20 Healthy Kitchen Essentials: A List of Kitchen Items Everyone Needs
Ready to get inspired for healthy cooking? These must-haves on our list of kitchen items includes the best appliances, cookware, and kitchen gadgets in green living to make your life easier and more delicious! Whether a beginning cook or an advanced chef, this checklist of kitchen essentials ranges from affordable pieces to top of the line machines and the best non-toxic pots and pans.
Welcome back to the #betterforyoucrew series! I’ve teamed up with my girls Suzi from Gurl Gone Green, Lisa from This Organic Girl, Caroline from Olive You Whole, Kristina from Love & Zest, and Sarah from Whoorl to highlight green, yet effective food, beauty and lifestyle products that are rocking our natural mama worlds. This series will publish the last week of every month so check back for the latest. You can also search #betterforyoucrew on our blogs and Instagram to access the entire series (see The Best Natural Hair Care Products to check out last month’s topic). Wanna join in? Tag #betterforyoucrew on social with your picks. We want to see your faves, too!
I can’t believe I’ve had a healthy living blog for going on four years but have yet to share a list of my favorite kitchen tools with y’all! I mean… how did that happen?!
Finally the time has come for me to share a list of my favorite kitchen items–we’ve got something for you regardless of if you’re just learning your way around a kitchen or if you’re a classically-trained chef.
We also include a range of price points on this kitchen essentials checklist (as cheap as $12!) proving that you don’t always have to break the bank to stock your kitchen with helpful items.
Of course, this wouldn’t be R+R without a healthy, green, eco-friendly twist! No Teflon, heavy metals, or BPA-plastic here.
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
I recently got this new ceramic cookware and can’t believe I didn’t have it in my life until now.
Did you know most non-stick, metal, and even some ceramic-coated and cast iron pans can leach heavy metals into your foods?! Ugh!
Xtrema‘s 100% ceramic pots, pans and bakeware are not only safe and free from toxins, but have the versatility to be used on the stovetop, in any type of oven, in the fridge to store leftovers, and can be served right on the dinner table. Plus they’re also dishwasher- and microwave-safe! #BestPansEver
2. Soda Stream
Oooh, how I L-O-V-E my soda stream! Having bubbly water on demand without spending money for the rest of my life on Perrier or La Croiz, and not having all the waste of toxic BPA-laden plastic bottles or cans? Fan for life.
Try our Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Tonic made with sparkling water, oranges, carrot juice and warming spices like turmeric and ginger!
An absolute MUST for any cook, beginner to advanced.
Essential for making so many things:
- delicious snacks like homemade hummus or fat bombs and energy balls (may we recommend these No Bake Pumpkin Pie Protein Bites or Five Ingredient Blueberry Energy Balls?)
- desserts like these easy Maple Cinnamon Fudgy Flourless Brownies (gluten free + vegan!) or Blueberry No Bake, Dairy-Free Cheesecake (gluten free + dairy free!)
- healthy sauces like Italian Salsa Verde, Mexican Salsa Verde, Arugula Pesto or 5-Minute Chimichurri
- classic dinners like my BBQ Turkey Meatloaf
Not only is a food processor a major time saver, you just can’t get the same consistency this appliance delivers with any other method. Not to mention it just makes prep SO MUCH easier!
Plus, I also use it for DIY beauty recipes, like this Homemade Face Scrub for Acne-Prone, Oily Skin.
Not to sound dramatic, but I’m not sure how I’d survive without my high-powered blender, the Vitamix.
From blending my fiber-rich smoothies to making homemade lattes and all kinds of delicious drinks (hello, Superfood Frose: Frozen Rose Wine Slushy), a rare day it is that I don’t use this miraculous machine.
You can also make sauces, grind coffee, and do food prep, similar to a food processor. The Vitamix is better when there is more liquid or volume that the food processor can’t handle.
Yes, the Vitamix does cost a pretty penny; however, you can look at Certified Reconditioned models for a more affordable option (rest assured, they come with a 5-year warranty and a No Risk Guarantee on every Certified Reconditioned blender), or take advantage of their three- or five-month interest-free payment plans.
5. Salad Chopper: Trudeau Toss and Chop Salad Tongs
This may be the best $12 I’ve ever spent. Make fresh salads or chop veggies right in the bowl with these scissors that easily slice fruit and veggies, and somehow never need sharpening. So easy to use and makes any chopping infinitely faster and simpler!
Some nights I honestly don’t know what I’d do without my Instant Pot. When seven o’clock rolls around and you haven’t thought about dinner yet… enter the Instant Pot! It cooks everything in a fraction of the time (although I will admit it does like 20+ minutes to pre-heat), and makes clean up SO easy since it’s all cooked in this one pot. You can even brown meat and saute veggies in it before you pressure cook. LOVE!
The possibilities are almost endless with this crazy cool machine. I also love it for making things like bone broth that are so expensive to buy in the store.
Check out our Instant Pot recipes:
- Homemade Chicken Bone Broth
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Dairy-Free)
- Keto Beef Stew
- Easy Instant Pot Whole Chicken
I’m not sure how people grate without a microplane; fresh ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, citrus rinds, garlic, cheese–you name it, and the microplane can zest or grate it with ease.
No seriously, from the moment Rachael Ray first showed me how she grates garlic right from the microplane, I realized it saved SO much time, was so easy and not messy and I’ve never looked back. Thanks, Rach!
Simply hold it in your hand and the sharp blades do most of the work. Most models are dishwasher-safe too; yippie for less dishes! This kitchen tool runs about $12.
Sometimes I just want to push a button and have a hot cup of coffee appear, like real-life magic. We all probably hate how much we love it, but the truth is, single serve coffee makers are just too darn easy and convenient.
They’re also hella wasteful. Throwing away those plastic coffee pods that aren’t recyclable or biodegradable takes a real toll on the environment, especially when you consider that one in three households in the U.S. use single serve coffee makers. (source)
That’s why I’ve made the switch to Intelligent Blends Universal Single-Serve Brewer. Not only is this single serve coffee maker compatible with all types of K-cups® (2.0 and 1.0) as well as Unlicensed pods and refillable cups, but they have their own line of recyclable coffee pods, which is a total game changer.
Speaking of coffee, I’m also addicted to my Nespresso. Sometimes I just really want a fancy coffee-house drink, and being able to make lattes and Americanos at home as opposed to $5 a pop at Starbucks is a winning choice in my book. Plus, homemade is always healthier and you know exactly what’s going into your drink!
I recently got the Essenza and I love how compact and sleek it is, yet powerful and makes killer espresso drinks in less than 2 minutes!
10. Milk Frother
Alright, while we’re on the coffee convo, I also lovelovelove my handy milk frother! In just a couple minutes, you can have warmed frothed cream or milk, cappuccino style (read: super foamy) or latte style (creamier and thicker!). I use this just about every day and I can’t believe how much it makes my homemade coffee drinks taste like the real deal. I love that it heats the milk too!
On days when I’m not making a full on latte, I reach for my Power Creamer frother, no fancy machines required and this battery-powered gadget is less than $20! It’s great for dissolving things like collagen, protein powders, hot chocolate mixes and other powders and ghee, butter or coconut oil. The Power Creamer frother is durable and made from stainless steel–you won’t believe how well it whips up your drink into something rivaling Starbucks!
Calling all bakers: a high-end stand mixer like this one from KitchenAid is a necessity for all things baking… Whipping up cream or egg whites? Frosting? Making dough? Baking cookies? Cakes? You NEED a powerful stand mixer, and KitchenAid is known for being the best on the market.
Over the holidays I love to use my stand mixer to make this Classic Sour Cream Pound Cake with Ghee (Gluten Free).
Even if you’re not much of a baker, I also use mine for whipping up things like mashed potatoes, mashing meatballs, shredding chicken, or making quick breads or muffins.
Forget having to transfer food from the pot to the blender to puree–this hand-held immersion blender is where. it’s. at. when it comes to saving time, dishes, and generally making the blending process easier.
What’s cool about this model is that it’s like a swiss army knife of kitchen tools: it also has a whisk attachment (read: easy omelettes for a crowd!), a chopper/grinder attachment, a beaker (perfect for throwing together salad dressings), and the mini food processor is so handy when you just have a small job to do and don’t want to get out the more cumbersome machine.
You don’t know thermometers until you’ve met the ThermoWorks Thermapen digital thermometer, rated #1 by America’s Test Kitchen for a reason.
Not only is it crazy fast (it reads in 2-3 seconds!) and accurate, but it has a rotating display that can flip to make reading the thermometer from any angle a breeze. It also has an automatic backlight, is waterproof, and has a motion sensor to save battery life (meaning one battery lasts 3,000 hours… so you’ll likely never even have to replace the battery, ever).
Raise your hand if you drink tea like it’s your job? 🙋
Not only am I a huge fan of antioxidant-rich and triple-toxin screened teas like Pique Tea (if you like matcha, their organic Sun Goddess Matcha is to die for!), but I also use my tea kettle for hot water in a flash on days I drink coffee and use my french press or want to make an Americano with my Nespresso.
I love that you can choose your temperature based on what you’re making!
What don’t I do with my cast iron skillet? Another cooking staple, Lodge is a trusted brand that has actually been around since the 1930s!
Amazing for searing and frying, cast irons have also gotten popular for ‘one pot meals’ that makes dinner much easier, as these pans work perfectly not just on the stove, but in the oven and on the grill, too!
Here are a few of my tried and true cast iron recipes:
- Shakshuka (Eggs in Tomato Sauce) with Swiss Chard Pesto
- Easy Berry Cobbler with Peace Nice Cream (Gluten Free + Dairy Free)
- Tamale Pie with Beans + Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread (Gluten Free)
You’ll be shocked at how amazing this $15 skillet is! Not only is it scratch-resistant with a water- and ceramic-based nonstick surface, it’s free of chemicals like PTFE and PFOA. I love how it cooks really evenly across the pan; this is my go-to for any high-heat cooking where sticking can happen (fried eggs, anyone?!)
This past Christmas, I added this set of pots and pans to my wishlist after reading about how amazing AND affordable they were on The Wire Cutter, America’s Test Kitchen, and just about every review out there. I couldn’t be happier with Santa’s gift!
Stainless steel cookware is another classic, go-to piece of kitchen equipment. Simple, reliable, and a great every day pot for simple things like making pasta or heating up soup.
Cast iron meets beautiful enameled French cookware with iconic Le Creuset dutch ovens. I’m not sure cookware gets prettier than this!
Not only is it colorful, but these big pots are strong and durable, with an exterior enamel that resists chipping and cracking. They can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, making this cookware awesome for both stovetop and oven use.
The inside is cast iron that–unlike regular cast irons–needs no seasoning (hallelujah!), so is often used for slow-cooking, braising and roasting, thanks to its ability to maintain even and consistent heat. I love making soups in mine like this Gameday Buffalo Chicken Chili!
Plus you can get matching mini-cocottes with lids for serving that can also go in the oven, so you can make individual-sized portion of things like baked eggs, custards, and traditional French Onion soup (yea, that rustic kind with the broiled cheese that’s to die for!), and as a bonus these beauties also look gorgeous on display.
What would a great kitchen be without a great chef’s knife? If you’re currently using cheap knives, you won’t even believe the difference once you get a serious chef’s knife or two that is sharp and perfectly designed for slicing, dicing and all your cutting needs.
The one I’m currently using, we got from a special market in Tokyo while on our honeymoon, but any high-quality Santuko-style chef’s knife will do the trick–just be sure you keep it nice and sharp!
Last but certainly not least, the fan-favorite slow cooker. While the Instant Pot is having its heyday–and most models even have a slow cooker option built in too–let’s face it, people are just addicted to their slow cooker they’ve have around in their kitchen for decades, and for good reason.
Homemade cooking doesn’t get much easier than this, and the flavors are unbeatable when you cook something all. day. long. And personally, I think a Crockpot does a way better job for braising meats and giving you that fork-tender, fall-off-the-bone meat than the InstantPot. Need some slow cooker recipe inspiration?
- Buffalo Chicken Meatballs (Paleo + Whol30 approved)
- Easy Apple Crisp (Gluten Free)
- Keto Beef Stew
- Pulled Pork Banh Mi Bowls
What’s on your must-have kitchen tools list? Let us know in the comments below!
LIKE THIS? CHECK OUT WHAT’S ON MY FRIENDS’ MUST HAVE KITCHEN TOOLS LISTS HERE:
- Suzi’s Favorite Kitchen Tools from Gurl Gone Green
- Lisa’s Best Kitchen Gadgets from This Organic Girl
- Sarah’s Best Kitchen Tools from Whoorl
- Caroline’s Top 5 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets from Olive You Whole
- Kristina’s Best Kitchen Gadgets from Love & Zest
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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