8 Must-Have Cookware Essentials

Ask any cook and he or she will tell you they have a favorite pot. And knife. My two faves are an All-Clad 3 quart, lidded saute pan and Wusthof 8"  Bread Knife (which, frankly, scares me a little; let's just say it could star in a slasher film). What others should be on mine (and your) list of essentials? Cathy Erway gives us the breakdown.


  1. A heavy-bottom pan with a lid (See, my affection for my saute pan is warranted!)
  2. Food processor 
  3. Dutch oven
  4. A good knife (I also love my 4" Wusthof paring knife; I use it CONSTANTLY. I also have an inexpensive 8" Chicago Cuttlery chef's knife that I really like too. It seems more balanced for my hand than my 6" Wusthof chef's knife.)
  5. Mixing bowls that can double as serving ware (This is a GREAT idea that I must employ soon.)
  6. A few roasting/baking/cookie-making trays.
  7. A high-heat silicone spatula. (Got one. LOVE it!)
  8. A 'wild card' appliance that you love. 

So, what are your 'kitchen essentials'? What's your 'wild card' appliance??? (My toaster needs replacing, and I'd really like to get one of those ridiculously expensive models. Is an expensive toaster 'wild' enough???)

For more information about the products on the list, follow this link.

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StoneMaven on Dec 10, 2010:

I LOVE cast iron.  I have 15 cast iron pans and cornstick pans ranging from single-egg sized to ginourmus - all but 3 curb-picked!  I LOVE them.  I GW'ed glass lids for all the sizes as well.  Unfortunetly, storage was a real problem.  This Mothers Day my husband made me a great wall rack for them from galvanized pipe and a section of cattle panel.  All my pans now hang by S-hooks from it right next to the stove.  My baking pans are half-sheet resturant pans from a resturant supply, and my wildcard is my KitchenAid K5SS mixer circa 1990.  That thing could mix cement!

DIY Maven on Mar 22, 2010:

Olive oil? Mmmm....sure, why not!

MarvinWindows on Mar 22, 2010:

A good knife is only so good without an equally nice cutting board (or two, or four, in my case). And my "wildcard appliance" might very well be olive oil. That counts, right?


joshgoes on Mar 19, 2010:

Cast iron skillet:  Despite the recent price increases, ~$25 is still a bargain for something so useful that will last forever.  Useful for stove top, oven, broiler, campfire, fending off intruders, etc.  I clean mine while still warm with sea salt and a little oil (Alton Brown trick).

Sharpening / Honing steel:  Sharp, "cheap" knives are far more effective than an expensive blade that has lost its edge.  Takes some practice to get the technique down right, but it's worth it.

I prefer glass lids so I can see what's going on without letting the heat out.  We have one 12" glass lid that fits my cast iron skillet, my slope walled non-stick skillet, and the stainless steel saute pan.  Hooray multi-taskers!

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