The Epicurious Guide to a Well Equipped Kitchen

The Epicurious Guide to a Well Equipped Kitchen

Welcome to the Epicurious Well Equipped Kitchen. After years spent testing cooking gear, we’ve gotten a good idea of what our desert island, can’t-be-without equipment is. That’s what we have here. If you want to outfit your kitchen with exactly—and only—what you really need (no random “came with the set” knives or pots here), click around the interactive up above. Everything here represents the very best from our most current round of product testing, so rest assured that if you choose something from this list, it comes with our enthusiastic stamp of approval based on rigorous testing.

Best coffee grinder

If you care about your coffee and you don’t have a burr grinder, you’re doing it wrong. Burr grinders generally, and the Baratza Virtuoso specifically, allow for an even, controlled grind. This grinder is versatile—it works for cold brew (really coarse) and espresso (really fine) equally well. It uses time dosing, meaning it grinds for a specific duration. You’ll likely go through some trial and error to figure out exactly the right settings for you, but that minor inconvenience is well worth the high performance at a reasonable price.
Read our complete review of the best coffee grinders.

Best stand mixer

The KitchenAid is a classic for a reason. The bowl is large enough to accommodate big batches of batter, and the motor is powerful enough to knead dough in a way your arms could never handle (it’s relatively quiet to boot). Heavy and sturdy, the machine stays in its place on the counter even while it’s forcefully doing its work.
Read our complete review of the best stand mixers.

KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Flex Edge Beater Bundle Set

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Best cutting board

Rubber cutting boards like this one from Yoshihiro offer a couple advantages over even the most beautiful wooden board. They preserve sharp knives, since the surface flexes to the knife edge rather than wearing it down. Rubber is also nonporous and does not encourage the growth of microbes, which is why you often see rubber cutting boards in professional kitchens or behind sushi counters (wooden cutting boards actually violate restaurant health codes in certain jurisdictions, including New York City). If you aren’t a great knife sharpener and rely on outside services, owning a good cutting board made from rubber will pay for itself in the long run.
Read our complete review of the best cutting boards.

Yoshihiro Hi-soft High Performance Professional Grade Cutting Board

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Best serrated knife

In our testing we found that nothing could compete with the way the double serrated knife from Wusthof really dug into crusty bread and glided through tomatoes. It’s a little shorter and the handle a little smaller than some others we tried, but the design of the teeth made it so stable we barely noticed. It is pricey for a serrated knife, so if you’re looking for a true budget option we recommend this one from Dexter Russell.
Read our complete review of the best serrated knives.

Wüsthof Classic 9-Inch Double Serrated Bread Knife

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Best chef’s Knife

The Mac chef’s knife is lively and responsive in your hand, comfortable to hold, and not too bulky. We also know from using it in the Epicurious test kitchen that it holds its edge for a long time and is easy to sharpen. With its simple design, wood handle, and dimples along the blade that keep food from sticking to the sides, this knife is ready for everyday use. And in the world of chef’s knives, where price tags can easily run up to $300+, this one is a comparative bargain for something that lasts so long.
Read our complete review of the best chef’s knives.

Mac Professional Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch

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Best paring knife

For a high-quality, durable knife that’ll last a while, we recommend this one from Mac, the same brand responsible for our favorite chef’s knife. This Japanese knife has a little more weight behind its three-inch blade than other paring knives we tested. Still, its shorter length makes it feel sturdy, but not cumbersome to use. Its ultrasharp blade slides through strawberries, cheese, and apple peels with smooth strokes.
Read our complete review of the best paring knives.

Best espresso maker

There are a couple design features that Breville added to the Barista Express Impress—the updated version of their also-high-performing Barista Express—that made it the most user-friendly espresso machine we tested.First, they improved the built-in grinder by adding more grind settings, though it is still not as powerful as a good stand alone burr grinder, and that means it has problems with light roast beans, which are less brittle and more hesitant to break apart. So if you are loyal to light roast only, you’ll need another grinder. The Barista Express Impress does come with other handy features, though. It has a smart dosing and tamping system that ensures you have both the right amount of coffee and the correct pressure on your tamp. Finally, we found that the steam wand in this model better handles alt-milks as well as dairy milk. Plus, it pulls a nice shot of espresso (although that is the base expectation of any espresso maker we recommend).
Read our complete review of the best espresso machines.

Best blender

Vitamix has long reigned as the supreme blender maker out there, thanks in no small part to the sheer power of its machines. It produced the silkiest, creamiest drinks in our tests—and it crushed ice to perfection. The 5200 model gets the nod over other Vitamixes for its value and design: It’s less pricey than a number of flashier models while capable of achieving the same results, and its shape and size are easier to work with in the kitchen than the cheaper Explorian models. This is a very efficient, very simple, very powerful blender that will transform you into the king or queen of smooth soups and sauces.
Read our complete review of best blenders.

Best sauce pan

The All-Clad’s thick, high-quality metal and heavy bottom ensure slow, more even heating (just what you want for long simmering sauces and making brown butter), but what really sets this pan apart from some of the other high-end saucepans we tested is the secondary handle opposite the main handle that can be used when transporting a heavy pan full of scalding liquids from the stove to the sink. That makes it stable for draining heavy or unwieldy items like potatoes or pasta.
Read our complete review of the best sauce pans.

All-Clad Stainless Steel Sauce Pan, 3-Quart

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Best Dutch oven

Le Creuset Dutch ovens demonstrate consistent performance and the ability to stand up to years of use. For stews, braises, slow simmered sauces, and loaves of bread, there is just nothing better. They are pricey, but they last a lifetime and are pieces you’ll use over and over again.
Read our complete review of the best Dutch ovens.

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Round Dutch Oven, 5.5-Quart

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Best toaster oven

If all you want is something to brown your bread and bagels in the morning, it’s possible the Joule Oven is more machine than you need (if that’s the case, Breville does make a smaller option that we like). But the Joule does so much and does it so well that we had to name it best toaster oven. It can handle everything you’d expect from a toaster oven—toast, frozen pizzas, and the like—but it got amped up by the food nerds at Chefsteps with capabilities for roasting, baking, and broiling that far surpass other countertop ovens. It can automatically switch between different heating elements to ensure cookies don’t get burned on the bottom and chicken crisps up on the top. It can dehydrate fruit and proof bread dough, and handle delicate items like fish. In the case that your oven breaks or your gas goes out, we really think the Joule Oven could be your only cooking appliance and you’d be just fine.
Read our complete review of the best toaster ovens.

Best carbon steel pan

The Merten & Storck pan arrives ready to cook and doesn’t need additional seasoning. Eggs slid out as easily as a new nonstick skillet and the gently sloped sides allowed for plenty of cooking space for chicken thighs. As a bonus, this was one of the lightest pans we tested, so if you like the idea of cast iron but are turned off by the heft of most pans, this is an excellent option for you. There is more than one version of this pan and we prefer the one that comes with a stainless steel handle, because it stays cool to the touch even after the pan has been on the burner for some time. We think that convenience is absolutely worth the extra $20 or $25.
Read our complete review of the best carbon steel skillets.

Merten & Storck Pre-Seasoned Carbon Steel Pro Induction 10″, Stainless Steel Handle, Black

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