With the right design, kitchen essentials can revolutionise the way you cook. But it can be hard to know what to buy when there’s so much choice available.
Whether you’re buying for a starter home, university halls of residence, a loved one or just want to overhaul your own kitchen collection, there are key pieces of kit that will be fundamental to successful everyday cooking.
The best kitchen essentials every cook should buy
We’ve put together a list of budget-friendly kitchen must-haves, tried and tested by our team that impressed because of quality and value for money.
Whether you’re looking for sturdy low-cost essentials or simply need some inspiration, this essentials list will help you find some perfect kitchen kit updates.
For more of our favourite kitchen gadgets to suit every budget, visit our reviews section to find over 400 buyer’s guides, from the best slow cookers and best blenders to the best microwaves and best food processors.
Must-have kitchen essentials
1. Lakeland 10-piece stack-a-box set
Ace storage solution
Plastic containers are a game changer for storing and transporting food. A multi-pack like these stackable boxes by Lakeland are a budget-friendly way to go about investing in a range of sizes. They’re fridge, freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe – a perfect bunch for storing solid food.
Best kitchen gadgets under £20
2. ProCook non-slip chopping board
Best cheap chopping board
Little silicone edges means this reversible chopping board will sit firmly on your work surface without the risk of it slipping. The furthest end also has a sloping edge to make things easier when transferring chopped ingredients into a pan. Just pop in the dishwasher when done.
Best chopping boards
3. Kenwood HM220 electric hand mixer
Best electric whisk
Electric whisks can be used for everything from baking to beating batter and mashing potato. The Kenwood is a well-built and durable electric mixer which comes with stainless-steel beaters. It’s not too heavy to hold for long periods plus it fits comfortably in your hand.
4. IKEA TROVÄRDIG non-stick frying pan
Best affordable frying pan
Swedish homeware giant IKEA has succeeded in creating a premium-feel pan in a relatively low-cost package with the TROVÄRDIG. It showed good heat retention through its solid aluminium body and base. The scratch-proof non-stick teflon is also easy to wipe clean.
Best non-stick frying pans
5. Jean Patrique digital kitchen scales
Best budget kitchen scales
A compact, easy-to-store set of simple digital scales offering imperial and metric measurements on an LED display. There’s no option for measuring liquids with these, but if you’ve got a trusty measuring jug, this set will do the rest.
Best kitchen scales
6. Greenpan 24cm Venice skillet
Best eco-friendly sauté pan
Unlike most non-stick pans, the Greenpan Venice skillet has a mineral based Thermolon ceramic coating that’s toxin-free at both room temperature and when heated. It also omits 60 per cent less CO2 during production, so for the environmentally conscious – this is a kitchen must-have.
7. Prestige stone quartz square grill pan (28cm)
Best budget grill pan
When it comes to grilling food, a great pan will cook ingredients evenly whilst giving them defined grill lines and the smoky flavour synonymous with chargrilling. The prestige impressed with its ability to transfer heat evenly across its large base. Plus the non-stick coating is remarkably easy to clean. Great quality and a reasonable price.
Best griddle pans
8. Microplane fine grater
Fine Microplane graters are an easy way to transform whole ingredients like garlic, ginger and nutmeg into a managable state for cooking. They’re also great for zesting citrus fruits. When it comes to adding flavour and zing to dishes, a Microplane could become your best friend.
9. Judge Sabatier IV knife block set
Best knife set for under £100
You don’t often see a knife sharpener built into the side of a knife block. This set by Judge Sabatier features a 9cm paring knife, 14cm boning knife, 15cm cook’s knife, 20cm carving knife and 20cm bread knife, plus the aforementioned sharpener.
Best knife set
10. AnySharp knife sharpener
Super smart knife sharpener
If you already have a set of knives, the AnySharp knife sharpener is a nifty little gadget with a suction pad base. Importantly, it feels safe to use and when tested, achieved a very sharp knife with just three pulls. An instant kitchen classic.
Best knife sharpeners
11. Lakeland SharpPeel julienne peeler
Genius julienne peeler
Bypass the need for fiddly chopping and make matchstick-sized strips in one quick motion, thanks to this genius julienne peeler by Lakeland. Its precision blades are incredibly sharp so making spaghetti-style substitutes feels as simple as peeling vegetables.
12. Masterclass quarry marble pin and stand
Stylish rolling pin
The weight of marble makes rolling out ingredients like pastry just that little bit easier. The aesthetics of a marble rolling pin also makes them deliciously stylish kitchen essentials. If you’re looking to buy a new rolling pin, this one by MasterClass is a budget-friendly bit of kit.
Best marble rolling pins
13. Mason Cash pestle & mortar
Best all-rounder pestle and mortar
Pestles and mortars are surprisingly versatile bits of kit. This one by Mason has a good capacity for its overall size and a large mortar making it easy to powder spices, mince garlic and bruise herbs efficiently. They make any kitchen look that little bit classier.
Best pestle and mortars
14. Thermos stainless king flask, 1.2 litre
Best overall flask
In our test of flasks and thermos cups, the Thermos stainless king flask was rated 10/10. Although it could do with a second cup, even filled to its 1.2 litre capacity it still managed to feel light to carry and comes with a 50-year guarantee.
Best thermos flasks
15. Russell Hobbs 24381 Inspire four-slice toaster
Best all-round toaster
A simple and reliable four-slot toaster, the Russell Hobbs made some of the most evenly toasted slices out of all the toasted tested by the BBC Good Food team. It scored 4/5 stars in our test of the best.
16. Dualit 700W hand blender
Best hand blender for practicality
This kitchen essential hooks over the hand to give you grip and control whilst using it. A 1-litre jug with measuring markings comes as part of the set, along with a whisk and mini chopper. Bonus, the attachments are dishwasher safe.
Top hand blenders
17. Tefal Ingenio Essential 14-piece pan set
Best saucepan set for small spaces
Over time it’s easy for cupboards to get cluttered with pans new and old. This set has detatchable handles and stackable lids, meaning the entire set can be stored within the footprint of the largest pan.
Best pan sets
18. Tefal Easy soup and smoothie maker
Best basic soup maker
A soup maker is a simple way of making delicious soup without the faff. Depending on the function, they can cook and blend a variety of soups. The manual of this Tefal maker comes with a bunch of recipes to get you started. You can also make lassi drinks and smoothies.
Best soup makers
19. Tower Bottega kettle
Best traditional-look kettle
A kettle is a true kitchen essential. This Tower Bottega was a tried and tested favourite from our review and though the distinctive design may not be to everyone’s taste, it certainly brings some character to the kitchen. A matching toaster is available and it comes in different colourways.
20. Bosch Tassimo Vivy 2 TAS 140x
If easy-to-use is what you’re after from a coffee pod machine, the Bosch Tassimo more than fulfills that specification. Its scanner reads the barcode of compatible machines and adjusts its settings in order to produce a great drink, every time.
Best coffee pod machines
21. Pyrex Prep and Store glass bowl with lid
Best value mixing bowl
A kitchen classic, Pyrex has a strong reputation for its high quality and versatile glassware. The bowl is not only oven, fridge, freezer and microwave safe, it also comes with a silicone lid for sealing prepped ingredients into an airtight container for storing. Perfect for popping in the fridge for later.
Best mixing bowls
22. Cuisinart iced dessert maker
Best value ice cream maker
Rated 5/5 stars by the BBC Good Food team, the Cuisinart is an easy to assemble and super-quiet ice cream machine that can produce 1.4 litres of quality ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt in one go. You get incredible results for a thoroughly reasonable price.
Best ice cream makers on test
Nice-to-have kitchen kit
23. Beko DFN05R11W | A+
Best budget dishwasher
This is a back to basics dishwasher offering five wash cycle programs and great cleaning for a budget price. Beko as a brand has a good reputation for its cleaning capabilities and this particular model features a 30-minute wash at 30 degrees, as well as a ‘Quick&Shine’ cycle for speedy washes.
Dishwasher buying guide: the best dishwasher brands and models to buy.
24. Liebherr CNel4213 NoFrost fridge freezer
Best value fridge freezer
The Liebherr impressed with its quality and practicality, sitting at the remarkably low price point of just under £500. For a ratio of half and half, you get equal storage space for both fridge and freezer sections and the external appearance is sleek. It’s a 4.7 star fridge freezer for a relatively low price.
Best fridge freezers
25. ElectriQ HSL600 masticating juicer
Best value juicer
At under £80, this model is excellent value for money. It produces smooth, relatively foam-free cold-pressed juice and happily chomps its way through hard vegetables like carrots and woody kale. We found the machine harder to clean than some other models, but it’s perfect for anyone new to juicing or looking for something budget-friendly.
Best juicers to buy
26. Cuckoo automatic rice cooker CR-0331
Best single function rice cooker
Rice cookers are simple ways of doing exactly what the name suggests; cook rice. The Cuckoo takes care of itself leaving you able to prepare other dinner ingredients without having to worry about turning off the hob or a pan boiling over. The grains were perfectly fluffy and for a host of other reasons also, we named it best single function rice cooker.
Best rice cookers
27. Smeg BLF01 50s retro style blender
Best blender for style and substance
Rated 5/5 stars by the BBC Good Food team, the Smeg BLF01 isn’t just a stylish-looking piece of kit. The jug has a 1.5-litre capacity and four speeds to choose from. Its 800W motor created one of the smoothest drinks out of all the blenders tested. To find out more, see our full reviews of the best blenders on test.
More on budgeting
This review was last updated in October 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.