that you can also buy replacements for. They were perfect when my kids were young as no-tip drinking glasses and even better for keeping leftover sauces, jams made with over the hill fruits and hot fudge sauce among other uses.

  60. Happy Hanukkah Deb.
    I made a noodle kugel, not latkes this year!

    Nice list of wishes…….I think I will order that Global knife tonight and maybe treawt myself to the bread knife too!

    Best for a happy healthy holiday,
    Stacey Snacks

  61. Mary Ann

    I have the Anchor Hocking 10 bowl set… LOVE it! From a large bowl to serve salad in to small pinch bowls. If one has the room, I’d recommend this set.

    1. deb

      Sorry, that was unclear. Someone lent me the bread knife and then I went out and bought it. I love it. I use it almost every day.

      [Seriously, I really do own everything on this list. I bought everything myself. I don’t accept freebies or samples and I’d never tell you to buy something I hadn’t bought myself. Yeah, that sounds defensive, right? It’s why I didn’t mention it in the post. I just hope everyone knows that when they read the site!]

  62. Ok- at the risk of sounding like a psychotic lunatic (yes, psychotic AND affected by lunacy), I’m just going to go ahead and say this…I love you. Yep, I said it. Love.

    Your writing, your photos, your recipes, and that SWEET BABY. It just doesn’t get any better. Thanks for taking the time to do this post….I know it took a ton of work. Lots of great tips and sound advice.

    A few weeks ago my mom was searching the internet high and low for a good homemade yellow cake recipe. She finally settled on one and when I saw the computer I said “Yes, that is Smitten Kitchen. I link to her from my blog”! I was excited…as if I knew you, gave you the recipe myself, and had some story about serving this cake, alongside you, to the Pope or something. Well, the cake was great (as are all your recipes).

    Thanks again. I know this takes alot of work. My daughter just turned 10 months and I love any posts in which you talk about cooking with the baby strapped on or trying to finish some dish while they’re screaming…. I can SO relate. Just tonight I managed to do what I thought was impossible, but it turns out that you actually can mince garlic with only one hand. Who knew?

    Happy holidays. Hope you enjoy that little one and find some time to kick back and enjoy your favorite seasonal treats! Oh, and just a tip…while “Bjorning” the baby beware of steam from pots, tall stacks of canned goods at the store, and fennel fronds swaying just in front of your baby’s face while standing in line at the farmer’s market. My toes have been injured along with my pride as onlookers gawked at a then 5 month old chewing on fennel and chunks of dirt.

    Best wishes!

    Velveeta Aint Food

  63. Kathleen

    I had so much fun reading your list! I work in an independent kitchen store and have spent my fair share of time creating and constantly editing the list of kitchen must-haves I give to customers who are just starting out.

  64. Your post made me think about what’s essential in my tiny 70s-never-updated-rental kitchen these days. While I could do without a microwave, I have to say that it has come very useful to reheat/thaw my children’ meals… but yes, I could do without one if I had to.
    I love my dutch oven (brought back from France when it was still possible to check heavy luggage)… but I use my pressure cooker even more (brought back from France as well). Not for the same things but when it comes to making a quick dinner soup because the kids are really hungry or to steam veggies, there is nothing faster (and healthier).
    PS: A bread knife does make a difference; it’s on my to-get list (together with the bread board to trap the crumbs!!). Happy Holiday!

  65. magicbaker

    deb…i was so thrilled to see you in my latest oprah magazine yesterday. there was a list of four websites to check out for “healthy” eating and “smitten kitchen” was number one. i was so proud of you! i’ve been following you for two years when my friend told me about it and now i have told many, many others about it. some of my best and most requested recipes have come from you. thank you!

  66. John

    While the Staub’s are very nice dutch oven’s my Lodge Cast Iron dutch oven does have the self-basting lid. Also I particularly like my Forschner 8″ Chef’s knife. GREAT bargain.

  67. well this is just about the best gift guide i’ve ever read. i couldn’t agree more about how useless the lists of expensive frivolities are to me. useful kitchen gear…that’s what my wishlist says every year.

  68. Hi,

    I really enjoy reading your blog and looking at all of the beautiful pictures! It makes me hungry! :) I wanted to tell you that, if you have a Tuesday Morning store near you, they currently have a bunch of Staub ceramic ware for sale. Lots of little dishes and ramekins that are little replicas of their pots. They are great for storing spices and salts. :) They have some bake ware as well.
    Keep up the great work!

  69. Melanie

    Hi Deb,
    I’m pretty sure those Anchor bowls are available at Wal-Mart, of all places. Although I just looked at and couldn’t find them online, I’ve bought 2 in-store in the last few months. We use ours for a simple centerpiece on the dining room table, filled with fruit in the spring/summer and with pot-pourri pine cones at the moment. I have been loving them too, but was unaware they were so highly sought after. I just moved in with my now-husband, and had to cram all my kitchen stuff into his bachelor pad kitchen filled with plastic (ugh!) beer mugs and whatnot. Another thing I loved from Wal-Mart is a super-skinny, but deep, tower of drawers (white!). They are cheap plastic, but insanely useful. I have mine packed with all those little things that normally take up space in kitchen drawers: cookie cutters, muffin cups, measuring spoons, cups, etc. I have a tall stack right next to the fridge, and a few more tucked in tiny areas throughout the house.

  70. Selena Stuckey

    You forgot the essential tool for a smitten kitchen- the laptop, all greasy and splattered (mine anyway)! The latkes link is on my desktop, all ready to go. I don’t know why b/c I have it memorized back and forth, up and down. Happy Channukah to you and your beautiful family!

  71. I had just completed my own foodie holiday gift guide and posted it on my blog, when I decided to hop on over to Smitten Kitchen and see what Deb was cooking, and what do you know, you did a gift guide! On the same day as mine. And yours is soooo much better, so much more elegant, so much more practical. Not that anyone was going to read mine anyway, but now they’re definitely not going to. But I will say that it made me feel good that several of my gift ideas were ideas that you also listed. Great minds think alike, right?

  72. piba

    this is great! thanks! They are not a set but if you are looking for just one of those mixing bowls – It looks like ikea has one that looks a lot like the one deb uses – for $3.99!!!! also deb – Martha Stewart (Ahhh martha I love you) has a set of wonderful pyrex tupperware that are perfect. We have never had plastic in our house since we discovered them years ago. they have plastic lids but they are wonderful and I often freeze meals in them, so busy days with the little ones they go from freezer to oven – we call them our “marthas”. Here is the tricky part – they dont seem to be easy to find – KMART periodically (And not all of them) carries them. We have often stopped at random KMARTS just to see if they had the mega sized box of 10 of them (for $19.99!!!) The set comes with two lasagna sized pans, two round smaller pans (sort of small casserole size), and two each of small round and rectangular ones – great for lunch sized leftovers.

  73. Meg

    I ordered a dutch oven last week because I just discovered that recipe for rustic, no-knead bread that may cause me never to bake bread in the knead-rise-punchdown-rise way again. I agree with everything on your list – I would only add that in my kitchen, I simply could not do without my microplane grater! I use it almost daily. It’s in my giant drawer of gadgetry, next to the dough scraper and the apple wedger and the huge, bad-ass knife.

  74. Susan

    Hey Deb- thanks for the Latke recipe, just in time!
    The pyrex with the plastic lids are also great in the freezer. I’m due in Feb and already stocking up on things in the freezer and those containers are great for that. There’s some made by Frigovere that Container Store and Crate & Barrel carry, too.
    Happy Hannukah & thanks for the list! ; )

  75. Great blog post! I have a Staub – it’s my FAVORITE pot now! I bake bread in it now from the book Jim Lahey – it comes out GREAT. I love the list of all your other kitchen gadgets. Maybe next time you can show us your kitchy and gadgets with photos?!!!! Happy Hanukkah!

  76. Great list! These are all essentials for any well-run kitchen. The most important things in my kitchen, without a doubt, are my sharp chef’s knives and my stainless-steel All-Clad pans (plus a couple of nonstick ones for omelets and crepes).

  77. Special thanks for mentioning the latke recipe. Hannukah starts today and I was beginning to worry that SK wouldn’t be a part of my celebration. But no more worries – I’ll make your latkes, and my sister is making your grasshopper brownies. Maybe your next contribution could be some doughnuts?
    P.S. Your baby is adorable.

  78. suzanne

    about bread knives – turns out you can sharpen them. we recently purchased a brilliant electric knife sharpener by Waring and it sharpens bread knives too! love your post. happy holidays to you and your family.

  79. Amber

    OK, OK, you have inspired me to get rid of some stuff:

    – The last bit of my serving dishes that I never use, but want to.
    – A couple of pots (one beautiful copper one I bought a garage sale & split from it’s mate)
    – The Vintage Pyrex (Boo Hoo), that are so fun, but heavy and space hogs (my inner clean sweep angel will will have to pry these from the hands of my inner clutter bug)
    – Put away the knife block, and keep only 2-3 knives on magnets

    And instead purchase (yipee!):
    – Those glass Pyrex bowls…the search is on
    – a few more Pyrex ramekins (so I like the Pyrex, who doesn’t)
    – the knife magnet thingy

    I have 2 of the thin pot racks…that also hold towels, apron and a few larger utensils. I love them, and so do all of my visitors.

    And I swear my minimalist boyfriend WILL appreciate it after he gets used to yet another rearrangement of the new and improved smitten kitchen.

    I love love love your site.

  80. charles
  81. Tina

    I love your website! I’m going to try a bunch of your cookie recipes for my holiday baking this year. And I just opened my new issue of ‘O’ magazine and your blog is mentionned! How cool is that?

  82. cybercita

    you’re right about remembering the giver fondly. i think of my friend ann, who gave me my first microplane grater, every time i use it.

  83. Oh, yes. You need a big knife. With a little practice, it can do anything a small knife can do but the opposite is not necessarily true. I use Wusthof and an old Martin Yan signature Chinese cleaver, though I’m sure Martin fronts for a new company by now. It holds an edge better than some of my more expensive knives and can carry cutup veggies from cutting board to stove. Also, thanks for helping with my pleading to the wife for a Dutch oven.

    Chef Dad

  84. bethh

    *snif* my Amazon wishlist just got HUGE. Nice set of links!

    I’m almost hoping I don’t get the traditional ramekins I asked for, so I can buy those other ones instead!

  85. SRS1972

    I second Sara’s request! Plz plz plz give us a good sufganiyot recipe! I hate frying things and would love your guidance. Plz plz plz (before my excuse to make them is gone)!

    1. deb

      mimi — I think they’re called Louboutins.

      Sufganiyot — Would you believe I never ate them growing up? Given my affection for fried dough, I was obviously deprived. I’ll see if I can get one in this week … I have 8 days, right?

  86. Merceb

    it’s as if you’ve been rummaging through my kitchen! I have been buying Forschner chef knives for my siblings as entry-level-but -still- great cooks tools whenever they show the slightest interest in cooking.

  87. ASO

    Loved the gift guide!! Thank you for this. Along with the salt and pepper mill… are there any salt and pepper brands you recommend? Im having a hard time finding a yummy pepper. Would appreciate your thoughts! :)

  88. Dalnapen

    Thank you, Deb, and Happy Hanukah! Thanks for this list with which I concur and have most of the things here and am eager to add some in the future.

    I was wondering if you ever do use nonstick? I have two ScanPans that I love and which get put in play almost every, or every other day.

    Also, it is a small thing, but do you have a suggestion for measuring spoons? I used my beloved grandmother’s tin ones until I notice that they were bending/degrading a bit–they are now only for display. Here’s my prob–most of them have very unclear markings–so I know pretty much what size is what–but to confirm requires stopping the cooking flow to check and re-check the size (embossed white plastic text, come on! Or etched into stainless–easily covered by flying ingredients the heat of the cooking moment…) Suggestions?

    Kiss the baby for me! ;-)

  89. Pat

    The Staub Teapot you listed, is it for use heating water on the stove top or just for brewing tea? Love the list, I have the Vic firth pepper mill, like you went through a few that were just not good. I got mine from the spice house out of Chicago, they have a great website and the best cinnamon ever. and thanks fro the knife recommendation I will check out the globals.

  90. Amanda G

    I don’t have any of things, although I have wanted a dutch oven for AGES now. I found some Le Creuset 5 qts for $139 at TJ Maxx the other day and I am kicking myself for not getting one. Maybe they will still be here next week. I doubt they are as recognizable in this new small New Mexico town I now work in :)

    On the other hand, my boyfriend immediately had to look up the F Dick knives because the name tickled him silly. I really want their 1778 chef’s series and now I have a new thing to drool over BESIDES your boozy french toast, which I made this morning :) Thanks for the insight into your kitchen.

  91. I just weeded a ton of things out of my kitchen, deciding to favor little things like my fork and knife pastry technique over a pastry cutter, and other things. This will free up more room for things like round cutters (a set that really works) and more ramekins. What size would you recommend for ramekins? I seem to only have 4 4-ounce ones.

  92. MelissaBKB

    That is such a great list – and I love how you’re so honest about what’s useful and what’s a waste of space. I’ve just added a bunch of these things to my amazon wishlist!

    PS – Sometimes I have “SmittenKitchen weekends” where I make at least three things from the site. We LOVE those weekends.

  93. Lenore

    I feel a big smug to have most of what’s on the list, although I’ve yet to upgrade some of the cheaper versions. For some reason I’m not fond of glass bowls, so in addition to my set of mongo stainless steel bowls, I have a set of heavy ceramic bread bowls–not fibro-friendly, but fantastic for bread and those times I’m feeling nostalgic. I think it’s time for a good chef’s knife, though. And time to get rid of some of the gadgety junk. But I did recently acquire a 4.5 qt. Le Crueset dutch oven from Overstock for $150, so I’m making progress. My main problem is storage. I still haven’t found a home for my tube pan or stockpots! My kitchen is about 20 square feet with almost no cabinets. Ack!

    I’ve got fybromyalgia, so although glass storage containers would be nice, I need stuff that’s light enough to wash and store without having to grip them hard. I even resort to plastic dishes when I’m having a flare-up! Gladware is BPA-free: The glossy surface washes squeaky-clean. It’ll stain if you nuke it at very high temperatures, so you have to watch it when you microwave.

  94. As a university student I tend to move every 4 months (at end of each term) so I’ve been trying to limit the amount of kitchen gadgets that I have. This is a great list – the real essentials!

  95. Jean Marie

    What a great list of wonderful things! I love my le creuset dutch oven; chef’s, paring and bread knives (all wuesthof). Santa will be asked to bring a digital scale this year and we’ll just have to make room for it somewhere. I agree about the ramekins. They are so useful and cute! I have some from the local hardware store and some from Crate and Barrel. Bowls that do double duty are definitely something we could use around here. Thanks, Deb, for all of your recommendations!

  96. Joan

    Deb – thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your list of favorites! And then, to the side, there is the link for “Gift-Worthy” creations. You never cease to amaze and inspire me. Whenever I bring something to share, people now know to ask, “Smitten Kitchen, right?”
    Wishing you and your lovely family a wonderful holiday!

  97. I so much agree with your ideas! I love using my dutch oven and my cast iron skillet (Staub of course). Scales here in France are a necessity for baking. However, I like it when I can use cups in simple recipes such as scones or cobblers: makes for less fiddling and greater speed.

  98. I’ve got those ramekins! Love them!

    I’ve got a mandoline on my list, but some of those gadgets look like fun too, particularly the grapefruit slicer. I love citrus salads in the winter, so I’d probably use it all the time. Thanks for the great ideas

  99. Heather

    Do you have any idea how cute that baby is? Seriously, I am the oldest of seven children and have 4 of my own. I see babies all the time. That baby is quite honestly one of the cutest I have seen and the only ONLY one that makes me want another baby to hold. You make very beautiful children – you should have a kitchenfull of them!!

  100. Lib

    Cool list. Thanks. What kind of toaster do you have? I’ve been researching them on the internet and it seems like there is not a perfect toaster.

    1. deb

      Lib — Heh, we don’t have a toaster either. I literally have no countertop space I’m willing to sacrifice, so we ditched (er, stashed) it when we moved. I think we have a DeLonghi or something; I’m not very particular about them, only need it to toast.

  101. Nadia

    I have lots of rich chocolate brown pottery ramekins accumulated over the years so feel very pleased about those now that I’ve read this. But I’m still casting around (groan) for a cast iron skillet. I think I have pretty much everything on your bakeware list and a very small oven too, so my sympathies. Great post!

  102. Pam

    Gotta love the Staub pans! I bought mine several years ago after a ton of research. I always kid that if I had to pick a pan to take to a desert island, my staub would be it! My boss (who blesses me with a delightful kitchen implement every year as he knows cooking is my passion, I owe my kitchenaide mixer and cuisinart food prossessor to him!) bought me a kitchen aide enameled cast iron last Christmas – not remembering I had my Staub, I was in the cupboard for a month and had a big chip out of it! Without ever being used! I finally found a wonderful pepper grinder a few years when I was in KC (what can I say, I am a kitchen store addict and often bring myself cooking souveniers LOL). I had had several crappy ones before, so its great to have a good one!

  103. Emilie

    Hi Deb. Since you mentioned the scale, which is indeed a wonderful tool, I figured I’d go ahead and ask — what weight do you consider a cup of AP flour? At 12 oz. for 2-3/4 cup, I think that comes out to about 4.25 oz. per cup. But I wanted to double-check. I always scale my flour and I’ve often wondered whether you do the ‘scoop and sweep’ or ‘spoon and sweep.” Thanks!

    1. deb

      There isn’t one correct measurement because every recipe-creator seems to pack their cups a little bit differently. So, I do not use weights on flour unless the recipe suggests one. It could be 12 ounces, it could be 13 or 14.

  104. Katie

    I have a very sad story. My mom used to have a Dutch oven, but she GAVE it AWAY. Because she didn’t use it enough. And the person she gave it to doesn’t use it either. There is something seriously wrong in my family in regards to food; clearly I am a changeling.

  105. Amanda G

    Is there another piece of kitchen equipment you can use in place of a dutch oven? I have always been a baker but I’m fairly new to cooking, so I’m working on improvising :) I just don’t know if there’s an acceptable stand-in for a dutch oven; I have found countless delicious-sounding recipes that all start with a dutch oven and I’m afraid to both cook the recipes without one AND spend the money and then realize I don’t really need it. Help!

    1. deb

      Amanda — There aren’t really any Dutch oven-like pots. The thing is, you can make things that you’d make in a regular pot in a Dutch oven but you can’t get the effect you would from a Dutch oven in a regular pot. The idea is that you buy one and it lasts forever. They’re expensive (well, the Staubs are at least; I know Target has brands that run cheaper) but they make great gifts. Hope that helps.

  106. I really love the immersion blender we have. It works amazingly for things like the squash apple soup I just made, and everything stays right in the saucepan! I don’t have a stand-up blender, but this produces such perfectly smooth purees, I don’t miss it.
    I also hope to become devoted to my new doughnut cutter, with help from your cider doughnut recipe, this Hannukah!

  107. cdelphine

    Thank you for this list! I am in college so I haven’t moved out and outfitted my own kitchen yet but I keep careful track of the best tools so that when the day comes I can make strategic purchases. I don’t want to waste my money or time buying crappy or unnecessary kitchen gear.

  108. Actually, that shaving set has a silver tip brush, so they’re not skimping on the badger quality at all. But seriously- great guide. I’m adding a few of the utensils on my shopping list. A flat whisk, the offset spatula- I don’t need them, but they will make certain things a whole lot easier. I’m also guilty of not having a dutch oven. My roommate in Brooklyn gave me a great one, but I sadly had to leave it behind when I came to Germany, as the shipping would have broken the bank.

  109. liz

    Great list – thank you!!

    So, a dumb question. I’ve been guilty of buying a whole (cheapo) set of cookware and would love to donate it and start over with just the essentials. But should I get rid of the stock pot? I noticed you didn’t recommend one – can I make pasta in a dutch oven just as well? I’ve never tried!

    1. deb

      Hi liz — It’s not that I don’t recommend a stock pot; I think they’re great and if you have one, hang onto it. I just meant if you’re only going to buy three or four very essential pieces, I would choose different things first. Once you’ve got the Dutch oven, this can be (well, at least in the 7-quart case) your largest pot, when you need one.

  110. I found the bowls at Wal-mart and decided ‘cheap is the new black’. Even though they are very inexpensive I still have to pace myself so I will buy one every time I go to Wal-mart until my set is complete. I started with the largest and can’t wait to fill it with a colorful salad or layered dessert. . . I hear a trifle calling me.

  111. What a great list! I just wanted to add that my grandmother told me that if you ever give a knife as a gift to someone the recipient has to give the giver some money (even if it’s just a few cents). A knife is symbolic of endings so you’re telling the person you’re giving it to that you’re cutting them out of your life, but if you give them money they won’t! Grandma’s are the best!

  112. Katherine

    My ramekins are from Corningware and as an added bonus I have heavy plastic lids for them. They double as my prep bowls and super easy to clean tupperwares.

    If you’re looking at ramekins I highly suggest getting a set with matching lids!

  113. Sherri M

    Loved the list, Deb. I have most of what you mentioned, with the exception of the dutch oven and scale. Maybe Santa will bring those this year???

  114. tinarina

    Great list and adorable Jacob pix once again! For those on a budget, after a lot of research I ended up buying a Lodge Dutch oven–it’s well under half the price of a Staub or Le Creuset and has been working just great for me. I also love my cheapo Escali scale–it’s small and light and accurate (gram/lb/oz) and costs around $25 on Amazon.

  115. ashasek

    I will never be able to give up my old fashioned brass balance with cast iron weights (and tiny brass weights for the smallest increments of measure). Not only are they quite precise, but they require no electrical or battery power.

    Otherwise I agree with just about everything on your list and have added a bunch of items to my own amazon wishlist–thanks!

  116. Danielle

    This piece is fantastic! I’m a fan of making as many uses of one item as possible, and this guide to stocking your kitchen is immeasurably useful. Thank you for the ideas & tips, as they will most definitely come in handy as I’m building my own stockpile of kitchen necessities.

  117. Martyna

    “Because Nothing Says Love Like a Very Sharp Knife.”

    Hee, my mother said almost the exact same thing when I began the If You’re Really Stumped For A Present For Me, A _________ (in this case: a sharp chef’s knife) Will Be Great dance.


  118. I’m working in a kitchen store for the holidays (which is a test to my willpower in itself). I was not familiar with Staub until I started working there. We seem to sell a lot more Le Crueset. I was curious why you prefer Staub over Le Crueset?

  119. I love this list! I recently realized the importance of a scale, digital or otherwise, while trying to make a recipe from a British cookbook, converted (by me, silly, silly, baker) into cups and such. Let’s just say, foccacia is a too lovely a thing to see end up as a brick of dense, dry, blah-blah. Scales really open up your horizons for baking, allowing you to tackle recipes you flipped past before! Nice job putting that out there!

  120. Bev – Kitchen Monkey

    Just got an early Xmas present – beautiful deep green round Staub – read your blog on “Build your own smitten kitchen” – it clinched the deal btw Staub and LeCreuset and the cheaper lines of Dutch Ovens. Expensive – yes but I did get it on sale. I thought it was a 4.5 quart but when I measured it out with water it came out more like 5 quarts, which I am glad about. Can’t wait to try it out. Thank you for your site btw – it’s my new favourite.

  121. Monika

    Hi, Deb,

    Do you have a suggestion for making your latke recipe for a gluten-intolerant person? Could rice (or perhaps potato) flour be substituted? I think these would be a terrific basis for our yearly Christmas party hors d’oeuvres.

    Your kitchen essentials list is brilliant – multifunctional, concise, and items are beautifully designed. One item I got as a gift, which is now my go-to implement for sauteeing is a (wooden spoon-sized) bamboo slant-edged stirrer. Fabulous for de-glazing with the flat side, gets into corners well – just about perfect for every stove-top activity. Mine came with a wok, so perhaps this is an Asian tool? I’ve never seen another one.

  122. O and a GIANT cutting board! I can’t do anything without my beloved cutting board. It’s huge and I can cut and group veggies on it all at the same time.

  123. It’s been a pretty craptastic day over in my little corner of the world, but this was a tiny little lift to my spirits. Obsessive kitchen lists tend to do that. I just thought you might like to know. :)

  124. angela

    I’m into minimalism / am just plain poor, so I was wondering if a digital scale was worth it. Many thanks for helping me make up my mind :]

  125. I was wondering if you were going to do an updated “how to max out your kitchen” from a space perspective now that you have a smaller kitchen. Truly cannot imagine how you can do all this wonderful cooking in such a small space (and I was looking at the picture of the OLD kitchen). From the land where everything is bigger, including Kitchens-TX. :)

  126. I love those Anchor Hocking bowls – and thank you to whoever figured out they were available at Kohl’s under the Food Network brand! I just bought them from and they’re currently on sale for $20.99 for the 4 bowls. Use the code “NOCHARGE” and “NEW5053” for free shipping and 10% off.

    I actually contacted Anchor Hocking to see if they’d be restocking the bowls (like on Amazon), and they told me that the bowls are discontinued. Thank you to Deb for such a great, streamlined list – we’re moving into a smaller kitchen so I need to downsize our kitchen stuff, and this list really helps.

  127. I have the Peugot salt & pepper mills too & I love them. I had no idea that they were so expensive in the States but I would definately recommend them. They’re great! Even better than their cars :-) Although now, I think I’d buy one of the stainless steel ones, instead of the dark wood I have.

  128. Kate

    The All-Clad 8 qt. stockpot works great as a dutch oven too. Cook’s Illustrated did a comparison on dutch ovens – they loved both the LeCreuset and All Clad 8 qt stockpot. They chose the 8 qt All Clad as their “go to” because of the ease of using a lighter weight cooking vessel.

  129. Very sound advice. Have lived without a microwave for almost 7 years now and do miss it when I need to melt butter, so am quite taken with your tiny, pour-spouted pot. Would go crazy without my digital scale too.
    Great suggestions!

  130. janelle

    I don’t know if this was already mentioned, but the Anchor mixing bowls are also available at Wal-mart if you have one in your town. You can buy them piece by piece if you only need one or two. I have two now and am going back for the other two. Thanks for the list Deb.

  131. Valerie

    Hi Deb,

    Thanks for the great list!! I am starting over for the bake section just because I love baking! What kind of measuring tools do you recommend?


  132. Steph

    I saw the Anchor Hocking mixing bowls sold separately at Wal-mart the other day, they’re roughly $5/ea if I recall correctly.

    Yeah, I know, Wal-mart… but hey! If they have something you can’t find somewhere else..

  133. janelle

    I keep coming back to this list! I now have the ramekins from Crate and Barrel and a Staub dutch oven. It’s so pretty and the lady at Sur La Table highly recommended Staub over Le Creuset. Thank you again for this list

  134. PS – To those looking for a Le Creuset or Staub, but are looking for a bargain (but are insistent on one of these brands vs. Lodge), be sure to keep an eye on what your local Marshall’s and TJ Max are stocking. They often have them on the cheap!

  135. eeb

    Your list will come in handy for me very soon (tucking it away for the new year). We designed & installed a brand new kitchen in our first home 3 years ago (one with too many good qualities to mention) and now we’ve sold our house and have to move in 5 weeks. I think I have to bake like mad before we go because I sure am going to miss my soft close pot drawers & my super roomy floor to ceiling pantry with easy access shelf drawers, two extra wide shallow cutlery & gadget drawers (so things don’t sink to the bottom & get lost forever because when you’re in a hurry you can’t be bothered rifling around), glassware cabinets, football team size fridge & dishwasher, extra wide sink with “vege-sprayer” water nozzle and my under cupboard lighting which lights up my workspace brilliantly for all those fiddly cooking jobs.

    I also have to agree Ms Smitten that those little pots with a spout are a multi-functional godsend – took me 12 months to find just the right one when I had my baby boy. By then I didn’t really need it for baby food all that much, but I sure do use it now for general cooking (e.g. melting butter)!

  136. Jacqueline

    I just found the 4, 2, and 1 quart Anchor bowls at WalMart. They were out of the 3-quart, so I’ll check another WalMart in Virginia.

  137. Dear Deb,

    I don’t usually comment, but I LOVE your blog and we cook your stuff all the time around here! I’m linking to this post from my wedding blog, because I think this is great info for people creating their wedding registries. Thank you!

  138. I’ve got some shopping to do!! I’m getting there slowly. That Emile Henry Pie dish looks so cute. I also have a very small kitchen and no dinning table so and tips on space saving is a great help.

  139. Michael

    Faaaantastic list. I was just wondering: What type of storage do you use for your flours, sugars, etc? I’m in the (constant) process of reorganizing, and those are next.

  140. Melissa

    LOL! I’m new to this site/blog and was at a little disadvantage when reading the last paragraph! I so thought you were talking about a ‘wine chiller’ for a ‘bottle of wine’ to chill in…. but the baby is definitely cuter! Great post!

  141. Trinsley

    Hi, Just had to say, I based my entire wedding registry around this post. My registry is such an exact copy, it’s almost embarrassing. I have visited this post numerous times to make sure I have everything exactly right. So helpful and makes me confident that I’m not wasting people’s money on gifts I won’t end up using and that my kitchen won’t be cramped with unnecessary things. Love it.

  142. yves

    hi there.i just wanna say that your blog encouraged me and helped me to find a better meaning of my life, that is to cook.thanks
    best wishes from China!

  143. Great list! I have a Staub teapot it absolutely rocks! I think it’s absolutely perfect that you listed dutch oven as #1. Shared this list on twitter.

    Have a great one!

  144. Hi Deb,

    I just got my first Global knife as a birthday present. I am looking into getting the Furi honer/sharpener you linked. How often would you say you slide your knife through the Furi?

  145. Thanks for the fast reply. I currently hone my other knife each time I use it, but with this new global I wanted to buy something special for it. I noticed some of the reviews say the diamonds don’t last long and the sharpener stops working after a few months. Any way if you are using it daily or close to it, I trust that it should hold up just fine.

  146. Any advice on candy thermometers? I’ve been using one of the cheap ones from the grocery store, but I hate it. It fogs up so I can’t read it easily, it slips off my pot, and it isn’t digital, so it isn’t instant. I’ve read a gazillion reviews online, but I can’t seem to find a candy thermometer that people consistently like, so I’m hoping someone here can offer some advice on a decent candy thermometer.

  147. I just moved to a new apartment and the pride of my kitchen…. my weighing scale and all my little pie tins, ramekins…. joy of joys!! And to top it all.. one whole cabinet for all my baking odds and ends. One question though, do u store castor sugar at room temperature (I live in Bombay and our avg temp is 30C. Help!

  148. So there with you on the glass bowl thing. Re: knives as gifts: My long past German Grandma insisted that knives as gifts “cut the friendship”. If you receive a knife, a transaction must follow. So, if you receive a knife, please pay the gift giver a nickel; if you give a knife, exact the payment and preserve a friendship.

  149. Dee

    Hey Jaden,

    Thanks for the list. The ramekins are a great addition. Do you have a separate list for kitchen gadgets/electronics–like food processor, mixer, ice cream maker, etc?

  150. LauraD

    Hey Deb – What kind of containers do you keep your flour, sugar, etc. in?
    I have always wanted to purchase the glass containers that Ina (The Barefoot Contessa) uses but I’m afraid too much moisture would get in.. They don’t look like they seal well!

    1. deb

      I’ve, too, been looking for big clamping jars for a while; I can only find them in plastic and would prefer them in glass. Or, I’ll find them in glass but they won’t have wide spouts and it seems pointless if you can’t dip-and-sweep in one. (That’s what she uses, right?) I have a mix of canisters and I’m not particularly in love with any of them.

  151. FYI, I picked up a huge (7 qt) beautiful green enameled cast iron dutch oven made by Chantal at TJ Maxx. It also has the desirable self-basting spikes on the underside of the lid. Oh, and it only cost $60.

  152. I recently found your site when I came across your recipe for homemade pop-tarts.
    (Brilliant!) I too am constrained by a small kitchen (80 square feet, including full-sized washer, dryer, stove, and fridge.) I recently started my own blog about “cooking in small spaces”. Doesn’t look nearly as good as yours (yet…); thanks for the inspiration! Sisters in small kitchens, unite!!

  153. Sally

    White dishes are the best advice on here! I’ve had mine for more than 30 years, and they never go out of style (unless you buy into the recent square plate thing)! I have also had the glass clamping jars about that long too. My mother was a big advocate of white dishes. Large rooster/hen patterned plates were all the rage in the 1950s, and she would say “why would you want to see that chicken looking at you after you ate your eggs?” I still use many of her white ceramic pieces 50 years later.

  154. Justin

    I know you love your bread knife and all but have you tried a bread knife with an offset handle? I used to have to cut close to the edge of the counter to be able to cut all the way through things, but with an offset one it really frees up everything. I use a cheap Dexter Russell but other companies make better ones.

  155. Teri

    I found those Anchor Hocking bowls at Walmart recently. However, many of them had tiny chips on the top rims and they were sold separately.

  156. Meryl

    I have been wanting a new bread knife for ages and am finally going to take the plunge. Is your link to that knife still the right one? The photo there shows a almost rectangular blade and no specific F. Dick item number. On other sites I see what is called an F. Dick 8″ forged bread knife but which has a curvier blade.

  157. Jocelyn

    I have those exact Peugot salt and pepper mills-LOVE them! I bake a lot of bread, so an essential tool for me is a good bread knife….I love the one I bought years ago that is essentially a band saw blade attached to a wooden handle. Doubles as a great brisket knife, make lots of those too since I’m from Texas :)

  158. Chaja

    I was wondering whether you would consider certain cookbooks to be important editions to a kitchen. Maybe even some cooking technique cookbooks. If you have any suggestions, I would appreciate it.

  159. Sara

    As an FYI, you can secure stacked cake stands with hot glue. The glue is easily removed by warming with a hair dryer, sitting in direct sunlight or in the dishwasher on ‘heated dry’ for a just a minute.(remove immediately, pull apart, and scrape glue off)

    The glue doesn’t hurt a glazed piece and is cheap and quick both to apply and remove.

  160. Tara

    Can you tell me what brand of spatulas you use? I’ve seen the transparent green, wooden handle one in a couple of pictures, I like the looks of it and it seems you use it often – mine have melted/warped so I’m looking for something better! Thanks :)

  161. deb

    I have them in a zillion colors. It’s been years, but I’m pretty sure my favorite one I have I bought at a Le Creuset outlet in Flemington, NJ a decade ago. That probably doesn’t help anyone. My next favorite batch was from Williams-Sonoma, but also so long ago that I have no idea if they still make them as well. And my least favorite batch were from Crate and Barrel, I think I just found them too stiff.

  162. Bo Baker

    I just bought the Anchor Hocking bowls and love them. They are currently on sale at Kohl’s for $24.49, and the set is called “Food Network™ 4-pc. Splatter Bowl Set”.

  163. Sara B

    I’m getting married quite soon (actually the invitations are out and my fiancé is receiving RVSP emails daily) and I when I started our gift registry was really at a loss for what to put it. We’ve both lived in our own apartments so we have dishes and basic cookware (heck we even have some extras like graters, whisks, & tongs). I never found the gift guides on store sights very helpful. No I do not need 12 white and red wine glasses. I have no idea what I’d do with 12 place settings of china. However this list has given me some really great things to add (and hope we get!). Plus your recipes have given me the inspiration to not let all my shiny new kitchen things get dusty. Thanks for the guide :)

  164. Valorie

    Hi Deb: These days it seems like all my friends are worried about the toxicity of their non-stick pans, but don’t know how to use cast iron without things sticking. I found this great article called “Using a Cast Iron Skillet Ain’t So Hard!” at, and it really inspired me to switch to cast iron. There’s even a tutorial on how to keep eggs from sticking! You might be interested in linking to this article when you mention cast iron pans–so people don’t get frustrated and give up on them?!

  165. Katie

    Do you have a recommendation for a good cooking thermometer? After a recent caramel failure I have decided I need to invest in one. Do I need an instant read one for cooking and grilling and a candy thermometer for baking and candy and the like? Or is there a do it all option? Thanks!

  166. Justin

    I’m thinking of purchasing a cast iron frying pan, but for some reason the link in your gift guide isn’t working. What would you recommend? Thanks!

    1. deb

      Hi Justin — This is the correct link. I use my 12-inch cast iron skillet almost as much. I paid $20 for it, but for whatever reason Amazon only has it now for ridiculous prices.

  167. epic

    hi deb – can you recommend a good kitchen brulee torch? i’ve always wanted one, and now that i have everything else (thank you, wedding registry) and room to store it (thank you, no longer living in a boston shoe box), i’m thinking it would make a nice birthday present from my husband as long as i drop enough hints. have a great new year!

    1. deb

      Hi Epic — I have two cheap ones. Among the inexpensive ones, I think they’re all about the same. (Though I’m sure someone will argue with me.) You can get more serious canisters that have to be refilled at hardware stores (I think this is how it works) and those are much more sturdy but if you’re only using it occasionally it seems unnecessary.

  168. Crystal E.

    I have been searching for months for the glass mixing bowls and had all but given up finding them up here in Canada. Then today I was out looking for a bath mat in Home Outfitters (part of the HBC/Bay/Zellers) franchise and I turned around and there they were. I admit I let out a tiny squeal in the store. They are open stock and they have 1, 2, 3, 4 quart bowls available. The compete set cost me about $25 cdn. If fellow canucks are looking for them, they are called contemporary bowls and are with serverware.

  169. Shelly

    How refreshing to find recommendations that don’t require me to be a millionaire or to have a huge space in which to store them. Thank you for appealling to the average person who wants to enjoy baking and cooking, feeding their family and friends healthy food and providing recipes and suggestions that are realistic.

  170. I completely agree with having one good knife and opted for a Shun myself and on your recommendation got a Furi knife sharpener to go with (thanks!). But everytime I use it, the sound and feel of the diamond-ish sharpeners cutting against my Shun baby give my shivers down my spine…is it supposed to sound like that? Am I doing it wrong? Is that bad for the knife? Or am I just being an overprotective Thanks again for all your help and advice!

    1. deb

      My Furi doesn’t make any noise. But! I bought one for my MIL and the sound is agonizing so I know what you’re talking about. That said, it does file metal so it’s not surprising that it makes an icky noise. What I can’t figure out is why it does on some and not others.

    1. deb

      Not fond of them. Eventually, the nonstick coating chips and you have to get rid of them. Ones without coating will last you forever. Plus, almost any cake recipe will have you butter and flour the pan, so you don’t even need the nonstick.

      Of course, like everything in this list, it’s a reflection of my personal preferences. Guess what half my cake pans are? Nonstick. It’s just the most commonly found these days, and I’m always in a rush for something when I’m buying a pan. But if I were choosing my investment more wisely, I’d hold out for classic pans. Also, they’re cheaper.

  171. Lucy

    Did you ever switch over to glass storage containers? Thoughts on the pyrex containers? Trying to decide between those sets vs the Crate and Barrel ones…

    Thanks (oh, and I just adore your blog and use it to share your recipes with my family frequently!)

    1. deb

      I’ve been using the Pyrex ones with the blue lids; they’re great. They’re also oven safe once you take the lid off so they can literally double as baking dishes. Pretty awesome when you’re bringing food elsewhere! My fridge is small and always over-stuffed and I’ve found I prefer the square and rectangle shapes because they’re the most space efficient.

  172. This is an awesome list. I too have a teeny tiny kitchen, so I’ve been slowly building my kitchen tools collection, but I have a ways to go. And you’re right, I LOVE my mixing bowls and hand mixer that I recieved as xmas gifts. they rock, and I think about my mom everytime I use them.

  173. Alexis

    This is a great list! I may just have to print it off & lay it on the hub’s desk. Well, at least the things I don’t have. Mother’s Day is coming up!

    For those of you wondering about storage – Tupperware has some amazing storage products. Yes, it’s still around! I only recently purchased what I thought I needed and now I need more. My cabinets are so much more organized now! I also gained almost 3/4 of one cabinet’s space from using the Modular Mates in that cabinet alone.

    I never use non-stick for baking, either. It’s just NOT practical.

  174. Mari

    For a Japanese housewife living in Michigan that needs to go back to my tiny rabit house in Japan, this list is perfect! Space saving is crucial and I like the way you choose things with double (or even tripple) functions, but still with a good looks.

  175. Mishell

    Deb, I’ve been thinking about getting rid of my microwave forever and I think your post may have made up my mind. I rarely use it and even though I live in Texas, which is theoretically the land of huge counter space, I live in a 1920s bungalow. If you can make all this magical food without a microwave, I certainly can, too. Thanks for your good, common sense that goes along with your amazing recipes.

  176. Linda

    These are great tips, thank you! Can you tell me what type of measuring cups you use? I noticed they are metal (stainless steel?) but have US as well as global measurements.

    1. deb

      Linda — They were from Williams-Sonoma in 2000 but they don’t make them anymore. If buying again, I’d recommend the OXO ones. Not cute, but they get high marks for accuracy.

  177. Sheila

    Hi Deb, came across your blog and love it. Can you tell me where I can get the same or similar containers for spices as you have in your kitchen. We also have a teeny kitchen and I hate that all my spices are in their non conforming spice containers and it looks messy. I don’t like the spice racks that spin in circles, and not keen on the cleanliness of the metal magnetic ones. Saw a small pic of yours in your reno photos and love how you have them on a shelf stacked – any thoughts/ideas are appreciated! Thanks!

  178. Lu

    Hi Deb, do you have a similar list for ingredients in the kitchen? I’ve looked at a lot of your recipes and they seem wonderful. But for someone who rarely cooks a meal that requires more than 5 ingredients, sometimes I am intimidated by recipes with longer ingredient lists, with items I’m not sure I’ll use again.

    If there is a list of 1-2 dozen ingredients (from fresh produce to herbs and seasonings) that you consider essential to whipping up a good meal, what would those be? If you already have a post somewhere please just link — I tried looking but wasn’t able to find it. Thanks!!


    1. deb

      Hi Lu — I don’t. I buy things as I need them, and look for replacements where possible. (The best recipes will offer simpler replacements where they’ll work.) I keep flours, grains, dried beans and canned tomatoes around but not much else, as I have little space for more. Oh, and I keep nuts and seeds in the freezer, as they’re oily and will spoil easily at room temperature.

  179. Alexandra

    Deb, what brand of measuring cups and spoons are you using? My plastic ones broke and I want to buy something that looks pretty and lasts. Thanks!

    1. deb

      I use measuring cups and spoons I bought at Williams-Sonoma in 2000, they’re no longer made but I saw recently that they put a new a set. That said, these days I don’t recommend buying measuring cups because they look nice, tempting as it may be. Measuring cups designed for accuracy (the OXO plastic ones and a few other brands — Cook’s Illustrated has rated these things — tend to be more accurate) are far more important in the kitchen, especially if you bake.

  180. Jennifer McDonald

    Very much enjoying your site – and the comments – always something new to learn! Given a choice of dry measurements, I’ll go with the ounces/grams every time, less washing up and more accurate. One of my favourite kitchen tools are measuring spoons from Lee Valley Tools – nice long handles that reach to the bottom of the baking soda box and elongated spoons that fit into spice jars. My older measuring spoons still get used, but only when I’ve flubbed the order of measuring dry before liquid :-) The link, if you are interested, is:,104,53214&ap=6

  181. Salt?

    Having never heard a legitimate purpose for a salt grinder, welcome the lesson. It’s not like there are oils (like pepper) to extract in the milling process. It’s just a mineral. If you get the version you like in a milled size (or two) to meet your seasoning needs, why add grinding to the set of tasks? (is the the drama of serving himalayan salt at the next dinner party? vs. every day cooking?) seriously, do welcome your opinion… thanks.

    1. deb

      I don’t use the salt grinder as much these days but yes, the reason is control. You put some coarse salt in there — cheapo Kosher or inexpensive sea salt — and you choose how it comes out, coarse, fine, or even more powdery than it would ever be in a box. And then you only need one texture of salt on hand.

  182. deb

    I actually never, ever use them, despite having two good ones. The Wushtof one is a classic shape; the one I have from Global is very pointy at the end and takes getting used to.

  183. Katie

    Hi – I just found your site and am enjoying reading through your lists. I have THE best instant read thermometer to recommend. It’s a bit pricy but the Thermapen by Thermoworks (which was well rated by America’s Test Kitchen) has really been worth the investment. I love the huge numbers and it takes the guess work out of meat. It’s one of the reasons that my guy makes such great food on the outdoor grill. It’s not overcooked.

    1. deb

      Hi Katie — I have one and I agree, they’re wonderful. But at $100, I don’t think it suit the needs of most home cooks. For that, a cheap but not to-a-tenth-of-a-degree accurate one should suffice.

  184. Emily

    Hi Deb – I do a lot of baking and have been looking into a Kitchenaid mixer but there are so many models to choose from. Which one do you use and would you recommend it? I am torn most between the Artisan 5 qt. and the Pro 600. Thanks!

    1. deb

      Emily — So sorry, I’ve never researched them before! I don’t think there were so many out there when I registered for my wedding registry in early 2005. Mine was a gift. I just went with whatever seemed the most basic and popular. I’ve been thinking about upgrading but, like you, am overwhelmed by all the choices now.

  185. Walkiria

    Hi Deb, so by the answer you gave Emily I assume you have a Kitchen Aid (a normal one because there weren’t many choices before). I’ve been reading many reviews on the web and they’ve been steering me away from Kitchen Aid (not to mention the price tag). In a list where they mentioned the best 10, I found the Hamilton version ( Could you give me any advice? Anybody?

  186. Katie

    @Walkiria – I have heard that some of the KitchenAid mixers have different size motors. Some are more powerful than others. I guess it all depends on what you want to do and how much you are going to use it. I got mine as a Christmas gift but I know that it came from William Sonoma maybe about four years ago? Fire engine red! I’ve been very happy with it. I just keep it on the counter because it weighs a ton.

    p.s. I just got a second (glass) bowl as a birthday present this year.

  187. Lis

    This is such a fantastic list! My kitchen is such a mess. I have tons of things I never use and everything is in bad shape, so this helps me see how I can streamline it all going forward.

    I was wondering, though: what are your must-have utensils? This is where I struggle the most.

  188. Katie

    Hi Deb, great site and great list! Wish I would have seen it before I got married and then purchased a 5 qt Staub dutch oven! The 7 qt just seemed SO BIG in person. Do you think a 5 qt will do the job? My rationale is: 1) I currently live in a small apartment 2) My family currently consists of 2 people (and I may have more money and inclination to upgrade to a 7 qt later) and 3) I’m a vegetarian and I have no immediate plans to roast a whole chicken…I’m thinking more about making beans and stuff like that in the dutch oven. Any thoughts you have on the subject would be greatly appreciated! I’m a huge fan of the site and the new book btw. You rock!

    1. deb

      Katie — I am always torn between the two. The 5-quart is pretty much all you will ever need for weeknight cooking and can easily make mains for 4 people or soup for 6 to sometimes 8. It’s most peoples go-to. The 7-quart is indeed very large, but if you’d only like to buy one in your lifetime, that should be it as whenever you entertain or want to scale up a recipe, you’ll be glad you have it. Hope that helps.

      1. I’m debating between a 7 qt oval and 7qt round. Any advice? I do like to braise whole chickens, meats, etc… so I like the idea of the oval… however the round seems more versatile (I do already have a lighter, thinner 6 qt round covered pot).

  189. Katie

    Thanks Deb! That really does help. Thanks for taking the time to answer! I’m loving your site, your book, and I’m definitely on the way to building my own smitten kitchen…one dutch oven at a time!! ;)

    1. deb

      k.i. — I don’t have a preference. In most cases, I’m looking for standard sizes (so most recipes and their estimated baking times work) and a pan that feels hefty.

  190. Deb U

    Where did you get the measuring spoons that you use as the lead photo on your Conversions page pls? They are lovely and exactly what I am looking for as a gift for my sister. Thx

  191. Emma

    Deb, I’m considering buying a Staub teapot (round)! Have you noticed yours rusting at all? Can you leave water sitting in it, or do you dry it out after each use? Do you have any complaints about yours? They look oh so charming, so I’m really hoping that they’re functional as well.

  192. deb

    Hi Emma — I have only bought it as gifts, but am thinking about taking the plunge already because I’ve been coveting it for years and it’s time! (I drink very, very little tea so the necessity has been limited.) I definitely have read complaints about bits of rusting so I’d dry it after using it. It’s probably not as well thought-out as it should be.

  193. olga

    Hi Deb,
    Love reading your blog. Thank you for sharing your preferences. What about food processor and blender!?

    P.S. I am the 4th asking about it ;)

    1. deb

      olga — I have both and love them. But for this list, I wanted to focus on what I consider bare-bones essentials or basics that I think will take someone new at cooking far. I’d buy the things above before buying either. (But then get them as soon as it is possible, or the urgency becomes too much.)

  194. olga

    Thank you for you answer Deb!
    I see your point. If I can suggest, please add additional section called something like ”Extras”: blender, food processor, and some other useful things.
    Cheers, o.

  195. Pitz

    Thank you for this list. I’m a serial cheesecake baker, and I’ve had a tough time finding a really great springform – do you recommend the Wilton ones for cheesecakes? I’ve tried a couple of more expensive ones and I find that the bottom is not sturdy enough. Thanks for a great website!

    1. deb

      Pitz — I don’t think I have a Wilton one right now, just one from Kaiser. I find Amazon reviews very helpful in choosing bakeware brands, so you might want to look there, even if you end up supporting your local kitchen store instead with your purchase. :)

  196. Jess.

    I would die without my garlic press. And I adore your ramekins so much, I’m tempted to “accidentally” break mine so I can go get new ones!

  197. Michelle

    Just wanted to ask what food processor you use? I was just looking at your recipe for tzaziki potato salad and saw how nicely grated your cucumbers were… *siiiigh* My food processor does not grate, does not slice, does not mix dough, and barely chops (it’s a little mush and a mostly unchopped huge pieces with that thing.)

    Any recommendations?

  198. moon

    Hi Deb. Thank you for your wonderful book and website. I noticed in your book that you use very simple yet versatile dishware that can be used for preparing, cooking/baking and serving. My husband and I have limited kitchen space and it would be great to have sets of practical dishware like yours to create our own little smitten kitchen. Would it be too much to ask where we could get the same dishware, or where to start looking? Thank you for your help.

    1. deb

      Hi moon — Thank you. Are you looking for the name of our everyday dishes or some of the bakeware (which is from a mix of places). The everyday dishes are from Calvin Klein, Khaki Cargo line, mostly in sage but a few pieces in cream or a raisin color, none of which matter as it’s been discontinued. It’s still sold some places, but it’s not likely to be a full set.

  199. Victoria

    Hi Deb…I recently got engaged (yay!!), and I’m trying to figure out the best things to register for. This is a fantastic list, but what’s the deal with non-stick Calphalon vs stainless steel All-Clad? I see you do not like non-stick, but I was wondering about the reasoning. Doesn’t non-stick make your life easier? Every time I’ve ever tried to use a pan that wasn’t non-stick (but truth be told, it was probably not high quality), the meal became an absolute mess. This is going to be a major investment, and I want to make the best choice. So can you help me out as to why some people swear by one over the other? Thanks!

    1. deb

      Victoria — I don’t care for nonstick because I find it doesn’t brown well, doesn’t get a good sear and it’s so fragile — I hate using teflon and silicon and “soft” utensils. Uncoated cookware takes a little bit of time to get used to if you’ve only cooked with nonstick, but it’s totally worth it because it will teach you a lot about cooking, and you’ll then be able to apply to anything. Plus, food gets so much more crisp and brown in it.

      Btw, I do keep one skillet around in nonstick. I find it makes life easier for crepes and some omelets. I can live without it, but see no reason to.

  200. Victoria

    That was exactly the information I was looking for. I’ll try to cook more on my cheap non-non-stick stuff to get used to it before I get the expensive stuff, but your reasoning totally makes sense. Hopefully I can make it happen (and also keep a non-stick or two in the back of the cabinet for when my fiance wants to cook). Thanks so much!!

  201. Kai

    hi Deb! i was wondering if you could do a post on best uses for non-enamel cast iron? i want to begin using mine but it’s kind of intimidating since you’re not supposed to use soap to clean it…i’d love if you could put together a few recipes you recommend trying and the cleaning instructions.

    thanks so much!

  202. Jillian L

    Do you have or use a blender? I’m trying to figure out if a VitaMix is worth all the hype, so I’m looking for suggestions!!

    1. deb

      I don’t have a VitaMix but know people who swear by it. I suppose if you like to make a lot smoothies and perfect purees, it’s worth it. I have a basic blender and an immersion blender. Nobody really needs both; you can get most things done with an immersion that you can do with an upright.

  203. Jillian L

    Thank you! I do make a lot of smoothies, but I just can’t decide. I think this may be my big splurge and I just can’t pretend that I needed it :) And thank you for this whole post, it’s been my checklist for my wedding registry.

  204. Absfromindia

    I’ve been married for 6 months and a current stay at home wife. I took to baking to kill my time. But I love it so much now, I’ve baked 4 cakes in the last week!

    I love the list of items you have listed here. I still don’t know what a Dutch oven does exactly. Would be great if u can help me understand.
    Also I came to FAQs only to find out which baking springform tray you use(ref: Apple sharlotka). Unfortunately you don’t get great bakeware in India. So I’ll need to order it from the US or the UK.
    Thanks. Much love. Abs

    1. deb

      Absfromindia — I don’t have a favorite springform pan. A Dutch oven is a heavy pot, usually enameled cast iron. It’s great for stovetop to oven, heavy braises, and soups. It lasts forever if well taken care of.

  205. Janet

    Hi Deb. This Christmas I want to give myself a baking sheet that doesn’t warp at high temperature (like 500F) for making pizza as well as cookies. Do you have any recommendation? If not, tips on how to look for one? Thank you!

    1. deb

      Janet — No, I don’t have a favorite. Well, I find that Chicago Metallic are a little heavier than others, but not by much. It’s best to just go to a baking supply or restaurant supply store and pick up things — heavier pans are best, and the most warp-resistant, in my opinion.

  206. Nashira

    Hi Deb,

    Thanks so much for the amazing recipes. I have your carrot cake in the oven this very minute. And thanks for the link to the food processor you use. Which size do you use and/or recommend?

    1. deb

      Nashira — It’s hard to recommend because it will be based on how much you use it and what for. I think mine is an 11-cup and it covers most things. The 7-cup might be a little limiting.

  207. Nashira

    Thanks so much. I cook quite a bit for a family of three with a toddler in a tiny NYC kitchen, too. You are my kitchen role mode and if you think an 11 cup is worth the space, I’m going to go for it.

  208. Heather

    Deb – the links to most of your Bakeware recommendations are broken. I’m in the market for some new stuff and would love to know your choices!

  209. Rachel

    Deb – Just seconding the call for some renewed links here. We’ve just bought our first place, I was given housewarming gift cards to start building a really nice/useful kitchen collection, and I’d love to be able to take your advice! Especially around the cookware/bakeware. What are the types you use the most? (Not even necessarily the brands.) Thanks very much!

  210. Meredith

    Just used the recommend Microplane classic zester for the first time last night. Why did I wait so long?! Also upgraded my pastry cutter and purchased a digital scale. As others have mentioned above, it would be great if you had time to update the recommendations. I would venture a guess that you have even found new tools in the time since you first posted this. Thanks for the great recipes and lovely photos!

  211. Karen

    Hi Deb, I am in the market for new baking sheet/roasting pans and noticed that the link to the ones you like best is broken. Could you update it? Would really appreciate any advice on these (all my cookie bottoms/crusts are burning)! Thanks.

  212. deb

    Yes — all the links in #9 are updated now, thanks for the heads up. Plus, I’ve added some new pieces and notes, based on what I use these days. Hope that helps.

  213. Karen

    Thanks so much! Already ordered a few things based on your recs and have been very pleased. Can’t wait to try them on your recipes!

  214. deb

    Hi Megan — At the time, I was using Epicurean cutting boards. They’re a wood/plastic blend and I like that they’re low maintenance, do not absorb odors and can go in the dishwasher. I still use them for cutting onions and stinky things. But I recently invested in a black walnut board that’s just stunning and keeping up well. It would make a great gift.

    1. deb

      Rose — I do. I have 5-quart tilt-head standard; I like it a lot. However, unless you bake quite a bit or want to make use of the many additional attachments you can buy (grinder, juicer, pasta maker, etc.) how much you use it will vary. They’re workhorses, however. Mine have lasted forever and they have wonderful customer service if anything goes wrong; this, for me, counts a lot.

  215. CC

    I am not finding your recommendation for a peeler of any sort. I have had bad luck with both the inexpensive ones, and with pricier models. Do you have a favorite? Thanks!!

  216. deb

    CC — Like the crazy person you probably already know I am, I have a few. I didn’t grow up using y-shaped peelers, but once I bought this one, I was converted. It’s slightly awkward at first and from the point on, I’ve never been able to use another. It’s great for creating peels of vegetables for “ribbon”-ish salads as well as removing the knobby outer skin of broccoli trunks. Upon recommendation from a reader, I bought this peeler for super-thin skins. It’s great for tomatoes and peaches. If I had many, I’d just blanche them but for one or two, it makes quick work of the skin. And then I have a julienne peeler. But the only one I really need and would be lost without is the first one.

  217. CC

    Thank you, thank you! Ordering from Amazon now. May as well buy the SK book while I’m there, right? :-) Been addicted to the website for years. Thanks for the cooking inspiration and motivation!

  218. Julie

    Hi Deb — Do you still recommend the Global 8in knife? I’m on the market for my first REAL knife (I’ve been doing my cutting with utility knives since that’s what mom started me on when I was “helping” her when I was young…. I know, it’s sad). What do you recommend??


  219. cara_mia

    I’m so sad. I have the Anchor Hocking bowls, and I keep them stacked in a lower cabinet. But lately, when I remove the bowls from the stack, the rims have been chipping. This weekend, I stepped on a shard of glass that had lodged itself on the mat in front of my stove, right in the arch of my foot. No bueno. Have you run into any issue with chipping, Deb?

    1. deb

      cara_mia — Yes, mine have some chips now too. Took years and they’re small, but it definitely happens. Mine are also a bit scratched up, but again, it took years. I think it’s just about the flat angled side of the bowl. These days, I use a more classic nested set more often (I just keep them out under the counter), but they look less cool.

  220. Marion

    FYI – as of Dec 11 2016, the Stockholm ramekins are no longer at Crate & Barrel; I bought them a few years ago and gave them to my daughters as gifts, but, if my memory serves me correctly – I think these are comparable: BIA Cordon Bleu – Set of 4 – White Porcelain Ramekin Stockholm – 3 Ounce, available at Amazon, Wayfair and probably elsewhere.

  221. Leyla

    Great recap, thank you! I was wondering what are your thoughts on a slow cooker? Is it worth the money? Is it a must-have in any way?

  222. Sue

    Hi Deb – I want to buy a mandolin mainly for sweet potatoes (to make potato chips in oven). Do you still recommend Benriner Vegetable Slicer (Old Version)?

    I’ve never owned a mandolin and am overwhelmed with all the options. Thanks for this extensive list to add to my kitchen over time…it’s super helpful!


  223. EL Mehdi

    Thanks for sharing this informative article. I’m on the verge of setting up my first kitchen as I have moved out recently, my friend has recommended the Lodge EC6D43 Dutch oven since I lack one. What do you think about it? I’m not much experienced in dutch ovens, do you think it would fit for a beginner? or Staub is much better?

  224. Rachel

    Question for those of you who have purchased a Staub: did the black interior make it hard to see what was happening to the food you were cooking? I was considering a black one, but the interior is also black, and I was afraid that would make it hard to see, for example, how the onions were caramelizing.

  225. Danielle Wagner
  226. Jess

    Any chance you might update the type of digital scales you currently recommend? I’ve been looking at them for a while and have way too many tabs open. D: The Salter isn’t available new on Amazon anymore and seems out of stock other places, and I seem to remember seeing a different looking scale on some of your recent-ish posts.

    1. deb

      Yes. My current view is to buy an inexpensive well-reviewed one. I find that almost all of them get “wobbly” (not holding a steady weight) after 1 to 2 years and have had this confirmed by restaurant chefs. I wish they lasted longer, but until the technology improves, I usually just go for one like this: (I bought my current one in May)

  227. Denise

    Hello Deb,
    I have been searching your site for a recommended pizza steel. Do you use one? There are several on google that I am reading about but would like to know if they actually are useful for pizza, flatbread dough as they are quite an investment. Thank you.

  228. Nikki

    Hi Deb – I’m a long time reader of SK. We especially like your Roasted Yams with Chickpeas with Yogurt and your Everyday/Perfect Meatballs. Earlier this week rescued some almost spent grapefruit and turned them into a fabulous Gluten-free Grapefruit Yogurt Loaf. Tonight is Pizza Beans night.

    I just stumbled across this webpage with some of your favorite kitchen items. I was particularly interested in your brazier and dutch oven recommendations, but I noticed your links are dead now. Any chance you would be interested in updating some of your favorites?

  229. Adriane

    Deb, I swear I’ve seen your recommendation before for a meat thermometer but can’t find it anywhere. What say you? Thanks!

  230. Deb Wilson-Vandenberg

    Excellent list. The only thing I would add is my immersion blender — could not live without it for soups. Once you figure out NOT to lift it out of hot soup while it is running, which only happens once, it is so much simpler and safer than trying to dump hot stuff into an actual blender.

  231. Jen H.

    Has anyone ever used an onion chopper? My wife has requested one. I know, I know, I know – knife skills – but she really wants one.

  232. Olympia

    The website is excellent (recipes, tips, photos, instructions, recommendations, recipe updates).
    Love the build your own kitchen article and links to recommended cooking tools and more!
    I found a 4 piece Anchor Hocking set that includes 4 piece set of 3 bowls and a measuring cup on
    Pyrex also has sets of bowls that are oven safe with lids. Wish the contemporary version of the nesting bowls (more vertical sides) were still available.
    Thanks for the recommendations! It makes my kitchen so user friendly.

  233. Anna

    This is great, but do you have a list somewhere of great cookbooks that we can get the home cooks in our life (the ones who already have all of your books, of course!)? You often mention them in blog posts but I can’t find a list.