The Basics
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How to cook...

The stuff the cookbook writers think you already know.

What is a Recipe Temperatures Storage Methods How To Knife Safety This is a... Weights and Measures Sizes and Shapes

Pots and pans
These are essential tools, you need at least one pot.  Pots and pans range in price, quality, design  and weight. Heaver pots and pans will usually spread the heat better and generally last longer. It is a good idea to pick up the pots and pans and see how they feel to you, try out your friends or just ask what other people like. In the end you want the pan that is right for you. Sometimes you get a deal by buying a set, but getting each one separately isn’t a bad idea as you will have a chance to test out the pot or pan and you can always buy the set if you like it. Having an extra pot can’t go wrong.

At the minimum you'll need:

Large skillets (10 inch and 12 inch)—preferably heavy aluminum skillets with nonstick coating (copper and cast iron are great, but can be expensive and are not forgiving to a new cook).

Large pot with lid—an 8-quart pot is big enough to cook pasta, but if you're going to make stock, buy a 16-quart pot.

Saucepans with lids—a 1- to 3-cup size,

                            a 1- to 1-1/2-quart size,

                            and a 4-quart size.

Roasting pans—an 8 x 12-inch or 9 x 13-inch metal roasting pan;

                        and an 8- or 9-inch square metal baking pan.

Bowls—small, medium, and large. Stainless steel are inexpensive and useful.

A steamer insert—a collapsible aluminum basket-like utensil, used for steaming vegetables and other foods.


Bakeware is essential if you plan to bake anything, muffins, pies, bread and many other items are baked and require special attention just like your pots and pans. There are a few types of pie pans and baking dishes and they vary in size, weight and quality although there are standard sizes you should have. Bakeware is also available in a disposable foil variety that works well for a one time use but shouldn’t be your main bakeware. Beside the standard aluminum and non-stick bakeware, there is Glass and Silicone bakeware. If you choose to go with glass or silicone make sure you adjust the temperature accordingly as they conduct the heat differently than your standard metal pans and most recipes are referring to a metal pan when they give a temperature.

Baking/cookie sheets

A 9 x 13-inch nonstick baking pan

pie plates (9-inch, oven-proof glass),

bread pans (two 9 x 5-inch, nonstick aluminum loaf pans),

cake pans (two or three 8 and/or 9-inch pans), Both round and square.

 2 standard size muffin tins (other sizes if wanted).


When buying utensils it is a good idea to think about what you are going to use them with. Many modern pots, pans and appliances have a nonstick finish that can be damaged by using a metal utensil. There are some non-stick coatings that do not scratch easily with metal utensils but they are very expensive. With this in mind you can get plastic or silicone utensils, the silicon based are generally a better product. But with any plastic or silicon utensil check that it is heat resistant and at what point it will melt or burn. This sort of information should be on the package. It is best to buy heat resistant utensils that way you can use them without having to remember if it will melt or not. If possible you may want to get all your heat resistant utensils with the same color handle, this way you can easily tell what utensil is for what purpose.

What you should probably have:

Long-handled heavy-duty spoon

Long-handled heavy-duty Slotted spoon

Long-handled soup ladle


Rubber spatula


Measuring cups: a 2-cup glass or plastic cup for liquid measures, and a set of cups including 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, and a 1 cup cup)

Measuring spoons Buy a set of spoons, they often come on rings in all the standard measures. You should probably own at least two sets.

Wooden spoons

Brushes (for spreading oil, melted butter, marinades, etc.)

Cutting boards
Some cooks swear by wood, and some swear by plastic cutting boards. Wooden cutting boards have been banned in some areas as they are much harder to clean and keep properly sanitized. So plastic or glass boards are probably the way to go. Glass cutting boards can be nice to work with but can be broken and tend to get slippery while you work on them. Plastic cutting boards vary greatly in quality and some are not safe to put in the dishwasher as they will warp and become uselss.One of the nice advantages to plastic cutting boards is that they come in many different colors and this way you can have a colored board for each cutting task, red for  meat, blue for chicken, green for vegetables and so on. This method can mean more cleaning but there is less worry about contamination of other foods.

When buying a plastic cutting board try to find one that is dishwasher safe and has a rough surface this will help to keep the food in place and the juices will be kept on the board better.

You should have at least one cutting board 2 is better. They should be at least  x X y or larger. Too large a cutting board can be problematic as it will take up at least its size in counter space and if you want to change cutting boards you need some  where to store it too.

A good set of knives is essential for chopping, dicing, and preparing your ingredients. High-carbon steel knives are recommended by chefs and experienced cooks alike. A versatile knife that is essential is the 8-inch chef's knife

.Don't bother with a carving or slicing knife right away—you won't use it very often, and your chef's knife can handle most of those duties for a while. You'll need two or three paring knives (3 or 4 inches long) for peeling, trimming, and other precise cutting.

A serrated bread knife is a must, too.

And buy a blade sharpener to keep your knives working at peak efficiency.

See our section on Knife safety for more information

Although this is by no way a complete list and you will not need everything on it. The list serves as a basic reference for what you will need to start cooking and baking.

See the This is A... Section for images of most items listed on this page

Kitchen Essentials