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It’s no surprise that I love to cook. I love creating tasty meals for my family and hearing the “mmmms” coming from their mouths as they clean their plates. How do I do it? With these minimalist kitchen essentials, of course.
The thing is...I love cooking (and eating) food. And I love sharing recipes with others. Which really shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, because I have this blog with dozens of recipes made from scratch in my home kitchen.
What might be a surprise though, is that I don’t have hundreds of kitchen tools, appliances, and gadgets.
I don’t think you need all the latest gadgets to make a delicious and healthy meal at home. Plus, the extra time cleaning the extra gear, and organizing your cupboards so they don’t all end up on your counter in a cluttered mess takes time that I just don’t have.
Keep reading for a list of minimalist kitchen essentials. This list of your basic kitchen needs is perfect for a new home, new apartment, or if you’re just learning how to cook and need to stock up on the essentials.
Minimalist Kitchen Essentials: The Criteria
So how did I decide what makes the list, and what doesn’t? Every item on this list meets these three criteria:
- Saves more time than it wastes (aka saves more time than it takes to clean)
- Makes it easier to make more food at home
- Easily fits in my small kitchen cupboards and drawers
I made a list of the basic kitchen tools that are essential in my kitchen.
The tools listed below aren't just for the cooking fanatics like myself, they're extremely helpful for any home cook. Especially for someone who is trying to eat more whole foods and avoid the junk in processed foods.
It doesn’t take much to make more food at home and eat healthy on a day to day basis Three things, really...
- A little time
- The right tools
- The right ingredients
Cooking takes time. There’s no denying it, but it’s definitely worth it. There’s something special about gathering together around the table for a home cooked meal.
Oh, and if you’re sitting there thinking, "but I don't have space for any more kitchen tools, Megan!" I would tell you to take a close look at what is inside your cupboards. You'll likely find that there's a lot of stuff in there that you haven't used in months.
Clean out the cupboards from the stuff that isn't useful. And fill them back up with the tools you’ll actually use.
Minimalist Kitchen Essentials: The List
Coffee & Tea
Whether you're a coffee drinker or tea lover, you'll need a few items to make sure you've got a cup of your favorite hot beverage when you wake up in the morning. Here are the essentials that we use in our kitchen!
If you buy coffee by the whole bean, you'll need a coffee grinder. My husband (the coffee addict in the family) loves his new burr coffee grinder. We love the sleek design.
You can buy a fancy coffee maker like this one with programming options, or get the cheapest one you can find. If you're on a budget, check your local thrift store or garage sale.
Hot Water Kettle
Use your french press to make a big pot of tea, or to make a pot of coffee - no electricity required for a coffee maker (which makes it great to take camping, too).
Chopping, Slicing, and Prepping Tools
When you're cooking with whole foods, there's bound to be chopping and/or slicing involved. Use these basic kitchen tools in your minimalist kitchen to make life easier on yourself.
If you're moving into your first home and are working with a budget, you only need a couple sharp knives. If you've got money to work with (or if you're looking for a great gift idea), I recommend getting a whole set like this one.
Cooking with dull knives is really hard (and really dangerous). Think about the last time you tried to slice a tomato. Did it get smashed before you got a good slice? If so, your knives are too dull. Get this super affordable knife sharpener and stick it in your drawer.
Get yourself a nice set of cutting boards in a couple sizes (like this set) so chopping those fruits and vegetables is a breeze.
You'll also need a set of mixing bowls. My favorite kind of mixing bowls are stainless steel with no-slip bottoms (like these).
Immersion Blender (or Regular Size Blender)
Do you prefer a full size blender like this Vitamix? Or an immersion blender like the one pictured above? We don't actually have a full size blender, and prefer to use an immersion blender for smoothies, pureed soups, etc.
We've had our Cuisinart food processor every since we got married a decade ago. It works great and shows no signs of failing us any time soon. Here are a bunch of dips you can make with your food processor. You can also make this delicious avocado chocolate pudding in your food processor (or immersion blender).
Dining: At the Table
As you're stocking your kitchen with the necessary cooking equipment, don't forget to get items to eat your food with (and on). Forks, spoons, knives, plates and bowls - all with a minimalist feel that will make your food look as good as it tastes.
If you're moving into a new house, you don't want to forget about having something to eat your food with! This cutlery set has a minimalist design and a matte finish, as you can see in the picture.
Don't forget bowls in your new home so you can keep warm with a bowl of soup on those cold winter nights. Here's a tasty chicken vegetable soup you can make with leftover veggies and eat in your new bowls!
Of course, for a minimalist kitchen, no centerpiece is necessary. But if you do decide to decorate, there's a lot of options (like this cute centerpiece pictured).
Cooking & Serving Utensils
You really don't need much when it comes to cooking and serving utensils. You don't need twenty spatulas or fifteen serving spoons. Here's what I'd call the essentials, with specific recommendations for the kind I recommend you have in your kitchen.
Spatulas for cooking & flipping
When you use these metal spatulas with wooden handles, you'll avoid the toxic stuff leaching into your food from plastic, and will have beautiful and sturdy spatulas to cook your food.
I love using wooden spoons in my kitchen. I recommend these wooden serving and stirring spoons.
Did you know you can often get an extra serving out of a mixing bowl when you use a rubber spatula like these pictured? It's true and I highly recommend using one of these silicone spatulas to scrape the bowl clean.
These metal tongs can be used for serving salads or roasted vegetables, flipping meat while cooking, and so much more. They're one of my favorite cooking utensils in our kitchen.
Small Cooking Appliances & Tools
You may be tempted to get every small cooking appliance and gadget out there, but trust me that you really don't need them all. There are only a few that make my "essentials" list, and I've listed them below. We've got a small kitchen and have to choose wisely about what makes the cut (and what doesn't).
Instant Pot (with slow cook option)
Honestly, I was really hesitant to jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon. But when I realized that in most of them you can also choose the "Slow Cook" option PLUS do so much more (like cook chicken thighs from frozen in just 25 minutes) I was sold. We got rid of our slow cooker and replaced it with this model. Here are some instant pot hacks, in case you're interested, and a delicious Paleo crockpot chili we absolutely love.
A microwave makes my list, but if you're short on space and don't have room (or just don't want one) it's really not necessary. It depends on the kinds of food you cook and how patient you are with reheating leftovers. We went without a microwave for a couple years when my oldest daughter was a baby and it really wasn't missed all that much. Here's a stainless steel microwave that would look great in your kitchen.
Mixer (hand or stand)
You've gotta have something electronic to mix with to save time (and your sanity). But you've got choices here. You could either go with a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (like the one pictured) if you cook or bake a lot, or you could opt for the electronic hand mixer if you don't think you'd use the stand mixer much.
I've been so thrilled with this digital cooking thermometer ever since we got it. It takes the guesswork out of checking the done-ness of meat and anything else you're trying to cook to a specific temperature (like bread). And it gives a temperature reading almost instantly.
Whether you're planning to store leftovers or bring your lunch to-go, you've got to have something to store food in. I'm a big fan of avoiding plastic all together, so you'll see some plastic-free storage containers recommended below. These are the exact items we use in our kitchen and absolutely love them.
Glass storage containers
We've got a cupboard full of these glass storage containers. I highly recommend these containers with locking lids so the lids don't break over time (it happens with the other styles...trust me). Glass is better than plastic so you can safely put them in the microwave, and some glass containers can even go in the oven.
Silicone storage bags
We recently got a bunch of these Stasher silicone storage bags from iHerb (see the full review of eco-friendly kitchen products here). We love them because you don't have to worry about them melting if you put hot foods in them. They work great for snacks on the go, or while traveling. Here they are on Amazon.
In addition to the glass storage containers above, we use mason jars as an all-purpose storage container. I highly recommend this size, or any size with straight edges and the wide mouth style.
On the Stovetop: Pots and Pans
Cooking in your kitchen should feel easy and fun, but that doesn't mean you need a 65 piece cookware set. Stock your kitchen with these essentials and your minimalist heart (and small kitchen) will thank you.
Cast Iron Skillets
We love our cast iron skillets (here's a list of reasons you should buy a cast iron skillet). We cook with these skillets exclusively and are really happy with how they cook everything from scrambled eggs to steak and veggies.
We use our stock pot for soups, hard boiled eggs, beans, lentils, and the occasional sauce. If you're short on space and don't plan to entertain much, you could omit this purchase and just be sure to get the dutch oven (below).
Small Pot/Sauce Pan
Having a small sauce pan in your kitchen cupboard will be helpful for sauces, and small batches of soup.
We really love our dutch oven, and have used it for baking bread, big pots of soup (when we don't use our slow cooker), and so much more. I highly recommend having one of these in your kitchen!
In the Oven: Baking Dishes
When you've got these essential baking dishes in your minimalist kitchen, you'll be good to make the basics (and then some). Now, if you're an avid baker, you likely will need a few other tools. Here's a list of baking tools for bread baking, desserts, and more.
Cookie Sheets/Baking Sheets
You'll definitely need baking sheets (or cookie sheets). I recommend getting two that fit in your oven side by side on the same rack. That way your cookies or vegetables cook at the same rate and you don't need to rotate them part way through cooking.
If your family eats casseroles a lot, a casserole dish should make the essentials list. If not, this could be optional for you. Especially if you have a couple baking pans and the baking sheets. I love this casserole dish because the lid doubles as a platter (and it's beautiful)!
Baking Pans (As Needed)
There's a bunch of other baking pans you may (or may not) need in your essential kitchen list. It really depends on what recipes you plan on cooking. Muffin pan, cake pans, loaf pans, etc. are all great tools to have, but only if you'll use them. Here's a way to get a big set all together.
Hosting Thanksgiving? Book club? Sunday night football? Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these kitchen essentials so you're set for company any time you decide to host a meal or even just appetizers.
Whether you plan to entertain often or just keep it in the family, having a water pitcher like this one on hand will not only be convenient but it'll look great on the counter, too.
I'm a big fan of using white serving platters like the one shown above to use during holidays or my kids birthday parties. I love the white platters because the food always looks so beautiful.
Serving Bowls (condiments)
If you plan to have friends over to watch the football game on the weekend, or if you like to have snacks when your friends come over, grab these cute snack serving bowls! They have so many uses - from snacks, to condiments, to baked individual desserts, you can't go wrong here.
Serving Bowls (main dishes & sides)
These white serving bowls are classic and will make your food the star of the show. Get a set and use them on a normal weeknight, or when you're hosting a party at your house.
Bonus: Preserving and Canning Tools
This bonus section is optional for you unless you're planning on getting into canning and/or preserving foods. If homemade dried fruit, jerky, and canned applesauce sound interesting to you, grab these items for your kitchen. If not, go ahead and skip to the next step.
This food sieve saves so much time when making applesauce. No need to peel or core the apples, just throw them in your stock pot, then push them through the food sieve and the applesauce spills out into the container below. So easy, and so delicious!
This canning set is perfect for beginners or experienced canners. If you plan to can seasonal fruit to use in the off-season, or just want to have homemade sauces or soups on hand throughout the year, canning is going to help tremendously.
If you're canning and preserving produce, mason jars are a must! If you're new to canning, know that you can re-use the jars as long as you want, and then get new lids to ensure a good seal and a sterile canning environment.
Bonus: Scratch Cooking Tools
Here on Scratch to Basics, we're all about cooking food from scratch, in your own kitchen. So, I couldn't have a kitchen essentials list without some of my favorite scratch cooking tools. I own and use all of the tools in this section, and still consider myself a minimalist. The key to having a minimalist kitchen is only having items you'll actually use on a regular basis. NOT getting any and every tool just because it "sounds fun".
Ice Cream Maker
This ice cream maker can be used with your Kitchen Aid Mixer, if you have one. If you don't, there are other options - this old school kind is what we have, or this one is a stand-alone ice cream maker if you have the space.
This tortilla press is the exact one we own. You can get it here for an extra 10% off with code STB10. Read about How to make your own tortillas with a tortilla press and get three homemade tortilla recipes. If you love to cook from scratch I HIGHLY recommend making your own tortillas at home.
We use our spiralizer to make zucchini noodles. If you think zucchini noodles (or other vegetables curled up in cute little spirals) would help you eat healthier, I say "get it"! Here's an article from Pinch of Yum about 8 ways to use your spiralizer.
Digital Kitchen Scale
If you track your macros or calories OR you like baking, you'll want to have a digital kitchen scale in your kitchen. We ours for bread baking (especially sourdough), and also if we buy salmon or other fish at Costco and re-package them into smaller serving-sizes for lunches throughout the week.
Silicone Popsicle Mold
You can make popsicles from fresh fruit this summer with a popsicle mold. Here's a recipe for fruit puree popsicles your kids (and you) will love. I wouldn't necessarily call this a necessity, but it's really fun to have in those hot summer months.
Silicone Donut Mold
Similar to the popsicle molds, these donut molds are definitely not a necessity. But, if you're choosing to eat healthier, homemade baked donuts are a healthy swap you can make today.
I was really excited when we added this mandoline slicer to our kitchen arsenal. As a kitchen minimalist, you may not think it's essential, but when you want to evenly slice sweet potatoes to make sweet potato chips, or want super thinly sliced cucumbers for a salad, this slicer is the only way to go.
Conclusion: Minimalist Kitchen Essentials
Now that you've got my list of minimalist kitchen essentials, you'll be prepared when you move into your new home or apartment, or start cooking more food at home in your own kitchen.
My goal here on Scratch to Basics is to make cooking in your home kitchen easy and fun, and to give you everything you need to make the food delicious. I believe food doesn't have to be complicated to be delicious, and healthy food should taste good. These kitchen tools will make all of that possible for you!
What do you think of the list? Did I miss anything? If so, let me know in the comments below.