Whether you're a single dad, are new to cooking or just cook occasionally, you need more than these tools to get the job done in your kitchen!

Whether you’re a single dad, are new to cooking or just cook occasionally, you need more than these tools to get the job done in your kitchen!

They say a poor workman blames his tools. Even so, cooking is definitely much easier if you use the proper equipment. What kitchen essentials are you missing?

You need more than just a few tools in your kitchen, especially a good a set of knives. One of my clients thought that a cheese knife and a small serrated pairing knife would be all she needed in her kitchen until she met me and started cooking on a regular basis. Another client thought that a ladle, a wooden spoon and the two knives he put in the dishwasher (never!) were all the kitchen essentials he needed.

Whether you’re looking to fill out the rest of your cooking tools or need a holiday gift idea for a friend that loves to cook, here are the top 10 important items to add to your kitchen utensils list.

Top 10 Kitchen Essentials

1. Knives: 8″ Chefs Knife, Serrated Bread Knife, Paring Knife, Carving-Slicing Knife and Boning Knife – Make sure you choose high-quality knives that are balanced, easy to handle and feel solid when you use them.

A wood cutting board should be on your kitchen utensils list.

A wood cutting board should be on your kitchen utensils list.

2. Cutting Board – I recommend wood. In addition to looking nice, wooden boards are easier on your knives than other materials. Bamboo is especially nice because of its durability and sustainability.

3. Oven Proof Pans and Bowls – Make sure you add these to your kitchen utensils list! Being able to use your pans and bowls in the oven will provide even more flexibility with your cooking.

4. Cast Iron Skillet – In addition to conducting heat well, going from stovetop to oven easily and lasting for decades, there are even health benefits to this cooking tool. My favorite brand is Le Crueset, which is available at many stores and online. The best prices can be found at the outlet store in Gilroy, CA or, on occasion, at discount stores like Marshall’s and Target.

5. Pasta Pot – Perfect for cooking pasta, of course, but they’re also great for making soup or chili if it’s a heavy duty one. Many come with a separate built-in colander, too.

6. Glass Dishes for Baking – These dishes are heavier, denser and stand up to breaking much better than conventional glass, which makes them much more stable, able to withstand high temperatures (like the oven) and extremely versatile. I would especially recommend the Pyrex brand as they have a wide variety of good quality options at a reasonable price point.

7. Dutch Oven – Because these kitchen essentials are often made out of cast iron, they heat evenly and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Le Crueset is my favorite brand for Dutch ovens as well.

8. Colander – I use my colander all the time! It’s different from a strainer because it can stand on its own, so you don’t need to hold it. Make sure you pick one with small enough holes so you can strain anything you want. I also recommend stainless steel: while plastic ones are lightweight they can stain easily and absorb off orders.

A food processor should be on your list of kitchen essentials.

A food processor should be on your list of kitchen essentials.

9. Food Processor – Although a blender can be useful, this cooking tool is vital to certain types of dishes like making fresh hummus or pesto.

Stand mixers are very useful, but even more important for bakers!

Stand mixers are very useful, but even more important for bakers!

10. Stand Mixer – We have this at number 10 but if you are a baker then it might be in your top 5. These mixers allow for hands-free baking, more power and less mess. Plus most come with all sorts of fun attachments making them even more versatile!

There you have it: a top 10 kitchen utensils list from the Dinner Diva. But wait – there’s more! Stay tuned for 1o more kitchen essentials next week. In the meantime, what are your favorite cooking tools?

Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.