12 Kitchen Must Haves for the Everyday Cook | DoYouEvenPaleo.net

12 Kitchen Must Haves for Everyday Cooking

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Armed with these 12 kitchen must haves, I cook quality meals more often and more confidently. Since I’m in the kitchen a LOT, cooking for my family and coming up with new recipes, quality kitchen appliances and tools are central to doing the work and getting the reward of an epic, flavorful dish in the end.

Kitchen appliances, kitchen gadgets, kitchen tools, and kitchen stuff come in all forms. Realistically, there’s no way for even the largest of home kitchens to have EVERYTHING.

Plus, there’s a ton of junk out there. How many times have you gotten some useful-looking kitchen gadget as a gift, only to toss it in a drawer and forget about it for 5 years? Yeah, I’ve been there.

Since many of my readers are fairly new to everyday home cooking, I decided to put together a list of my kitchen essentials.

12 Kitchen Must Haves for the Everyday Cook | DoYouEvenPaleo.net

These are the things I use all. the. damn. time. My cooking staples, if you will. Without these kitchen must haves, my time in the kitchen would be less fun… which means I’d probably cook a lot less.

Of course, there are a few things that didn’t make the list that I absolutely use all the time, like mixing bowls. But most people already know why mixing bowls are useful. I picked indispensable tools that folks might overlook or underestimate when building their kitchen arsenal.

I’ll also list how I use each tool to give you a better idea of why I love these products!

Of course, I want to give a note right up top that many of these links are affiliate links. That means that I make a smidgen of money if you purchase through my links. You don’t pay more, but the little kickback it gives me helps keep this blog going.

Let’s get to the list, shall we?

My 12 Kitchen Must Haves for Everyday, Basic Cooking

12 Kitchen Must Haves for Everyday Cooking | DoYouEvenPaleo.net

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

Oh, lordy. I don’t know what I’d do without my cast iron skillet! I bought my 12″ cast iron skillet almost 5 years ago and I still use it nearly every day. Honestly, until recently this cast iron skillet was the ONLY skillet I owned. Cast iron lasts forever when cared for, and Lodge’s skillets are extremely affordable. Seriously, I paid under $30 for this skillet—with the amount I’ve used it over the years, that’s well worth the cost.

Cast iron is especially awesome because you can transfer it from the stovetop to the oven. So for a recipe like my Skillet Pizza Chicken, you start cooking on the stovetop but finish it all in the oven.

You can also use your cast iron on the grill. I like to grill up sliced onions and peppers in the cast iron while cooking brats or burgers directly on the grates.

Yes, I’m saving up for other cast iron pieces, like a Smithey’s or a Finex. They’re just so pretty! But if you’ve never used cast iron before, start with the basics. Get a Lodge 10″ skillet or 12″ skillet. It will serve you extremely well for a tiny investment.

How I Use It:

  • Gosh, everything.
  • Eggs, hashes, omelettes, steak, one pan meals like my skillet pizza chicken, desserts like my plantain skillet brownie, dutch baby pancakes, salmon, chicken thighs…
  • Seriously, this is my kitchen workhorse.

Enameled Dutch Oven

After I had been using my cast iron skillet for a few years, I recognized one of its limitations. You can’t use it for slow cooking/braising. Sure, I had a slow cooker, but that tool doesn’t do a great job with braised meats like short ribs.

I soon added an enameled Dutch oven to my bare bones kitchen. Next to my cast iron skillet, a Dutch oven is my second most used kitchen must have. I really only use my slow cooker for huge batches of food – I sincerely think my Dutch oven does a better job than the slow cooker with nearly everything. It’s still one pot, and a slow cooker isn’t much faster.

Honestly, if I had a larger Dutch oven like this Lodge enameled Dutch oven or a Staub Cocotte (which is on my wishlist!), I’d likely retire my slow cooker entirely.

Like a cast iron skillet, an enameled Dutch oven can go from the stovetop straight to the oven. That makes it a great tool for searing meat, adding liquid, then moving to the oven for a low-and-slow braise.

How I Use It:

  • Wherever you might use a slow cooker
  • Braising (particularly short ribs!)
  • Making bone broth
  • Cooking soups and stews, and much more.

12 Kitchen Must Haves for the Everyday Cook | DoYouEvenPaleo.net

Large Rimmed Baking Sheets

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that as a reader of a paleo blog, you roast vegetables fairly frequently. Well, you’re going to need a nice quality, large rimmed baking sheet to make this task as easy as possible.

I always suggest getting a rimmed baking sheet over a cookie sheet (which has no edges) because it’s a bit more versatile.

How I Use It:

  • Roasting veggies
  • Sheet pan meals
  • Oven-cooked bacon
  • Toasting nuts and seeds
  • Chocolate bark
  • Cookies… The list goes on.

Quality Chef’s Knife

This is a big one! If you’re spending any amount of time cooking, a good quality chef’s knife makes a WORLD of difference. Something that’s sharp, feels good in your hand, and can take on almost any cutting task.

A good chef’s knife probably won’t come with set. But trust me, it’s absolutely worth the cost to buy a separate knife. I use my chef’s knife every damn day. I occasionally use a little paring knife, and obviously we have steak knives. Other than that, I’ve completely ignored the knife set that I got as a Christmas gift a few years back. None of those knives can shine a light on my Wüstof or Misen chef’s knife!

Sure, if you’re a real knife aficionado, you likely have an use other types of knives. But for day to day, average person use? Get a good chef’s knife.

On that note, Misen knives are excellent and SUPER affordable. It’s lightweight and super sharp. I love my Misen knife—I backed their original Kickstarter and have loved my knife ever since I received it! No, I’m not sponsored by them, nor are my links to them affiliate links. I just really like their stuff!

How I Use It:

  • Chopping and slicing vegetables
  • Cutting raw meat into chunks
  • Breaking down a roast chicken
  • Slicing our Thanksgiving turkey
  • Mincing and chopping herbs

12 Kitchen Must Haves for Everyday Cooking | DoYouEvenPaleo.net

Large Cutting Board

Piggybacking on having a good knife for chopping up all those veggies, you need a large cutting board. I’m talking large! As big as you can afford.

Having a big workspace makes a huge difference! I have a decent-sized cutting board, but a larger version is definitely on my list to buy. I’d love more space for prep during my meal prep/recipe testing days!

How I Use It:

  • I feel like this is pretty self-explanatory. 🙂


My Vitamix has a special place in my heart. I love this thing. A Vitamix is more powerful than your run-of-the-mill blenders, making it an excellent tool for homemade nut and seed butters. Seriously, I’ve likely saved enough money from making my own nut and seed butters to buy another Vitamix… And I end up with smoother nut butter than store-bought. WIN!

Another perk is that it can handle heat, so you can blend up soups without worrying that you’re ruining your blender.

I’d love to upgrade to the latest Vitamix model (I’ve had mine for about 5 years), but mine still works great so I likely won’t upgrade for a while. Plus, it’s got a lifetime warranty. About 3 years in, my Vitamix started leaking. With one call to customer service, I got a new container by the end of the week. Hard to argue with that!

How I Use It:

Nut Milk Bag

A nut milk bag may seem like a strange addition on my kitchen must haves list, but it’s kinda like that discarded tube of lip balm at the bottom of your bag—you don’t think about it much, but when it’s a total lifesaver when you need it.

Yes, I use my nut milk bag for homemade nut milks. BUT it’s more handy than that one task.

Kitchen Must Haves: Nut Milk Bag | DoYouEvenPaleo.net

Think of a nut milk bag like a flexible, foldable strainer. I use it to strain the milk solids out of homemade ghee or to rinse small batches of veggies. I’ve used it to make super-smooth berry purees, straining out raspberry or strawberry seeds. Heck, it’s my kitchen tool of choice for straining coffee grounds out of homemade cold brew coffee.

Doesn’t it stain? Mine has a little over time. But for the most part, any staining from coffee or berries is washed away with a little soap and hot water.

How I Use It:

Food Processor

My food processor makes my life easier for one main reason: shredding.

I do practically everything else in my Vitamix, but a food processor is definitely a kitchen essential for that one task alone.

Currently, my food processor is falling apart a little more each time I use it… But a Cuisinart like this one is definitely on my wishlist.

How I Use It:

French Press

All long cooking days start with a good cup of coffee.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a coffee snob. I turn my nose up at drip coffee. Folgers? Get outta here.

My spouse and I make every single morning cup of coffee with a French press, and when we go out for coffee it’s pour over or bust.

Yeah, I know. We’re spoiled. But our French press HAS to be on my list of kitchen must haves because I truly use it every day and I can’t imagine time in the kitchen without it.

Oh, and we’re buying a Chemex soon. Maybe that will dethrone the French press. We’ll see?

How I Use It:

  • Coffee, duh.
  • But also brewing loose leaf tea!
  • In a pinch, you can use it to make cold brew coffee, too.

Glass Storage Containers

As a food blogger, I end up with a lot of leftovers or pre-prepped food. Glass storage containers are almost exclusively (see below) what I use to store stuff in the fridge.

12 Kitchen Must Haves for the Everyday Cook | DoYouEvenPaleo.net

Glass is the bomb because it doesn’t stain or absorb scents. You can safely put them in the microwave without worrying about leaching plastic. They can go in the freezer or in the oven (just please don’t put one directly from the fridge/freezer to the oven, m’kay?).

Also, I think we can all agree that the planet could use a little less plastic circulating around the world.

I have these glass storage containers with locking lids so I don’t have to worry about spills. Psst… I have two sets from Costco, where you get more with each set for roughly the same price.

How I Use It:

  • Storing leftovers or meal prep!

Mason Jars

Similar to the above, mason jars make my open pantry shelves look nice and organized.

I got a little fed up of the visual disorganization of all the different bags and/or boxes chilling in my pantry. Almond flour, cashews, maca powder, raisins… ugh. So many freaking bags! So I bought a couple cases of pint and quart mason jars and re-organized my pantry.

Now I can see how much of something I have, and my pantry looks much more uniform and tidy!

Okay, I might sound like a 27-going-0n-68 woman here, but having mason jars on hand is never a bad idea. Not only does my pantry look WAY better, I use mason jars for fermenting, pickling, and dressings and sauces. Armed with a Cuppow lid, I sometimes blend a butter coffee right in a mason jar with my immersion blender.

How I Use It:

  • Pantry storage
  • Fermenting or pickling veggies
  • Storage for sauces and dressings
  • Quick coffee mug!

12 Kitchen Must Haves for the Everyday Cook | DoYouEvenPaleo.net

Kitchen Tongs

This is one of those kitchen tools that I thought was dumb until I actually got one. Now I ADORE my kitchen tongs!

I didn’t think I needed kitchen tongs for everything until I realized how inefficient it was to flip everything with a fork. I just wish I’d had my epiphany prior to the years of splattering hot oil burning my fingers as I used a fork to flip a searing steak or crackling chicken.

So. Save yourself the trouble and get a some kitchen tongs. They’re cheap, and I promise they’re worth the price!

How I Use It:

  • Flipping all the hot things! Except houses.

What Are Your Essentials?

So there we have it! 12 of my kitchen must haves.

Do you think I missed something? Have a tool that’s invaluable to your everyday cooking? Let me know in the comments!

12 Kitchen Must Haves for the Everyday Cook | DoYouEvenPaleo.net


I'm Chelsea, the author behind Do You Even Paleo! I believe life should be full of flavor. I enjoy creating recipes that are nourishing, flavorful, and satisfying. When not experimenting in the kitchen, I usually have a camera, barbell, or mug of coffee in hand. My posts may include affiliate links, which means if you click through a purchase something, I make a small commission at no cost to you. It helps me fuel my coffee habit and pay rent!

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