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Cooking for One

The Best Cooking Gear for the Solo Cook

Expand your standard kitchen equipment with these essentials.
By Published July 17, 2020

Indulging in the delight of dining alone is one of life’s greatest pleasures. If you're one of the 36 million Americans who live alone or one of the countless others who cook for themselves for other reasons, you'll love our cookbook Cooking for One, which has more than 160 perfectly portioned recipes, along with approachable tips that will help you become a smarter, more confident, and less wasteful cook.


Stephanie Pixley

Regardless of how many people you're cooking for, stocking certain essential kitchen equipment—from a good-quality skillet to a serviceable chef’s knife—can make or break a recipe and ensure you’re always prepared for mealtime.

The good news is that cooking for yourself requires the same standard kitchen equipment you likely already own. But while working on our cookbook all about solo dining, Cooking for One, we found that there are a few specific items that you should consider adding to your kitchen if you regularly cook for one. And we don’t mean tiny loaf pans or other gimmicky single-use gadgets—we’re talking about items you’ll use often and will make cooking for one so much simpler.

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Mini whisk

Mini Whisk
A miniature whisk (about half the size of a traditional whisk) makes whisking in small bowls much easier and less messy—helpful when making single-serving salad dressings or whisking together just a couple of eggs. Our favorite, the Tovolo Mini Whisk ($7), is the right size for even the smallest of tasks.

digital scale

Digital Scale
A scale comes in handy for weighing proteins and vegetables (or for weighing out small amounts of pasta) to ensure you’ve got the right portion size for the recipe. Our winner is the OXO Good Grips 11 lb Food Scale with Pull Out Display ($49.99) and our best buy is the Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale ($11.79).

small cutting board

Small Cutting Board
A full-size cutting board can be a hassle to clean, and when you’ve got less to prep those bigger cutting boards are overkill. For small-scale jobs, we love the OXO Good Grips Utility Cutting Board ($14.95).

Small saucepan

Small Saucepan
We reach for smaller saucepans (as opposed to Dutch ovens) to make small-batch soups, cook perfectly portioned grains, or whip up better-than-the-box macaroni and cheese. Our favorite is the All-Clad Stainless 2qt Saucepan ($130) and our best buy is the Tramontina Gourmet Tri-Ply Clad 2qt Covered Sauce Pan ($44.63).

quarter-sheet pan

Quarter-Sheet Pans
When we call for a rimmed baking sheet, we mean the standard, half-sheet pans. But we also have an affinity for quarter-sheet pans—their smaller size (about the size of a sheet of letter copy paper) makes them perfect for baking just a few cookies, or roasting a single sweet potato. Plus, they’re much easier to clean. Our winner is the Nordic Ware Naturals Quarter Sheet ($8.99).

8 inch nonstick skillet

8-inch Skillets (Nonstick and Stainless Steel)
These diminutive skillets give new meaning to “personal pan,” and are great for cooking a single protein or making a skillet dinner for one. Our winning nonstick skillet is the OXO Good Grips Hard Anodized Pro Nonstick 8-Inch Fry Pan ($29.95), and our winning stainless-steel skillet is the All-Clad Stainless 8" Fry Pan ($98.49).

digital thermometer

Digital Instant-Read Thermometer
A good thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking. Whether you've been cooking for years or you're just starting off, this single piece of equipment will do the most to make sure you never overcook your food again. We’ve loved the Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4 ($99) for years and our best buy, the Thermoworks ThermoPop ($34) is an equally reliable option.

Food storage bags

Food Storage Bags 
We use zipper-lock bags to keep everything from herbs to cheeses fresh and when you’re cooking for one, you’ll likely find yourself turning to them even more to store half a zucchini or that extra handful of cherry tomatoes. We actually mail-order Elkay Plastics Ziplock Heavy Weight Freezer Bags ($9.69 for 100 bags), but Ziploc Brand Freezer Bags with Easy Open Tabs ($5.37 for 28 bags) are a suitable supermarket option.

storage container

Storage Containers
Good storage containers are a must for packing up leftovers. For plastic—which are lighter and easier to transport—we like all of the different sizes in the Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container line. For glass—best for reheating—we like all of the different sizes in the OXO Good Grips Smart Seal Container line.

Want more info on cooking for one? Check out this collection of time-saving tips and other helpful resources, and our Cooking for One cookbook.