Kitchen Must-Haves

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My 15 Kitchen Must-Haves

Create a Restaurant Quality Home Kitchen

When I was a pregnant, 19-year-old, newlywed I wish I would have had a list of kitchen must-haves.  Let’s face it, I was setting up my first kitchen on a very limited budget, and I had no idea where to start.  Sure, I had been cooking and baking for many years already, but now I had my own kitchen. I wanted my kitchen to be the best because I love to cook and bake.  However, I literally had no clue what kitchen must-haves I need to be a successful cook and baker.

Kitchen Must-Haves
Kitchen Must Haves

After 40 years, five kitchens and one total remodel…I think I have a great idea of the kitchen must-haves.  When I moved into this new house and started Midwest Recipes, I researched the many products on the market and I knew exactly what I needed to make my kitchen restaurant-worthy.

My purpose in this post is to advise new wives, new homeowners, new cooks, and new bakers on the kitchen must-haves to make their kitchens restaurant quality.  The bullet points will help you choose the highest quality products that will last for many years. The actual products I attached to the list are just my ideas and recommendations; you should make sure that you are choosing products that fit your kitchen and personal needs.

The prices of the products in this post may change based on prices and I do not have control over their pricing.  You can research to find the best price and product that meets your needs, but if you do click a link and buy a product from this guide, I will get a small commission.  This will cost you nothing more and I thank you for supporting me in my blogging adventure.


Ingredients for grilled chicken marinade

My Kitchen Must-Haves

1) My first kitchen must-have is a large multipurpose pot with a lid that can be used on the stovetop as well as in the oven.  The even heat distribution of cast iron makes it perfect to make soups, chili, on the stove or to sear a pot roast add the veggies and transfer to the oven.  It is a must-have in every kitchen.

  • Can use on the stovetop, you can make soups, chili, fry foods, and so much more
  • It can be used in the oven to roast chicken, pot roasts, meatloaf, etc…
  • Can be used on the stove to sear and then transferred to the oven to finish
  • It is easy to clean
  • Comes in several different colors
I love my enamel-coated cast iron dutch oven makes this a kitchen must-have to cook so many recipes.  

2) A heavy-duty cast iron skillet with a lid is a definite kitchen must-have.  Make sure to choose one that can be used on the stovetop and the oven to make everything from fried chicken to pot pies.

  • A deep skillet makes it safe to fry and to start on the stove with a sear and then transfer to the oven
  • It is easy to clean
  • Comes in several different colors
I love an enamel coated cast iron skillet with a lid.

3) A non-stick skillet with a lid is essential to cook foods that stick easily like eggs are essential to every kitchen.

  • Titanium reinforcement will make the skillet non-toxic and scratch-resistant.
  • A thermal spot indicator is handy to know when the pan is hot and ready to add ingredients.
  • Aluminum is perfect for heat distribution look for one that is anodized so it won’t react negatively with acidic foods.
I love a skillet that has a non-stick coating that is toxin-free and doesn’t scratch when using metal utensils.

4) You will need a saucepan with a lid for rolling boils, slow simmering, making sauces, heat foods soups, and reducing liquids.

  • Stainless steel
  • Drip-free pouring rim
  • A straining lid with flavor lock
  • Easy to clean/dishwasher safe
  • Aluminum encapsulated base for even heating and no hotspots
I love a saucepan that is stainless steel because it heats evenly and is very easy to clean.  The key to a great saucepan is making sure the base is able to distribute the heat evenly and has a handle that will not get hot.
I love this saucepan because it has key features not found in many other saucepans.

5) A versatile griddle that is heavy-duty to cook steaks, chops, grilled cheese, and pancakes.

  • Is reversible with one ridged side and one smooth side
  • Cast iron is excellent for heat distribution on all stove types (not recommended for induction)
  • Make sure it fits over two burners for more cooking surface
  • Preseasoned
I love this cast iron griddle because it is heavy-duty and one side is ridged for grilling meats and you can reverse it to the smooth side for making sandwiches, pancakes, and french toast.

6) A set of restaurant-quality stainless steel utensils with non-stick spatulas.

  • Made with high-quality stainless steel
  • Non-stick spatulas
  • Silicone is more resistant to heat and cracking
  • Choose a set that has many of your required utensils
I love this 29 piece set because it literally has EVERYTHING you will need to start your kitchen outright and it will last for many years!

7) A high-quality set of mixing bowls with lids that nest together for easy storage.

  • Made with high-quality stainless steel that will not rust and looks nice enough to double as serving bowls or made with glass.  Plastic can stain and will burn easily.
  • Stackable for ease of storage
  • Lids make it possible to store leftovers, marinade meats, and so much more
  • Measuring marks inside or outside of the bowls to make it easy to measure
  • Rims that are grip able to make it easy to grip while stirring
  • Non-slip bottom
I love these mixing bowls because they nest together, have lids, and have silicone bottoms to hold tight to the table when stirring.

8) A must-have in every kitchen is a high-quality set of knives.  The better your knife set, the faster and more efficient you can be as a cook.

  • Razor-sharp made from high-carbon steel that won’t bend or chip
  • Wood handles that are triple-riveted for easy gripping and maneuvering that won’t come apart
  • A set is best because it will include all the essential knives –  I suggest these knives for all kitchens- a chef’s knife, santoku (a general chopping knife), carving/slicing, bread, utility, serrated utility, paring knives and honing rod.
  • Solid storage block is best to keep your knives from dulling when hitting other items in a drawer.
I love this set of knives, but to be honest with you, you need to get out there and find at least ONE chef knife.  A great knife makes cooking and baking so much easier and faster.

9) You can’t bake without a set of high-quality half sheet baking/cooking sheet pans which makes them essential in any kitchen.

  • Made with stainless steel for best heat distribution
  • Easy to clean by hand or dishwasher safe
  • Can be used in a variety of ways
  • Comes with a rack for cooling and roasting
I love this set because they are the perfect size to fit two in my oven when making cookies and the rack can be used as a cooling rack or a roasting rack.

10) Again, baking sheets are essential in a kitchen and so is a set of quality bakeware for baking all your favorites.

  • Non-stick design made with a material that has good heat distribution like glass or aluminum
  • A set that comes with all the basics
  • I suggest these items 1 oblong pan, 2 loaf pans, 2 round pans, 1 square pan, and 1 muffin pan
I love this set because it includes everything you need to make your baked goods from casseroles to muffins.

11) Liquid measuring cups are a definite must-have in any kitchen (yes, they are different than dry measuring cups that are included in the utensil kit in #6).

  • Should have a 1, 2, and 4 cup measuring glasses
  • Pyrex can be used for hot or cold liquids and will never melt or bend
  • Make sure it can be used in the microwave, refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher safe
  • Stackable design for easy storage
I love these liquid measures for their accuracy and ease of use.

12) You can’t cook meat without a high-quality meat thermometer and one tool that is a must-have in your kitchen is a thermometer that can measure temperatures on the stovetop, in the oven, and on the grill.

  • Preset USDA Meat Temperatures
  • Has a timer feature
  • Heat resistant thermometer can be placed in meat and put in oven or on the grill
  • Can be used in solids and liquids
I love this meat thermometer because it is so much more than a meat thermometer.

13) One of the items I use almost every day for every meal is my cutting board.  Have a high-quality cutting board is a must-have in any kitchen. Did you know if you pick the right cutting board it actually has natural antibacterial properties?  Click the link to read more about Cutting Boards at the USDA Department of Agriculture

  • Made with a hardwood like walnut or bamboo so it won’t dull your knives
  • A juice groove to grab those juices before they hit the counter
  • Pretty enough to serve your Roast Turkey on Thanksgiving
I love this cutting board because it has lasted me for about 10 years already and is easy to clean!

14) One item that most cooks forget until they need it is a high-quality grater.  Did you know that pre-grated cheese in the store is covered in wood dust to keep it from sticking together?  This wood dust will make melting and heating the cheese difficult.  Click the link to read more about wood pulp in cheese in this Readers Digest Article.

  • Surgical Stainless steel blades will last forever and never rust
  • You need to have full control of the thickness of your slices
  • Comes with interchangeable blades that dice, julienne, grate, and slice
I love this mandolin is perfect because it serves dual purposes by allowing you to slice thinner than you can with a knife and grates cheeses quickly.  Just be careful and use the safety tool.

15) Last but definitely not least, every kitchen must-have high-quality oven mitts.

  • Non-slip grips
  • Extra-long to protect your arms
  • Machine washable
I love these oven mitts because they can take the heat and help me grip pans when putting in or taking out of the oven or grill.

Bottom line – If you were to purchase everything on this list, you would spend about $900 and your kitchen would be equipped with restaurant-quality kitchen essentials.

When you have your kitchen all set up try some of these Midwest Recipes!

Mom’s Banana Bread

Easy Grilled Chicken Skewers Recipe

Pasty Recipe – The Not So Traditional Recipe


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