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There’s a reason that we all love going out to eat so much—not only is it incredibly convenient, but the food is generally better than what you’d make at home. After all, most of us are not trained chefs, so we don’t know the tricks of the trade that take meals from good to amazing.
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That’s not to say you can’t learn, though! There are a nearly unlimited number of resources available online that will help you make restaurant-quality meals at home, and armed with the right equipment, you can make your favorite restaurant dishes right in the comfort of your kitchen. Here are 18 items that will instantly improve your cooking skills and help you become the Master Chef of your household.
1. Our top-rated stainless steel cookware set
If you’re going to cook like the pros, you most certainly need an A+ set of cookware, and after extensive testing, we’ve found that this 12-piece cookware set from Cuisinart is one of the best money can buy. It includes all the essentials needed to whip up a wide range of meals, and the triple-ply stainless steel construction and aluminum core delivers unbeatable heat conductivity and a comfortable feel.
2. A sharp, well-balanced chef’s knife
Another must-have for any serious (or wannabe-serious) cook is a quality chef’s nice, and after testing more than a dozen popular products, we declared the Zwilling Pro to be the best chef’s knife you can buy. Not only does it come from a well-respected brand, but it delivers precise cuts with its heft weight, and it’s incredibly comfortable to wield, giving you confidence in the kitchen.
3. High-quality protein for your steak dinners
Want to know a secret? If you’re going to cook a high-end meal, you have to start with high-end ingredients. Luckily, Crowd Cow makes it easy to get high-quality meats for all your meals. This meat subscription service delivers the highest-quality beef, chicken, pork, Wagyu, and seafood right to your doorstep, and we were really impressed with the taste of their protein when we tested the service.
4. An oven thermometer for precise baking
Most ovens aren’t all that accurate with their temperatures—you might set it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, but it could end up being 360, which will (unknowingly) mess with your cook time and often cause your food to become overcooked. To ensure you’re always cooking food at the right temps, you may want to invest in an inexpensive oven thermometer, like this one from Rubbermaid. You simply hang it in your oven, and it lets you double-check that the temperature is right where you want it to be.
5. A pizza pan for crispy, crunchy crusts
Recreating your favorite restaurant pizza at home is no easy feat—trust me, I’ve been trying for years—but one way that you can get instantly improved results is with our top-rated pizza pan. This cast iron pan will help you get a deliciously crispy crust, and its versatile design makes it ideal for other uses around the kitchen, as well, including roasting vegetables and toasting tortillas.
6. A sous vide cooker for perfectly cooked meat
If you struggle to cook steak to that perfect medium-rare you get in restaurants, the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker will be your best friend. This unique gadget takes all the work out of cooking meat by circulating a water bath around the protein, maintaining a precise temperature. Not only will it deliver the exact level of doneness you like, but it also helps to lock in flavor and moisture during the cooking process. Oh, and the device is Bluetooth compatible, allowing you to monitor its progress right from your phone.
7. A mandoline slicer for consistent cuts
If knife-work isn’t your forte, a mandoline slicer can help you achieve restaurant-quality consistency when prepping vegetables and other ingredients. This mandoline from OXO comes with four blades, allowing you to make straight, wavy, small julienne, and large julienne cuts, and it even offers four thickness settings. Plus, it comes with a food holder that will protect your fingers during operation, so you can feel confident in your cutting.
8. A smart cookware set that walks you through the cooking process
The Hestan Cue is the next best thing to having an in-home cooking lesson. This smart cookware system uses an induction cooktop and high-quality stainless steel pan to quite literally walk you through different recipes, helping you achieve precise results every time.
When used with the Cue app, the cooktop will automatically adjust its temperature as you add ingredients and tell you when to move on to the next step. The system offers more than 500 recipes, and there are 12 different cooking functions to choose from, including slow cooking, sauce making, rice cooking, frying, candy making, and more.
9. A countertop hydroponic garden to grow your own herbs
Fresh herbs will take your cooking to the next level, and you can grow all your favorite flavorings right on your kitchen counter with the AeroGarden Harvest. This smart hydroponic garden automatically controls its own grow lights, and it will tell you when you need to add water and/or plant food. All you really have to do is pop in the compatible pods, and within a few weeks, you’ll have a beautiful selection of fresh herbs to harvest and eat.
10. A subscription to Masterclass to learn from the pros
Have you ever wished that you could learn cooking techniques from Gordon Ramsay or Wolfgang Puck? It turns out you can—for a lot less than you might think! Masterclass, which costs just $15 a month, has an impressive library of food courses taught by some of the best chefs in the world. There’s even a class called “Restaurant Recipes at Home” taught by Gordon Ramsay himself!
11. An immersion blender for superior soups
If you pull out your favorite cookbook and open it to a fancy soup recipe, I’m betting that somewhere in the directions it calls for an immersion blender. These handheld blenders are the key to smooth, delicious soups, and our favorite immersion blender is this one from Breville, which comes with an extra-large jug, chopping bowl, and whisk attachment. The tool is incredibly easy to use, even for beginners, and it won’t splatter all over your kitchen, unlike other models.
12. Our favorite thermometer to monitor meat temperatures
The best way to ensure your meat is perfectly cooked every time is with the best meat thermometer. Personally, we’re big fans of the ThermoPop, which provides fast, accurate readings, and has a fun colorful design. It’s simple to use, and its thin tip doesn’t let too much juice escape from the meat, either.
13. An infuser to upgrade your cooking oils
One surefire way to impress your family and friends is by serving them rosemary-infused butter or chili-infused olive oil with freshly baked bread before your meal. They never have to know that the Levo II makes it extremely easy—foolproof even—to create fancy culinary infusions at home. All you have to do is put an herb, spice, or root into the machine’s pod, fill up the reservoir with your oil of choice, and let the Levo work its magic. It’s a fun and fancy gadget that’s perfect for culinary adventurers.
14. A top-rated cookbook that explains the principles of cooking
Most cookbooks simply provide recipes and send you off to the kitchen to take your best shot, but Samin Nosrat takes a different approach with her popular cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. The book helps to explain the “hows” and “whys” of good cooking with lots of charming illustrations, detailing various techniques and tools, as well as when to use them. Plus, it contains 100 essential recipes that you can try out as you learn.
15. A deep fryer for amazing fried foods
I love my air fryer as much as the next person, but if you’re hoping to recreate your favorite restaurant’s fish and chips recipe at home, you’re going to need a deep fryer. This popular model from T-fal can hold up to 3.5 liters of oil, and it has a two-position basket for cooking and draining food. Plus, it features a unique oil filtration system that automatically drains and filters oil for future use, helping to minimize the amount of oil you go through while frying up delicious French fries, chicken wings, and more.
16. A high-end collection of spices
Spices are the foundation of delicious meals, and the Spice House Kitchen Essentials collection provides everything you need to whip up flavor-packed recipes. The 12-jar set includes sweet basil, Hungarian sweet paprika, Greek oregano, Tellicherry black pepper, cracked rosemary needles, granulated garlic, garlic pepper butcher’s rub, Mediterranean broken leaf thyme, mild chili powder, granulated white onion, Saigon ground cassia cinnamon, and ground ginger. It’s perfect for a new kitchen or anyone who’s restocking their pantry.
17. A special covered baker for delicious homemade bread
Pretty much every restaurant brings you a basket of bread to munch on before your meal, and you can recreate this same tradition at home with the Italian Bread Baker from Emile Henry. The beautiful ceramic covered baker will help you achieve crisp, golden crusts and chewy, airy interiors, as the lid helps to trap steam while cooking. The baker comes in three colors to suit your style, and it will undoubtedly take your bread-baking to the next level.
18. A next-gen oven that does the cooking for you
If you want restaurant-quality meals without all the work, you might have to splurge on Brava. This high-end oven uses a combination of visible and infrared light to cook food, and because light can be targeted, it can cook numerous dishes at once using different techniques. All you really have to do is prepare the ingredients, and Brava will take care of the rest. It’s pretty much the closest thing to a personal chef you can get!
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.