Kitchn EssentialsKitchn Essentials

The Essential Kitchen Tools for Home Cooks in 2021

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 2021. Meet the Kitchn Essentials, our most beloved and trusted tools of all.

See last year's winners here

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.

Cookware

Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge Chef Collection 12-Inch Skillet

We gift this skillet to every beginner cook and newlywed couple, because it's sure to become an heirloom piece. Lodge is *the* name in cast iron cookware and makes their pieces in Tennessee. Buy one for yourself and use this pan in your oven or on the grill, and for Saturday morning pancakes and weeknight dinners. We love the 12-inch for bigger families, but the 10.25-inch option also gets the job done. Note: Caring for it isn’t as hard as people say! You just need to know a few things.

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Dutch Oven
Staub 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven

There are lots of Dutch ovens out there, but this will forever be our favorite. It’s got a black enamel interior, which shows less wear and tear compared to the lighter-colored ones. It’s also got a tight-fitting lid and self-basting spikes to keep moisture in the pot. We also love Le Creuset's Dutch ovens, which have a smooth, white interior and tend to be better for beginner cooks who need to see their fond. As far as a more budget-friendly pick, we recommend the $120 one from Milo.

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Nonstick Skillet
OXO Good Grips Nonstick 12" Frying Pan

This nonstick skillet is so slick, fried eggs will come right off of it with no (zero!) oil. It has a stainless steel handle with a grippy silicone overlay and is oven-safe to 390°F. It also comes with a 10-year warranty. If you'd rather opt for a ceramic nonstick skillet, this one from Caraway is our top pick. It's super-slick, comes in fun colors, is oven-safe to 550°F, and is induction compatible.

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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 say it is — especially when it comes to a fry pan. This skillet has three bonded layers (that's what the d3 means), so it heats super evenly and gives meat that coveted sear. It's also comfortable to hold and doesn't discolor easily.

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

Food Editor Meghan Splawn 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. And if All-Clad isn't in your price range, this saucepan from Tramontina is also fantastic and is less than $100.

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Sauté Pan
Deep Cut Sauté Pan

This pan is more like a sauté pan crossed with a skillet: It's deep, has curved walls, and holds up to three quarts. "You can use it like a mini Dutch oven and totally just bring this right to the table for serving," says Faith Durand, Editor-in-Chief.

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

You can pretty much do anything in a big stockpot, but you’ll find a too-small one incredibly 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
Carbon Steel Wok with Wood Side Handle

Faith has half-joked that this wok is the one thing she'd grab from her house in a fire (once her family was safely outside, of course!). That's how much she loves it. It's made of carbon steel, which is durable and inexpensive; heats quickly and evenly; and can become virtually nonstick. It has a flat bottom that sits solidly on stove burners. And it has wood handles that won't overheat.

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Casserole Dish
Great Jones Hot Dish

As soon as we tested the new Great Jones Hot Dish, it became an immediate favorite. So, it's no wonder it's our new go-to casserole dish. "The large handles are what make this casserole dish ridiculously amazing," writes Lisa Freedman, Lifestyle Director. "I’ve used a lot of casserole dishes in my career (it’s my job!) and most of them can be hard to grab — without putting your mitt right into the food. I’m hooked on these handles."

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13x9-Inch Pan
USA Pan Rectangular Cake Pan

We sometimes reach for this metal 13x9 for casseroles, too. It heats up quickly and is really good when you want to brown the edges of whatever you're cooking (ahem, ziti!). You'll also want one of these for cakes, cornbread, blondies, and anything that requires straight edges for presentation.

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Roasting Pan
Made In Blue Carbon Steel Roasting Pan

Meghan got one of these carbon steel roasting pans a few years ago and quickly declared it “the $99 pan that everyone needs.” Yes, even those who have no plans to host a Thanksgiving ever. 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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Braiser
Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 3.5-Quart Braiser

We spent a lot of time testing braisers this past year, and our hands-down favorite was this one from Le Creuset. It browns beautifully (thank you, enameled cast iron!) and has roomy handles that make it easy to move from the stovetop to the oven, a wide cooking surface, and a lid with a sizable, grippy knob. As its name suggests, it's great for braises, but it's so much more versatile than that: We use it for stovetop chili, to roast a chicken in, to shallow-fry, and for all our one-pot pasta dishes.

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Small Appliances

Multi-Cooker
Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

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 editors have a slow cooker in addition to the Instant Pot (even though the IP has a slow-cook feature). We like this one 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. Trust us, it's worth making the space for this small appliance.

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Air Fryer
Philips Premium Digital Air Fryer

This is the mother of all air fryers. It is 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 up food better than other machines, and won all of the speed tests we've done against other models. Perfectly cooked mozz sticks in a flash? Yes, please.

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Toaster
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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Toaster Oven
Breville Smart Oven

We're fully aware that you're probably either Team Toaster Oven or Team Toaster, which is why we included both this year. This toaster oven is a total ace. It makes evenly golden toast, can perfectly bake cookies, and can even roast a whole chicken. It also has helpful features like a tray that slides out when you open the door and an easy-to-read digital display.

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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). "It’s not just a status symbol, either," says Grace Elkus, Deputy Food Director. "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 replace the need for a hand mixer. 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
Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor

Our Tools Editor, Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, argues that a food processor is one thing you should pay up for. "This food processor is, in my opinion, the best for most home cooks. It's super simple to operate, precise and powerful, and will last for years and years," she says. Food Editor-at-Large, Christine Gallary, agrees 100 percent. If it's simply not in your budget, we still recommend this one from Black + Decker. At about $30, it slices, dices, and purées with little fuss.

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Blender
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 — which comes with a chopping bowl and other goodies — is our favorite. For what it's worth, it gets the thumbs-up from Wirecutter and Consumer Reports, too.

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Coffee & Drinks

Drip Coffee Maker
Technivorm Moccamaster Coffee Maker

If you love coffee, you deserve the best of the best. And that's this model by Technivorm Moccamaster. It consistently makes amazing Joe, brews quickly, has a thermal carafe that keeps coffee hot for hours, and turns on and off with the flick of a button. If you don't want to shell out the big bucks for a Technivorm, this model by Bonavita is less than half the price, still makes great coffee, and also has a thermal carafe.

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Coffee Grinder
Baratza Encore

You get such bang for your buck with this burr grinder. It has a simple on/off switch, 40 grind settings, and a spacious hopper. If you want great coffee, you need a great grinder. Period.

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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 Features Director, Ariel Knutson. "I use one for tea and one for coffee, although it doesn’t matter if you mix them up. I think they’re functional, easy to use, and super-stylish — I'm obsessed with my copper one."

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Pour Over
Chemex Pour Over Glass Coffeemaker

The Chemex is a classic design, and a classic way to make very good coffee. It comes in a few different sizes (from a personal size to bigger ones that can serve a group), is incredibly durable, and is a total looker. It's not insulated, but it can be kept warm on the stovetop.

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Gooseneck Kettle
Fellow Stagg Pour Over 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, an easy-to-read 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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Teapot
Stelton Grey 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.

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Travel Mug
Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug

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 designed 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

Our editors have 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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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 refill the pitcher after every time 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 LaCroix, 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. If you want a model that doesn't need to be plugged in, go with this one.

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Corkscrew
Pulltap's Double-Hinged Waiters 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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Knives

Chef's Knife
Victorinox Fibrox Pro 8-Inch Chef's Knife

This budget-friendly knife is the favorite of professional chefs and home cooks alike. It's also the top pick of several of our editors. It's super-sharp and durable and has a comfortable, textured grip. This knife easily handles both big and small jobs; it cuts meat, slices veggies, minces shallots, and chops herbs with precision. Plus, it can usually be picked up for less than $50.

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Bread Knife
Mercer Culinary Millennia 10-Inch Wide Wavy Edge Bread Knife

Riddley lobbied for this bread knife so fervently, she convinced all of us. "It's one of my go-to gifts," she says. "It slices like a dream and is so reasonably priced." And she's right: This knife cuts through even the crustiest of loaves with little pressure and has a grippy, comfortable handle. It's great for slicing tomatoes and other soft-skinned fruits, too.

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Paring Knife
Sabatier Edgekeeper 3.5-Inch Parer Knife with Sheath

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

A great wooden cutting board has to have a groove for juices, rubber feet for stability, and the ability to go in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. Does that sound like something that doesn’t exist? Well, this composite board checks all those boxes. If you want something prettier that can sit out, go with this durable teak option that won’t crack over time (just know that it can't go in the dishwasher).

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Plastic Cutting Board
The reBoard

This is the plastic cutting board we recommend for pretty much any task. Not only is it gorgeous (it comes in six on-trend colors!), but it’s also made from recycled materials, resists scratches, and holds up incredibly well in the dishwasher. Warning: It’s so popular, it often sells out (so buy one or two when you see them in stock!).

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Small Plastic Cutting Board
OXO Good Grips Prep Cutting Board

For small tasks, we like this board. It's the perfect size for mincing a clove or two of garlic, finely chopping a shallot, prepping a sandwich, or slicing a handful of cherry tomatoes. It has non-slip edges that keep the board in place as you chop and is dishwasher-safe.

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Shears
J.A. Henckels International Take-Apart Kitchen Shears

You can usually find these shears for around $15. They're made by the beloved German kitchenware company J.A. Henckels, which also owns top brands like Zwilling and Staub. (So you know these shears are great quality!) They can tackle tough and delicate jobs alike, like spatchcocking chicken, cutting pizza into slices, and breaking up canned, whole tomatoes. They also come apart for cleaning and are dishwasher-safe.

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Peeler
Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peeler

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 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 Studio Food Editor Jesse Szewczyk.

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Box Grater
Cuisinart Boxed Grater

Given its price, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better box grater. For less than $15, this grater has sides for grating, shredding, and slicing. It can easily tackle cheese, potatoes, beets, and zucchini. It has a non-slip base and a grippy handle, too, which makes it easy to use.

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Zester
Microplane Premium Classic Series Zester Grater

There's a reason Microplane has become synonymous with zesters (like Kleenex and tissues!): Because it has the sharpest teeth and the smartest design that evenly works through a lemon peel or wedge of cheese. "It can turn a wedge of cheese into perfect Parmesan snow," says Grace.

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Mandoline
Classic Benriner

A 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. "The Benriner is the sharpest mandoline I've ever found and it stays sharp," says Amelia Rampe, Studio Food Editor. On that note: Use the guard (included) or invest in a protective glove.

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Tools

Instant-Read Thermometer
ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

This is the best $100 you'll ever spend on your kitchen. It's the most accurate thermometer out of all the ones we've tested (down to less than one degree, give or take), reads out in just two or three seconds, and is incredibly durable and easy to read. It’s also a favorite among professional chefs (yes, even pros need a thermometer!). For a more affordable option, we love the ThermoPop, which is $34 and still very accurate.

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Pepper Mill
PepperMate Pepper Mill

This is Ina Garten’s favorite pepper mill. We love it, too, because it has a wide opening for loading the peppercorns, a ceramic grinding mechanism, an easy-to-turn crank, and a catcher for measuring and storing. It's 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

Stainless steel mixing bowls show up in nearly every pro kitchen because they're lightweight, durable, and easy to clean. We love these 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

Don’t spend a lot of money on a wooden spoon that’s just going to crack or split eventually. These spoons are made of that same composite material as our wooden cutting board pick above, which means they’re durable and dishwasher-safe. Our favorite of the options is the paddle, which is very spoon-esque — only it has corners to help you scrape as you stir.

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Slotted Spoon
OXO Steel Slotted Spoon

A good slotted spoon is super-helpful for poaching eggs, lifting meatballs out of tomato sauce, deep-frying, and more. We like this spoon's handle in particular, which has grippy, comfortable sides that make it super easy to hold.

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Spatula
GIR Silicone Spatula

You may have heard us wax poetic about this spatula before, and you’re probably going to hear it at least a dozen more times. It's seriously that good. It’s covered in all one piece of silicone, which means there’s no place for gunk to hide. It has just the right amount of bend to it. And it comes in a few different sizes and colors (get the mini to clean out your almond butter jars!).

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Turner
OXO Good Grips Nylon Flexible Turner

If you're only going to get one turner, get this one. It has a nylon head, so you can use it on all 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
MIU France Large Stainless Steel Slotted Turner

"I own two of these," says Riddley. "They have a flexible, agile head that's sturdy enough to lift larger pieces of meat, but thin enough to take fragile cookies off a baking sheet." As you can guess, fish spatulas are good for more than just fish: We use them for eggs, pancakes, and more. Another great thing about this particular fish spatula? It's dishwasher-safe, unlike other ones out there that have wooden handles.

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Ladle
GIR Premium Silicone Ladle

If you didn’t know that ladling could be fun and satisfying, it’s because you haven’t been using the right ladle. This is the right one. 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.

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

These are the tongs you'll want to use with your nonstick pans (the silicone will protect the coating on the pan) and when it comes to mixing up salads (without bruising your lettuce). And yes, there’s another set of tongs next on this list, and we honestly believe you need them both.

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Stainless Steel Tongs
Winco Stainless Steel Utility Tongs

When it comes to stainless steel tongs, we feel that basic is best. These are super simple, other than their scalloped (read: grippy!) heads. They're also longer than the silicone-tipped ones above, and we love them for searing steaks, plating pasta, and grilling outside.

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Whisk
OXO Good Grips 9-Inch Whisk

“I wrote an entire book on pudding and, during the process, one thing became very clear to me,” Faith says. “You can always use a smaller whisk for a bigger task but you can’t ever use a giant whisk in a tiny bowl.” You’ll think this one was made specifically for your hand once you get ahold of it — it clearly wasn’t, but it will feel that way.

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Sauce Whisk
Open Kitchen by Williams Sonoma Sauce Whisk

“There are very few things you’ll make in the kitchen that will succeed or fail depending on the tool you use,” says Faith, our newly appointed whisk expert. “Sauce is one of those things!” This flat whisk allows you to get into the corners of any pot and really breaks up any of those bits on the bottom. You can’t (successfully) make a sauce or gravy without it.

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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 non-bakers need this bench scraper, too. It's essentially an extension of our hand and we use it to scoop up or direct ingredients from a cutting board into a pot. We've found that it really saves some wear and tear on our chef's knife. It's also great for scraping gunk off a countertop.

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Spider
Hiware Solid Stainless Steel Spider

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
OXO Good Grips 4-Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cups

You could buy those pretty, ceramic measuring cups, but while they may *look* great, they're not always 100% accurate. These stainless steel measuring cups, however, are. They have non-slip handles, etched markings that won't rub off, and magnetic snaps that keep all four of the cups together for easy storage. They're also dishwasher-safe and, again, incredibly accurate.

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Measuring Spoons
Cuisipro Stainless Steel Measuring Spoon Set

If you're in need of great measuring spoons, look no further. These are shockingly sturdy and have measurements that are permantly stamped into their handles, so they'll never rub off. They also have a removable loop that keeps them together and, with the exception of the tablespoon measurement, fit into spice jars.

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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 kitchen 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, we suggest getting one. This one costs just $25 and barely takes up any space.

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Can Opener
Zyliss Lock N' Lift Manual Handheld Can Opener with Locking Mechanism

Unlike other can openers, this one won't feel flimsy 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 Lisa. We've both had ours for at least eight years and they're still good as new. They are thin and flexible enough to gently mold to any pan, but strong enough to grab a screaming-hot cast iron skillet from under the broiler. And they're gorgeous.

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Oven Mitt
Five Two Silicone Oven Mitts

These oven mitts are both pretty AND functional. They have a silicone mitt portion that's protective yet flexible enough to easily grab onto baking sheets, oven dishes, pie plates, and Dutch oven handles. They're also long and cover a large portion of your forearms, protecting you from accidental slips and subsequent burns. They come in five fun colors like Rhubarb and Paprika.

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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

There are some great ice cream scoops out there (looking at you, Zeroll), 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. We’ve found that the medium size is the most versatile.

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Citrus Squeezer
Chef'n Citrus Juicer

We know a lot of home cooks who will say you don't need a citrus juicer and that you should just use your hands. But we disagree. (Because errant seeds in a lemon curd are no good!) This one squeezes out every last drop and requires minimal effort on your part.

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Steamer Basket
OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Steamer

Most Kitchn editors reported having simple, 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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Colander
RSVP International Endurance 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. It drains water quickly (thanks to all-over perforations) and has a wide, tall base that ensures no pasta water pools in the sink and floods back into your colander. Because we've all been there, and it's, um, not ideal.

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Fine Mesh Strainer
OXO Good Grips 8-Inch Double Rod Strainer

Three words for you: Rinse. Your. Rice. This little extra step makes all the difference (no gumminess!). For the task, we like this strainer. It's made of fine mesh, so nothing will sneak through it. It has a little hook that ensures it sturdily rests on any bowl. And it can go in the dishwasher.

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Bakeware

Cooling Rack
Checkered Chef Cooling Racks

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 racks have little feet on the bottom so air can circulate around your food while it cools on the counter," explains Executive Food Director, Nina Elder. "The criss-cross design is also super sturdy and prevents the rack from wobbling or warping." And they fit in a half-size baking sheet if you want to, say, bake your bacon (which we highly recommend).

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Baking Sheets
Great Jones Holy Sheet

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 coating lies aluminized steel that's reinforced with steel rods, so these pans will not warp. And the bright blue or green hues are Fun with a capital F.

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Quarter Baking Sheets
Nordic Ware Quarter Sheet, 2 Pack

If you don't have quarter baking sheets, you're missing out. And these are the ones to buy. "Quarter sheet pans are the perfect size for cooking for two, baking little sheet cakes, toasting nuts, and more," says Senior Contributing Food Editor, Sheela Prakash.

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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). It's heavy-duty and turns out breads that are tall and evenly baked. And thanks to the corrugated design, your baked treats release and pop out fairly easily.

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9x9 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 incredibly evenly, thanks to the micro-texture on the bottom that promotes airflow 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 perfectly flat cake like the ones you see all over Instagram? It might be your pans. Get two of these and they'll release your cakes time and time again. And they'll 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 (and we think you should), you may as well go all out and get this extra-deep, extra-gorgeous one. And 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

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 Tin
OXO Good Grips Nonstick Pro Muffin Pan

You know what's not great? Reaching into the oven to retrieve your muffins or cupcakes and having your oven mitt accidently squish a treat or three. This pan has a generous rim, giving you plenty of space to grab onto, keeping your cupcakes and muffins safe. It also browns beautifully and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

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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 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

No, it doesn't look like the traditional rolling pin, but trust us when we tell you that 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. Use this to push batter into the corners of pans and transfer a handful of 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! Jesse, our resident cookie pro, says every home cook should have one of these.

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Parchment Paper
King Arthur Baking Company Baking Parchment Paper Half-Sheets

Parchment paper makes for easy cleanup, ensuring nothing sticks to your baking sheet. This parchment paper, in particular, is the best because it is so convenient. It's already cut into sheets that fit perfectly inside half sheet pans, so you don't have to guess where to tear the roll!

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Food Storage

Glass Containers
Snapware Total Solution Pyrex Glass Food Storage Container

"I have a whole set of these, but I would like at least 18 more, please," Faith says. 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

“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. The bottoms are also lighter and less clunky than glass storage container counterparts, although the brand did just come out with glass Rubbermaid Brilliance containers, too!

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

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 terra-cotta 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). They come in a deep or shallow version. And the bowls are safe for the microwave. Let’s just say our editors continue to be bowled over by these!

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Silicone Bags
Porter Bags Bundle

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. Cleaning them is way easier than you’d think, too (they can just go in the dishwasher!) and these can actually be flipped inside out to make things even easier.

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Reusable Food Wraps
Bee's Wrap

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.

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Rubber Bands
AmazonBasics Assorted Size and Color Rubber Bands

Surprised to see an office supply on this list? Longtime contributor Geraldine Campbell 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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Masking Tape
Duck Freezer Tape

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 works too.

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Sharpie
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.

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Clean & Organize

Drawer Organizer
Joseph Joseph DrawerStore

“I bought this because Lisa got it a few years ago and wouldn’t stop raving about it,” says Lifestyle Editor 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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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 when you work and one tucked into your apron or pants pocket.

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All-Purpose Cleaner
Grove Collaborative 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 go. 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 Brush
OXO Good Grips Soap Dispensing Dish Brush

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 when you need function over form in the kitchen. This brush holds a good amount of dish soap, which you can easily dispense with the press of a button.

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Bottle Brush
OXO Good Grips Bottle Brush

When you need a bottle brush only a bottle brush will do. This one has a generous amount of bristles that really do hit all the spots, a comfortable handle, and a long neck that reaches into deep water bottles and narrow, insulated travel coffee mugs.

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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,” Faith says. “Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s scent-free (I hate when dishes smell faintly like lavender or basil!). And it doesn’t leave a trace of film behind the way some other popular soaps can.”

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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 editors. 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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Kitchen Mat
NamaMat

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 gorgeous mats that look like vintage rugs but feel like cushy mousepads for your feet! We couldn’t stand in our kitchens for as long as we do without these.

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Stick Vacuum
Dyson V7 Motorhead

A stick vacuum is key for quick, nightly cleanings as you shut down your kitchen. If you want something long-term, we say go with a Dyson. This model has a good battery life, gets every last crumb, and is easy to maneuver. Plus, you can almost always find it on sale.

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Dish Drying Rack
Simplehuman Kitchen Dish Drying Rack with Swivel Spout

This dish drying rack is so great. It has spots for drying untensils, glasses and mugs, and stemmed wine glasses. It has a swivel spout to ensure water drainage actually goes back into your sink. And it doesn't get gross (thanks to an anti-residue coating!), however, when you do need to clean it the utensil holder and wire frame are even dishwasher-safe.

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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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Compost Bin
Bamboozle Kitchen Compost Bin

We don't care that much about charcoal filters, but 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 has a charcoal filter and is dishwasher-safe. Plus, it's not half bad to look at.

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  • PROJECT LEAD

    Lisa Freedman, Lifestyle Director

  • EDITORIAL

    Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, Lifestyle Editor

    Marissa Wolkenberg, Research Editor

  • CREATIVE

    Melissa Polhamus, Creative Director

    Samantha Bolton, Senior Photo Director

    Laura Hoerner, Graphic Designer & Illustrator

  • PHOTO

    Joe Lingeman, Photographer

    Nicole Louie, Prop Stylist

    Pearl Jones, Food Stylist Assistant

    Tom Hoerup, Photo Assistant

  • AUDIENCE GROWTH

    Caroline Schnapp, Social Media Manager

    Andrea Kaufman, Social Media Editor

    Rebecca Longshore, Director of Audience Growth

  • REVENUE

    Tara Swansen, Special Projects Director

    Lauren Murphy, VP, Brand Innovation & Strategy

    Mark Marino, Director of Commerce

    Yasmin Lashley, GM, Commerce Partnerships & Strategy

    Emily Lew, Commerce Coordinator

    Lindsay Ribe, Senior Graphic Designer

  • DEVELOPMENT

    Vijay Nathan, Director of Product Management

    Henry Chen, Senior Product Designer

  • SPECIAL THANKS

    Faith Durand, Editor-in-Chief

    Tracey Gertler, Production Assistant

    Lauren Kodiak, Copy Chief