The top kitchen essentials of 2021

Utensils & Tools

To get the most out of your purchase, be sure to adhere to the best cooking, cleaning and storing practices. Consider hanging pots and pans, hand drying utensils and avoiding the dishwasher for cookware.

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Every item your kitchen needs

A functional and efficient kitchen requires the proper cookware, utensils and organization.  Whether you’re a novice cook or an aspiring chef, without such kitchen essentials, even the best tastemakers will be limited.

A variety of kitchen tools are essential for superb cooking and dining. Such essentials are most versatile, though some offer important specificity. We’ve rounded up the top essentials every kitchen needs in order to maximize usage, reduce redundancy and allow for the most exciting culinary creativity.

Complete sets

If you’re setting up your kitchen from nothing, you’ll find value and versatility with a cooking set. These may feature cookware, bakeware, utensils or some combination of all these items to provide comprehensive coverage in the kitchen.

Calphalon Classic Nonstick 14-piece Set

Calphalon Classic Nonstick 14-piece Set

For those who cook frequently, we recommend starting with a cookware set. We’re partial to this durable option by a trusted brand in Calphalon. The nonstick coating allows for easy usage and cleanup, while notable features, including stay-cool handles and tempered glass covers, provide increased efficiency.

Sold by Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon

Rachael Ray Cucina 10-Piece Bakeware Set

Rachael Ray Cucina 10-Piece Bakeware Set

Rachael Ray offers colorful and affordable kitchen essentials intended to make cooking more accessible and enjoyable. We recommend this bakeware set that includes various pans, allowing you to make muffins, bread, cake, and a slew of other tasty meals and treats.

Sold by Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s

Cuisinart Artiste Collection Culinary Set

Cuisinart Artiste Collection Culinary Set

A comprehensive knife set allows for the proper cutting, slicing and dicing for every meal you may want to make. We recommend this modern-looking stainless steel block set from Cuisinart that features the essentials, including a Chef’s knife, Santoku knife, sharpening steel and eight steak knives.

Sold by Amazon

Martha Stewart Collection 16-Piece Set

Martha Stewart Collection 16-Piece Set

The last comprehensive set you may need for the kitchen is for your tools and utensils. We like this extensive collection by Martha Stewart that features 16 unique and valuable items, from the spatula and turner to the garlic press and pizza slicer, all housed in a stylish crock.

Sold by Macy’s

Key items

Be sure to have some important items on hand, whether or not you are opting for any of the previous sets. These kitchen essentials provide impressive durability and versatility for those dedicated chefs.

Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Oven

Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron Dutch Oven
A Dutch oven allows for versatility on top of the stove and the oven, providing high, comprehensive heat to bake, roast, sauté, braise and boil. Le Creuset is synonymous with luxurious, beautiful cookware, and their Dutch oven is their most popular product. We recommend the investment for the high return you’ll get.

Sold by Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond and Macy’s

Rachael Ray Stoneware Baker

Rachael Ray Stoneware Baker

This item goes by a few different names including baker’s dish, casserole pan and baking pan, but it’s an essential kitchen item that allows for all kinds of cooking in the oven. We like this stoneware option by Rachael Ray that is oven safe up to 500°F, as well as being freezer and dishwasher safe.

Sold by Amazon

OXO Good Grips White Silicone Spatulas

OXO Good Grips White Silicone Spatulas

You can never really have too many flexible silicone spatulas due to their effectiveness at saving food and minimizing cleanup. They are invaluable items used to scrape edges of bowls and pans without damaging materials and help cradle food pieces when serving. They can even support some lighter items. We recommend this inexpensive set of four to keep you covered.

Sold by Bed Bath & Beyond

Countertop appliances

Countertop appliances can add diversity and simplicity to the kitchen. They may substitute for using a stovetop or oven or be used in conjunction to make elaborate meals.  You’ll want to watch out for redundancy while taking note of all the many cooking possibilities to maximize your purchase.

Cuisinart Elemental 8-Cup Food Processor

Cuisinart Elemental 8-Cup Food Processor

We would easily argue that this is the most important appliance in any kitchen. A food processor makes prep easier and allows you to diversify your meals and sides, offering a chance to create sauces, dips, pastes, mashes and other mixed dishes while slicing, dicing and shredding.

Sold by Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon

Ninja Air Fryer

Ninja Air Fryer

Air fryers have been gaining in popularity for the last many years, and for a good reason, they provide means for healthier cooking while also offering versatility. This powerful option by Ninja can roast, reheat and dehydrate in addition to air fry, allowing you to make any number of exciting snacks and sides, including kale chips, cauliflower wings and even French toast.

Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s

Instant Pot Duo Plus

Instant Pot Duo Plus

Another counter appliance that’s incredibly beloved is the Instant Pot pressure cooker. While there are plenty of models available, ranging in capacity and versatility, we like the Duo Plus that is both sizable and affordable. Myriad one-touch buttons cater to diverse meals and items, including oatmeal, eggs, soup, cake, beans and rice. Steam, sauté, slow cooker and get creative with this indispensable tool.

Sold by Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s and Macy’s

Black + Decker Programmable Coffee Maker

Black + Decker Programmable Coffee Maker

While not essential for cooking, there is no shortage of people who enjoy, or even require, a hot cup of coffee to start the day. We recommend this option from Black + Decker for those seeking simplicity and affordability that makes up to 12 cups quickly and easily and features a water window and programmable buttons.

Sold by Macy’s, Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Cuisinart Electric Stainless-Steel Kettle

Cuisinart Electric Stainless-Steel Kettle

Though simple, a kettle provides quick hot water, whether you’re steeping tea or prepping a boiling pot. We love this high-end option by Cuisinart that allows you to set the temperature and keep the pot warm.

Sold by Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon

Great everyday items

There are a handful of other generally small and simple items but required, however, if you want to be effective in the kitchen. These are the kind of items you may not realize you need until you don’t have one.

Farberware 3-Piece Wood Cutting Board

Farberware 3-Piece Wood Cutting Board

We recommend investing in more than one cutting board. This avoids cross-contamination from foods and allows for others to help out on prep. We like this three-piece set made of durable wood and features an invaluable drip groove to catch juices and liquids.

Sold by Amazon

OXO Measuring Cups and Spoon

OXO Measuring Cups and Spoon and OXO Angled Measuring Cups

For those who bake and cook with spices, you’ll need a handy set of measuring spoons and cups. We like the options from OXO that are durable and easy to clean.

OXO Measuring Cups and Spoon sold by Bed Bath & Beyond. OXO Angled Measuring Cups sold by Bed Bath & Beyond.

KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer

Hamilton Beach Hand Blender and KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer

Most kitchens will be well served by a hand blender, which lends itself to baking and creating soups, sauces and pastes. For that, we love the value of this Hamilton Beach model. For those that cook more frequently and for more people, a powerful stand mixer will quickly prove irreplaceably as well, ideal at blending both savory ingredients as well as sweet treats. KitchenAid’s stand mixing is an industry-standard.

Hamilton Beach Hand Blender sold by AmazonKitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer sold by Macy’s and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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