The best kitchens aren’t bought all at once—they’re built, gradually and lovingly, throughout a lifetime. But you have to start somewhere, where this handy guide to the absolute essential kitchen tools comes in. We’ve put together a list of items that will set you up to cook nearly everything you could want to whip up as a beginner cook. 

Big Wooden Cutting Board

A basic wooden cutting board large enough that we can prep a whole meal’s worth of ingredients without needing to transfer them to little bowls. You can also use them as serving or charcuterie boards when hosting friends and family; go the fancier route and grab a set from here

Chef’s Knife or a Knife Set

An expensive knife set is a perfect addition to any kitchen. These butcher blocks full of knives look lovely on your counter, and you can use them for any delicious meal. Buy the best knives you can afford—they will last many years. 

Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

A cast iron Dutch oven may be the most expensive item on our list, but we promise it’s worth its weight in gold. A thick-bottomed, stovetop-to-oven enameled cast-iron Dutch oven makes everything from simmering chili to braising chicken adobo to boiling pasta water feel like an absolute dream. This is your Do Everything Pot, and while we love the fancy ones made by the legends, this one is equally effective and a fraction of the price.

Keeping your kitchen stocked with the proper tools is the first step to a great meal. Even if you’re setting up your kitchen for the first time or need to replace some worn-out items. Investing in these simple kitchen tools will make cooking a pleasant and easy activity that you’ll look forward to.