These days, I get asked about cookware all the time. Several months ago I put together a cookware guide that’s super detailed— it goes into all the individual pieces I like with specific brand recommendations.
But I also know that myself (and many other people) can get way too caught up thinking about cookware. The truth is that you don’t actually need that much. If you focus on the basics, you can have everything you need in just a few pieces. You’ll have less clutter in your kitchen, you’ll actually use what you buy, and you can afford to spend more on these things since you’re buying fewer pieces overall. So I decided to put together a guide focused on the minimalist approach to stocking a kitchen.
This is perfect for anyone who is just getting into cooking and wants to build their cookware collection from scratch. It’s also great for anyone who wants to upgrade their existing setup but isn’t sure which pieces merit the spending.
I’ve narrowed it down to the following.
Sheet Tray + Wire Rack
A knife and cutting board have you covered for your prep. A skillet for meats, eggs, and stir-fries. A saucier for soups, stews, braises, rice, beans, and pasta. And a sheet tray for roasting. This is a simple but comprehensive setup.
I’ve included recommendations for less expensive options, as well as links to my personal favorite pieces. Everything I recommend here I personally own or have used. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on these things. But each of these will last you a lifetime if you take good care of them, so I believe it’s worth buying the best quality you can afford.
And finally— I recently became a part of Made In’s affiliate program. Made In is my favorite cookware brand, by far. I’ve been using and recommending their products for years. I told them about some of the content I was planning for the newsletter, and they generously offered a 15% discount (first order, $100 minimum) for newsletter subscribers. If you do make a purchase, use the code MYLES15 to get the discount. I stand by the quality and craftsmanship of their products 100%, and I’m super excited to be working with them.
Onto the guide!
A good chef’s knife is the single most important tool in your kitchen. You’ll use it every time you cook. And while you may consider adding a serrated knife or a pairing knife in the future, the truth is that you can easily do all the knifework you need to do with just a chef’s knife.
Budget Option: Victorinox, Material Kitchen
My Favorites: Made In, Shun, Misono
One good cutting board is all you need for your food prep. There are a lot of different options out there, but my preference is for a good-quality wooden board. I own several different cutting boards, but 95% of the time, I use my butcher block.
First, wood has incredible natural anti-microbial properties that make it even safer to use than alternatives. Second, you don’t have to worry about plastics leaching into your food (this is a major issue with plastic cutting boards). Wood boards are gentle on your knives, look and feel amazing, and will last forever with just a bit of care.
While the budget option here still isn’t particularly cheap, it’s absolutely worth buying for quality. Many cheaper options are made from low-quality wood that’s glued together— not only can the glue melt or leach, but those boards are also much more fragile.
Budget Option: Boos Block
My Favorite: Made In Butcher Block
A good skillet is an indispensable and extremely versatile tool. You’ll use it for steaks, eggs, roasts, stir-fries, and so much more. You could go with cast iron, stainless steel, or carbon steel here, but my personal preference is for carbon steel.
Carbon steel pans get you the seasoning properties and performance of cast iron, but they’re much lighter. They also become non-stick over time as they build seasoning— mine is now at the point where I can make scrambled eggs, omelettes, and more without any sticking. This means that it can replace both your cast iron and your non-stick skillets. Finally, I prefer the design of curved, slightly sloped walls, which make them great for stir-fries and any cooking that requires a similar toss.
Budget Option: Lodge
My Favorites: Made In Blue Carbon Steel, Athena Skillets
A saucier is one of the most versatile pans you can own. With a rounded bottom and an oven-safe top, this can be used for soups, stews, braises, rice, beans, pasta, sauces, and so much more. The 3 QT size is perfect, in my opinion.
Budget Option: Cuisinart
My Favorite: Made In
Sheet Tray + Wire Rack
Finally, a sheet tray is a must for any kind of roasting. I also like to add on a wire rack for cooling, resting, and dry brining.
Budget Option: Wildone
My Favorite: Made In (though I wish they made full-sized trays, as well), Nordicware
I truly believe that you can cook anything with just this setup. If you’ve got any questions or want more specific insights, feel free to shoot me an email!
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Great list. Though some long tongs are also a must for me.
Exactly what I need. I really don’t like to follow any recipes that calls for professional équipement over my budget