Basic Equipment for Kitchen

These are some basic items that I have found to be useful in the kitchen. For those of you just starting out, this is a great list to refer to when setting up a kitchen.  I will start by suggesting the knives I use most frequently, followed by pots/pans/skillets and finish with miscellaneous items I frequently use. For those of you in New York City you can find many of these items at Zabar’s, 2nd Floor. For those of you not in New York City, I recommend searching on Amazon or JB Prince or visiting your local culinary or department stores.


Cooking requires preparation and to allow preparations go smoothly it’s important to have sharp knives. These are the knives that I use in my kitchen and they are good quality and inexpensive. A good place to buy the knives is at Zabar’s, 2nd floor. This is a less expensive option than the internet, but some can be found at your local department and culinary stores.

Victorinox Serrated Paring/Utility Knife 4 ½  inches – I use this knife all the time for cutting fruit and other small cutting jobs. I buy a new one every year because you cannot sharpen serrated knives.

Victorinox Straight Edge Paring Knife or WUSTHOF Silverpoint Straight Edge Paring Knife 3 1/4 inches – This knife is excellent for garnishes, peeling fruit and other small jobs.

Victorinox Santoku Knife 7 inches or Higher End Santoku 7 inch blade with or without granton (ridges) – These knives are great for cutting all vegetables.

Victorinox 10 1/4 inch Wavy Edge Bread Knife with Fibrox Handle –  It is important to have a bread knife for safety reasons and to preserve the sharpness of your other knives.

Dexter Curved Chinese Cleaver w/ Walnut Handle Stainfree High Carbon –  This knife is good for mincing vegetables and herbs, cutting poultry raw or cooked, and slicing raw meat.

Mino Sharp Knife Sharpener 440GB –  There are a lot of different choices for knife sharpeners, but I like the basic one with two slots for sharpening knives.


I like to use stainless steel, iron and enamel. I never use tephlon. Aluminum is a last choice. For the stainless steel pots I recommend Sitram (French), AllClad (American), Paderno (Italian). For the enamel pots I like LeCreuset. And for the iron skillets I like Wagner or Lodge. Here is a list of essential pots, pans and skillets. Sometimes they have starter sets on sale in different culinary shops and department stores. If not here is a a good startup list of pots and pans I recommend:

7-8 inch Fry Pan

10 inch Fry or Sauté Pan

14 inch Fry or Sauté Pan

Small Rondeau Sitram Pot – This is a round pot with 4 inch sides, handles and a cover

4 to 6 Quart Stock Pot (which can double as a pasta pot)

1 ½  Quart and a 3-4 Quart Stainless Steel Sauce Pans

Iron Skillet – a small one (6 1/4 inches) for roasting nuts and small amounts of vegetables. I use this constantly. And then a 10 or 12 inch skillet for sautéing meat, poultry and fish.

14 Inch Oval Steel Fish Skillet – The size and shape allow for greater ease when cooking fish. I highly recommend if you sauté or pan roast fish frequently. There are two weights, get the heavier one.

5 Quart LeCreuset Oval or Round – This is perfect for rice and braising meat.


I acquired these items either through Amazon or Zabar’s, 2nd Floor.

Kuhn Rikon Vegetable Peeler –  This is sharp and fast.

Amco Stainless Steel Bowls: A variety of different sizes (at least 4 to 6) would be good for multipurpose in the kitchen. A much better choice than glass.

6 ½  Inch Chinese Wire Strainer or a French Spider – I use these for fishing out pasta or vegetables from boiling water. Or for lifting fried foods out of fat.

Stainless Steel Tongs

Krups Electric Coffee Mill – For grinding spices

Rubber Spatula – Find a flexible one, like Rubbermaid

14 Inch Flat Bottom Rolled Steel Single Wood Handle Wok – Amazon is the best place to find this item or

Wok Spatula

Wooden Spoons

Flexible Metal Slotted Spatula with Wood Handle

Solid Metal Spatula – I recommend 2 sizes, one small and large

Offset Metal Spatula – I recommend 2 sizes, one small and large if you are into baking.

Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons

Stainless Steel Graduated Measuring Cups

Pyrex Measuring Cup

Bottle Opener (Church Key)

Pastry Brush – I really like Ateco brand. But a small paint brush from a hardware store works well too.

Can Opener – Swing A Way is the only brand I use.

Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop

VacuVin – For resealing wine

2 Half Size Sheet Pans

Parchment Paper – This is used for cooking fish and lining sheet pans to cut down on the use of butter when baking cookies.

Cheese Cloth – I use this for straining and making dumplings.

Bamboo Chopsticks – I will discuss in my next blog the importance of Bamboo Chopsticks. Please stay tuned.



4 comments… add one
  • Pam McDivitt September 13, 2012, 10:54 pm

    Just a comment that Paderno pots come from eastern Canada. They are excellent quality. I have one that is 33 years old and as good as ever. I totally agree with the can opener choice. That is the ONLY brand that works and lasts. I’m pretty pleased with myself to see that I have most of the items you list. Now if only I had that big gas stove!

    • Karen Lee September 17, 2012, 1:13 pm

      Dear Pam,

      Good information about the Paderno pots. Glad you have a well stocked kitchen. Karen

  • caroline roth September 14, 2012, 1:21 am

    As we are about to celebrate our 60th wedding anniversary I have been cooking a long time and have almost all the items. I would add a mashing fork which is good for smashing potatoes and lifting small things out of a pot. I also have a novelty item that has solved many a problem along with its true purpose of wine bottle cork retriever. It says Lost Cork Retriever on the side and looks like the long legs on a stick man drawing with each end turned in 1/4 of an inch to catch the cork after you have plunged the thing down into the bottle. An ice pick is also good to have around and as we age a good jar opener is a must.
    My home would not be complete without my Karen Lee cookbooks, now in tatters from years of use!

    • Karen Lee September 17, 2012, 1:11 pm

      Dear Caroline,

      Great suggestions. Will add them to my list. Thank you. Karen


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