While tv personalities like Alton Brown have expanded the definition of ‘kitchen tools,’ there are still some basic appliances that every kitchen (not just Alton’s) needs...and then, there are some not-so-basic appliances that are must-haves if you’re a more experienced home chef or just looking to amp up your kitchen potential. More than just a cast iron and good set of knives, these kitchen options will make the difference between dinner and fine dining, any night of the week. Find the ones that you’re likely to use the most often, and don’t be afraid to personalize with different colors, accessories, or extras. Have fun!

Skill Level: Beginner

  • Lighting: Not a kitchen appliance per se but, good lighting is absolutely essential in any kitchen. Before you make any decisions, stand in your kitchen with the overhead light on and identify any dark, shadowy spots - not only are these the spots that will collect crumbs and grime (ants, anyone?) but they’re also the spots where you’re more likely to injure yourself. Consider installing more lighting overhead or even under-cabinet lighting.
  • Food Processor: You could probably get by without a food processor, but why would you want to? From shredding to chopping to whipping, a quality food processor makes cooking a breeze. It’s worth finding the room on your counter.
  • Crock Pot: Particularly good for new at-home chefs without a lot of time, a crock pot allows you to throw ingredients into a pot and come home to a delicious, home-cooked meal. Plus, with only one pot, clean-up is easy!

Skill Level: Moderate

  • Kitchen Scale: No, this isn’t a diet thing - a kitchen scale measures out exact quantities of ingredients for perfecting any recipe, especially baked goods. High quality scales, like drop and escali let you sync the scale with your smartphone for easier food tracking.
  • French Door Refrigerator: If you’re cooking a lot, you’re most likely using your fridge a ton, and you’ve probably noticed how long it takes to find any one thing and how easily the fridge fills up. Sound familiar? If so, it might be time for a french door refrigerator - the two doors allow you to better organize the contents, along with making things easier to reach. Luxury models come with separate produce crispers!
  • Single or Double DishDrawer: Whether it’s an additional dishwasher or you replace the original appliance, single and double dishdrawers offer a seamless look to your kitchen cabinets while allowing you to easily take care of cleaning up. Single dishdrawers are great for small spaces or as an addition, and with double dishdrawers you have the option to only run the top for light loads.

Skill Level: Professional

  • Induction Cooktop: These cooktops use an electromagnetic field to heat your pots and pans rather than electricity. Induction cooking is much faster than any other method, and the cooktop stays cool to the touch other than where the pots and pans are. Plus, you get much more precise control than you do with a regular electric stove.
  • Kitchen Island Appliance: A must-have for any kitchen with the floor-space, as you plan out building a kitchen island you should think about a built-in appliance, like a range or a second sink. Built-in island sinks allow for two chefs and half the prep time; island ranges give you the flexibility of thinking about a professional grade range hood, too.
  • Wine or Beer Cooler: You can’t have fine dining without fine wine, and with a built-in wine and/or beer cooler, you’ll know your beverage of choice is stored properly at exactly the right temperature. They can be added to a kitchen island or stand alone; pair with a fancy wine bottle opener or beer dispenser for the perfect set-up.
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