This is not an exhaustive list of all of my favorite kitchen tools but a handy reference to all of the things mentioned in the recipes on the site. Most of these purchases were the result of a Cook’s Illustrated equipment testing and they have yet to steer me wrong.
I like to have one good, all-purpose nonstick saute pan but let’s not kid ourselves: you need to replace these things every few years. The sooner you accept that cruel fact the happier you’ll be. Trust me. So you want something good but not crazy expensive. I look for pans with a handle that can go under the broiler (i.e. not rubberized). This pan has served me so well I’ve bought it two consecutive times:
And this is the LBD (Little Black Dress) of my cookware. I rarely put it away and regularly use if for sauces, popcorn, steaming vegetables, even making bread. The round bottom is perfect for whisking just about anything, the size is perfect for most things and it’s All Clad so it heats evenly and stays put.
Cook’s Illustrated rated these the best cookies sheets a while back and people went bonkers trying to find them. I have several and use them frequently. You absolutely need a couple of good, sturdy cookies sheets that won’t warp in the oven (or when you take them out) and conduct heat evenly. No need to get anything with expensive gimmicks; these will last a lifetime.
Invaluable when pitting lots of cherries and also good for olives:
For blending flour and fat for pie crust:
My favorite rolling pin:
This is what I bought to grind my own meat:
For bread making and more:
Cook’s Illustrated rated this the best thermometer for accuracy and speeed. I’ve had mine for years and it has changed the way I cook in ways I could never have predicted. An accurate thermometer will allow you to cook your poultry just to the point where it’s done and not beyond. It will ensure that the water you’re proofing your yeast in is in the right range. It will tell you if your steak is rare or medium rare. It is not cheap but I wouldn’t recommend spending this much on something if I wasn’t crazy about it.
If someone every really forced me to chose ONE pot or pan this would be the one. Again, not cheap. But meant to last well beyond any one person’s lifetime. My friend Anne once got such a deal on this exact pot at Zabar’s that we still talk about it to this day. I use mine for deep-fryng (it makes it possible to maintain an even temperature), chili, soups, stews, braises, etc. I don’t even put it away because I think it’s so cute. I might ask to be buried with it. Or in it.
Talk about a cheap thrill, I absolutely love this little thing. I am not the most disciplined cook when it comes to mise en place but when I do actually get organized and measure out all my ingredients before I start cooking I always use this. It’s so great to just measure 3 tablespoons of olive oil and have it sit and wait for you to call on it and only dirty one thing vs. two. Just spend the $4 and buy one and you’ll see what I mean. One warning: do NOT put it in the dishwasher; the markings will wear off quickly.
Another thing you didn’t know you needed until you got it and found yourself reaching for it every day. Although its original and primary purpose is to help you get dough off of your countertops (and it works great for that) I find it to be more useful for things like getting a bunch of chopped shallots from cutting board to pan. I also use mine for cleaning — it liberates some of the stuck-on stuff (like dough) from your countertops and gets all the little bits of minced garlic off of the cutting board.
Several years ago Cook’s Illustrated rated this as their number one choice in pepper mills so of course I ran right out and bought it. They have since updated their recommendations but I have been using this mill for years and love it. It holds a lot of peppercorns, the design is simple so it’s easy to refill and use. It just works.
Of course colanders matter. As with anything, if it’s worth having it’s worth having a well-designed, functional tool and this is it. I have had this one for years and it never fails me. Ample enough for a pound of cooked pasta, easily cleaned, hasn’t warped or fallen apart it’s sturdy and reliable.