Must-Have Tools for Home Cooks

Chicken Picatta is my signature dish. I got the recipe from Giada De Laurentiis and it’s my go-to dinner. I can whip it up in no time and it’s always delish. Good thing Jay likes it because he’ll be eating it for the rest of his life. haha! I’ve been trying to expand my menu and try new things in the kitchen though — but the tools you have are just as important as the foods you cook.

I reached out to Chef Lisa Schroeder from Mother’s Bistro in Portland, Oregon to get the 411 on what tools home cooks need to have to be successful. Here’s her list:

Home Cooks Essential Kitchenware

by Lisa Schroeder

With the right equipment cooking is easier and faster. Cook like a pro with these basic but essential items every home cook should have. Whether you are buying for yourself, or for a bride, you simply can’t go wrong with these classic items. If you see something you see you need for your kitchen then make sure you go to Village Bakery to find the best reviewed product that you need! You don’t want to buy a new stand mixer and find it breaks within 6 months.

1. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, preferably the “Professional” (they have all kinds of grades with varying levels of horsepower… this model is the heaviest duty)

2. Set of good knives like Global, Wusthof, Shun (Most important knives: an 8-10 inch chef’s knife, paring knife, and a bread knife. If you still haven’t made up your mind on what knives to go for, it may help you to check out some cutco knives reviews, in the hopes of making the right choice. Also good to have would be something to hang them on (magnetic strip) or woodblock, a steel (to hone the knife) and a stone (to sharpen).

3. A crock of tools including: wire whisk, fish spatula (flexible metal with a wood handle is best), heat-proof rubber spatula, wooden spoons of varying shapes and sizes, a spider (chinese skimmer), an offset spatula (for cake decorating and lifting narrow items), a set of quality tongs, instant-read thermometer, ladel, large metal spoon, perforated large metal spoon, microplane (doubles as a cheese grater for hard cheeses such as parmesan), pastry brush

4. A set of good stainless aluminum-core pans (All-Clad is my preference) with the following sizes: 8-10 quart stock pot, 6-8 quart dutch oven, 14″ saute pan (with straight sides so it can double as a dutch oven), 10″ saute pan, 5 quart saucepan, 2 quart saucepot. An 8-inch non-stick pan is great for omelets, but the brand is not important.

5. Good coffee-making equipment, especially a burr coffee grinder, and my preferred coffee-making device: an insulated 32-ounce French Press from Bodum, which makes 4 perfect cups of coffee. I’ve been told that Baratza grinders are also pretty good too!

6. Food Processor. My preference is Cuisinart.

7. Blender. Not the same as a food processor and best for smoothies, milkshakes and pureed soups.

8. Good pepper grinder (“Peugeot” mechanisms work best) and a salt cellar (salt is much easier to use by the pinch rather than a shaker)

9. Set of stainless steel mixing bowls, of varying sizes.

10. A salad spinner.

As passionate about slow-cooked pot roast and homemade ravioli as she about a perfectly seared foie gras, Lisa Schroeder is a mother, grandmother, chef and a restaurateur devoted to providing better-than-authentic renditions of traditional home-cooked favorite dishes at her restaurant, Mother’s Bistro & Bar in Portland, Oregon.

Chef Lisa Schroeder has received rave reviews and has appeared on NBC’s TODAY Show, Food & Wine Magazine, bon appetit, Town & Country, Fine Cooking, More, Restaurant Hospitality, USA TODAY, Eater PDX and more. For more info, please visit or

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