Elevated, Easy-to-Use Kitchen Essentials

Eight items—from the practical to the premier—for your countertops and cabinets

With most of us spending more time cooking at home a look at some new essentials is in order. Covering the basics—a set of pots and pans, essential knives (paring, chef’s and serrated), prep spaces and a flexible indoor grill—is a good place to start. Whether you’re an expert or a rookie, starting afresh, replacing or upgrading, kitchen equipment should be long-lasting, high-quality and easy-to-use, and all of the items on our list of kitchen tools and essentials meet these markers.

Bonbowl

The Bonbowl induction cooktop set ($149) lets you easily cook or reheat one pot meals or sides and eat directly from the bowl, saving the clutter and cleanup of prep, cooking and eating. Though it’s touted as a tool for single diners, we find it a helpful secondary cooking space for grains, warming up soup and other dishes when the stove top is full. Its double-walled construction lets the 18-ounce bowl’s interior (which is available in non-stick or stainless steel) reach food-safe cooking temperatures while the exterior stays cool to the touch, allowing you to cook and eat from the same bowl. Magnet-powered induction heats the bowl faster than gas or electric stoves and clean-up is minimal given the bowl becomes the foundation for all steps of the process (you can even store leftovers directly in the bowl in the fridge to reheat later). Additional accessories let you strain liquid, steam, and more.

Breville Sear + Press Grill

Small enough to fit on a countertop, Breville’s new well-priced Sear + Press Panini Grill ($179) does double duty as a ceramic coated grill or griddle, high-temperature press or roomy flattop, courtesy of a hinge that allows for 180 degree access. When opened all of the way, it boasts 240 square inches of grilling space, each plate at different temperatures if desired (you can cook burgers on one side and toast the buns on the other), and its removable drip-tray catches juices. This flexible workhorse is great for anyone without an outdoor grill, and the stainless steel exterior and ceramic-coated cooking plates make for easy cleaning.

Artisan Revere Paring Knife

Artisan Revere leverages the strength of Elmax powder steel to produce thinner and more powerful knife blades. The brand’s new 3.3-inch paring knife ($195) comes on a handle made from 65% recycled paper content and weighs just 65 grams. There are four colors to choose from—deep red, black, blue and dark brown—and a trio of sheaths meant to complement your chosen color. Each knife is made, in several steps, throughout the US and assembled and quality-tested in Idaho.

Four-Piece, Ceramic-Coated Cookware Set

The ceramic-coated, four-piece aluminum cookware set ($395) from Caraway inspires confidence in home cooks. The non-stick surface—which is Teflon-free—proves perfectly slippery when cooking all kinds of dishes (eggs and fish especially) and distributes heat evenly. Safe for all types of stovetops and ovens up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit, they’re void of all toxins, including PFOA, PTFE, PFAs, lead, cadmium and nickel. Each sturdy, substantial product appeals visually thanks to a subtle but glossy finish in navy, sage, gray, cream or the signature “perracotta” (a salmony blend of pink and terra cotta). Including a large Dutch oven, sauce pan, sauté pan and frying pan (the latter two being satisfyingly deep), it’s an ideal starter—or replacement—set, and the kind of equipment that beckons rookies and experienced cooks into the kitchen. Aluminum conducts heat more quickly than most other metals, and distributes it evenly, though one potential downside for some is that aluminum cookware is not compatible with induction heating elements. The set also comes with a clever storage rack and lid organizer, a nice touch.

Single Piece Stainless Steel CK01 Chef’s Knife

Veark’s single piece stainless steel chef’s knife ($174) diverts from traditional designs to form something far more industrial chic. Designed in Copenhagen and manufactured in Sollingen, the hollowed handle knife leads into a nearly eight inch blade, allowing you to assume a more even and manageable grip. Lightweight, it’s drop-forged from a single piece of stainless steel and avoids the usual handles and joinery, it’s a minimalist’s dream and comfortable to use. Plus, their steel (X50CRMoV15) is easy to maintain and keep sharp.

Prepdeck

Designed to simplify and streamline the process of cooking at home, Prepdeck ($119) acts as an all-in-one kit for cutting, containing, carefully measuring, crushing, sharpening, and more. The system comes with 45+ features, including eight tools for grating, slicing and even stripping leaves from stems. The tools are the size of the prep containers and fit securely on top of them, allowing simple and efficient prep without fuss; when not in use they fit neatly in one of its drawers. It comes with 15 containers and a sizable plastic cutting board that allows easy transfer of cut food into containers, bowls, pots or pans. An additional mount for a tablet or cookbook helps create a tidy and functional prep space. Reducing kitchen clutter, maximizing kitchen space and simplifying clean up, it’s helpful for the daily meal or more elaborate recipes that require multiple ingredients. Prepdeck comes in seven colors, from natural wood to subtle pastel hues.

Hinoki Bread Knife

The third essential kitchen knife is a serrated or bread knife. Cult favorite Hinoki’s new customizable bread knife ($171+), part of their Essentials collection, arrived at CH HQ in March and has been put to thorough use since. Whether ripping through a sourdough boule, a whole chicken or hearty vegetables, it excels at all applications. We particularly appreciate its angular design and smooth heal corner, something we’d like to see in all of our knives. Made in Sakai, Japan leveraging 400 years of local metal-smithing, the knife’s steel core is wrapped with three layers of VG-10 steel, reaching a Rockwell hardness rating of 60. Creating knives in this manner creates what the Japanese call hamon (or blade pattern) which is unique to each knife. To ensure stylistic compatibility with the rest of your gear, the knife is available in brushed chrome or obsidian black, and the handle in obsidian ebony or American walnut.

Steel and Bamboo Kitchen Island

IKEA’s RIMFORSA work bench ($499)—measuring ~48 by ~26  by ~36 inches—makes for the ideal kitchen island. Made only from bamboo and stainless steel, it’s solid, attractive, easy to care for, durable, and both moisture- and scratch-resistant. Hooks are easily attached to the sides for quick access to towels or tools (though we found them easy to fall off when pulling off a towel). The top can be refreshed with oils—it’s coated finished with linseed oil as is—and the legs and drawers, of which there are two, can be shined with stainless steel cleaner. Two spacious shelves (which can be installed in either location to your preference) lie beneath the drawer and countertop, offering enough room for pots and pans, baskets, plates and bowls.

Images courtesy of respective brands, hero image courtesy of Caraway