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The 12 Best Basics You Need for a Starter Kitchen

Food52 logo Food52 9/13/2017 Olivia Bloom
© Provided by Food52

So you want to know how to cook! And you're starting from scratch. (Unless Top Ramen counts?) Your kitchen consists of a college mug, one big bowl that you use for cereal, and a frying pan that's kind of...flaking? The task of stocking a kitchen, let alone cooking in it, seems insurmountable.

We're here to help. In honor of our Dansk Kisco Dinnerware, the starter dinnerware set to rule all starter dinnerware sets (it packs four 4-piece place settings for less than $80!), we've gathered a little rah, rah, rah for you, in the form of twelve basics for your kitchen and table.

But first, the Food52 team rounded up our best, most basic cooking advice. And we're talking basic. Six words basic. Presenting:

Our Best Most Basic Cooking Advice in 6 Words or Less

  1. Read the whole recipe first.

  2. Read it again.

  3. Recipes are guidelines, not gospel.

  4. Never use dull knives.

  5. Don't be timid with knives.

  6. Bring meat to room temperature first.

  7. Garlic goes in everything.

  8. Low and slow.

  9. More butter.

  10. More salt.

  11. Kosher salt, not table salt.

  12. Salt as you go.

  13. Taste as you go.

  14. Wet potatoes, hot oil, no good.

  15. Herbs are not just garnish.

  16. Let yourself “fail”.

  17. Worst case: order pizza.

  18. Good company makes the whole process even better.

(You got us, the last one is eight words—but it's a really good one.)

WATCH: 10 Essential Tools You Need in Your Kitchen [provided by Bon Appétit] 


Our 12 Best Most Basic Kitchen & Table Staples

  1. A sturdy goes-with-everything dinnerware set. Neutral, muted shades can mix and match with just about anything else. Buying a set gives you the advantage of setting yourself up with small plates, large plates, and bowls, all in one fell swoop.
  2. Flatware in a classic shape and classic finish. The trendy shapes and colors may woo you, but in a few years, you'll wonder what you were thinking.
  3. Multi-purpose, clean-lined glassware. A 12-ounce glass is versatile for water, juice, and beer—or mix in some shorter and taller to accommodate wine and milkshakes. Because wine and milkshakes are very important, too.

  4. A set of mugs for coffee and tea. Don't try and drink hot beverages out of a regular glass. Or a plastic cup. Just don't.
  5. You really only need one knife: a chef's knife. A paring knife is very useful, too, for the smaller cuts. But if you can only choose one, go chef's knife.
  6. A large cutting board does double-duty as a carving board, and even a cheese board in a pinch. (Who knows, you could be cooking for guests soon!)
  7. Nonstick fry pans will be your savior on the stovetop. Heat can be intimidating at first, and stainless steel or cast iron might be too frustrating. Opt for nonstick and you'll flip with great ease.
  8. A heavy pot. Boil water, make soup, make sauce, roast a roast. You can do it! Splurge a little on this one, and you'll have a piece of cookware that will outlast a life's worth of dinners.
  9. A high-sided baking sheet. You probably immediately think "cookies!" but this is the ultimate vehicle for crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside roasted vegetables.
  10. A giant bowl for mixing pancake batter, serving salads, or eating salads, if you really want.
  11. A wooden spoon for stirring and tasting.
  12. And a silicone un-meltable spatula for scraping and flipping.

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