My Kitchen Essentials

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Lauren Baking

Hi friends,

I have been getting all sorts of requests here and there about my recommendations for my favorite saucepan or the best brand of baking sheets I use or the ultimate fill in the blank here. After getting a few more of those requests more recently, I thought it was about time that I make a list and tell you what I use and why I use it. While a big long list is great, the why’s are just as important too.

As you probably know, I used to have an enormous kitchen in Idaho. As a matter of fact is was *this close* to being my dream kitchen. But after my husband took a job that landed us smack in the middle of New York City, well, I had to get rid of 7/8 of everything I owned. Literally. This meant selling and giving away a lot of my kitchen ‘extras’…meaning the things I loved having on hand but never really used very much. Removing the bells and whistles and only packing the bare basics.

Even though this list is quite small, you can accomplish a lot with these items. As long as they are good quality (and dishwasher safe because I still hate dishes), they will last you a long time. Small list but mighty! Please note there are a few affiliate links below. 

Cooking Equipment

I have used Calphalon nonstick pots and pans for 10+ years and really really love them. They last quite a while and as long as you take care of them and use platic/nylon/wooden utensils with them. Read: not metal.

Good knives are a bit of a splurge but they make a world of difference! If you’ve been using dull and cheap knives, you will notice the difference right away. Like RIGHT AWAY. And, sharp knives mean you are less likely to get cut. I have this basic set and always always always wash these by hand. They last longer than throwing them into the dishwasher every day.

I love OXO products and own several. This is a great all-encompassing set that basically gives you one of everything, with a few extras. You can definitely buy them separately, but its cheaper to buy them as a set. Their tongs, pizza cutter and vegetable peelers are great!

I have this silicone spatula set and love them because they have metal handles. Wooden handles get warped in the dishwasher after a week or so, but the metal stays and looks like new no matter how many times you run it through the dishwasher.

My Pyrex glass nesting bowls with matching plastic lids was a wedding gift and I have come to love. Not just because it’s Pyrex brand and I love Pyrex, but because they last forever, are dishwasher safe and the matching lids makes storage so easy. Bringing salads to a potluck, storing extra cookie dough in the fridge, etc. etc.the lids make life easy.

The best zester that makes my world go round is the microplane. Always stays sharp and works wonders with lemons, limes, garlic, parmesan cheese and more! Worth every penny.

Within the last two years, I bought these heavy duty, dishwasher safe plastic cutting boards because I got sick taking care of wooden ones. These are wonderful!


Baking equipment

For baking, I use these Oxo plastic nesting bowls. They have a plastic grip on the bottom and a handle on the side. Dishwasher safe and awfully handy and durable. These are better for baking than my glass bowls listed above.

My KitchenAid hand mixer is my saving grace since I had to give away all my stand mixers. It gets the job done when I don’t want to try very hard. Plus the KitchenAid brand is the quietest on the market. You can actually have a conversation while you’re mixing something. How about that?!

The only wooden item in my kitchen is my rolling pin. Classic. Any basic one will do! And while I don’t use silicone baking mats anymore, I thoroughly adore my Roul’pat. Basically a silicone mat meant for doughs. It works wonders for rolling out pie crust.

I’ve had my metal OXO measuring cups and measuring spoons since Gordon and I got married and they look good as new…probably because they’re metal. And they’re OXO.

Again with the Pyrex love, I have a Pyrex liquid measure set.  Three glass measuring cups that I use all the time while cooking and/or baking. They are wonderful, and also items my Mom used growing up that have lasted her 20+ years.

I use light colored baking pans for everything! Half sheet pans, cake pans, muffin tinsloaf pans. They are all light because you get an even, softer bake. If you use darker, nonstick pans for baking, you tend to get crispy edges and sometimes even burn things more easily. NOT for me.

I use Pyrex brand glass pie plates, 9×13 pan and 8×8 pan.

I used to use any kind of parchment paper I could get my hands on until recently when I started buying Kirkland Signature Parchment Paper. YA’LL. This is the good stuff. Thicker than normal, still inexpensive and so easy to cut with the box that it comes in. I line ALL THE THINGS to avoid dishes. It’s just easier than scrubbing. I promise you this will change your life. Buy it buy it buy it.


Things that didn’t make the list that would be nice to have but are unnecessary include:

A KitchenAid stand mixer–used to own three and got rid of them all, with accompanying attachments

A Cuisinart food processor–Cuisinart is the best food processor brand in my opinion. Lasts FOREVER.

A Breville juicer–of course the best of the best. Pricey, but if you like green juice as much as we did/still do, this is a really great one.

An OXO handheld slicer–I got this sent to me as a gift and thought about tossing it right away, but I’ve kept it for 7 years and counting! Not necessary at all, but I do own it still and use it all the time for things I want to slice thinly and quickly.

Offset Spatulas–makes life so much easier if you’re planning on spreading batter or frosting and want it to be easy. If you’re not much of a baker though, these aren’t needed.

I use this ice cream scoop to plop batter evenly and quickly into muffin tins. It works wonderfully! You can eyeball it using tablespoons, but this certainly is a game changer.

A big dutch oven–Yes, you can use a regular pot, but the heavier bottom does make a difference when going for slow roasted flavors. I’ve owned a big blue Le Creuset for at least 5 years and love it! I use it for all my soups and stews because it transfers easily from stovetop to oven.

A cast iron skillet–helpful for browning meats. Steak specifically is amazing cooked in cast iron. But again, not necessary.

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10 Responses
  1. Sheila Best

    Great info. My entire apt is less than 500 square feet so I can relate to small. I have recently been getting rid of all kinds of “stuff” and then I saw on your list that OXO slicer. I’m thinking I should dump my cheapo mandolin and replace it with that. That looks smaller and probably works better. I’m down to 1 cookie sheet now from about 6. Progress is slow. Thanks again.

  2. Carrie

    Love Costco parchment! Be warned, our store does not always carry it year round, so I make sure I have a years worth on stock around the winter holidaus (they seem to always have it this time of year). We are currenrly on a 13 day trip and I brought a box with us on our 16 he trip to Moab. It really does just make life easier!