I came to fame as "The Bride Who Knew Nothing" and I still, after over a decade in this industry pride myself on the culinary tenets of simplicity, ease, and a clutter-free kitchen. Less is ALWAYS more when it comes to my ingredient list, my equipment list, my instruction list.
I started my career in a newlywed starter apartment with only the most minimal space. We then moved to a sprawling house in the suburbs with enough cabinetry to amass more things than I needed. Followed by a downsize for the sake of aliyah into a rental that lasted 5 years to now living in a temporary kitchen that's going on 18 months as I build my dream kitchen in Israel. All of which makes me more than qualified to preach and teach, the art of an essential kitchen.
This is the list of kitchen equipment basics needed to turn out most of the 10,000 recipes on this site and from my 6 cookbooks.
Jamie Geller's Essential Kitchen: Pots & Pans
This essential list of 9 pots and pans for the home cook includes everything you need to get dinner on the table. This is my must-have list of kitchen cookware and everything you need to know about how to cook with and care for each item. I boil it down for you, right here, right now.
1. FRY PAN
All cooks require one thing from a great fry pan - versatility. A 10-to-12-inch fry pan provides the home chef with the ability to scramble an egg, sauté onions, or to quickly sear a piece of chicken or fish to perfection. Designed with that versatility in mind a great fry pan will have low, flared sides for easy turning or stirring, along with a flat, nonreactive cooking surface or non stick surface with ceramic coating that retains and distributes heat evenly.
Make sure to care for non stick surfaces gently by not using metal utensils and soaking and cleaning with a soft cloth and non abrasive dishwashing liquid.
MORE: The Best Way To Sauté
2. GRILL PAN
Nice high ridges provide those alluring grill marks while allowing fat to drain all from the comfort of the indoors. Ideal for poultry, fish vegetables, sandwiches and more, a great grill pan should be naturally stick resistant and not react with food. Additional attributes like oven-safe and suitability for use on all cooktops make it perfect for indoor grilling, roasting, searing and more.
MORE: Grilling Indoors
3. ROASTING PAN
Built for the holidays and every day in between. Look for a roasting pan equipped with inverted handles, both for ease of maneuvering and conservation of precious oven space. A cooking surface large enough to fit a 25 pound turkey or other larger roasts allow you to entertain with ease.
A V-shaped, non-stick, elevated cooking rack helps create a convection effect to cook foods more quickly and more evenly. A non-reactive cooking surface is ideal for reducing sauces, drippings or liquids directly on the stovetop to make incredible gravies.
MORE: Teriyaki Glazed Turkey
4. STRAIGHT-SIDED SAUTÉ PAN WITH LID
Sauté, simmer, and lock the lid to seal in flavors and nutrients - all in one pan. High walls help maximize cooking surface area, while minimizing splatter and evaporation. This incredibly versatile cooking tool is perfect for all manner of one-pan and one-pot meals. Select an oven safe pan for the ultimate in stovetop-to-oven cooking.
A classic 3- to 4- quart saucepan with a lid (very important!) helps the home chef make the perfect basic gravy or execute the most complex of sauces that require precision heat control and distribution. Whether quickly boiling water or making a delicate béarnaise sauce, look for pan with optimal heat distribution signified by walls as thick as the bottom. An ergonomic handle to maximize comfort and control.
A vital tool in your arsenal, a 6 quart stockpot is designed and constructed to help the home cook prepare larger quantities of food like chili, stews, stocks, or soups. A nonreactive stainless steel cooking surface is perfect for searing cubes of beef, sautéing onions, preparing soup bases or fonds before adding liquids like water or stock. Even heat distribution and retention help the home chef control optimum simmering levels and evaporation rates like a professional.
Make my Classic Chicken Soup in your large stock pot.
7. DUTCH OVEN
Designed for efficiency, most cooking can be done on low to medium heat. A good Dutch Oven will distribute and retain the heat evenly, allowing the pan to reach and maintain ideal cooking temperatures with lower energy requirements. Conversely, cast iron holds cold temperatures equally well for food storage and serving or preparing cold recipes.
Durable enough to handle metal utensils but will not react with foods, maintaining the flavor during cooking. While stick-resistant properties aid in cleanup.
Look for a cover that employs lid spikes on the interior of the lid to “self-baste” by distributing condensation back into the pot during cooking. The end result means less evaporation, keeping meets tender while helping to retain vegetable nutrients that may otherwise evaporate.
Safe for use on the stove, the grill, and in the oven, while being elegant enough to take directly to the table for serving. A great Dutch oven has a thick bottom and sides, with a snug, tight-fitting lid that traps in moisture and flavor. With the lid off, it’s perfect for browning meat or vegetables on the stovetop; and it can also go into the oven for even cooking.
Make my Brisket in a Dutch Oven.
8. SHEET PAN
From roasting to baking to sheet pan dinners a high quality baking sheet pan is an essential item for a minimalist kitchen.
Opt for durable, large sheet pans and don't overcrowd to allow space for browning.
9. CERAMIC OVEN TO TABLE CASSEROLE
This large, deep dish with high edges is the ultimate one-dish for baking and serving. Oven to table is a given but also be sure broiler, microwave and dishwasher safe are listed on the product manual for easy prep, cook and clean up on those lazy nights.
10. CAST-IRON SKILLET (OPTIONAL)
A kitchen workhorse for the last 2,000 years a cast iron pan is meant to last a lifetime.
Cast iron pans provide the natural heat retention required for roasting, braising, searing and more. Designed for efficiency, most cooking can be done on low to medium heat. Cast iron will distribute and retain heat evenly, allowing the pan to reach and maintain ideal cooking temperatures with lower energy requirements. Conversely, cast iron holds cold temperatures equally well for food storage and serving or preparing cold recipes. Safe for use on the stove, the grill, the oven and perfect to take directly to the table for serving.
Make Skillet Corn Bread.