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75+ Kitchen Essentials For a Well-Stocked, But Not Cluttered, Kitchen

My kitchen in CT

If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of kitchen essentials, you’ve landed in the right spot. I’m a big fan of owning only things I need and use, and I hate clutter, so I try to have have high standards for the things I keep in my kitchen. There’s a good chance that, if it’s made this list, you’ll probably use it.

I originally created this list when my husband and I were furnishing our first Airbnb property in Michigan. I made the list to help us create a realistic budget for furnishing the home. I wanted the kitchen to have everything our guests (And our family) would have access to in their own homes, but I also wanted the kitchen to be easily cleaned and organized. So no one-trick tools or specialty gadgets. (Ok, not many one-trick tools or specialty gadgets).

Turns out, the list was super useful, not only when we furnished our next Airbnb in Vermont, but when we moved from Chicago to Connecticut. The kitchen essentials list helped me evaluate what we packed to move cross country, and get rid of things I didn’t need or didn’t use.

Because every home and every cook is different, there are things on my list that you might think are unnecessary, or things I’ve left off that you might need. So, I also included a list of optional items, where you can personalize your list of kitchen essentials based on how you cook, the size of your kitchen, etc. For things like silverware or coffee mugs, I didn’t include quantities because the appropriate amount will vary so greatly from household to household.

Finally, I’ve linked to some of my favorite gadgets, and included a quick explanation for things that I thought might need one.

However you plan to use this list, I hope it’s helpful!

Kitchen Essentials List

The small kitchen of our Michigan Airbnb

Small Appliances

I’m assuming you have a fridge, oven, and cooktop, so I’m not including those.

Utensils, Dinner/Drinkware & Serving Pieces

Bar wear

  • Wine glasses: I like stemless, and have a red set and a white set
  • Beer mugs/glasses
  • Plastic wine glasses: I like these to take outside
  • Cocktail shaker/strainer

I don’t own specialty cocktail glasses, and just use highballs or old fashioned glasses instead.

Kitchen Tools

Generally, I buy these from either Oxo, KitchenAid, or Pyrex. For knives, I use Wusthof or Victorinox.

Cookware & Bakeware

A large
  • 2 stainless steel pans, One large, one small – I’ve owned Cuisinart versions for years and am very happy with them
  • 2-3 nonstick pans, different sizes – My favorite is the Our Place Always Pan
  • 2 large sauce pans or stock pots:
  • Large Dutch oven or enameled casserole – I’m a sucker for Le Creuset
  • 2 medium Sauce pans
  • Cast iron skillet: I’m a big fan of the classic Lodge pans
  • 9′ x 13′ baking pan
  • 2-4 cookie sheets
  • 2 muffin tins
  • 2 loaf pans
  • 2 pie dishes
  • Cooling racks
  • 1 set of tempered glass baking dishes (like OXO or Pyrex)
  • Rolling pin
  • Roasting pan
  • 3-4 pot holders
  • Trivet to set hot pots and pans down on
  • Parchment paper

Food Storage

Cleaning & Safety

  • Dish towels
  • Dish drying rack – optional if you have a dishwasher
  • Garbage can
  • Sponges and/or dish scrubber
  • Rubber gloves
  • Hand soap dispenser
  • Dish soap dispenser
  • Fire Extinguisher

Optional Kitchen Essentials

You might consider the below essentials, depending on your lifestyle and household, but then again, you might not…

Optional Kitchen Tools:

  • Drink pitcher
  • Cheese/charcuterie board
  • Cheese Knives
  • Ice cube trays, if you don’t have an automatic ice maker
  • Wok
  • Pie weights
  • Turkey baster: If you do Thanksgiving this one’s a must
  • Meat tenderizer
  • Pastry mixer
  • Cookie cutters
  • Garlic press
  • Melon baller
  • Ice cream scoop
  • Mortar & pestle
  • Citrus juicer
  • Fruit slicer
  • Pizza stone
  • Pasta attachments for kitchenaid

For families

  • Kids forks, spoons
  • Kids bowls
  • Kids plates
  • Kids cups

Organization

I think organization is an important part of stocking a kitchen, but it may not be an “essential” if you’re on a budget or aren’t prioritizing organization at this point.

  • Drawer organizers
  • Pantry containers
  • Spice jars and spice rack
  • Label maker

What Are the Best Kitchen Essentials Brands?

When it comes to buying kitchen essentials, I always go for the better brands.

Not necessarily the best ones, but at the very least the good, reputable ones. Simply because the crappy stuff doesn’t work. There’s literally nothing more frustrating than trying to peel a potato with a junky peeler, or cut an apple with a dull knife (also: danger!). The one caveat to this is for things like wire whisks or rubber spatulas or simple glassware – very basic items that function well pretty much no matter what.

So, if you’re looking for some of the best brands for your kitchen essentials list, here are my tried-and-true go tos. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy anything from these brands.