Consider these kitchen tool purchases investments—your cooking skills (and tastebuds) will thank you.

By Jennifer Benjamin
Updated February 13, 2019
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Every kitchen should come equipped with certain essential kitchen tools like mixing bowls, pots and pans, and good knives. While you can certainly scrimp on certain kitchen tools, there are some chef-style kitchen appliances and brands that are absolutely worth the splurge—consider them investments. Here are the gadgets, tools, essentials, and more you can go the extra mile (or dollar) on, guilt-free.

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1

When it comes to cooking, the slicing and dicing is just as important as the steaming and sauteing. That’s why it’s essential to have a top-notch chef’s knife and paring knife.

The former is really your multi-purpose tool, good for carving meats and dicing vegetables—really any larger cutting task. (The best can run anywhere between $150-$200, but you’ll get a ton of use out of it.) Meanwhile, a paring knife is meant for smaller chopping jobs, like mincing herbs, deseeding peppers, or slicing garlic. Skip the whole set: the two essentials are all you’ll really need.

2

A well-made cast-iron skillet is really the king of your kitchen and can run anywhere from $60-$200. Not only is it heavy, durable, and likely to last a lifetime, but you can use it in so many ways. The cast-iron distributes heat evenly and stays extremely hot, making it ideal for searing meats and browning vegetables. It also can go from stovetop to oven, so you can get a nice char on your steak and then stick the whole thing in the oven to finish it off. You can also bake in the thing, making skillet cornbread or a giant chocolate chip cookie.

It’s relatively easy to clean, requiring just a quick wipe, a rinse with warm water, and a soap-free scrubbing, which will maintain the integrity of the pan and allow it to continue to bring extra flavor to your foods with each use.

3

While a quality knife is great for small jobs, if you’ve got to dice up multiple vegetables, whip up a delicious pesto sauce, or make your own Caesar dressing, then you’ll need a durable food processor. There’s nothing this handy appliance can’t do. You can slice potatoes, make bread dough, grate cheese, make nut butters, whip up ice cream—the list goes on. It’s basically the most reliable sous chef you could ever have—and all for about $200.

4

A common concern for any home cook is getting meats and poultry cooked just right. There’s nothing worse than dry, overcooked chicken, but undercook it and you may actually have a health concern on your hands. And how do you expect to get that steak perfectly medium rare just by finger touch alone?

A great instant-read thermometer may cost you around $50, but it’s the best way to make sure your proteins have reached the proper temperature. You can also purchase a programmable thermometer that you leave in the meat; it sets off an alarm when it’s reached the desired temperature. That way, you don’t have to keep checking on the roast chicken every five minutes.

5

There’s nothing more convenient for scrambling eggs or browning potatoes than a nonstick pan. The issue is that the coating they use to keep foods from sticking can often be full of toxins, which are made worse when heated. Luckily, there are a ton of non-toxic ceramic pans on the market, like GreenPan, that are ideal for cooking and safe for your body. Definitely consider picking up a pair, in 8-inch and 10-inch sizes, even if it runs you $70 or more.

6

Devoted bakers can save an incredible amount of time by investing in a heavy duty stand mixer like the KitchenAid Stand Mixer, which, yes, is close to $300, but for good reason. It does all of the heavy lifting, or rather mixing, for you, tackling one task while you’re assembling other components. Sure, you might not get an arm workout out of your baking day, but you’ll be saving a ton of time and energy.

The basic mixer usually comes with 3 attachments—one for mixing wet ingredients from cookie dough to meatloaf, a whisk for beating eggs and whipping creams, and a dough hook which kneads bread doughs. You can also purchase additional attachments which can do anything from spiralizing veggies to grinding meats to whipping up a smoothie.

7

If you don’t already have an Instant Pot, then at the very least you’ve heard of them, whether from your Mom’s group on Facebook or a segment on your favorite morning show. Right now, it’s a huge trend, and one that’s not going anywhere, especially because in our fast-paced, busy lives, we’re all desperate for time-saving hacks. And this is the ultimate time-saving hack.

Essentially, this all-purpose gadget acts as a pressure cooker, doing the same work as a slow cooker but in a very short amount of time. So instead of waiting all day for perfectly braised short ribs, you can whip them up in less than an hour. It also steams rice, hard-boils an egg, makes chicken stock, and so much more. It’s worth the $80-$120 price tag to snag this do-everything appliance.