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Essentials for the Beginner Chef: Quarantine Special

Quarantine can be tough, especially for restaurant regulars. You might miss brunches and nights out at your favorite eateries, or hanging out in your local coffee shop. Sure, you can order in, but service fees add up. It might be time to brush up on your cooking skills - or add cooking to your repertoire if you're a total beginner. Chances are your kitchen is looking pretty bare, though. So what will you need? Here's a list of some kitchen essentials necessary for even the most basic recipes. These are items that are affordable and beginner-friendly. Don't worry, we've got you covered - we'll have you making that delicious homemade banana bread that you're seeing all over social media in no time.

Don't forget to use code ESSENTIALS for 5% off your order (expires 5/31/2020)

Chef's Knife

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Statement 2-Piece Chef's Set
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Statement 2-Piece Chef's Set
Dexter-Russell Black Chef/Cook's Knife 8
Dexter-Russell Black Chef/Cook's Knife 8" Blade, Poly Handle

In a professional kitchen, knives are often the most expensive item you'll find, but you don't need to splurge for a quality blade. A chef's knife is used for a variety of common kitchen tasks like mincing vegetables or slicing meat. Two great knives that we'd recommend are our Dexter-Russell White Chef/Cook's Knife 8" Blade, Poly Handle, made with high carbon steel. Or try the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Statement 2-Piece Chef's Set, which includes a paring knife (we'll get to that soon). It's made of top-notch stainless steel with well-contoured handles.

Paring Knife

Victorinox Forschner Paring, 4 in., Large Blue Handle (42605)
Victorinox Forschner Paring, 4 in., Large Blue Handle (42605)

You'll need a paring knife for sharp and precise peeling and cutting, especially with small fruit and vegetables. Iconic knife brand Victorinox has an affordable, top-quality paring knife that'll stay durable and strong as long as you use it.

Bread Knife

Dexter-Russell  Sofgrip White 8
Dexter-Russell Sofgrip White 8" Scalloped Bread Knife
Icel 8
Icel 8" Plain-Edge Bread Knife, Dark Brown Wooden Handle

As you can probably tell by its name, a bread knife's serrated edges make it ideal for cutting into some soft, warm loaves. The Dexter-Russell's non-slip, soft-grip handle is one great option. For something different, try the Icel's wooden-handled knife with a straight-edge blade instead of the common serrated model.

Cutting Board

Wooden Utility Board 3/4
Wooden Utility Board 3/4" Thick - 10" x 14"
Winco White Polyethylene Cutting Board 1/2
Winco White Polyethylene Cutting Board 1/2" Thick - 6" x 10"

Cutting Board - What's a knife good for without something to slice on? A quality cutting board should be comfortable to work with and durable for constant use. Whether you go with a rustic wooden utility board or a sturdy polyethylene one, you'll need one of these great cutting boards for just about every recipe.

Can Opener

OXO 1049953 Smooth Edge Can Opener
OXO 1049953 Smooth Edge Can Opener
Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Lid Lifter, Red
Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Lid Lifter, Red

Everybody, and we mean everybody, needs a good can opener somewhere in their kitchen drawers. A good one, however, has an easy grip, cuts cleanly, and winds smoothly. Check out Oxo's Smooth Edge for neat detachment, leaving no sharp edges on the can, no-touch lid removal pliers, and comfortable handles.

Peeler

Oxo Good Grips 3-Piece Peeler Set
Oxo Good Grips 3-Piece Peeler Set

Any kitchen would be lacking without this vital tool, though you might need a few versions of it. The Oxo Good Grips 3-Piece Peeler Set will get you shaving all kinds of vegetables down in no time. The serrated blade is perfect for soft, mushy fruit, while the swivel peeler slices effortlessly through stiffer vegetables. The Julienne peeler is great for garnishing, creating precise, elegant Julienne strips.

Measuring Cups

Oxo Good Grips 11110901 Measuring Cups with Scraper, Black
Oxo Good Grips 11110901 Measuring Cups with Scraper, Black

Essential for both baking and cooking, a well-trained cook will always be sure to have a set of these in their kitchen. We recommend Oxo's Good Grips cups - 5 well-marked measuring cups and one effective scraper for evening out the surface of your ingredients.

Potato Masher

Winco Potato Masher Wooden Handle, Square - 5-1/4
Winco Potato Masher Wooden Handle, Square - 5-1/4" x 24"

The function of this handy tool is pretty obvious, but even if mashed potatoes aren't your thing, there are plenty of other squashed creations you can make. For fresh guacamole, baby food, or meat, this utensil is the way to go. Try the curvy wire version with a wooden handle or a soft, pressure-absorbing handle with a fine-grid mashing plate.

Egg Beater/Whisk

Winco French Whip Stainless Steel  - 12
Winco French Whip Stainless Steel - 12"
RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Vintage Style Hand Crank Egg Beater
RSVP Endurance Stainless Steel Vintage Style Hand Crank Egg Beater

Another common staple for a natural chef, this tool will keep your eggs fluffy and light as air. Winco's stainless steel whisk is one excellent choice, or try a vintage-style hand crank model from RSVP Endurance.

Tongs

Oxo Good Grips Locking Tongs - 12
Oxo Good Grips Locking Tongs - 12"

You could get by without tongs, but a true chef knows what these bad boys are good for. Tongs will help you out with grilling, tossing salad, or serving pasta. Take your food to a professional level with Oxo Good Grips Locking Tongs. Brushed stainless steel, comfortable no-slip handles, and a locking mechanism make these an all-around great pair.

Spatula

Oxo 1071533 Silicone Flexible Pancake Turner
Oxo 1071533 Silicone Flexible Pancake Turner
Norpro Grip-EZ 9
Norpro Grip-EZ 9" Brownie Spatula with Scalloped Blade

A quality spatula is crucial for cooking evenly and handling hot food. Extreme durability, flexibility, and heat resistance are all necessary for this kitchen essential. Oxo's Silicone Pancake Turner thin, flexible edges get under even the stickiest of foods while keeping them intact. The Norpro's sharp edge cuts right under any crust and has a scalloped design to trap air for easy release.

Ladle

Vollum Stainless Steel 1-Piece Ladle - 16 Oz.
Vollum Stainless Steel 1-Piece Ladle - 16 Oz.
OXO 59491 Stainless Steel Ladle
OXO 59491 Stainless Steel Ladle

Sure, you could serve soup or stew sloshing out of a mug or a measuring cup, or you can dole out like a pro using a quality ladle. This handy Vollum ladle hooks onto the edge of your pots and can handle the heat with its sturdy stainless steel. Oxo's brushed stainless steel features a contoured handle that sits comfortably in your hand while serving.

Juicer

Vollum Yellow Aluminum Lemon and Lime Citrus Squeezer Juicer
Vollum Yellow Aluminum Lemon and Lime Citrus Squeezer Juicer

It might seem like a minor detail, but some freshly squeezed juice will make all the difference in your dishes. It's also super easy with the help of this gadget from Vollum, which simultaneously squeezes juice and sifts pulp and seeds.

Saucepan

Winco Stainless Steel Sauce Pan with Cover, 3-1/2 Quart
Winco Stainless Steel Sauce Pan with Cover, 3-1/2 Quart

Typically made of stainless steel, aluminum, or some other sturdy metal, saucepans are great for cooking with liquids and boiling water. Prepare your deep-fried foods in your frying pan, your soups in your stock pots, and your sauces in your saucepan. Their narrow base, high sides, and lid give you the best control over evaporation. This stainless steel Winco model will get you smooth caramel, perfectly boiled rice, and more - the saucy possibilities are endless.

Frying Pan/Skillet

de Buyer 28cm (11
de Buyer 28cm (11") "Carbone Plus" Steel Frying Pan, Heavy Duty Steel

A perfect frying pan has excellent heat circulation, gets you crispy edges and soft insides, and heightens flavor. A pan that ticks all of those boxes is De Buyer's heavy duty steel frying pan, which works well with gas or electric burners and is made of extra thick black steel.

Grill Pan

de Buyer 26 Cm Grill Fry Pan,
de Buyer 26 Cm Grill Fry Pan, "Carbone Plus" Steel

Burgers. Paninis. Steaks. Is your mouth watering yet? The possibilities for the all-important grill pan are endless. Another fantastic De Buyer choice, this grill fry pan made with extra-strong steel flawlessly sears meat, vegetables, and more with minimal need for fat or oil.

Sheet Pan

Winco Bun / Sheet Bake Pan 13
Winco Bun / Sheet Bake Pan 13" x 18" (Half Size)

This wide, shallow pan made from sturdy metal provides perfect airflow and heat circulation for browning and baking. You'll need this for cookies, flatbreads, blondies, and peanut butter bars. Winco's commercial-grade sheet pan will present an even bake every time you use it.

Muffin Pan

Norpro Mini Cheesecake Pan, 12 Cavities Non-Stick Coating
Norpro Mini Cheesecake Pan, 12 Cavities Non-Stick Coating
Wilton 2105-7783 Nonstick-steel Two-Tone Cupcake Baking Set
Wilton 2105-7783 Nonstick-steel Two-Tone Cupcake Baking Set

What's better than cake? How about 12 mini ones? Aside from the obvious muffins and cupcakes, this tool has more uses than you think. Mini deep dish pizzas, wonton cups, and cookie dough bowls are just a few of the many creations you'll be able to make. Up your chef game with one of these quality trays. Norpro's cheesecake pan is made with a non-stick coating and removable bottoms, perfect for delicate dishes. The innovative Wilton two-tone cupcake set lets you easily put a sweet surprise inside your mini pastries.

Stock Pot

Winco Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Cover, 12 Quart
Winco Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Cover, 12 Quart

The stock pot is the home to stews, soups, and boiled foods. Stock refers to any flavored liquid base, usually made by simmering bones, vegetables, and spices. We recommend this 12-quart Winco classic for its thick aluminum core wrapped in stainless steel. Its unique design gives it exceptional strength and heat distribution, and it can even be used with induction cookers.

Colander

Winco Stainless Steel 2 Side Handle Colander - 5 Quart
Winco Stainless Steel 2 Side Handle Colander - 5 Quart

A colander/strainer is a kitchen staple for the easiest of recipes. You'll need it for draining your pasta or rinsing your vegetables. Check out Winco's colander with two handles for easy maneuvering and a stainless steel full mirror finish.

Oven Mitts

Vollum High Heat Leather Oven Mitts, Resistant to 572F - 14
Vollum High Heat Leather Oven Mitts, Resistant to 572F - 14"
RITZ 685 Silicone Oven Mitt - 13
RITZ 685 Silicone Oven Mitt - 13"

Oven mitts come in a variety of materials, but you'll want to make sure you choose one that can really take the heat. All-leather oven mitts from Vollum will keep you well-protected, with a smooth leather interior for easy removal. Silicone has become a popular choice in heat protection due to their unique heat endurance as well as their grip. Don't miss out on Ritz's oven mitts with heat and flame resistant silicone exterior and soft cotton interior.

Ice Tray

Oxo Good Grips No-Spill Ice Cube Tray
Oxo Good Grips No-Spill Ice Cube Tray

A well-designed ice tray is a total necessity for every kitchen. We recommend Oxo's No-Spill Ice Tray, with an innovative lid that seals water in from every angle and rounded cavities that release cubes with ease.