It’s that time of year again — time for holiday festivities, family celebrations, and a parade of guests through the door for the next few months. Once you decide what you’re going to feed the party-goers in your life, it’s time to put some thought into how. Having the right cooking and baking items on hand can truly make or break your holiday season — and while we don’t want to spend more on our kitchen gadgets than we did on our kitchen cabinets, we also don’t want to end up frustrated with cheap supplies that can ruin even the best-prepared dish.
“As with many things in life, you truly are only as good as the cooking equipment that you are working with,” says Vera Stewart Founder of VeryVera.com and author of The VeryVera Cookbook. So what are the best cooking items you’ll need for this holiday season — that will also last you for many seasons to come? Here’s a look at our top picks for this season.
If you’re channeling your inner Julia Child this holiday season, you’ll definitely want a good cake bundt cake pan on hand, and this one is the best. “I’ve been baking in this pan for over 40 years,” says Stewart. No, the outside may not look great after years of use, but if you invest in a sturdy heavy pan, and if it’s seasoned with use, then that cake is going to pop out perfectly every time, says Stewart. And Nordic Ware is proudly made in the USA.
“Every residential kitchen needs a KitchenAid Mixer, and this mixer will stand the test of time,” says Stewart. (We love this 5-quart, candy apple red one!) If you’re baking for yourself and others, then two mixers are best to have so that you can bake one pound cake for yourself and gift the other 🙂 The good thing about this particular brand is you know that you can always get parts for it.
These pans are basic, but they have a 5 star rating with over 35,000 reviews. These sheets will help cook your food evenly due to the superior conductivity of aluminum, and they will never rush. Whether you’re whipping up sheet pan dinners or baking your favorite holiday cookies, these are the pans you need. Just keep in mind they are not dishwasher safe and hand washing is recommended.
Whenever you’re baking your favorite cookies, you’ll definitely need good quality cooling racks to finish the job. Having a couple on hand to cool cookies or cake layers is great, but some cooling racks are actually built for cooling and baking. It’s oven safe up to 400 degrees.
Every baker needs a good spatula, and we love this set. “The OXO spatulas that I have and love nestle right in your hand, having stability so that you are confident when you make that scrape for that last little bit of batter,” Stewart says. It also maintains its shape after years of use. “If I’m sautéing onions, then I’ve got my OXO spatula,” she says. They are heat-resistant up to 600 degrees, and they won’t warp or discolor.
The 5-ply stainless steel layers on these cooking fry pans create a completely nonstick surface, for perfectly- shaped omelets or perfectly browned chicken filets, every time. The nonstick surface is easy to clean, and dishwasher safe. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, which we love.
There’s nothing better in the colder winter months than a delicious simmering soup on the stovetop in a Dutch Oven. The large oval shape of this one also makes it perfect for cooking roasts and poultry. This signature design from Le Creuset requires no additional seasoning, and the enameled cast iron finish will literally last a lifetime. (Note: HerMoney’s Editor-in-Chief has been cooking absolutely everything in this for 10 years, and it still looks and cooks just as good as new!)
We love the versatility and beauty of this skillet. Chicken pot pie, fried chicken, apple pie, you name it, it can be cooked in this skillet. “The beauty of this skillet is that it can double as cookware and serve-ware when you are serving straight from the oven,” says Stewart. Just be sure you (or your partner) never put it in the dishwasher, which can ruin the seasoning you worked so hard to cultivate.
Is there anything more disheartening than dropping something you’ve worked hard to create, just when you’re ready to serve? “I have dropped a pound cake, and when you are taking hot items in and out of the oven—and cooking with kids—you simply have to have a good set of rubberized pot holders,” says Stewart. We love the grip on this pair, and they come in 8 different colors.
A good clear glass measuring cup is a must whenever you’re measuring and baking. Both microwave and dishwasher safe, these Pyrex ones with the bright red labeling, and are the best at getting a clear crisp level. “You need more than one measuring cup in your kitchen, so invest in a couple and a few in different sizes,” Stewart says. (This cup is also great to put in the microwave if a recipe calls for melted butter!)
It’s always best to have everything prepped before beginning to cook or bake. This way you can be sure you haven’t left anything out to spoil, or cracked too many eggs. “Seeing everything that is inside the bowls is so important, especially if you are cooking with a group or with kids,” Stewart says. This set has nine bowls that all nest together for ease of storage. They are dishwasher, fridge, and microwave safe.
When’s the last time you looked at a recipe that called for zested lemon, ginger, or orange, and ended up just squeezing some juice instead, or trying to make a cheese grater work out instead? We’re here to tell you that if a recipe calls for zest, you need a zester! “This one hasn’t rusted after years of use, and it’s made in the USA.” Stewart says. Also, it’s uses are hardly limited to citrus. This zester can add just the right amount of garlic or onion to a dish without overpowering with flavor.