Cooking at home is a wonderful way to save money and eat more healthfully. You’re in complete control over what you make, what goes in your food, and how it’s prepared. To make the cooking experience enjoyable, it’s important to stock your kitchen with the right equipment that will help you bring delicious plant-powered dishes to life. Here are twelve kitchen essentials that I’ve come to love, and can’t imagine living without. Cheers!
Did you know dull knives are actually the cause of most kitchen knife accidents? The sharper the knife, the less likely it is to go somewhere you don’t want it to—like into your finger. I’ve made this mistake for years. I bought one of those big knife sets thinking that the more knives, the better! But in reality, more knives = more problems. For 98% of the chopping, mincing, and dicing you do, all you need is one great chef’s knife that can last you a lifetime (assuming you care for it and sharpen it regularly). One well cared for chef’s knife and a serrated bread knife and you’re golden.
Too often I see friends pull out flimsy plastic cutting boards or boards that are far too small for the job at hand. Investing in a large, quality cutting board will pay off every time you’re cooking in the kitchen—which I hope will be almost every day!
Let me start by saying that I don’t always make my own plant milk. But when I do, this bag is a godsend! I use it to make almond or cashew milk. Or if you want to start drinking daily celery juice and really don’t feel like washing your juicer every morning (or just don’t have one) this works great! Blend the stalks with some water and then strain it with the bag. Voila! Fresh celery juice.
Okay, if you have a standard blender that will do. But the power of a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtec cannot be understated. They work faster and better, working wonders even on tough ingredients like nuts and thick sauces. They’re great for smoothies, homemade nut milk, vegan cheese sauces, salad dressings, creamy soups, and beyond. I personally have a Blendtec, but if I were to start over I’d get a Vitamix. The Vitamix comes with a tamper that you can shove in there to get things moving which is very helpful in blending very thick things like frozen bananas (to make banana soft serve). Look for certified refurbished models to save some moolah!
I use my food processor to make thick dips like hummus and spinach artichoke dip (I use the incredible recipe from my favorite vegan cookbook: Chloe’s Kitchen). I also use it to make banana soft serve without adding any milk, and it does a better job than my Blendtec blender. Plus, it comes with an attachment that can shred and slice veggies in moments which is super fun, and I use to create my own DIY salad bar. Note: There are some super expensive food processors out there, but I got a cheap-y model and it’s been working great for me for years. No need to get too fancy here.
Say bye-bye to your slow cooker and rice cooker. There’s really no need for them when you have a pressure cooker—which can do essentially the same thing but way, way faster! I wrote an entire article gushing about why everyone needs a pressure cooker. I use mine every week to make staples like rice, beans, lentils, soups, stews, and beyond.
My friend Allison introduced me to the wonders of wide-mouth mason jars. I bought a 12-pack years ago and I’m about to go buy more because I use them for everything now! I buy most of my pantry ingredients from bulk bins these days because it’s way cheaper and also reduces plastic waste, and I store the items in these mason jars. They also work great for storing homemade nut milk, leftover soup, and beyond. The wide-mouth element is important because you can fit your hand in there so they’re easy to clean.
Silicone baking mats are ingenious. They enable you to roast veggies without oil and bake cookies (and whatever else) without sticking and creating a big mess to clean off your pans. I got a pair of these baking mats 4+ years ago and they’re still going strong today.
I just recently learned what a sauté pan is, and already feel like I can’t live without it. Saute pans have tall straight sides that prevent spilling, and it’s great for making tofu scramble, sautéeing veggies, making fully loaded pasta sauce (recipe coming soon), and beyond.
Ahhh, vegan cookbooks. The source of much of my cooking inspiration. There are thousands out there to choose from today, and more coming to life every month, but here are a few of my favorites. I have to give a special holler to my cookbook—The Friendly Vegan Cookbook—which I wrote with gifting in mind! This is the perfect book for anyone looking to dip their toes into some vegan meals, and a great addition to any vegan’s bookshelf.
If you’re a coffee drinker, step up your morning coffee game with a milk frother. This simple little tool heats up and froths plant milk so you can transform your bland coffee into a luxurious latte experience. The original WestSoy soymilk froths up the best, I’ve found. Move over, Starbucks!
Because…waffles! What life is complete without an occasional waffle weekend? I even have a recipe video featuring my favorite waffles from The Joy of Vegan Baking, one of the cookbooks I recommend above.