Weeknight Cooking

The 12 Best Basics You Need for a Starter Kitchen

September 13, 2017

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

  • 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

  • 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!)
  • 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.
  • 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.

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!

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Olivia Bloom

Written by: Olivia Bloom

Has a soft spot for string cheese.

1 Comment

AntoniaJames September 13, 2017
As noted in this post nearly two years ago https://food52.com/blog/14659-our-best-cooking-advice-in-just-six-words , may I respectfully repeat what I proffered there:

Raise your game by asking, "Why?"
(Wise words for life, as well.)

And this wisdom for the ages from Julia Child, paraphrased:

“Afraid of butter? Use cream instead.”