Cooking well at home doesn’t require fancy tools or expensive pieces of equipment. Yet, for those of you who are gear heads like me, here’s a list of expensive equipment that I personally think are worth the money. They make a great addition to your kitchen or a thoughtful gift that will last the recipient a lifetime.
I received my first Vitamix blender when my mother upgraded hers roughly two decades ago, and she gave me her old one. It was a game changer in terms of making absolutely smooth purees, soups, smoothies, and nut butters in mere seconds. That machine was from the early 80’s and was called The Total Nutrition Center. I ruined the blender jar by putting it in the dishwasher for years (it weakens the seal) and left the base too close to the stove so it was melted on the side, but reordering a jar was easy and the machine never wavered. Then about five years ago, I was gifted a shiny, new stainless Vitamix blender complete with a self-cleaning program. So, I passed my old Total Nutrition Center onto a friend who tells me that it’s still chugging along nicely. Once you go Vitamix, you never go back.
Vitamix 5200Quiet and high-powered with simple, intuitive controls. The best high-end blender for the money.
Handmade Chef’s Knife
I’m a big fan of our winning chef’s knife, the Victorinox Swiss Army Fibrox Pro 8” Chef’s Knife, because it has a great handle, the stamped blade is agile and easy to sharpen, and it has just the right weight. Plus, it costs less than $50 and mine has lasted for decades with daily use. Yet, there’s nothing like the feeling of a hand-forged knife that was made just for you. It turns basic food prep—like cutting up an onion—into a total thrill. There are too many great independent knife makers out there to name just one. On Instagram, I love following Feder Knives (Hudson Valley), Nora Knives (California), Florentine Kitchen Knives (Barcelona), Monolith Knives (Blue Ridge Mountains), and of course, Bob Kramer Knives (Washington State).
Bob Kramer 8" Carbon Steel Chef’s Knife by Zwilling J.A. HenckelsIn addition to creating stunning handmade chef’s knives, Bob Kramer also makes our favorite carbon-steel knife. From handle to blade tip, this knife is a gorgeous—and samurai-sharp—piece of craftsmanship.
Le Creuset Dutch Oven
I almost didn’t include this on the list because it seemed too obvious (along with our favorite food processor and stand mixer, which are notably absent). Yet, I have so many friends ask me if they are really worth the price that I figured I should. YES, they are worth the cost—and don’t skimp on size to save a few bucks. Get the big one, choose a pretty color (mine is Caribbean-colored), and store it right on the stovetop.
Le Creuset 7¼ Quart Round Dutch OvenThis perfect, substantial pot is exceptionally resistant to damage and will last a lifetime.
All-Clad Cooking Set
My parents bought me a set of stainless All-Clad pots for Christmas when I graduated from culinary school in 1996, and I still use them daily. No matter what happens, you just can’t kill this cookware. I actually put them in the dishwasher whenever I’m in the mood, which is probably not recommended by All-Clad, but I’ve never had an issue. Note that I specified mine are stainless, not anodized or copper, which require more care and proper cleaning to maintain their appearance.
Dyson Cordless Vacuum
I love vacuums, which I know is odd, but it’s an inherited trait from my mother’s side of the family. I’m a die-hard Miele fan for most of the house, but for the kitchen floor I’m all Dyson. It’s incredibly light, picks up the tiniest scraps of food, and doesn’t slow down in puddles. Best of all, it sits in its charging station next to the kitchen so that it’s ready to go anytime without having to bend over and find an outlet. It might not be the sexiest kitchen-related product but when you cook as much as I do, it’s an essential one.
What’s the best piece of kitchen gear you’ve ever purchased? Let us know in the comments! And for more personal equipment recommendations from your test kitchen favorites, check out these articles:
How a Smart Cook Sets Up a Tiny Kitchen, by Jack Bishop
10 Home-Cooking Tools That Restaurant Chefs Use, Too, by Cecelia Jenkins
The Tools You Need to Vacation Like a True Home Cook, by Bryan Roof
Everything You Need to Start Stir-Frying at Home, by Matthew Fairman