When it comes to vegan cooking, the right kitchenware opens up all kinds of possibilities. A few well-chosen small appliances and kitchen items can dramatically expand your vegan food preparation options. Here are the most useful pieces of cookware for a vegan kitchen.
If you like to cook lack time, an Instant Pot can be a game-changer. They dramatically cut cooking time, while simultaneously automating the process to suit whatever it is you’re cooking. Instant Pots are basically a pressure cooker combined with a digital controller that enables all sorts of additional uses. So not only can you cook beans in no time, they’re also wonderful for cooking rice, steaming vegetables, making soup, reheating foods, and even making vegan yogurt! Buy a three-quart model for small families or a six-quart to eight-quart model for large ones.
There are several excellent vegan cookbooks devoted entirely to Instant Pot recipes. Check out Nisha Vora’s The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook and Kathy Hester’s The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot.
Many sandwiches (really all of them) are better when you toast the bread. And to do that, you want a slot toaster. Cheap models and expensive models will both do a great job, so only go upscale if you really want something that looks fancy. Buy a four slot toaster if you often make sandwiches for two or more people. Here’s Amazon’s assortment of toasters.
Blendtec Blenders (Very pricey but highly recommended.)
A Blendtec may look like a regular blender, but its motor is several times more powerful. So not only will it blend more completely, it can do all sorts of things a regular blender can’t. For instance, it can liquefy vegetables and herbs into a delicious soup, while gently warming it thanks to the massive friction its blades generate. It can also process thick sauces and nut cheeses that would choke up a regular blender. It can even make a fantastic apple sauce. If you’re wondering whether a Blendtec is powerful enough to blend a given food, the answer is always yes. Sure, they may cost more than all your other kitchen appliances put together, but for many Blendtec owners their only regret is not buying one years sooner.
Blendtec models range from expensive to super expensive. Their least expensive models are quite capable, so buy one of those unless you have money to burn. Try to get one that comes with a Wildside jar, as those are best.
A blender is one of the cheapest and most versatile kitchen devices. They’re worth getting just for making fruit smoothies. Hamilton Beach makes a good cheap unit with a glass jar.
Food processors can do so much we’ve created a page all about them. They’re the quickest way to shred, chop, or grate any sort of food. A staggering number of models are available, but it’s hard to go wrong with this full-featured KitchenAid unit.
Toaster ovens are lousy for making toast (use a slot toaster instead, since they toast both sides of the bread). But they nevertheless deserve a place in any kitchen. They’re perfect for baking small meals for one, especially frozen foods. And their small size means they’ll heat up much more quickly than a regular oven while using only a fraction of the energy. Check out Amazon’s assortment of toaster oven models.
In Asia, most middle and upper class families own a rice cooker. The current generation of upscale fuzzy-logic rice cookers does a perfect job cooking rice. This is a major convenience when cooking, since it gives you one less thing to keep track of when cooking a meal. Avoid super cheap rice cookers that are merely repurposed vegetable steamers, since they deliver poor results and won’t add much in the way of convenience. Here’s the best inexpensive full-featured rice cooker.
A microwave oven is often the best way to reheat food, and they can be indispensable for frozen dinners. Make sure the one you buy has a built-in carousel, since they’re needed for even heating. Here’s Amazon’s selection of microwaves. And you might as well pick up a splatter cover while you’re at it.
If you have the money to spare, I recommend paying more for a Panasonic microwave that features “inverter technology.” This style of microwave heats food much more evenly, which eliminates those dreaded cold spots in a hot dish.
This delightful fifteen minute video makes a powerful case that a 1997 Sharp model was the best microwave ever made. Watch it and you’ll learn a great deal about all the ways you can put your microwave to use, no matter which model you ultimately purchase.
Air fryers offer a remarkably healthful way to prepare vegetables in a manner that still tastes indulgent. If you love fried foods like French Fries or tempura, an air fryer will give you that same delightful crunch without all the oil. Here’s a small and inexpensive but highly-rated unit. And here’s a fancy, digital model that’s large enough to feed a family.
Serious chefs couldn’t live without a mixer. The classic stand mixer is made by Kitchen Aid. For lesser mixing needs you may get by with a hand mixer, blender, food processor, or cheap immersion blender (mixing stick). Immersion blenders are one of the handiest appliances you can own, since they can be whipped out at any moment to do basic mixing and cleanup is minimal.
You can have freshly-baked bread anytime you want, without having to kneed dough, heat up an oven, or clean up a big mess. If your household is just one or two people, choose a model that makes one pound loaves. Amazon.com features a fantastic assortment of bread machines.
An indoor electric grill offers one of the most delicious ways to cook vegetables. But if you buy one you’ll want a big model since veggies are so low in calories you need to cook a lot. Make sure the model you buy has removable plates for easy cleaning. These foldable grills are also great for use as a panini press. The Cuisinart GR-4N is a superb choice, but George Foreman grills are also excellent and much cheaper.
Unless you have the insane money needed for a hydraulic juicer, a low-speed masticating juicer is the way to go. They make a much higher grade of juice than cheaper centrifugal models. When making juice, for your health’s sake stick with vegetable juice and try to include greens. Fruit juice will spike your blood sugar levels, since it’s full of sugar and has had its fiber removed.
Knives & Cutlery
You only need three knives: a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife (which, despite its name, is also the only good way to slice tomatoes). While this guide is dedicated to getting you excellent stuff at low cost, kitchen knives are the one category where you just can’t cut corners.
We highly recommend either buying this Victorinox 4-piece knife set with Fibrox handles, or ordering each of the following knives:
- 10 inch Fibrox chef’s knife (Victorinox)
- 4 inch paring knife (Victorinox)
- 10.25 inch bread knife (Victorinox)
Here’s the key cookware for a well-equipped vegan kitchen. The pots and pans recommended below will enable you to make an incredible assortment of vegan dishes.
You’ll use these for heating up sauces, making a small amount of rice, and for heating up cans of soup or beans. A stainless steel saucepan with a glass lid is a terrific choice. This stainless steel one quart Cuisinart with a glass lid is one you’ll use all the time. Also pick up this Cook N Home two quart model if you want a greater range of options. Both of these pans will work on induction stove tops.
It makes sense to stay away from Teflon for a number of reasons, but you’ll still appreciate nonstick properties in a skillet. So a skillet with a ceramic surface is a great compromise. It may not be as slick as Teflon but it’s far more durable and poses less danger of off-gassing if overheated. Teflon will inevitably scratch or crack, and when it does it’ll contaminate your meals with microplastic particles.
Since you’ll be using your skillet all the time, it’s worth spending a little more to get a good one. The 12-inch Stone Earth Frying Pan by Ozeri is the perfect choice. It’s compatible with induction stove-tops.
Much of the time, you need you don’t need nonstick since you’re cooking with plenty of oil. In these cases, I love to break out a stainless steel pan. Getting one with a aluminum core gives you good heat distribution without the worry of aluminum touching your food. This large Pennsylvania-made All-Clad skillet is pricey but it’s a great long-term investment, and it carries a lifetime warranty. Even if you use it every day, it will still look great in twenty years.
Stir-frying is one of the most healthful and delicious ways to prepare vegetables. So if you’re going to make a lot of stir-fries you should own a wok, since it delivers better results than a frying pan. There’s no need to go non-stick since the oil in your stir-fry will be sufficient to keep things from sticking. You’ll love this 13″ wok with a stainless steel lid. It’s both durable, beautiful, and easy to keep sparkling clean. And, like the other pans we’ve featured, it also works on induction stove-tops.
Bakeware & Casserole Dishes
You’ll want at least one oblong glass dish for making lasagna. Stoneware casserole dishes with lids will also be useful, especially if they inspire you to make baked macaroni more often.
Needed for cookies, pastries, roasted vegetables and a hundred other uses. A heavy duty aluminum model is a good choice, since it’s strong, even-heating, and lightweight. To keep your baking sheets clean, and to keep your food from contacting aluminum, consider also picking up a nonstick silicone baking mat.
Other Essential Kitchenware
All you need is a good sized polypropylene cutting board. Thirteen Chefs makes an especially high quality cutting board that’s still cheap. If you want to go with wood, bamboo is an excellent environmentally sustainable choice. But also buy a polypropylene cutting board for onions and garlic, since wood of any sort absorbs odors.
Whether you’re cooking or baking, mixing bowls are indispensable kitchen items. Premium plastic bowls will do the job perfectly. Stainless steel bowls cost more but look nicer. Pyrex bowls are heavy, can shatter, and make no sense at all.
Coffee, Tea, & Espresso
A fancy espresso machine and a high-end coffee grinder can set you back over $1000. But you can make excellent coffee on the cheap. Get an inexpensive burr grinder (or a fancier model if your budget permits). If this keeps you from buying coffeehouse coffee every day, you’ll recoup your investment within weeks. Under no circumstances should you buy a cheap blade grinder though, since the uneven grind makes terrible coffee.
Food Storage Containers
These come is glass or plastic. Useful both for leftovers, for making salads in advance, and for bringing food to work or school. They’re also worth using to keep foods like pretzels, potato chips, and nuts fresh after you’ve opened the bag.
Assorted Gear & Utensils
Finally, every kitchen needs:
- liquid measuring cup
- measuring cups and spoons
- spatulas for mixing and flipping
- potato masher