Learning to cook from scratch has been one of the most beautiful experiences as a homemaker. I’ve spent about a year slowly learning about ingredients, where they come from, how to make them, and how to use them. I think my favorite part is that there’s always more to learn, and there’s endless opportunity for creativity. If you’re thinking of cooking from scratch, get started now! You won’t regret it. Find 9 kitchen essentials for cooking from scratch, and why you need them below!
The Bare Essentials for Cooking from Scratch
A Good Knife
One of the most basic skills needed of cooking from scratch is chopping your own vegetables. After having a good, sharp, quality knife, I’ve never looked back to my old knives. Mine is the Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park knife. I was unable to find this knife online, but it looks most comparable to this Henckel Santoku Knife.
For slicing my sourdough bread, I’ve been using this stainless steel bread knife, and so far it’s worked great for me!
A Cutting Board
Like a good knife, you really need a good cutting board to be able to chop vegetables easily. I used to use a plate for this, but plates are hard on your knives and don’t give you as much room to work. I find it therapeutic to chop vegetables, but only with the right knife and cutting board!
A Quality Bowl Set
This Duralex bowl set is one of those things that I could harp on about forever. They’re microwave safe, dishwasher safe, freezer and refrigerator safe, shock proof, and sturdy. I use this bowl set for almost everything that I make. The quality is unmatched for glass bowls in my opinion. I have owned this set for well over two years and have yet to chip, crack, or stain any of them. There’s also enough bowl sizes to be used for anything and everything, and they nestle together so perfectly in the drawer. These are a must for me!
While cast iron skillets are somewhat new to my daily cooking routine, I don’t know how I made it all this time without them. I have always seen them on other people’s kitchen essentials for cooking from scratch lists, but I never considered it for mine until recently. There are just so many uses for cast iron that aren’t doable in a stainless steel skillet (homemade tortillas, for example)! I previously owned Lodge, and thought I didn’t like cast iron. Turns out, I just needed to find the right cast iron! My Greater Goods 10” skillet and also their 12” skillet are unmatched! I’ve even held $200+ skillets, and I prefer the feel of my Greater Goods skillets to those. And, they are organically seasoned! I couldn’t be happier with these. I’m hoping to try their dutch oven at some point as well!
Stainless steel cookware is a must when it comes to cooking anything with acid (such as tomato sauce). I switch back and forth between my stainless cookware and my cast iron for most things, but some acidic foods are just best cooked in the stainless pans. My Trammontina cookware set is dishwasher, stovetop, and oven safe!
Baking Sheet Pans
I use my stainless steel baking sheets for more than just…well…baking. I not only bake almost everything on these (whole chicken, roasted veggies, etc), but I even use these pans as a flat surface for kneading dough. Instead of creating a sticky disaster on my kitchen counters when I go to knead my sourdough breads, I just flour my baking sheet and knead the dough on it. It’s easy to clean up, and leaves my counters open for prepping other parts of the meal!
I use two different types of measuring cups, depending on what I need to measure. These glass measuring cups are designed for liquids, while these Kitchenaid measuring cups are designed for solids. You can technically use them interchangeably, but using them how they were intended is the easiest and most accurate! I mostly use these for baking when a more accurate measurement is necessary.
These KitchenAid measuring spoons are so easy to use because they have flat bottoms that keep them level on the counter! This means that when it’s time to prep ingredients, you can pre-measure them right into the measuring spoons so that they’re ready to dump in. Just like the measuring cups, I consider these to be important for baking when accurate measurements are more necessary.
There are so many cooking utensils in my drawers, but three of them are basic staples that are used daily in my kitchen, and are essentials for cooking from scratch in my kitchen.
I use my OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Turner to flip pancakes, eggs, burgers, you name it!
I have a set of large spoons that I use for stirring and ladling soups, making sweet tea, scooping noodles, etc!
My silicone spatulas are used daily for meal prep and feeding/stirring my sourdough starter.
More Essentials To Collect As You Go
I thought about putting this as a necessity, because I couldn’t live without these. But since some people are far more skilled with knives than I am, they may prefer a knife to kitchen shears. But for me, when it comes to dicing or cutting meat of any kind, these kitchen shears are the way to go! And they’re dishwasher safe which is super convenient!
For making casseroles or baking brownies, your typical glass dishes Pyrex 9”x13” or OXO 9”x13” are perfect. I own both of these, and prefer Pyrex for flatter baked goods and OXO for cakes and taller items, mostly because of their lids. I was also mind blown recently when I found out that you can use Pyrex or Anchor Hocking glass food storage containers in the oven! Who knew! You have to leave the lids off of course, but I love making small recipes in these now (like banana bread).
When it comes to kneading doughs for long periods of time, there’s no doubt that using an electric mixer helps make the job a whole lot easier. While some people may not consider this to be one of the essentials for cooking from scratch, I know that there are many recipes that I would likely never make if I didn’t have this mixer. I use the dough hook attachment for kneading breads, the whisk attachment for whipping heavy cream, and the paddle attachment to shred chicken on Taco Tuesdays. By the way, all of my attachments are third party, because I wanted them to be stainless steel instead of KitchenAid brand aluminum attachments. My mixer itself is vintage, but my white ceramic bowl was purchased recently, and just makes it so beautiful on my counter! I no longer feel the need to hide my mixer away in a cabinet.
Danish Dough Whisk
When it comes to having the fluffiest pancakes around, you really need something gentle like this danish dough whisk to keep your batter light and fluffy.
Mason jars have so many uses, and you can find hundreds of ideas for them online. Of course the most obvious use is canning your homegrown veggies, but you can also use these as leftovers storage jars, pantry staples, bone broths, soups, and so much more. Some people even use them as drinking glasses! They’re the king of versatility.
I find that cookie scoops are invaluable when it comes to scooping batters and doughs, portioning out ingredients for meals, and even for non-food use (such as making my DIY Garbage Disposal Cleaner Pods!).
A rolling pin is an absolute must for making pie crusts, biscuits, and more!
Because I love the artisan style sourdough bread, I use my dutch oven every time I bake it. It really is the best way to get that nice crust on the outside of your breads! Mine isn’t sold anymore, but it looks similar to this one!
Mortar and Pestle
Of course I use my mortar and pestle for making my seasoning blends, but you can also use it to grind your own teas and other ingredients!
The most obvious thing to do with a cheese grater is to grate or shred cheese, but I also use mine for zesting citrus, and even shredding butter! You can shred cold butter instead of cubing it with a butter cutter for recipes like my sourdough pie crust!
What You Don’t Need and Why!
Precise Measuring Tools (Like a Kitchen Scale)
Think about what it was like a hundred years ago. Our great grandmothers were probably the best cooks we’ve ever known, and yet they didn’t have a kitchen scale, candy thermometer, or fancy pressure cooker.
How were they so good at cooking without all of that? Because they honed their skills as a cook by learning the ingredients. They practiced daily. They learned to feel when the dough was just right, they learned smell when the sauce had enough tomato, they learned to taste when the soup had the perfect amount of rosemary.
You can be an amazing from-scratch cook without the use of precise measuring tools in your kitchen. It’s more about the experience, and learning how best to provide delicious food for your family!
A Recipe Book
I know I know, some of you are shaking your head right now, thinking you could never give up your recipe book. But let me tell you, one of the best ways to become a good from-scratch cook is to get your nose out of the recipe book and into your bowl of dough. You can look over recipes to get a general idea of what goes in certain common meals, but make sure you don’t stop there! Customize it, learn it, and make it your own. And if you do that enough, you could be writing your own recipe book in no time.