I am an aspiring minimalist - I can't see myself getting extremely minimalistic, but I do like to keep things simple. This mindset is due in part because "clutter" makes me anxious. I put clutter in quotations because what is clutter for me may seem minimal to others. I'm just very sensitive to my environment and feel better when there's white space.
All that to say, it's been my philosophy to keep my kitchen equipment basic. But, with that said, there are a few kitchen items that go above and beyond. These are tools and appliances that have multiple uses and I use them almost every day. I wanted to share this short list with you if you're just building out your kitchen essentials and aren't sure what to get, or you're an experienced cook and want to simplify.
This post contains affiliate links to products I use and love. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
If you asked me my favorite wedding gift we received, this would be it! It's no secret that Blake and I love good coffee. We could make pour-over or french press coffee every morning, but to be honest, I prefer the taste of coffee from our Bonavita and it's super simple to have a drip brewer.
With that said, not all drip-brew coffee makers are alike. Believe me when I say coffee made in a cheaper coffee maker does taste different than coffee made in the Bonavita. Here's what makes this brewer stand out:
It heats the water to the optimal brewing temperature between 198°-205°F.
Pre-infusion mode mimics the pour-over brewing method by pausing the water flow allowing the coffee grounds time to bloom.
Showerhead design facilitates even saturation of coffee grounds.
No heat plate (which can burn coffee after brewing). Instead, it has a stainless steel thermal carafe that provides improved heat retention.
It's an investment, but well worth it! And that's the thing with higher-priced and usually higher-quality items. They are an investment up-front, but you get a higher-quality finished product and your appliance lasts longer. Making it all worth it in the long-run.
2. Burr Coffee Bean Grinder
Continuing on the coffee, theme. The other essential to a delicious morning cup of coffee is freshly ground beans (and high-quality beans). Ideally, you should grind your coffee beans within 15 minutes of brewing your coffee. I won't go into all the science here, but essentially you are going to get a better-tasting cup of coffee with freshly ground beans. You can read more about why freshly ground it best here.
When it comes to what type of coffee grinder is best, I recommend a burr coffee grinder over a blade grinder. In short, you will get a more even grind with the burr which leads to, you guessed it, a better-tasting cup of morning joe! We have been using the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill for 5 years and love it!
3. Cast-Iron Skillet
Moving on from coffee, next up is our beloved cast-iron skillet. We use our Lodge Cast Iron Skillet multiple times a day. It's actually the only skillet I use. When it comes to cookware, I need something durable and non-toxic. I avoid non-stick pans because of the chemicals used in non-stick, so that leaves you with cast-iron, stainless steel, ceramic, glass, and a few other non-toxic options. A cast iron is extremely durable and when taken care of can be almost non-stick.
Now, I do have a love-hate relationship with our cast iron... It's not always non-stick and keeping it seasoned can be a bit of trial and error. However, I'm learning how to take care of ours, and all-in-all I love having one pan with so many purposes. Also, for a pan that works well, it's not a bad price!
Here are some of my favorite resources for caring for your cast-iron:
4. Vitamix Blender
I know, everyone has this on their kitchen essentials list, but there's a reason for it! As I'm writing this, Blake is recovering from wisdom teeth extraction, and I could not be happier for our Vitamix! Prior to the Vitamix, we used a food processor and Magic Bullet for all our blending, but they just didn't cut it for me. With a high-powered motor, the Vitamix is able to transform tough ingredients into smooth blends. I use ours to make my nut milk, smoothies, and acai bowls, hummus, and green juice. We actually bought a 'renewed' one to keep the price lower and it's worked perfectly! This one is similar to the one we bought.
This seems like a small one, but I absolutely love my manual citrus juicer! I use lemon and lime in recipes all the time and love adding lime or lemon to my sparkling or still water. You can squeeze juice by hand, but then you have to worry about seeds and I never extract as much juice as I could. This tool collects the seeds and ensures you're getting all the juice you can.
6. Instant Pot
We actually got our Instant Pot on Facebook Marketplace - so maybe check there if you want one! It was unused, but just had a little chip on the plastic base. I LOVE having an instant pot! I mostly use ours for making bone broth, cooking beans (soaking and cooking your own beans is a game-changer), making shredded chicken, and our favorite, making pork carnitas. For things that normally take a long-time to cook, the instant pot is the best. I can put it in the pot and let it do its thing without having to stand around tending it.
7. Good Knives
This list would not be complete without a good set of knives. If you're doing a lot of food prep and cooking, good knives go a long way. We don't have the top-tier knives, but we have a good set that's lasted us a long time. I couldn't find a link to the set we have (it's been a while), but here's a link to a similar set from the same brand.
Leave a comment and let me know what kitchen tool you can't live without!