The kitchen has always been the core of the home for me. It’s where you connect with loved ones; where you prepare your meals; where you sit down for informal bites of breakfast and lunch. A great set of kitchen essentials is as key to my home as a great set of writing implements: they’re there to enrich your experiences with your family.

You may need different tools as a novice chef as you would if you were a professional chef, but my advice is always to go for quality. Small, single-use kitchen gadgets are fine to stock a drawer or two with, but you want your kitchen essentials to last for years. They should be quality pieces that you should never-or at least not for a very, very long time-need to replace. Look for heavier cookware made from high-grade metals of the best quality whenever possible.

Kitchen essentials for the novice chef

If you’re new to cooking for yourself, you’re probably not going to need a lot. There’s a big difference in the tools you’ll need to produce a simple dinner for two vs. a three-course meal for twenty! From the size of equipment to the tools themselves, the former has more basic requirements.

That being said, if you can: don’t scrimp on quality. The best advice I can give you is that one really good tool that can age with you is going to be a better investment than five low-quality ones. You don’t actually need a sauce pan, a skillet, a sauce pot, a saute pan, a roasting pan, a baking dish, and a casserole dish right off the bat – especially if you don’t know how to use them anyways.

I recommend starting your novice kitchen with a large cast iron skillet or stainless steel pan. They’re not only extremely durable materials, but because they tend to have thicker bottoms, your meals will heat more evenly: a blessing for a novice chef, who may otherwise burn their food. They’re also safe, because unlike non-stick frying pans, they don’t have a coating that will break down if you overheat them. Cast iron needs to be properly seasoned, but like stainless steel, makes for easy cleaning.

Round out your novice kitchen essentials with a sauce pan and a baking pan and you should be ready to learn the basics of the modern kitchen. Shop essential frying pans & skillets online at Best Buy. 

Kitchen essentials for the everyday chef

The everyday chef is another beast altogether. If you’re settling down into your first home, no longer fresh out of college, and you can roast a chicken without breaking a sweat – well, you’re probably an everyday chef. (Congratulations on your novice chef matriculation!)

Many everyday chefs get their start when they move in with their life partners, and a wedding or bridal shower is a great place to stock up on tools. Ask for functional items on your registry, like a copper-bottomed stainless steel cookware set. If you’re looking to stock a high-end kitchen, you can’t do much better than All-Clad Stainless Steel pots & pans, but they do come with a more costly price tag.

Now is a great time for everyday chefs to stock up on their other kitchen essentials, including things like stock pots and knife sets. While I recommend that everyday chefs save on items that they won’t use often (like a ceramic casserole dish or an avocado slicer), it makes sense to spend money on your kitchen knives and scissors. Make sure to buy high-quality shears, a good chef’s knife, and (my single most-used kitchen item) a fine-edged santoku knife.

I still remember the first time I used a santoku. It belonged to a former partner, and I basically didn’t put it down after the first time I picked it up. It has a shorter blade than a chef’s knife, with a curved top and a slightly flatter blade. The chef’s knife is supposed to be the one you’ll reach for most often in a kitchen, but for everyday cooking, I find that it’s the opposite: a chef’s knife can do more, but a santoku is an under-represented kitchen tool. It excels at things like chopping vegetables and dicing herbs, which you’ll do more of in a home kitchen. I wouldn’t necessarily de-bone an entire chicken with it, but a lot of the time, that’s something that a professional or experienced chef will do. Us everyday chefs don’t need to worry about it yet!

These little differences will help you hone your everyday kitchen essentials. I always reach for a santoku because it’s lighter and smaller than a chef’s knife; similarly, you may want to invest in stainless steel pots & pans instead of cast iron cookware because it’s easier to empty and wash. You’re likely to be the only person regularly cooking in your kitchen, so don’t be afraid to make small alterations to suit your specific needs.

Shop kitchen knives, sets, scissors, & storage at Best Buy.

Kitchen essentials for professional chefs

Let’s face it: if you’re a professional chef, you’re probably not reading this article. You’ve gone to cooking school, you buy all of your supplies from commercial wholesalers, and you’re more likely to order a pizza on your day off than you are to cook for another twelve hours.

But if you really love cooking-if you’re a step up from an everyday chef but you don’t want to dedicate your life to the daily grind of the commercial cooking-then this section is for you.

To round out your semi-professional kitchen, it’s time to finally buy those niche items that you’ve been lusting after. (You can justify it now that you’re getting creative in the kitchen on a regular basis!) Hand-pick a matching LeCreuset dutch oven and baking dish to use in your induction oven; add a wok to your kitchen for stir-Fridays and a double boiler for your Sunday morning pancake sauce. Finally relish upgrading your roasting pan from a 15″ to a 20″.

Some of my favourite cookware items are best suited to a professional kitchen, but excel in consumer ones anyways. It’s time, dear reader. Once you eclipse that crest of “just” being an everyday chef… you can finally buy that crêpe pan you’ve always wanted.

Explore crêpe pans (and other kitchen essentials) online at Best Buy

Rae Chen covers everything from handbags to speakers here on the Best Buy Plug-in Blog. They can also be found at, where they've been writing about beauty & wellness since 2007.