Outfitting a minimalist kitchen

Although I am a fairly adventurous cook, I find that I repeatedly reach for the same utensils, pots, pans, and ingredients in my kitchen. You probably do, too. We’re creatures of habit.

A friend who is getting married recently asked me what I think are the essential items in my kitchen. I first directed her to the “Creating a multi-tasking wedding registry” post I wrote last year. Then, I made a list of the 10 things I can’t live without in my space.

Making “essentials” lists is a risky endeavor. Obviously, the items I turn to every day aren’t going to be what other people use. It was still a fun experiment and I created my list by answering the question: “If my home were destroyed in a disaster, what 10 items would I replace first?”

The minimalist kitchen:

  1. 10″ cast iron skillet. The Lodge version and the Le Creuset enamel-coated version both get the job done extremely well. I prefer the enamel coated version because I don’t have to season it and can throw it in the dishwasher, but both are excellent and the Lodge price tag is unbeatable. They work on the stove top, in the oven, and on the grill.
  2. 12 qt. stock pot with lid. The best and cheapest way to get one of these is to head to your local restaurant supply store and pick up a well-made aluminum one for under $30. You can make soups, pasta, and sauces, as well as using it for frying and soaking. It also works in the oven and on the grill.
  3. 9 qt. cast iron Dutch oven. Roast or braise in this amazing product. You can fit an entire chicken in this bad boy. Plus, it can go on the grill or directly over an open flame. Expensive, but it will last you a lifetime.
  4. Two silicone oven mitts. I use an Orka brand, but there are many others out there. Because they’re silicone, I can reach into boiling water and grab things without risking burns (the way you do with fabric oven mitts).
  5. A good knife set. I’m a big fan of the Cutco 5-Piece Set because they’re durable, can go in the dishwasher, and come with a solid warranty. Plus, since there are so many dealers around, it’s always easy to find where to have them sharpened.
  6. Cutting board. I love my Epicurean Cutting Surface because it’s nice on my knives, can be tossed in the dishwasher, and can be used as a trivet (up to 350 degrees F). I’ve had mine for a number of years and it is as good as new.
  7. Tongs. Not a lot to say about them, but love that they lock closed for easy storage. Long-handled stainless steel ones can be used for items in the oven as well as on the grill.
  8. Food turner. I grew up calling these things spatulas, but apparently that is not their official name. Again, you can use them on the stove, grill, or in the oven. They also do nicely in the dishwasher.
  9. Infrared thermometer. Simply point it at your food and know the temperature. Nothing to clean, and really cool.
  10. Baking pans. All you’ll need to get started are anodized aluminum sheet cake, loaf, and jelly roll pans.

I believe anyone can make fantastic meals with only these items. Do I have more in my kitchen? Definitely. This is just a basics list and nothing more. If I were to add five more items, I’d throw in a long-handled ladle, heavy-duty stand mixer, bread machine (I use mine twice a week minimum), coffee pot, and tea kettle.

Are there essentials that I have forgotten from my list? Do you think any of these items are unnecessary? Give your opinion in the comments.

83 Comments for “Outfitting a minimalist kitchen”

  1. posted by Celeste on

    Totally agreeing with you on the two pieces of lodge as you suggested; I have them and you are so right. Best of all the lid from the dutch oven fits the skillet.

    Rubber spatulas are invaluable to me for cooking in nonstick, making scrambled eggs, and in baking.

    Mixing bowl, though I guess you could always use the one from your stand mixer for hand mixing.

    Food scale or measuring cups. I like the scale better because you can weigh cake pans to know if you have the batter split evenly…and be able to use European recipes that call for weight rather than volume.

    Colander or strainer.

    Grater.

    Serrated knife.

  2. posted by Michael Morowitz on

    You do not need a knife set. You need three knives: a chef’s knife (8 inch is probably the most versatile), a paring knife, and a serrated knife. That’s minimalist.

    The infrared thermometer is a waste of money. It tells you the temperature of the surface of your food, which is basically useless. You need a basic meat thermometer to tell the temperature of the inside of things.

  3. posted by Pete on

    Oh, dear Lord, don’t pay for the overpriced crap that is Le Creuset. Get yourself a decent Lodge cast iron pan and season it. It Never takes me more than 1 minute to clean my pan, no matter what I cook in it.

    Same with Cutco knives — way overpriced. Get some straight knives, and learn to sharpen them.

  4. posted by Jasileet on

    -Orka spoonula and spatula (smaller size).
    -I’m with MM on the 3 knives and instant read thermometer
    -Food processor (instead of grater, bread maker and stand mixer)
    -french press (replacing tea kettle and coffee maker)
    -ice cream scoop (ice cream bends spoons- simple as that)

  5. posted by Sheena on

    Since I bake more than I cook, its important that I have the right cake and cheesecake pans. I’d sacrifice a pot or two for the right baking supplies.

  6. posted by becoming minimalist on

    when we minimalized our kitchen last year, i kept a list of everything that we kept and everything that we discarded. i love our new kitchen. it’s so much easier to find what i really need!

  7. posted by Soochi on

    1. A 14″ wok with a domed lid
    2. a traditional Chinese steamer
    3. a long handled turner for the wok
    4 a large stone mortar and pestle
    5. a large strainer
    6. smaller strainer that can fit inside pot
    7. ginger grater
    8. cleaver
    9. a griddle
    10. teapot

    Hope this doesn’t all just run together.

    As you say, our lists are very different. It’s a good exercise to figure out what our priorities are. Looking forward to see what other people write.

  8. posted by Alan on

    In addition to your great list (except the knives part – see Michael Morowitz’s post), I’d suggest:

    – A pastry scraper. For scooping up chopped items and if the edge is sharpened, it makes a great chopper on its own. Wilton makes a nice one.

    – Silicone baking mat. Put it under anything you’d bake on a baking sheet. Nothing will stick to it.

    – A digital kitchen scale. Because so many recipes contain ingredients measured by weight

    – A couple (not a menagerie) of stainless-steel saucepans.

    – Most important: NO TEFLON! Over time, it’ll flake off and end up in your food.

  9. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    Ha, ha! I totally forgot measuring cups, spoons, and/or a scale. I use a scale for all my baking (less chance for a chemical error) and cups and spoons for my cooking. Oh man, that was a big oversight on my part!!

  10. posted by kees on

    this knive is all you need
    http://www.leevalley.com/garde.....0733,40738

  11. posted by sarah on

    Ditto on the knife suggestion (although a santoku blade is more important to me than a chef’s knife as I cut far more vegetables than meat); and super-hyper-ditto on the thermometer suggestion! An infrared thermometer is actually a dangerous thing to suggest, since it may give someone false confidence that their food is cooked to a safe temp. You need an instant-read probe instead.
    And thumbs up here on the scale — you can actually go without cups if you have a scale since you can convert all your recipes easily enough. Still need the measuring spoons though.

  12. posted by TuringTestFail on

    I’m single, busy, and frugal. So, if I had to choose, I would pick a crockpot before a bread machine. I love coming home to just-finished soup.

  13. posted by Misty on

    I agree on not needing (kneading?) a bread machine – its a single use item whereas your oven can be used for many things. I can understand that it would save time since you don’t have to do much, but then you miss on the tactile experience of dealing with dough with your own two hands.

    I would add a food processor – I used mine for making pizza dough, salsa, guacamole, mashed potatoes, grating cheese, and more.

    I also love my silicone whisk. Its great for making smooth sauces and in some baking.

    And, its not for the kitchen per se, but a BBQ or gas grill outside is absolutely necessary for me. I use it in summer and winter, rain or shine.

  14. posted by Yolanda on

    Definitely agree with Michael about the infrared thermometer and knives, but generally agree with your list (though I rarely use oven mitts, and tend to grab one of the flour sack towels strewn about my counters). I would add a 2 to 4-quart sauce pan, as working in a 12-quart stock pot daily would be agonizing for me, at 5’3″.

    I also can’t live without a set of insulated sheet pans (sometimes called cookie sheets). I use one or more every day for tasks as varied as resting a piece of seared meat, to individually quick freezing berries.

    Other non-essentials that I use multiple times each week:
    ~a heavy duty stand mixer
    ~colander
    ~grater
    ~long handled wood spoons
    ~a spider or slotted spoon
    ~rubber spatula

  15. posted by Laura on

    Interesting you should mention Cutco knives. I grew up in California, maybe they’re more popular back East ~ my knives are Henckels, received as a wedding present nearly 21 years ago. Anyway, my grandmother in Minnesota died 2 years ago, and while cleaning out her house my mom and I found her Cutco knives. They had to be at least 50 years old, and cut like a dream! So I would say it might be a good investment to consider the Cutco brand.

  16. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Sarah — You need measuring cups for liquids. You can’t pour liquid onto a scale, tends to end up on the counter, floor, etc. :) Can’t believe I forgot mine.

    When I use the infrared thermometer, I cut open my meat and check the interior temperature. More accurate than an instant read.

  17. posted by mae on

    my mom bought stainless steel pots and pans and skillet over 60 years ago and i am still using them and with the exceptions of a couple lost lids which i replaced with glass lids from garage sales they look like brand new. i would never buy anything but stainless steel pots and pans. these go in the oven or on the stove.

  18. posted by Suzyn on

    My favorite list: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05.....9mini.html
    Don’t miss “Graphic: The Essentials”

  19. posted by Jen S on

    You can’t believe how happy I was to read that I am not the only one who grew up calling them spatulas. Drove my husband nuts for years!

  20. posted by Jeannette on

    A timer.
    We got a battery powered timer that can time three things at once (and has a clock as a bonus). It has a hanging hook, a flip-out easel stand for countertop use, and a magnet on the back so it can stick to, say, the refrigerator.
    It’s compact, easy to use, and — for us, at least — indispensable.

  21. posted by Michele on

    I’d trade the bread machine for a crockpot, too. Also I’ve found that a silicone scraper is a necessity, and doubles as a turner and saute tool for almost all skillet cooking, other than eggs and fish.

    If you don’t have an electronic thermostat on the oven, a thermometer in there is indispensable, I really think. My ovens have ranged from 5 degrees to a whopping 25 degrees off what I’ve set the temperature to. That makes a huge difference in baking!

    Since I enjoy baking and home canning, I can’t do without a large mixing bowl and a large stockpot. But there are a lot of canning “essentials” that I don’t own, such as a magnetic lid-lifting wand (I just use a fork and my asbestos-like fingertips) and a specialized tool for getting the bubbles out of jars (I just use a spoon).

    Finally: a Joy of Cooking or Fanny Farmer or Good Housekeeping cookbook. Once you learn basic cooking techniques and the properties of raw ingredients from acorn squash to zucchini, you can approach all kinds of recipes much more easily. Though it’s great to keep a notebook system of recipes you find on the Internet and stuff, I think it’s best to have one of these on the bookshelf, the same way you’d keep a dictionary or first-aid book or road atlas on hand.

  22. posted by Nana on

    With the jury still out on the dangers of aluminum cookware, I might disagree with that one.

    I couldn’t live a meaningful life without my rice cooker! Use it every week (freeze leftovers) and could use it to steam veggies.

    And, several years ago, I got rid of about half my pots and pans…and haven’t missed ‘em.

  23. posted by Justin on

    A good way to force yourself to minimize your kitchen is to move to Egypt. Seriously.

    My wife an I moved here to Cairo last August, knowing we’d be here for only a year. We rented a furnished flat, so didn’t want to by anything more than the handful of kitchen items that were already here.

    My wife is vegetarian, so things like thermometers and nice knives weren’t critical. But veggies are cheap and fresh here (the local “vegetable street” is a 3 minute walk from our front door), so we make everything from scratch. For example, while a can of stewed tomatoes costs around 3USD, I can get 2 lbs of fresh tomatoes for 30 cents.

    Timer? Nope, we bring our laptop into the kitchen (for music and recipes) and use a timer application.

    Measuring cups? Again, nope. My wife got really good at estimating over Christmastime. This resulted in a couple of batches of banana bread with WAY too much baking soda and one batch of salty chocolate chip cookies, but other than that she got pretty darn good at it.

    We’re still looking forward to having some of this stuff when we head back to the states this summer, but the last 10 months have been a lesson in de-cluttering and minimalizing.

    One thing we think we are going to get rid of once we return home: our microwave. Everyone thinks we’re nuts, but it takes up so much space on the counter. We are more inclined to reheat things on the stove or in a toaster oven (which makes reheated pizza 100x better).

  24. posted by missjulied on

    How about a 2 or 3 quart saucepan? I use mine for making rice, steaming veggies, re-heating leftovers, making sauces and more.

  25. posted by DaveW on

    For high-quality, low priced cookware (and knives too), hit a restaurant supply store. You can find very good pots, pans, baking equipment like heavy muffin tins and baking trays for much less than your typical LnT-type store.

    I can’t live without my stainless steel 9″ saute pan (restaurant-quality). Long hollow (keeps it cool) steel handle, very thick aluminum base (almost 1/2″ versus 1/4″ and under for retail quality pans), perfectly shaped sides for flipping, can go straight into a hot oven (try that with most pan handles) and all for under $30.

    If you have the slightest aspirations towards being a good cook, I highly recommend getting restaurant-quality equipment.

    Also, most professinal cooks don’t use the most expensive name-brand knives; they use the best steel they can afford, mostly with plastic handles, but they keep them *sharp*. Go for quality of steel, not looks or brand, and learn to keep them sharp (dull knives are far mor dangerous than sharp ones). Don’t use a “sharpening” steel for sharpening (it’s just for honing and touchups) – get a proper sharpening stone and guide. 5 minutes every few months is all it takes.

  26. posted by DaveW on

    @Justin: Not measuring for cooking is OK – most sauces, etc., are very flexible, but accurate measuring for baking is very important.

    Baking is all about controlling chemical reations, and slight variations can really throw off a recipe. I’m glad your wife is good at estimating, but for anyone else who is doing a lot of baking, a set of measuring cups and spoons (and a scale) is essential.

    We do a ton of baking (almost every day), and our best investment was two sets of cups and spoons. Saves washing everything in the middle of a recipe.

  27. posted by Magchunk on

    I too would want baking items and probably could skip the thermometer (I almost never cook meat). In argument in favor of the bread machine, the beauty is that if you’re making your own bread twice per week, you can set it in the morning, run errands, and come home to baked bread. I certainly wouldn’t leave my oven on and unattended all morning.

    And in defense of the cutco knife set (or any 5 piece knife set): they often come with a knife block. I personally have been wanting to switch from my three-knife system because right now they are all floating in a drawer with other items and are becoming a hazard. And my rentals tiny drawers won’t accommodate holders/dividers (I’ve tried, it sucks). What a dream to have the knives up and out of the way in the block they came in!

  28. posted by Julie on

    In response to all the negativity about the Cutco knifes. I received them as a wedding gift last year as was honestly a bit appalled that someone would spend so much money on three knifes. However, in the past nine months I have come to love them more than I would have ever imagined. I wouldn’t ever buy a whole set of expensive knifes but I would highly recommend investing in a high quality chef’s knife.

    Also, does anyone have a good quality cutting board that they would recommend? I have yet to find a cutting board that is nice to cut on and stays in good shape.

  29. posted by Carol on

    It’s interesting to see how everyone’s list varies. I see a lot of things on most people’s lists that I would have no use for or found a work-around.

    I love to bake but don’t own a stand mixer (too expensive/not enough room). Mixing bowls are essential to me. I’m surprised no one mentioned a can opener yet (unless I missed it). I refuse to give up my mixing spoons too. Also, tea pots/kettles aren’t a necessity if you own a coffee maker. Just run a pot of water through your coffee maker to heat it up.

  30. posted by Clara on

    No one has mentioned a toaster. Is that considered part of a minimalist kitchen? We use ours daily. It lives next to the tea kettle of the same brand (krups).

    I live in an area where the water is very hard so having an electric tea kettle, which I also use for heating water to add to soups, is more practical since it’s easier for me to “de-lime” it.

    The secret life of kitchens: “Tell me how you cook, and I’ll tell you how you live.”

  31. posted by Sheena on

    @ Justin. Loved your list and simplicity. I too rarely need to use measuring cups and spoons which frustrates my friends when I give them recipes. I’ve been baking for 18 years. I rarely need to measure things.

  32. posted by Wroth on

    10″ Lodge skillet
    4 qt heavy-bottomed saucepan
    9×13 “brownie” pan
    1 cooling rack
    metal colander
    2 2-qt corning-glass bowls
    double-ended silicone spatula
    henckels chef’s knife and paring knife
    oxo can opener
    measuring cups and spoons

    The rest I could survive without, though I love my rice cooker and cookie gun and waffle iron and griddle and…

  33. posted by jfb3 on

    I use plastic mats to cut on. They’re cheap, I can have 4 or more in use at any one time around the kitchen, they take almost no room to store, friends can help chop and cut, don’t encourage bacteria, easy to clean. Just cut up the pork and need to chop vegetables? Put that one in the sink and get another one from the drawer!

    http://www.bedbathandbeyond.co.....U=13615004

  34. posted by Sue on

    I’m enjoying reading the comments on this one. Everyone’s list of essentials are going to be different, because we all cook and eat different things. I’ve never used a meat thermometer myself. But, now that I have a food processor, I have no idea how I survived without one before.

    And I also grew up calling them spatulas. I still call them spatulas, not food turners.

  35. posted by EngineerMom on

    I would definitely pass on the breadmaker. I make bread by hand weekly, and never found it to be particularly time-consuming. I think I spend a total of 20 minutes actually working with the dough. I make the bread while cooking for the week, so I don’t spend the whole start-to-finish time twiddling my thumbs. Working the dough by hand is so much more satisfying to me.

    When I was in college, I was able to make almost anything with the following equipment:

    Measuring spoons and cups
    1-c. glass measuring cup
    Small chef’s knife (6″ blade)
    paring knife
    can opener
    10″ cast iron skillet
    electric hand mixer
    large metal mixing bowl
    small plastic cutting board
    cooling rack
    jelly roll style baking sheet (with raised edges)
    9″ square glass pan
    non-stick pot with lid (about 2-qt)
    rolling pin
    2 glass loaf pans (bread, meatloaf, banana bread, tuna loaf, etc.)

    All of this except the baking sheet fit into a plastic dishpan that I would use to carry my equipment plus ingredients from my 7th floor dorm room to the 1st floor kitchen (thank goodness for elevators!). With this equipment I made spaghetti sauce, many kinds of soups, chili, french bread, sandwich bread, french toast, steak Diane, chicken in white wine sauce, many kinds of cookies, many kinds of quickbreads, muffin loaf (muffin batter in a loaf pan), sauteed veggies, brownies, Buche de Noel (a Christmas jelly-roll style cake with whipped cream filling and chocolate frosting shaped and decorated like a log), a sort of square cheesecake, and chocolate-dipped peanut butter balls (better known in Ohio as buckeyes).

    The things I missed (and got immediately after college):
    Round cake pans
    Glass pie pan
    can opener (I used to borrow a friend’s old one in college)
    More glass loaf pans

  36. posted by Peregrin on

    BTW the link for the tongs is wrong. It goes to the Epicurean cutting board instead.

  37. posted by Becka on

    Wooden spoons. These are the most important essentials in my kitchen.

    If I had to add anything else it would be a stoneware pizza pan for baking.

  38. posted by Susan from Food Blogga on

    Also couldn’t live w/o my fine mesh strainer, colander, and microplane zester. Great piece. Gonna twit it right now!

  39. posted by Mike Nessen on

    ACityDiscount also has a great assortment of used restaurant and kitchen equipment to go along with the new product assortment. So, not only will you be efficient and uncluttered, but you can also do it on a budget. Check it out!

    http://www.acitydiscount.com/

  40. posted by Must-Have Utensils for the Minimalist Kitchen [Eat To Live] · TechBlogger on

    […] mentioning since we covered our must-have kitchen tools, let’s hear your favorites below. Outfitting a Minimalist Kitchen […]

  41. posted by Emma on

    Hee hee, “food turner”! I’d never even heard that ’til just now.

    I love seeing other peoples’ lists! One thing I would add; I can’t live without mine: a metal veggie steamer, which does double-duty as a pasta strainer.

    That, and a good assortment of tupperware / plastic storage for leftovers.

  42. posted by Tech Whiz Underground » Must-Have Utensils for the Minimalist Kitchen [Eat To Live] on

    […] mentioning since we covered our must-have kitchen tools, let’s hear your favorites below. Outfitting a Minimalist Kitchen […]

  43. posted by Tom on

    I don’t think this list is particularly minimalist.

    – Chefs knife
    – Chopping board
    – Colander
    – Frying pan
    – Large Saucepan
    – Deep baking tray with a grill
    – Measuring jug

    Maybe add another pan and another chopping board.

  44. posted by cookware on

    I think that you pretty much hit the spot…

  45. posted by Martin on

    Apparently few people know this. There’s no such thing as a “dishwasher safe” knife. Dishwasher detergent is abrasive, so basically, it’s like pushing your knife through sand. Please always wash your knives by hand, it’ll greatly reduce how often they need sharpening and since the importance of sharpening has been covered, I won’t talk about it.

  46. posted by JC on

    Chopsticks. Good for mixing, stirring, flipping things in a pan. And eating.

    The only 3-knives I really need:

    1. Victorinox Paring Knife (maybe 2 of these) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi.....tterer-20/

    2. Victorinox 8 inch chef’s knife http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi.....tterer-20/

    3. Serrated Bread Knife.

  47. posted by Sarah on

    Erin, actually I find that I rarely need to use cups for liquids; normally they’re going into a mixing bowl or pan, and I find it much easier to use the scale just as I would with dry ingredients, ending up with much less mess. (If your recipes don’t include weights it’s easy enough to do the conversions.)

  48. posted by wufflebunny on

    I have a really tiny kitchen so had to downsize. It was difficult cause I love cooking, but with the following I can make everything I love to eat ;)

    – One large deep frying pan – for everything from scrambled eggs to pasta sauces. I brought a cast iron one so it can go in the oven and doubles as a baking tray
    – Wooden spoon and cooking chopsticks
    – Latex gloves
    – One small supersharp chef’s knife. From the $2 shop but is one of the most amazing knives
    – Wooden chopping block that doubles as trivet
    – Pyrex mixing bowl
    – Rice cooker. Apart from making rice, rice cookers are good for steaming, making soup, pasta and also casseroles
    – Potato peeler

  49. posted by Mark’s Link Blog » links for 2009-06-11 on

    […] Outfitting a minimalist kitchen | Unclutterer (tags: cooking budget kitchen equipment minimalism) […]

  50. posted by Another Deb on

    My mother’s 40-year-old square Corningware cookware is now serving me very well. I have an electric glass cooktop on the stove so the flat bottom on the cookware efficiently heats up. The 2 quart size is indispensible. I can microwave, bake or use it on the stovetop. It has a glass lid so I can refrigerate marinating meats or store leftovers in it. It truly goes from refrigerator to stove to the table. (I tossed the fancy detachable handles years ago) The three pan set stacks one upon the other on inverted lids on a narrow shelf, due to the square shape and no long handles.

    I also get a huge amount of use from my 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup. It serves as a small mixing container for beating eggs, etc, or recepticle for sliced veggies. I can heat water in the microwave for tea or cocoa, and it easily supports funnels, juice squeezers and colanders for straining or draining foods. I can heat foods or melt butter in the microwave in it and on occasion it has served as a “mortar” for grinding crackers and such.

    My 30 year old cook’s knife has been used in the dishwasher for it’s entire life. By now the wooden handle is a little dried-out looking but for the $9.00 I paid back in those days, I feel fine about letting the dishwasher clean it. I sharpen it about twice a year.

  51. posted by A Gal on

    Here’s a list of my kitchen “essentials.”

    8 and 12 Inch Cast Iron Skillets
    6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
    Stainless Steel Measuring Cups/Spoons
    Pyrex Loaf Pan
    Pyrex 9×13 Casserole Dish
    Pyrex 8×8 Cake Dish
    Pyrex Measuring Cup
    Santoku Knife
    Serrated Knife
    Pairing Knife
    Sharpening Stone
    Mandolin (most effective way to slice pounds of veggies)
    Wooden Tapered Rolling Pin
    Cutting Board
    Veggie Peeler
    Can Opener
    Silicone Spatula
    Hand Held Mixer
    Good Baking Sheets
    Stainless Steel Wok
    Multi-Purpose Pot (http://tiny.cc/CFwCD)
    3 Quart Sauce Pan
    1-1/2 Quart Sauce Pan
    Tongs
    Silicone Oven Mitts
    Mesh Strainer (can be used as sifter)
    Micro Plane Grater
    Wooden Spoons
    Large Ladle
    Mixing Bowls
    Colander
    Rice Cooker (a basic for me, at least)
    Silicone Whisk
    Cut Resistant Glove (to protect your fingers from the mandolin)
    Kitchen Scale
    Timer
    Stainless Steel Turner

    I found that not eating meat has really reduced my need for kitchen tools and gadgets. These are the items I use time and time again. I usually only cook for two so your needs may be different from mine. You could always do with less, but these items save me time and make cooking enjoyable.

    Lodge enameled cast iron is much cheaper than Le Creuset and is of comparable quality. Though it’s not on my list, a Lodge 14 Ounce Melting Pot is great for reheating small portions without a microwave. Unless you’re cooking enormous quantities of food the multi-purpose pot and dutch oven should be large enough for almost any job.

    Sometimes you can find Pyrex at thrift shops so keep a look out. Used/vintage Pyrex comes in nice colors and is a frugal/eco-conscious choice (reusing, hurray!). Pyrex is very affordable new or old. I prefer Pyrex or other glassware for short term food storage in addition to baking.

    You do not need expensive knives or knife sets. Just take care of the knives you have and sharpen often. If you don’t eat as many veggies as I do you could easily trade the santoku knife for a 6 or 8 inch chef’s knife.

    Other Nice Things:

    Toaster Oven
    Blender
    Food Processor
    Silpat
    Stand Mixer (can replace a hand mixer)
    Magnetic Knife Holder
    Universal Silicone Lid
    Stock Pot
    Garlic Press
    Pastry Scraper (a great multi-function tool)
    Silicone Baking Cups

  52. posted by Chris on

    Perhaps not the most minimalistic kitchen, but if you have nothing to start with, or, as in my case, you are about to move to a new continent and have to leave all you have behind, then this may be a good starting point.

    IKEA – All the essential kitchen tools in one box.
    Startbox Tillaga $89.99

    http://www.ikea.com/us/catalog.....hen/15939/

  53. posted by E on

    I have the Cutco Space Saver set and it’s absolutely perfect! http://www.cutco.com/products/.....Group=1847

    I find the smaller knives much more useful than those larger ones in the Gourmet set would be for me. The petite chef is the largest knife I need.

  54. posted by E on

    I also use the Oneida cutting boards. I can’t get TinyURL to work right now, but they are white and have rounded ends with Santoprene grips. The grips are slightly thicker than the board so the whole thing stays put on the counter while you cut. If you do a search for Oneida cutting board you’ll find them.

  55. posted by Sian on

    What’s a tea kettle? Is it the same thing as a teapot?

    My list:

    2 chopping boards (1 plastic for meat; wooden for the rest)
    kitchen knife (~6-8 inches long will do most stuff)
    4-sided Grater
    large frying pan with lid (=skillet in USA I think?)
    large stockpot (can also use to cook most other things)
    casserole dish (this&stockpot can be used as mixingbowl)
    cake tin
    baking tray
    Long-handled ladle
    2-3 long wooden spoons
    whisk
    fish slice/spatula
    oven gloves
    ice-cream scoop
    corkscrew
    scales
    bread (serrated) knife

    Things I don’t need: microwave, meat thermometer, foodprocessor/kitchenaid/blender, latex gloves…

    Things that aren’t essential but I personally like to have: garlic press, toaster, ice-cream maker (I use it every week, honest!), teapot, cafetiere, crockpot, extra pans/baking trays, loaf tins…

  56. posted by Must-Have Utensils for the Minimalist Kitchen [Eat To Live] - 2891th Edition | Technology Revealed on

    […] mentioning since we covered our must-have kitchen tools, let’s hear your favorites below. Outfitting a Minimalist Kitchen […]

  57. posted by Kalani on

    Minimalist, huh? If that’s the case, doesn’t it seriously depend on what kind of a cook someone is?

    My kitchen:
    1 wok-shaped skillet/fryingpan/omelet pan/stirfry thing.
    1 pasta-sized pot (medium)
    1 saucepan
    1 tea kettle and teapot
    1 set measuring cups
    Utensils: “food lifter”, rubber spatula, big spoon, big knife, little pointy knife, can opener, corkscrew, measuring spoons, full set of silverware
    Some dishes and cups
    1 half-sized baking sheet, 1 half-sized baking cake pan thing, 1 half-sized glass baking pan (I used to live somewhere with a small oven)
    Little metal drip-coffee filters that sit over individual cups
    Some Glad-ware for storing leftovers

    Things I don’t have but wish I did:
    Cutting board
    Big salad/mixing bowl

    That’s about it. It makes cleanup and organization really easy. As convenient as all the other stuff is, I find that most of the functions of a range of knives can be done with a big one or a little one, and most of the functions of a range of pans can be done with a glass pan or a metal pan. Then again, I’m mostly concerned with preparing meals for myself or my friends (or inviting my friends over to prepare meals) so I have no need for a gourmet kitchen at the moment.

  58. posted by Sky on

    Can’t live without my muffin pan, sheet cake pan, loaf pan and glass casserole dishes.
    PLEASE toss any Teflon coated items, they release fumes that are harmful, especially to birds and small animals.
    Food turner? WTH? I’ve always called mine a spatula.

  59. posted by It’s All Right 2.0 » basic cooking items on

    […] selection of tools in this blog post about furnishing a minimalist kitchen.  I like the mix of very old school (cast iron) with new technology (infrared thermometer).   Of […]

  60. posted by Ryan on

    -Chopsticks (large for cooking, small for eating)
    -Spoon (large for cooking, small for eating)
    -Knife (Chef’s or Santoku)
    -Pan/Pot for cooking
    -Plate/Bowl for eating

    I bought a large pack of long wooden chopsticks for $3 at an Asian grocery store. They are very handy for cooking stir fry, potstickers, ravioli, and pretty much anything else that has to be sort of handled. If you use a bunch at once they sort of function as a whisk. Additionally, they do not scratch Teflon. (My Teflon pans all look and work like brand new.) Yes, yes I know cast-iron is great, but sometimes I don’t feel like cooking with oil, so there you go.

  61. posted by gypsy packer on

    Utter minimalism from my living-in-a-pickup truck days:
    Colander for pasta, canning, washing veggies
    8 qt stock pot–use as a frying pan or kettle
    5 qt jar capacity canner
    Big stainless steel spoon
    Big stainless steel ladle
    Good sharp carbon steel knife (hunting knife, 50 cents at an estate sale)
    Percolator
    Mason jar with fractional cup measurements on the side, emptied out as I ate their contents
    Hand-crank grater
    Jar tongs

    I canned U-pick produce over a Coleman stove, stored it behind the front seat and under the clothes, and cooked anything I wanted except homemade bread on this setup–curry to beans to meat loaf. I’ve replaced the grater with a food processor and the percolator with a mass-market drip, but the only serious addition to the setup was–you guessed it–a Lodge skillet, for good ol’ Southern cornbread.

    I’m considering the silicone oven mitts but hate the expense.

  62. posted by Sprocket on

    An Infrared thermometer?? They can only give you the surface temperature which is not needed in a “minimalist” kitchen.

    You do need an instant-read thermometer, like the Taylor 9842 Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer. Try to find a chef that does not carry an instant read thermometer.

    Tongs and a good knife can work miracles.

  63. posted by John From Berkeley » links for 2009-06-12 on

    […] Outfitting a minimalist kitchen | Unclutterer (tags: kitchen home cooking tips shopping tools food) […]

  64. posted by Orlando on

    SAY NO TO CUTCO!
    NO TO CUTCO!
    NO! NO! NO!

    Also, cutting open your meat to use the infrared is a horrible idea. An incision big enough to read will also let out the meat’s juices and will quickly dry out said meat. Remember that it’s important to rest meat before cutting, and it’s even worse if your meat is not ready and has to go back on the heat. The small hole from an instant read will not be anywhere near as disastrous.

    I love my infraread thermometer, but an instant-read is much more “essential.” Thermapen is the best, or the aforementioned Taylor 9842 is a great, cheaper alternative (note that most others can be finicky, slow, imprecise, and not dishwasher-safe).

    Also, a bread machine in the top 15? I understand that it’s important to you, but it’s certainly not “minimalist.”

    On a related note, Alton Brown’s Gear for the Kitchen is a must read.

  65. posted by Another Post: Must-Have Utensils for the Minimalist Kitchen [Eat To Live] | Delhiweb.net on

    […] mentioning since we covered our must-have kitchen tools, let’s hear your favorites below. Outfitting a Minimalist Kitchen […]

  66. posted by Must-Have Utensils for the Minimalist Kitchen [Eat To Live] · News on

    […] mentioning since we covered our must-have kitchen tools, let’s hear your favorites below. Outfitting a Minimalist Kitchen […]

  67. posted by WordyGrrl on

    My 10 Minimalist Must Haves:

    Saucepan (with lid)
    Frying pan (deep sides, with lid)
    Stock pot (big enough to brine a chicken in)
    Measuring cups
    Measuring spoons
    Manual can opener
    Cutting/paring knife (serrated or regular)
    Cookie sheet
    Baking/roasting pan (deep sides)
    Your “all purpose utensil” (Mine is a wooden “spatula” with an angled, beveled edge)

    Of course, I have other things I like quite a bit, like a crock pot, toaster, baking pans, mixer, etc. Would love to learn how to really rock a pressure cooker, too.

    But buying expensive equipment doesn’t make you a better cook. It’s not about what you have. It’s how you use it.

  68. posted by Ryan on

    All you people talking negative about Cutco don’t know a thing about knives. Cutco knives are made of the highest quality materials and includes a gaurantee that no other company can begin to match. As far as buying cheaper knives and sharpening them, that is a horrible idea. Unless you are a trained professional, you will ruin your knives sharpening them on your own. Cutco knives stay sharp for years and will professionally sharpen your knives for you.

    As far as needing 5 knives, personally I believe you need more than that. I believe you need a paring knife, utility knife, chefs knife, steak knives, bread slicer, carving knive, and butcher knife.

    Finally, I firmly believe the worst thing you can do is buy a serrated edge. Cutco has a special edge on most of their knives that is so much better. Go to http://www.cutco.com to see why Cutco are the only knives you will ever have to buy for your life, your kids, grandkids, great grandkids… (forever gaurantee)

  69. posted by Matt on

    Cutco is acutally worth the investment. They stay sharp 9-10 years. Has an insanly good guarantee, and they pay for themselves in the long run. If you want to know more about them i can acutally give you a quick demo.

  70. posted by kt on

    I find an immersion blender a great little appliance in the kitchen. You can blend soups right in the pot while it
    is hot, great for anything you need to puree and it doesn’t require taking out a large food processor to do it. And it’s very easy to clean. Indispensable!

  71. posted by Hentrain on

    Just wanted to note that the brand name Creuset for enameled cast iron is really overpriced, and the Martha Stewart/ Rachel Ray knock Offs are also far more than they should be. If you have some extra room in your suitcase whilst travelling in europe, or a very loving friend who is willing to bring you a heavy gift, you can usually pick up a good enameled pan or pot for 5 to 10 bucks in any thrift store in northern/ eastern europe or Brico lot/ barn in france. If you want a new one–they’ll be 30 bucks in russia if you hunt a little. I have no idea what drives up teh price, but I’ve had my knock off set from latvia for 6 years now, and it works really well.

  72. posted by Paolo on

    I’m suprised that people aren’t talking more about the cheapest (and most fun, in my opinion) way of getting kitchenstuffs: your local secondhand store. A monthly trip will be a great way to outfit your kitchen, especially for the “last-forever” items — cast-irons, baking sheets and pans, metal utensils, a so on. You also might luck out: I found a food processor for $10 and a $3 french press that made my room mate swoon.

  73. posted by Kitchen Nightmares « The Vent Pipe on

    […] blogs that I just happened to stumble upon this year, did a post on kitchen essentials for the minimalist kitchen.  Here are the top 10 items identified as […]

  74. posted by Karen on

    My list (I would need twelve items):

    10″ stainless skillet w/ lid
    Stock pot
    2 qt. saucepan w/ lid
    Mixing bowl
    Jelly roll pan
    9 x 11 glass casserole
    Chef’s knife
    Paring knife
    cutting board
    Measuring cups
    Wooden spoon or mid-size rubber spatula
    Food turner

  75. posted by Natalie from Western Australia on

    I’m way more interested in the whole “food turner/spatula” comments than the kitchen list : ). I grew up calling it an Egg Flip, coz thats what it does. A spatula is a thinner and usually flexible item used to scrape down the edges of bowls.

    I also love the term “Luck Out” meaning to have a win. We would just say “Get Lucky” or “Score”. Here if you luck out, its a loss – as in, down on your luck.

  76. posted by patti on

    1. wok
    2. chopping board
    3. 8 inch santoku
    4. rice cooker
    5. wok spoon
    6. colander

    if i had to reeeaaaalllly minimise, that is what i could live with.

    i worked as a professional chef for 15 years and never used a thermometer once….apart from the built-in oven/fridge thermometers.

  77. posted by Lucky Mrs H on

    My motto: ” You can never have TOO many crock pots!” I use them to cook in and keep things warm. I use them when I’m having company to have everything ready and waiting. Some days I have 2 or 3 or 4 going at once when I’m on a cooking binge. Something different in each one.

  78. posted by Buying the Essentials for Your Kitchen on

    […] Unclutterer, Erin Doland has tips on outfitting a minimalist kitchen — a list of the ten most essential items. She covers everything from skillets to knife sets to […]

  79. posted by Lauren on

    Great suggestions! I have most of these items, but not all of them. Le Creuset is one of my favorite brands! I suggest shopping online for kitchen supplies to make the process easier. :)

    http://www.missionrs.com/home-kitchen.html
    http://www.williamssonoma.com/

  80. Profile photo of

    posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    I grew up calling it a spatula but then learnt that it’s an “egg flip” and a spatula is the thin, generally plastic scraper used to get your batter out of your mixing bowl.

    Here are my top 10 kitchen utensils, numbered for convenience:

    1. Flexible plastic cutting boards – come as a pack of four.
    2. Wüsthof 9cm paring knife – Mum bought my sisters and me one of these each when we were young – must have cost a fortune for the four of us!; DH liked it enough to buy a 12cm knife and later the 20cm cooks knife
    3. Peeler
    4. Dutch oven – stainless, comes with a lid. Mine came in a set but I’m less enamoured of the rest of the set than my…
    5. Pyrex glass three saucepans with lids set – I was given these for a birthday or Christmas and I always use them over the steel ones
    6. Steel mixing bowls – Minimum of a large but a set of a large, medium and small is more convenient
    7. Rectangular cake pan
    8. Slotted and unslotted spoon set
    9. Large measuring cup – in our recent clean up and move I realised that we have two of these – a Pyrex one and a Tupperware one; both hold two cups but the Tupperware one is shaped and labelled so you might have an idea as to how much you’ve already poured as you’re pouring
    10. Strainer – double duty as a sifter

    I could possibly be convinced to just get the stainless steel saucepan set (over the Dutch oven and the Pyrex saucepans) since mine also came with a frying pan, as it would allow me to get a kettle as my no. 10 which makes having a cup of tea much easier; speaking of which, that’s what I’m off to get now.

  81. posted by Elana on

    These are some really great tips. I actually bought my 10″ skillet and 9 qt Dutch oven already from a place called KaTom Restaurnant Supply. Amazon has the skillet for around 15 dollars, but I got mine for only 13.80 throught them.

    http://restaurant-supply.katom.....on+skillet

    All kinds of really great cast iron, and information on their blogs about how to care for it.

  82. posted by Jesse on

    You guys are idiots. There is no way you could have a usuable kitchen with that small amount of stuff. You cannot cut everything with a knife, even cutco (I used to sell it).

    Or, if through sheer stubbornness and grit you actually make that work, you will probably have a much less enjoyable experience in the kitchen and dining rooms.

    You should think about what activities you want out of your kitchen – cook all at home? Base your kitchen around that. Eat out mostly, and make a few favorite recipes at home. Base your kitchen around that. Experiment with epicurian delights? You get the idea.

    Minimalism is about essentials only. Your version of a minimalist kitchen can only be based on your lifestyle and what’s essential for that. Throwing away everything in your kitchen and calling it minimalist is really dumb.

  83. posted by [things I've tried to have] | A Very Uncommon Cook on

    […] now and then, the foodblogosphere posts about outfitting the minimalist kitchen or how a no-frills kitchen still cooks or My Essential Kitchen Tools or build your own $blogname […]

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