Must-Have Kitchen Items To Make Cooking Less of A Chore

by Holly Garcia
Shana Novak/Getty

Out of all the things I am, a wizard in the kitchen is not one of them. Growing up my Mom almost always had home-cooked meals ready for dinner, and breakfast on the weekends. I was sure I would follow in her footsteps. Negative, Batman. That was not the case. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t burn everything I touch, and most of it turns out edible. Sometimes, it’s even pretty damn good, but it has taken me a solid decade (and a little help from my friends) to get here. And those friends? Well, they aren’t people — they’re a few kitchen essentials.

While these items aren’t necessarily groundbreaking, they absolutely will make life as you know it in the kitchen a helluva lot easier. We tried to narrow it down to the must-haves, but that’s easier said than done. Plus who else is here for cute cookware? Fun essentials always make cooking less of a chore and something we, more or less, enjoy on occasion.

Apple Corer

I came across my first apple corer well into my twenties at a Pampered Chef party. Now, it’s not that you can’t cut your apples by hand, but when you’re in a hurry trying to pack a fiber-filled snack on the go for your littles, there is nothing that will save you time like one swift press down. There are other options too, like this apple corer, that removes the core and leaves you to slice as you please. Or, if you want to get really fancy try your hand at an apple peeler. I can just see myself now, the proud new owner of this contraption who will probably never use, but at least be able to say I could.

Multiple Cutting Boards

It’s not that you don’t clean your cutting boards after you trim and cut your meat, but still. Ew. Cross-contamination is something you don’t want to ever have to worry about in your kitchen. So give yourself some peace of mind and have one cutting board that you use for raw meat and another for everything else. Bonus points if your cutting boards are punny.



Ah. The colander. If you’re a lover of carbs or have ever been a broke college student, you know you need one of these bad boys to drain all the pasta. Buttered noodles are life (whether you’re 4 or 34). But of course, it’s multifunctional. You know, for washing grapes, tomatoes, and making mac and cheese (Yes, I am the carb Queen.)


Air fryer

All hail the best invention since sliced bread. Air fryers are a cross between a full-blown oven, a deep fryer, and a toaster oven. I’ve made everything from nuggets and fries to parmesan-crusted chicken in mine. It is absolutely the small kitchen appliance I could not live without. Well, it can be small. Or you can go big and basically have a full-blown over on your kitchen counter. But I mean, if it lets you make dinner and an amazing apple dessert all at once, why not?

Ninja Foodi

Meat thermometer

Before owning a meat thermometer, 11 times out of 10, I’d commit the cardinal sin of overcooking my chicken and drying it out. What can I say? I opt for overcooked chicken over not-quite-cooked-chicken induced food poising any day. In fact, my skills have gotten so–decent— my family may even let me take a stab at the Thanksgiving turkey this year. I owe it all to this little tool.

Kohls/Oxo Digital Thermometer

Microwave cover

I use the microwave a lot, and do you know the worst part about that? Spills and splatters everywhere. I loathe cleaning inside the microwave. But behold, a genius has discovered a solution to that problem: the microwave cover. Something you didn’t know you needed before using it, but also, now can’t imagine living life without. Anyone who’s been in charge of cleaning the inside of the microwave, you know you feel this.

Can Opener

A shameful but relatable truth? I didn’t learn to use a can opener until I was living on my own. My parents had both a manual can opener and an electric one, but did I ever use either? No. No, I did not. I have a very dear memory about said can opener usage that my brothers and sister can attest to. Grandma and Grandpa babysitting, neither of which knew how to operate a can opener, and grandma taking a sharp knife to attack the lid of canned fruit in the kitchen. Find a can opener you can learn to operate comfortably. So much safer than wielding a kitchen knife.

Amazon/Manual Can Opener

A Good Blender

A good blender is a game-changer. You don’t want to go for the bargain on this. You want to make an investment. I’ve used it for smoothies and when I tried my hand at pureeing homemade baby food. I’ve also used it for salsas, sauces, and my daughter’s most recent favorite, a copycat Starbucks strawberries and cream frappuccino.

QVC/Ninja Professional Blender

Citrus Juicer

Is anyone else guilty of just kind of eyeballing the amount of lemon or lime juice recipes call for? Usually, it’s not that much, so I just kind of wing it. I always forget to buy straight lemon or lime juice, but somehow remember the actual fruit. So instead of just cutting, squeezing, and hoping for the best, find yourself a juicer. Some even have the measurements on the outside of the container, which hello, two birds, one stone. I use this more than I ever thought I would.

Target/KitchenAid Citrus Jucier

Spoon Rest

You stir the pasta sauce and lean the spoon against the pan for a split second when you step out of the kitchen. You come back and it’s slightly melted (if plastic), or just a little singed (if bamboo), and yes I have done this to both types of utensils. Behold, the spoon rest! Mine is ceramic and has a goofy phrase about bacon. But there are countless options like silicone or wood that one in every shape, size, and color.

Lenny Mud/Retro Cooking Mom

So there you have it, and while this isn’t an exhaustive list of all of the kitchen tools you should own. These are definitely worth adding to your collection asap. And I mean, since Home Goods is now online, really shopping for all the kitchen things is just research, right?