Kitchn Essentials

Kitchn Essentials: The Absolute Best Tools for Home Cooks in 2020

We're an expert team of passionate cooks who cook at home every day, in real kitchens with practical needs. We asked ourselves: How would we stock our kitchens if we were starting from scratch? After much testing and debate, we emerged with our guide to the absolute best tools and cookware for cooking well in 2020. Meet the Kitchn Essentials, our most beloved and trusted tools of all.

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.


Bread Knife
Mercer Culinary Millennia 9-Inch Offset Bread Knife

If you love bread, we think a bread knife is a must-have. We picked a knife with an offset handle (versus a straight one) because, as our Food Editor-at-Large Christine Gallary explains, "It gives you more leverage when you’re slicing through really crusty bread." Mercer Culinary may be an unfamiliar brand to you, but it’s a staple for culinary students, so you know it’s good (and a good deal!). Use this to slice up tomatoes, eggplant, and other soft-skinned fruits, too.

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Chef's Knife
J.A. Henckels International Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

A chef's knife is, unsurprisingly, our absolute first essential, and cooks should treat this purchase as a personal decision, looking for a knife that is both comfortable and well-balanced. We've loved this budget-friendly knife from Henckels for a long time. Then one of our trusted gear experts (she's tested nearly every knife on the market) told us it was her favorite, too. So now we just love it even more. It’s incredibly well-made, perfectly balanced, comfortable to hold, and can usually be found for less than $50.

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Paring Knife
Sabatier Edgekeeper 3.5-Inch Parer Knife with Sheath

A good paring knife is essential for so many tasks. Alex Guarnaschelli has gone on the record saying that cooks should never spend more than $10 on a paring knife because they’re so small, they can easily be accidentally tossed in the garbage. We couldn’t agree with her more. Bonus: This one comes with a sheath that has a built-in sharpener so the blade is always ready to go.

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Wooden Cutting Board
Epicurean All-In-One Cutting Board

Every cook needs a great wood cutting board, and a great wood cutting board needs a whole host of things. It needs a groove for juices, rubber feet for stability, and the ability to go in the dishwasher. Sound like a fantasy? This composite board actually checks all those boxes. (If you want something more showy, go with this durable teak option — just know that it can't go in the dishwasher.)

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Plastic Cutting Board
The reBoard

Yes, a plastic cutting board is a good kitchen basic, too; most of us use both wood and plastic boards. This cult-favorite option is the one we recommend. Not only is it gorgeous (it comes in four on-trend colors!), it’s made from recycled materials, resists scratches, and holds up incredibly well in the dishwasher. Warning: It’s so popular, it often sells out. Meaning: Buy one (or a trio!) when you see them in stock!

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Wüsthof 8-Inch Kitchen Shears

Kitchen shears are an all-too-often overlooked essential, neglected for the more glamorous knives. But once you have a great set of shears, you'll wonder what you ever did without them. These shears are made by a beloved German knife company and can tackle tough and delicate jobs alike. They can spatchcock a chicken, trim pie dough, cut up a homemade pizza, break up canned tomatoes, snip herbs, and so much more. Plus, they come apart for cleaning, but they don't come apart so easily that they do so while you're mid-snip.

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Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peeler

For all of us who aren't pro-level with our paring knives, a user-friendly peeler is essential. Ask nearly any professional chef to name their favorite peeler and they'll pick this one. It's sturdy, lightweight, and affordable. The blade is super sharp yet still delicate enough to peel away only a thin layer. "After using this peeler, I regret spending so much money on more expensive peelers that simply don't work as well," says Jesse Szewczyk, our Studio Food Editor.

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Cuisipro Surface Glide 4-Sided Box Grater

A great box grater is an indispensable tool. All four sides of this Cuisipro box grater excel at what they’re designed to do (with others, we usually end up only liking one or two sides). It has coarse, medium, and fine holes, and a slicer, which means it can grate nutmeg, shred a block of cheddar, slice a zucchini, and even zest a lemon in a pinch.

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Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester Grater

Our editors are universally in love with their Microplane zesters. "If you think they're a superfluous tool, you haven't used one to flurry through lemon zest or turn a wedge of cheese into perfect Parmesan snow," says Grace Elkus, our Deputy Food Editor. A Microplane (synonymous by now with zesters) is not a grater; it's a flavor maker. (Pro tip: Hold the zester in place over your bowl and move whatever you’re grating over it, instead of moving the zester).

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Classic Benriner

Ever tried to slice perfect, paper-thin slices or shave cabbage into delicate threads? Why use a knife when you could use a slim, inexpensive mandoline? This Japanese Benriner mandoline is all you need to slice, julienne, and shred even the hardest vegetables with ease. We prefer it to bulky (and expensive) French mandolines for its ability to fit in any kitchen drawer and still slice big batches of vegetables faster than a food processor. Use the guard (included) or invest in a protective glove, because this baby is SHARP!

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Instant-Read Thermometer
ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

Temping food is one of the most important cooking steps (and reassurances!). It's not just for meat and food safety; did you know you can take the temperature to see whether your precious first loaf of sourdough bread is perfectly baked? Same for a pan of cinnamon rolls, or a casserole? A good thermometer is your magic wand. Yes, $99 is an investment, but the hyper-fast, hyper-accurate read of a thermocouple probe is utterly worth it, and it's also durable and easy to read. It's a favorite among our staff and many, many pro chefs.

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Pepper Mill
PepperMate Pepper Mill

How many recipes call for "pepper, freshly ground"? All of them. Well, maybe not cookies. But all the rest. You need a pepper mill, and this is Ina Garten’s favorite one. We also love it because it has a super-wide opening for loading the peppercorns, a ceramic grinding mechanism, an easy-to-turn crank, and a catcher for measuring and storing. Yes, there are swankier mills out there, but this one is incredibly efficient and the grinding mechanism has yet to let us down.

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Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls
Cuisinart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls

First thing we do when we start cooking? Grab a big stainless steel mixing bowl. They're the unsung workhorses of nearly every recipe: lightweight, durable, and easy to clean. We love these particular Cuisinart bowls because they take things to the next level with their tight-fitting lids! Use these bowls in the fridge, freezer, or even on your patio table this summer.

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Wooden Spoon
Epicurean Chef Series Utensils

A wooden spoon is the quintessential cook's tool and the world is full of lovely, hand-carved, heirloom-worthy spoons. But for everyday cooking, don’t spend money on a wooden spoon that is likely to crack or split. This spoon is made of that same composite material as our wood cutting board pick, which means it's durable and dishwasher-safe. Also check out the paddle option, which is very spoon-esque only it has corners to help you scrape as you stir.

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GIR Silicone Spatula

You may have heard us wax poetic about GIR spatulas before, and you’re probably going to hear it again. This seamless silicone spatula is seriously that good. There’s no place for gunk to hide. It has just the right amount of strength and bend to it. Plus it comes in scads of sizes and colors (get the mini to clean out your almond butter jars!).

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OXO Good Grips Nylon Flexible Turner

Flip, flip: pancakes, over-easy eggs, and more. So many things to flip while cooking, and it's gotta be easy, so buy the right turner spatula. This is the one. It has a nylon head, which means you can safely use it without scratching your pots and pans (including nonstick). If you have room for two (we recommend storing them in a crock by the stove!), OXO also makes this great stainless steel option that we love.

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Fish Spatula
Winco Fish Spatula

Do you need one more spatula? Our editors argued hard for this one. It does something that other spatulas don't, with its elongated shape and thin, flippy edge. It's not just for fish; we use it to delicately maneuver eggs, crepes, potato fritters, and more. And contributor Danielle Centoni calls it "a general kitchen workhorse."

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GIR Premium Silicone Ladle

A ladle may seem like a pure commodity, a boring tool you use only when you need it. Well, that is because you haven’t been using the right ladle. This is the right one, a sweet and playful tool that manages to be weirdly, absolutely, perfect. The front is just bendy enough to dig in where the wall of your pot meets the bottom and it’ll get every last bit. “I get such a kick out of ladling chili out of my Dutch oven with this thing,” says Lisa Freedman, our Lifestyle Director.

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Stainless Steel Tongs
Winco Stainless Steel Utility Tongs

Tongs are essential in the kitchen, but which ones? Skip fancy tongs with the locking mechanisms. We find that they can lock when you don’t want them to, and even if you meant to lock them, they can be annoying to unlock. These very basic, very simple Winco tongs are longer than the silicone-tipped ones below, and we especially love them for searing steaks, plating pasta, and grilling outside.

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Silicone-Tipped Tongs
OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Tongs with Silicone Heads

You always want a second pair of tongs, and these are for use with your nonstick pans (the silicone will protect the coating on the pan) and mixing up salads (without bruising your lettuce).

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OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Whisk
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Sauce Whisk
Open Kitchen by Williams Sonoma Sauce Whisk

Sometime in your cooking career you're gonna make gravy (or a white sauce, or a custard, but let's just focus on that turkey gravy for a sec). One more intense whisk opinion from our editor-in-chief: This flat whisk is an absolute game changer, and far too little known. It helps you to get into the corners of any pot and smooth out any bits on the bottom. Success!

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Bench Scraper
Norpro Stainless Steel Scraper

Technically considered a baking tool (mostly used to scrape up dough and divide it into segments), we think even non-bakers need this bench scraper. It's essentially an extension of our hands and we use it to scoop up or direct ingredients from a cutting board into a pot. "I've found that it really saves some wear and tear on my chef's knife and it's great for scraping food gunk off a countertop," Grace adds.

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Hiware Solid Stainless Steel Spider

What's a spider, and why do you want one in your kitchen? This long-handled strainer is one of those game-changing tools. Associate Food Editor Kelli Foster used a spider during culinary school, and ultimately decided it would earn a place in her tiny home kitchen. “It’s a must for pasta, so you can transfer it directly from the water to the skillet with sauce; it’s also super helpful when blanching vegetables, boiling eggs, and frying anything. You can even use it as a colander for rinsing a handful of berries.”

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Liquid Measuring Cups
Pyrex Measuring Cups

We picked this classic measuring cup set for a few reasons: It comes with all the key sizes, each one can go in the microwave, the markings are easy to read (even after years of use), and they're comfortable to hold. We also really like these, which get read from the top, but we don't recommend putting them in the microwave.

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Dry Measuring Cups
KitchenMade Stainless Steel Measuring Cups

We can all agree that measuring cups are truly essential, yes? But which set? The world is full of measuring cups, from the utilitarian to the purely decorative. This stainless steel set won our final judgment. They’re 100 percent accurate (you’d be amazed at how many aren’t!). We love the short, stubby handles, which won’t bend over time as you scoop ingredients, and that the measurement markings are embossed so they won’t rub off with use.

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Kitchen Scale
Escali Primo P115C Precision Kitchen Food Scale

If you're even semi-serious about baking, a kitchen scale is a must. How else will you weigh out the perfect amount of flour or try that recipe you found on an international cooking blog? "Owning a kitchen scale might sound a bit nerdy, but if you never want to guess what 4 ounces of chocolate looks like ever again, I suggest getting one," says Sheela Prakash, our Senior Contributing Food Editor. This one costs less than $20 and barely takes up any space.

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Measuring Spoons
Prepworks Magnetic Measuring Spoons

What good is a measuring spoon that doesn't fit in a spice jar?! It's seriously one of our biggest pet peeves. So we're thrilled to tell you that these do! There's a narrow end for jars and a rounded end for liquids. And they're all magnetic, so they nest together and you won't lose your 1/4 teaspoon somewhere in a drawer.

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Can Opener
Zyliss Lock N’ Lift Can Opener

Some of our favorite meals begin by opening a can. (Marcella Hazan's famous tomato sauce, for starters.) We have a Cadillac pick in this Zyliss number. Heavy and handsome, this one won't feel chintzy in your hand and the knob is incredibly easy to turn. Plus, it's got a built-in magnet, which grabs the lid, and a special release lever, so you never have to get your hands dirty.

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Hot Pad
Jane Domestic Suede Oven Mitt

"One of the first things Faith and I bonded over was our love for this suede hot pad," says Lifestyle Director Lisa Freedman. You'll ditch cheap, semi-disposable hot pads after trying this one. It's a little luxury that lasts, and lasts, and lasts. "We've both had ours for at least seven years and they're still good as new. They are thin and flexible enough to gently mold to any pan, but strong enough to hold up to even a screaming-hot cast iron skillet under the broiler. And they're gorgeous."

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Oven Mitt
'Ove' Glove

"There are a lot of silly infomercial products out there, but the 'Ove' Glove is not one of them," insists Features Director Ariel Knutson. She says these gloves are way better than other oven mitts because they provide finger mobility, which makes her feel more in control when she grabs hot pots and pans off the stove or out of the oven.

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Salad Spinner
OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner

If you're not washing your salad greens, you're missing a VERY important step. A salad spinner makes that step easy and honestly a bit entertaining. We love this one because it's efficient and wildly fun to use. Pro tip: Wash your greens when you get them home from the supermarket, spin them dry, and then put them right in the fridge — salad spinner and all.

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Ice Cream Scoop
OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop

Ice cream scoops are a hot tool in the kitchen, and not just for ice cream. There are some great ice cream scoops out there (looking at you, Zerrol), but we ultimately picked this spring-loaded option because it can be used for so many other things — like cookie dough, meatballs, watermelon, and more. Patty Catalano, one of our many baking pros on staff, says the medium size is the most versatile.

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Steamer Basket
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Steamer

Steaming is an underrated skill. Steaming vegetables is an easy, healthy way to cook, and so much easier than boiling them in a big pot of hot water. Some of our editors use off-brand stainless steel steamer baskets. This is an upgraded pick, however, that a passionate set voted for. It works just like the old-school kinds but it has an extendable handle to get it in and out of pots. And it fits in nearly any pot — including your Instant Pot.

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Citrus Squeezer
Chef'n Citrus Juicer

We just couldn't imagine cooking without citrus juice. Like the Microplane zester, a simple juicer is not just a tool: it's a flavor-maker. Practically any recipe can be punched up with a squeeze of lemon juice. "This sleek and powerful hand juicer squeezes out every last drop, filters out seeds, and requires minimal effort on your part," Grace says.

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OXO Good Grips 5-Quart Stainless Steel Colander

If you’ve ever tried to strain pasta into a collapsible colander, only to have it collapse mid-pour, you’ll get why we recommend this sturdier option. It won’t help you save space, but it’ll do its job incredibly well. We like its little feet, grippy rim, and strategically placed holes throughout the entire bowl. Get the five quart to ensure it’s big enough for any job you throw at it.

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Fine Mesh Strainer
Cuisinart Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainer Set

Three words for you: Rinse. Your. Rice. This little extra step makes all the difference (no gumminess!). We like the middle strainer in this set for that job, the largest one for sifting dry baking ingredients, and the smallest one for tea. The mesh is tightly woven but not too tight and the strainers can be tossed in the dishwasher.

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Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge Chef Collection 12-Inch Skillet

We gift this essential skillet to every beginner cook and newlywed couple, because it's sure to become an heirloom. Lodge is the name in cast iron cookware and makes all these skillets in Tennessee. Use this pan in your oven, on the grill, for Saturday morning pancakes, and weeknight dinners. Note: Caring for it isn’t as hard as people seem to think; you just need to know a few simple things.

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Dutch Oven
Staub 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven

A Dutch oven is the perfect vessel for practically anything (not to mention a kitchen status symbol). There are lots of Dutch ovens out there, but this will forever be our favorite. It has a black enamel interior (instead of a smooth white one), which gives meat a better sear and helps develop those brown bits that add so much flavor. It’s also got a tight-fitting lid and self-basting spikes to keep moisture in the pot. We get that it’s expensive, though, so our runner-up is the $100 Milo.

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Nonstick Skillet
Anolon Advanced Home 10.25-Inch Nonstick Skillet

When it comes to nonstick skillets, it's hard to beat anything by Anolon. Our long-time favorite is being phased out, so we've been testing out this newly launched option and love it. The company says it'll last 16 times longer than traditional nonstick, and we've found that it releases pancakes, eggs, and burgers even better than our old pick.

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Stainless Steel Skillet
All-Clad d3 Stainless Steel 12-Inch Fry Pan

Readers ask us all the time if All-Clad really is worth the money and we think it is — especially when it comes to absolute everyday essentials like a frying pan. This skillet has three bonded layers (that's what the d3 means), so it heats super evenly and gives meat that coveted sear. Some pros will suggest the 10-incher, but you never want a too-crowded pan, so we think bigger is better here.

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Sauce Pan
All-Clad D3 Stainless Steel 3-Quart Sauce Pan

Meghan Splawn, our Associate Food Editor, says her 2-quart saucepan is the best piece of All-Clad she owns. For this roundup, though, we suggest sizing up to the 3-quart just to make sure you have a pot that's big enough for whatever you're making (oatmeal, boxed mac and cheese, caramel, etc.!). You can always work with a not-full pan, but that's not the case with an overflowing one!

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Sauté Pan
Deep Cut Sauté Pan

When cooks shop for gear, sometimes they focus on frying pans (very important) but neglect the sauté pan (also essential!). A sauté pan is a deeper skillet, like a saucepan and a skillet met in a perfect middle. It has enough surface area to sear, and enough depth to then add some liquid and braise low and slow. "You can use it like a mini Dutch oven and I'd totally just bring this gorgeous number right to the table for serving," says Faith.

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Stock Pot
Cuisinart MultiClad Pro 12-Quart Triple-Ply Stainless Stockpot

When it comes to a stock pot (you know, the pot you boil pasta and steam potatoes in) bigger is definitely better. You can pretty much do anything in a big stock pot, but you’ll find a too-small one limiting. This one holds up to 12 quarts and, while you might not fill it up every day, you'll be glad to have such a big option waiting in the wings when you need it.

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Wok Shop Carbon Steel Wok

A wok just might be the most fun piece of cookware and several of editors argued passionately for its role as an essential in their kitchens. Faith has joked (but was it a joke?) that this wok is the one thing she'd grab from her house in a fire (after everyone was safely out, of course!). It's made of carbon steel, which is durable and inexpensive, heats quickly and evenly, and can become glassily nonstick. Plus it has wood handles that won't overheat.

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13x9-Inch Pan
Chicago Metallic Uncoated 13x9-Inch Pan

What's more everyday and essential than a 13x9-inch pan? What gets made in one? What doesn't. This basic metal dish is our go-to for brownies, blondies, sheet cake, tuna noodle casserole, lasagna ... you get the idea. It heats up quickly and is really good when you want to brown the edges of whatever you're cooking (ahem, ziti!). It's especially good for anything that requires straight edges for presentation.

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Casserole Dish
Le Creuset Heritage Rectangular Dish

One more 9x13-inch pan is a good idea (we often are using two at once). So for your second, invest in a pretty dish that goes to the table with style. Le Creuset's stoneware casserole dish can go in the oven, microwave, freezer, dishwasher, and even under the broiler, which comes in handy if you want to brown the cheese on top of your baked pasta or you want to crisp up the topping on your green bean casserole.

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Roasting Pan
Made In Blue Carbon Steel Roasting Pan

Meghan got one of these carbon steel roasting pans last fall and quickly declared it “the $99 pan that everyone needs.” Yes, even those who have no plans to host Thanksgiving. She likes it for roasting veggies, braising, baking, making deep casseroles, and more. “It’s lightweight, heats well, and is nonstick.” Plus, it’s smaller than those too-big roasting pans out there.

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Cooling Rack
Ultra Cuisine Half-Size Cooling Rack

Without a cooling rack, your cookies could continue to bake and get overcooked, or your bread could end up steaming itself from the bottom up. These gridded racks are more supportive to delicate baked goods, and they have little feet on the bottom so they can let air circulate while sitting on your counter. And they fit in a half-size baking sheet, if you want to bake your bacon (which we highly recommend).

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Baking Sheets
Great Jones Holy Sheet

Sheet pans: You're going to want at least two. We use them all the time (for roasted veggies, sheet pan combo meals, and more). These restaurant-style Vollrath baking sheets were our go-tos for years, but Great Jones recently came along with this brilliant idea of a nonstick ceramic-coated baking sheet and we've been converted. Under the brilliant blue coating lies aluminized steel that's reinforced with steel rods, so these pans will not warp. And the bright blue hue is Fun with a capital F.

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Loaf Pan
USA Pan Loaf Pan

Buy this loaf pan and you'll never need to buy another one in your lifetime (unless you want to be able to bake two banana breads at once, in which case buy two). It's heavy duty and turns out breads that are tall and evenly baked. And thanks to the corrugated design, treats release and pop out fairly easily.

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9x9-Inch Square Pan
OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro 9x9-Inch Pan

We're going to make a bold statement and call this the ultimate brownie pan. It gets edges perfectly crisp and chewy (the corners are the best!) and the rest cooks super evenly, thanks to the micro-texture on the bottom that promotes air flow and easy release when it's time to slice.

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9-Inch Round Pan
USA Pan 9-Inch Round Pan

Can't seem to make a perfect and flat cake like the ones you see all over Instagram? It might be your pans. These will release your cakes time and time again, and give you uniformly flat cakes that you won't have to trim or shave.

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Pie Pan
Emile Henry Artisan Deep Ruffled Pie Dish

If you're gonna get a pie dish (we think you should), you may as well go all out and get this extra deep, extra gorgeous one. Faith loves how it can go from freezer (yes, freeze your pies ahead!) straight to a hot oven without cracking. Then set it out on your stovetop or on a shelf when it's not in use, so that it can double as a decorative touch.

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Bundt Pan
Nordic Ware ProForm Bundt Pan with Handles

One beautiful bundt pan is such a joy to have in your cupboard. It makes it easy to churn out gorgeous cakes, but it's also a handy baking dish for monkey bread, meatloaf, and more. Nordic Ware is known for its intricate bundt pan designs and shapes. We picked this more classic pan because it has handles and they make all the difference when you’re trying to get the pan in and out of the oven. Just note that it’s probably going to be thinner and lighter than other bundt pans, but that only makes your life easier!

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Cupcake Pan
Wilton Perfect Results Cupcake Pan

Not all muffin and cupcake pans are created equal. This one will stand up to batch after batch, but the thing we love the most is so simple: The pan's edges have a slightly rounded shape, making room for you to grab the pan — even while wearing the bulkiest oven mitts.

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Baking Mat
Silpat Silicone Baking Mat with Storage Band

We love Silpat mats because they help cookies brown evenly and slide right off the tray (no parchment paper or greasing required!). While there are plenty of other silicone and similar mats out there these days, Silpat is the original and nothing even compares to it. Silpat also now makes molds if you want to try mini loaves, madeleines, fluted tarts, and more.

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Rolling Pin
J.K. Adams French Rolling Pin

When it comes to rolling pins, trust the French. No, it doesn't look like the traditional rolling pin, but we promise this super simple French version is far superior. Because it doesn't have handles or ball bearings, the design is much sturdier and gives you more control. This one is made of American hardwood that's extra durable and smooth.

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Pastry Brush
Williams Sonoma Ultimate Silicone Basting Brush

This all-silicone basting brush is great for basting roasts and turkeys while they stay right in the oven. The long handle gives you plenty of reach and it is heat resistant to 600°F, so it won't burn or melt. Plus, the whole thing can go right in the dishwasher — no wooden handle to worry about.

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Offset Spatula
Ateco 4.5-Inch Offset Spatula

"If you think an offset spatula is just for frosting cakes, think again," Jesse says. Use this to push batter into the corners of pans and transfer a few cookies at once to a cooling rack. Beyond baking, you can use it to test the doneness of potatoes or other vegetables when grilling, lift crispy bacon out of a hot pan, and even to flip pancakes or fritters.

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Small Appliances

6-Quart Instant Pot Duo

No kitchen tool or gadget has had a bigger impact on how Americans cook these last 10 years than the Instant Pot. Don't already have one? Get the 6-quart Duo, which does all the things you want an Instant Pot to do but doesn't have too many extra bells and whistles (translation: you're not paying for features you might not use). We’ve got everything you need to know to get started with this life-changing appliance.

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Slow Cooker
Cuisinart 6-Quart Multi-Cooker

Lots of Kitchn staffers have a slow cooker in addition to the Instant Pot (even though the IP has a slow cook feature). Call us old-fashioned? We're fine with that! This is our best slow cooker pick because you can brown your meat in the pot, it has three fully programmable cooking functions, and it will keep a dish warm for up to 24 hours.

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Air Fryer
Philips Premium Digital Air Fryer

A few years ago, we would have said air fryers were just a passing fad. Now, it's surprising how fast they have taken hold in our editors' kitchens, especially in those where there are small kids! Faith uses hers daily to crisp up freezer veggies and tots. This model is the mother of all air fryers: It's giant and holds up to three quarts of food. (If you want something smaller, go with this one from Dash.) It also has clear controls, crisps food up better than other machines, and won all of the speed tests we've done against other models. Crispy mozz sticks on demand? Yes, please.

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Black + Decker 4-Slice Toaster

For a third of the price of other top toasters, this guy still pops out toast with great results. We once tested five batches of oversized honey-wheat slices in a row, and all 10 pieces of toast came out looking exactly the same. Impressive, indeed!

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Stand Mixer
KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Stand Mixer

The KitchenAid stand mixer is the peak of domesticity and a luxury item for sure. Set one out on your counter and you instantly get more baking cred (even if you’re not a baker). Of course, it’s not just a status symbol: It can mix up cake batter, knead dough, shred chicken, juice lemons, and more. This is the most popular model and the one that’s best for most home cooks.

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Hand Mixer
Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus

A stand mixer doesn't actually always replace the hand mixer. Having both is a luxury, but a smart one for the avid baker. Luckily, the latter won't cost you nearly as much as the former. Use this budget pick for smaller tasks — like whipping egg whites, making whipped cream, and mixing brownie batter — and use the stand mixer for bigger tasks (think: kneading dough).

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Food Processor
Black + Decker 8-Cup Food Processor

We made a bold move on our food processor pick: We chose one that costs (we are not making this up) less than $30. For many cooks, a food processor is extremely helpful but used infrequently. For everyday cooking tasks, you just need something that slices, dices, and blends with little fuss; it doesn't make sense to spend hundreds of dollars. Ariel has had this one for almost six years, and she remains eternally impressed. It does exactly what she needs it to do and says it's easy to clean too! (Of course, if you're a food processor devotee by all means spring for Faith's all-time favorite, the Magimix.)

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Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender

For those of you who are willing to invest in a blender, you shouldn't settle for anything less than the Vitamix 750. It churns out the smoothest soups, frozen piña coladas, and smoothies. It also has one of the most powerful motors on the market and comes with a seven-year warranty. Pro chefs often keep this in their restaurant kitchens, if that tells you anything. (Just in case: Our favorite budget pick.)

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Immersion Blender
Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender

Every soup lover needs an immersion blender in their arsenal, as it can purée veggies right in the pot (no need to ladle, cup by cup, into a blender!). We also use ours to make homemade mayo. This Breville pick is our favorite and it gets the thumbs up from Wirecutter and Consumer Reports, too.

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Coffee & Drink

Travel Mug
Zojirushi Stainless Mug

If look — or price — are your main considerations, there's a travel mug for every taste and budget. But if quality and craftsmanship are what you're after, then there's only one: the Zojirushi. This reasonably-priced and stylishly-colored container is absolutely spill-proof, keeps drinks *piping* hot for hours on end, is easy to clean, and comes with a five-year warranty.

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Water Bottle
Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Water Bottle with Straw Lid

One big, beautiful water bottle is truly an essential in our kitchens, as we try to avoid single-use plastic (and drink more water). Our staff has fallen hard for Hydro Flask. While the brand makes lots of sizes and top options, get the wide mouth option (for easy filling and cleaning!) with the straw lid (we find we’re all more likely to actually drink water if we have a straw).

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Drip Coffee Maker
Hamilton Beach 10-Cup Programmable Thermal Coffee Maker

The best coffee makers are the ones that can practically work themselves when you’re bleary-eyed and tired. This one from Hamilton Beach can be programmed to run while you’re still in bed, and it has an insulated carafe to keep your brew warm until you get to the kitchen. If you’re willing to put in a little more effort, we also love the Technivorm Moccamaster.

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Gooseneck Kettle
Fellow Stagg Pour Over Kettle

Looking for a stovetop kettle? If you're the kind of coffee person who is very serious about pour over, this is the only kettle you should be using. It's got a counterbalanced handle, a super clear thermometer that shows when the water reaches ideal temps, and has a precise pour spout. Also, it's what a lot of baristas use.

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Coffee Grinder
OXO BREW Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

For most people, this coffee grinder is all you'll need. It's not unnecessarily fancy, but it's got stainless steel conical burr grinders, 15 coarse settings (plus micro settings between those), and a generously sized hopper and grounds container (the latter holds enough to brew up to 12 cups).

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Pour Over
Chemex Pour Over Glass Coffeemaker

The Chemex is a classic design, and a classic way to make good coffee. While lots of pour-over coffee makers make a cup for one (they sit right on top of your mug), this one is good for serving a crowd. It comes in a few different sizes, is incredibly durable, and is a total looker. It's not insulated, though, but it can be kept warm on the stovetop.

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French Press
Bodum Chambord Coffee Maker

“I already owned one of these when I got another as a gift and I just had to keep it, too," says Arie. "I use one for tea and one for coffee, although it doesn’t matter if you mix them up. I think they’re super stylish — I’m obsessed with my copper one — but also functional and relatively easy to use."

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Water Filter Pitcher
PUR Classic 11-Cup Pitcher

In most cases, any water filter pitcher is going to be better than no water filter pitcher. The filters that work with this pitcher have extensive certifications from the American National Standards Institute and NSF International, which makes us feel good recommending it. Just get in the habit of refilling the pitcher every time after you pour from it and you'll always have filtered water ready to go.

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Soda Maker
SodaStream Fizzi One Touch

We love our La Croix but there's no doubt that it's cheaper to make your own seltzer. This SodaStream plugs into an outlet and fizzes water with just one touch of a button (it's not just a clever name!). You can even pick from three levels of how bubbly you want your water.

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Stelton Tea Infuser and Carafe

A good teapot should be insulated and have a built-in infuser with plenty of space for tea leaves to move around. This beauty checks both of those boxes — and it has a stopper that twists to keep the tea leaves from over-steeping. We love that you can make a LOT of tea in this and sit around the table with it for hours and hours.

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Pulltap's Double-Hinged Waiter's Corkscrew

Ask any bartender or waiter to recommend a corkscrew and they'll almost always suggest this one. With a built-in foil cutter and a two-step lever, it's not complicated at all to use — promise.

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Food Storage

Glass Containers
Snapware Total Solution Pyrex Glass Food Storage Container

Once you've cooked, you need excellent containers to store your food. These are the gold standard. "I have a whole set of these, but I would like at least 18 more, please," says Faith. They're glass, so they don't hold onto stains or odors. They're dishwasher, freezer, and microwave-safe. And the locking tabs keep the lids airtight and won't let a single drop leak out — no matter what.

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Plastic Containers
Rubbermaid Brilliance 7-Piece Container Set

If you'd like to have a lighter alternative to glass storage containers, these are our top pick. “I never realized how much I questioned the lids on most storage containers until I got a few Rubbermaid Brilliance containers," says Kelli. Our whole staff is obsessed with these containers and we especially love that the lids come with built-in vents, which you can open before microwaving.

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Dry Goods Containers
Prepworks ProKeeper 6-Piece Baker’s Storage Set

For storing your dry goods, these Prepworks containers are simply the best. The cool thing about these containers is that they each have a special feature, depending on what they’re designed to hold. For example, the flour canister has a little bar across the top to help you level your measuring cup. And the brown sugar container comes with a terracotta disk to keep the stuff soft. And the… well, you get the idea.

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Nesting Bowls
Mepal Microwavable Nested Storage Bowls, Shallow, Set of 4

We considered a lot of bowls before finally picking these. We like that they’re prettier than your average storage bowl, so you can use them for serving, too. The lids are airtight and allow for stacking in the fridge (or you can nest them all when not in use). And the bowls are safe for the microwave. Let’s just say our staff continues to be bowled over by these!

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Masking Tape
Duck Freezer Tape

In case you've never thought about tape as a cooking essential, now is the time to. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: It’s absolutely imperative that you label anything and everything that you put in the freezer! Future You is not going to remember when Today You froze that tomato paste — even though you promised you would. We like this stuff because it’s designed to stay sticky in cold temps but painter’s tape also works, if you have some kicking around.

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Sharpie Extreme Permanent Markers

Clearly, you’re going to need something to write with on that masking tape. And this marker was also made for cold (or, rather, extreme!) temperatures. What should you write? The date and the name of whatever you’re freezing. Both. Never just one. Sharpies: Never be without them.

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Rubber Bands
AmazonBasics Assorted Size and Color Rubber Bands

Surprised to see an office supply on this list? Geraldine Campbell, our Interim Managing Editor, made a strong case for using rubber bands as bag closers… and then we realized we all had a rubber band (or seven) hard at work in our own kitchens. You can also use them as spacers on a rolling pin, to help open a stuck-on jar lid, steady a sliding cutting board, and more.

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Silicone Bags
Stasher Silicone Reusable Food Bags

We can all be doing a little bit more to cut back on single-use plastic, and if you’re still using zip-top baggies, these are a great, green alternative. "I use them all the time for things like cut fruit, lemon wedges, energy bites, and bringing snacks to work," Kelli says. Cleaning them is way easier than you’d think (for the most part, they can just go in the dishwasher!).

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Reusable Food Wraps
Bee's Wrap Reusable Beeswax Food Wraps, Assorted 3 Pack

Instead of plastic wrap, try Bee’s Wrap. This stuff is made of organic cotton, sustainably harvested beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. And unlike lots of stuff in the world, it actually gets better (read: stickier and more pliable) the more you use it.

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Food Savers
Food Huggers Reusable Silicone Food Savers

Food Huggers exist for those of us who are never quite sure what to do with those unused halves of onions, lemons, and tomatoes. They're silicone and simply stretch over the end of your leftover produce to create a tight seal. We even use them to seal up opened cans that are headed for the fridge.

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Clean & Organize

Drawer Organizer
Joseph Joseph DrawerStore

Time for the essentials that keep our kitchens clean, organized, and happy places to cook, starting with this treasure of a drawer organizer. “I bought this because Lisa got it a few years ago and wouldn’t stop raving about it,” says Staff Writer Lauren Masur. “I totally get why she’s so obsessed with it.” It fits in even the narrowest drawers (it’s less than six inches wide) and still holds a full set of flatware. And it’s just $10!

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Pot Organizer
YouCopia StoreMore Expandable Cookware Organizer

Hunting for the right pan or its matching lid is probably the least fun part of cooking. This adjustable organizer makes that task a little easier. It has 10 adjustable dividers, expands to fit your cabinet, and is sturdy enough to hold cast iron skillets and giant sauté pans.

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Lazy Susan
Copco Non-Skid 12-Inch Lazy Susan

Show us a pantry that can’t benefit from a lazy Susan and we’ll close up this site right then and there. You can’t do it! Because lazy Susans are miracle workers. Especially this one, with its wide rim and non-slip bottom. Use one for spices and specialty bottles in the pantry and get a second one for the fridge.

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Kitchen Mat

Fun fact: Kitchn inspired this company to start making kitchen mats! They used to only make play mats for kids’ rooms but Lisa said she wanted to use some tiles in her kitchen and the idea spiraled from there. The company now makes these gorgeous mats that look like vintage rugs, but feel like cushy mousepads for your feet! We couldn’t (comfortably) stand in our kitchens for as long as we do without these.

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Dish Brush
Casabella Round Brush Scrubber

While we would have loved to suggest a gorgeously designed brush with a sleek wooden handle here, we just couldn’t. Because this is one of the many times where you need function over form in the kitchen. This brush obviously beats a gross, grimy sponge, and it beats other brushes because of its shape and the fact that it can go in the dishwasher for cleaning.

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Dish Soap
Dapple Bottle & Dish Soap

“Whether you’ve got a baby in your house or not, I strongly recommend this dish soap,” says Faith. “It's scent-free (I hate when dishes smell faintly of perfume!). It's designed to get milk scum off bottles, but I found that it actually is just the best, cleanest-washing soap for getting rid of grease. It doesn’t leave a trace of film behind the way some other popular soaps do.”

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Dishwasher Detergent
Grab Green Natural Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Powder

Faith was the first to try this dishwasher powder and she’s since converted many Kitchn staffers. If you have issues with cloudy or streaky glasses coming out after you’ve run the dishwasher, try one load with this and you’ll be hooked, too. Faith’s tip: Use less than half the recommended amount for each load.

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Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Scouring Pad

No matter where you fall on the sponge-versus-no-sponge debate, you're gonna need a sturdy scrubber for big messes. We like these stainless steel pads because they're strong enough to scrub off burnt-on food and grease but won't take the seasoning off your cast iron. Use them on everything except for your nonstick pans.

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All-Purpose Cleaner
Cleaning Concentrate Kit

Because cleaning supplies (and too many other things) come in so much unnecessary plastic! This set comes with two concentrated solutions (an all-purpose cleaner and a glass cleaner) in minimal plastic. Just dilute a few drops with water in the glass spray bottle and you're good to start cleaning. When you run out of concentrate, you can re-up and keep using the spray bottle and cloth from the starter kit.

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Dish Cloths
Sur la Table Ribbed Kitchen Towels

Faith has a giant stack of these and swears by them for drying dishes. "They're super absorbent and don't leave any lint behind. Plus, they're still just as fluffy now, years later, as they were when I first got them."

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Side Towels
Zeppoli Classic White Kitchen Towels

Two towels on one list? Yes! These are the ones that you're gonna put to WORK. They're what you'll use to clean up spills, wipe your sticky hands, pick up pot lids, and more. Pro chefs love these things because you can get a lot for just a little bit of money. Tip: Keep one on your counter while you work and one tucked into your apron or pants pocket.

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Trash Can
simplehuman 58-Liter Dual Compartment Trash Can

We think that your recycling bin is just as important as your trash bin, so we like that this simplehuman can has compartments for both. It also has a wide steel pedal, a soft-close lid, and liners that will keep your bags from slipping into the can. It's a lot of money to spend on a trash can, yes, but we've found that we almost always end up hating less expensive trash cans.

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Dish Drying Rack
Umbra Holster Dish Rack

Drying racks aren't really a one-size-fits-all kind of solution. What works for Lisa might not work for Meghan. This one comes pretty darn close, though. With spots for stemmed wine glasses, utensils, and up to 15 plates, it can hold a lot! And it's got a draining spout to keep the whole thing from getting too gross over time.

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Stick Vacuum
Dyson V7 Motorhead

A stick vacuum is key for quick, nightly cleanings as you shut down your kitchen. Yes, a $30 vac would probably be fine, but if you want something long-term, we say go with a Dyson. This model has a decent battery life, gets every last crumb, and is easy to maneuver. Plus, you can almost always find it on sale.

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Compost Bin
Bamboozle Kitchen Compost Bin

We don't care that much about charcoal filters, what we really care about when it comes to compost bins, is that they can go in the dishwasher. Because you're going to want to clean it between pickups and you're not going to want to do it by hand. This one is dishwasher-safe (and, yes, it does have a charcoal filter). Plus, it's not half bad to look at.

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