You don’t need to spend a lot to outfit your kitchen with the basics. But if you’re building a wedding registry, or simply want to start investing in those coveted cooking and baking tools (we’re looking at you, Le Creuset and KitchenAid) to take your skills to the next level, you might want to take a peek at the items that usually give you sticker shock. They’re pricey, but these gadgets won’t stay buried at the back of your cabinet. Instead, you’ll turn to them on a daily basis, and they’ll make your life a lot easier. Best of all, they come with great warranties so they’ll last you for years. Here are four splurge-worthy kitchen essentials that you’ll actually use over and over again.
An enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven is the ultimate kitchen multi-cooker—and unlike other trendier devices (*ahem* Instant Pot), it’s withstood the test of time. This handy gadget can go from the stovetop right into the oven, meaning you can sear meat in it before braising or stewing. Think of it as the original slow cooker—whatever you do in your crock pot, you can probably do in your Dutch oven. Since it retains heat well, it’s also great for baking crusty loaves of bread. And it looks beautifully rustic as a serving dish. Le Creuset’s French ovens (starting at $230) are always a popular choice, and you can’t go wrong with a Staub cocotte, either (mini cocottes start at $115). For a less-expensive pick, try one of these less-than-$100 Dutch ovens.
A proper chef’s knife will let you slice, dice and chop like a pro, which will hopefully cut down on your meal prep time. There’s no one-size-fits-all rule for chef’s knives, so before you go ahead and order one online, head to a kitchen supply store and test a few out. That way, you’ll be able to tell whether you prefer a light Japanese-style knife (like Shun) or a heavier German one (think Wusthof)—remember there’s no right or wrong answer, your knife has to feel comfortable for you. Expect to spend between $150 and $250 for high-quality.
The Vitamix earned its reputation as the king of all blenders for a reason. These high-powered mixing machines are prized for their ability to turn anything to mush, even blocks of frozen fruit (provided you pour in some liquid, too). You can even make soup right in the blender; the motor moves so quickly, it’ll heat up your food! Just beware, the Vitamix is jet-engine loud, so don’t be frightened the first time you turn it on. Oh, and entry-level classic models start at $350.
A stand mixer, like the classic KitchenAid, is a must-have for avid bakers. With one of these, never again will you develop carpal tunnel after attempting to cream butter and sugar with a whisk or wooden spoon. Best of all, there’s a laundry list of attachments for this device, including a pasta press and a sausage stuffer! They come in 20 colours, so you can choose one to match your kitchen and display it proudly on your counter. If you’re a home baker, Kitchen Aid’s 5-quart artisan mixer should be more than sufficient (approx. $500).
This story was originally published in 2018; updated in 2022