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The 12 Best Basics You Need for a Starter Kitchen

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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.

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Dansk Kisco Dinnerware (Set of 16)

Dansk Kisco Dinnerware (Set of 16)

$79

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

  • Read the whole recipe first.
  • Read it again.
  • Recipes are guidelines, not gospel.
  • Never use dull knives.
  • Don't be timid with knives.
  • Bring meat to room temperature first.
  • Garlic goes in everything.
  • Low and slow.
  • More butter.
  • More salt.
  • Kosher salt, not table salt.
  • Salt as you go.
  • Taste as you go.
  • Wet potatoes, hot oil, no good.
  • Herbs are not just garnish.
  • Let yourself “fail”.
  • Worst case: order pizza.
  • Good company makes the whole process even better.

(You got us, the last one is eight words—but it's a really good one. And be sure to share your own 6-word advice in the comments!)

Our 12 Best Most Basic Kitchen & Table Staples

Dansk Kisco Dinnerware (Set of 16)

Dansk Kisco Dinnerware (Set of 16)

$79
American-Made Shelburne Flatware

American-Made Shelburne Flatware

From $48
Stackable Bodega Glasses (Set of 12)

Stackable Bodega Glasses (Set of 12)

From $25
Sorrento Double Walled Mugs with Handles (Set of 2)

Sorrento Double Walled Mugs with Handles (Set of 2)

From $22
  • 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.
  • 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!)
Essential Carbon Steel Parer & Chef's Knife Set

Essential Carbon Steel Parer & Chef's Knife Set

$79
End Grain Cutting Board

End Grain Cutting Board

From $60
  • 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.
  • 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.
ZWILLING Madura Plus Nonstick Pan

ZWILLING Madura Plus Nonstick Pan

From $40
Food52 x Staub Essential French Oven, 3.75QT

Food52 x Staub Essential French Oven, 3.75QT

$199
  • 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.
  • A giant bowl for mixing pancake batter, serving salads, or eating salads, if you really want.
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Baking Sheets

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Baking Sheets

From $26
Mason Cash Cane Mixing Bowls

Mason Cash Cane Mixing Bowls

From $35
Fresh Soil-Dipped Wooden Spoons (Set of 3)

Fresh Soil-Dipped Wooden Spoons (Set of 3)

$29
Pro Silicone Spatula

Pro Silicone Spatula

$20

Now it's your turn. What would you recommend for the beginner cook to stock in their kitchen? Then tell us your best, most basic cooking advice in six words or less. Go!


Tags: kitchen basics, cooking advice