The chilly and sometimes downright cold temperatures of winter's days and nights aren't conducive to the light, breezy cooking of spring and summer, when a plate of fresh tomato slices, prosciutto, mozzarella, and basil leaves is nearly enough to count as a whole meal. No, in the winter, when you crave warmth and comfort, you likely turn to stoups, stews, braised meats, sheet pan dinners, and other hearty recipes. These heavier, heartier meals require heftier cookware. To pull them off, you will need to invest in some winter kitchen essentials.
This cookware helps you turn out cold-weather favorites with less fuss. They also help you do things faster and easier, so you have extra time in your day for doing the things that keep your heart warm, if not your belly.
If you're looking to add some creativity to your kitchen this season, start with this list of essential cookware and gadgets. Narrow down to what you make the most — or what you want to make more of. Then let your creativity and our winter recipes inspires lots of delicious meals.
You probably have a cookie sheet or two in your cabinet, but do you have sheet pans? Cookie sheets are good for cookies or even maybe a batch of biscuits, but sheet pans can roast vegetables, bake pizzas, and cook sheet pan dinners. That's because sheet pans tend to have raised sides, which prevent spills of oil or liquid, and many are made with a heavier grade metal that retains heat better for good caramelization on carrots and other winter root vegetables. The gold color of these sheet pans helps prevent over-browning and offers an easy-release finish so you don't risk stuck-on food.
Buy It: $28-30; wayfair.com
Whether you're rolling dough for pear galettes or cutting out rounds for individual pot pies, a pastry mat is a must-have for winter recipes. The nonstick silicone helps steady the pastry mat and prevents roll aways, and the pre-measured guides help you know when you've reached the right diameter so you can put down the rolling pin.
Buy It: $16; williams-sonoma.com
Every kitchen needs a cast iron Dutch oven for winter cooking. (And, honestly, for cooking any time of year.) The beauty of a Dutch oven in the cold months is that it can be used to braise meat and vegetables, make hearty stews, and even brown and bake loaves of homemade bread. Staub's French Dutch oven (also called a cocotte) has tiny spikes on the underside of the lid that help recirculate moisture back into the dish you're making, and it's oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit with the lid on (900 degrees F with it off). You can even show off the beautiful pan by serving from it on the dining room table.
Buy It: $260 (originally $486); zwilling.com
For big pots of warming soup, you may need a pot bigger than your Dutch oven. In that case, the classic stockpot is a must have. This 12-quart Cuisinart stockpot features an aluminum base for quick and even heating. Despite its big size, it's easy to carry and maneuver even when full thanks to the large cool-grip handles. "Love love love this stock pot! It took me awhile to decide which to buy because I wanted to get a high quality pot that wasn’t too expensive. The size is perfect for me," one reviewer wrote.
Buy It: $70; amazon.com
The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, bread maker, and even an extra stove eye for days yours are all occupied. It can also bake cakes, make yogurt, and hard boil eggs. The multi-cooker cuts cooking time in half (or more), browns meat for extra flavor, and turns even the most humble ingredients into a spectacular meal with little to no effort (or as little as you want to give). If you're new to the Instant Pot, the machine can guide you to the preferred degree of doneness, and when you've mastered it, you can quickly type in your secret codes for perfect dishes. If you've been on the fence about buying an Instant Pot, winter is most certainly the right time to cross over.
Buy It: $49 (originally $100); walmart.com
Turn chunky potatoes into silky potato puree, blend together butternut squash and onions for soup, and whip up fluffier baked goods with an immersion blender. Keep this gadget on hand, and we promise you won't be short of reasons to use it this winter. This budget-friendly immersion blender also comes with attachments for whipping and frothing, giving you even more opportunities to make sure you get your money's worth.
Buy It: $35; amazon.com
During winter months, you may be tempted to try baking recipes that involve heartier flours, like whole-wheat flour and buckwheat flour. To make sure your baked goods are still light and fluffy, give them a pass through a sifter. You can also use a sifter to break up clumps of powdered sugar for frosting and glazes for baked goods.
Buy It: $12; walmart.com
A high-walled baking dish is imperative for winter cooking. These walls can help prevent splashes and splatters from braising meat, and they give you extra depth for casseroles. This smaller size (it measures 11.4 inches by 7.5 inches) is also great for most toaster ovens, and the beautiful glazed finish works beautiful as a serving piece, too.
Buy It: $38; amazon.com
Besides heating up water for hot tea, hot cocoa, or coffee, an electric kettle can help you get pasta water boiling faster, soften beans quickly, and even help you make a steaming bowl of ramen. You can also use the hot water for instant oatmeal, cream of wheat, or hard-boiled eggs in the mornings.
Buy It: $100 (originally $185); williams-sonoma.com
If you're short on space in a small kitchen, make the kitchenware you buy work extra hard. Instead of purchasing mixing bowls and serving bowls, reach for something like this Emile Henry Mixing Bowl. The extra tall sides can keep sauces and dressings contained when you're mixing hot pasta or fresh salads. It can also easily contain batters and marinating meats. And if you need to chill the bowl for biscuits or scones, the clay retains coolness longer than metal or plastic.
Then there's the beauty of the piece — it's understated elegance is perfect for serving, too, so you don't need a stash of one-purpose bowls when this one can play multiple roles.
Buy It: $25; amazon.com