This topic is one of several guides on how to cook. This is the place to start if you’re new to cooking or want to learn some new cooking skills. This isn’t about recipes, it’s about learning how food works so you don’t need recipes anymore.
If you care about your health (or impressing your hot Tinder date), you’re going need to know how to throw down in the kitchen. This is especially true for us ketoinians. Since most restaurants use carbs like they’re going out of style (which they are), it’s important that we know how to make our own keto-friendly chow.
Cooking is an essential skill, but if you’re new to the cooking arena, there’s a cacophony of information. Tons of gadgets, plenty of complicated recipes, and lots of stupid opinions. Fortunately, cooking isn’t all that hard. With a little know how and some basic equipment, you’ll be making amazing keto food in no time.
In this guide, we’re going to learn about getting setup with a minimum viable kitchen. This shopping list will provide the tools to produce many tasty keto meals without breaking the bank. Contrary to what people may say, you don’t really need that many tools to get started.
Chef Knife or Santoku (a Japanese chefs knife) - get something in the 8" range. You want a big knife.
Paring Knife - For detailed cutting.
Spoons (for stirring)
Whisk (for eggs, or just use a fork)
Half Sheet Aluminum pans (for roasting meat and veggies)
Nonstick Frying Pan (for eggs)
Skillet (for general cooking) - some people like cast iron, but andonized aluminim is easier to clean
Dutch Oven (preferably enameled cast iron) (for soups, roasts, and other general cooking)
Probe style meat thermometer (takes the guesswork out of cooking meat)
The first place I’d look for this stuff is a restaurant supply store. The gear at these places is generally inexpensive and durable. You also avoid the fancy looking, but potentially junky tools you find in department stores. Sams Club and Costco are also good choices. They generally stock high quality items at good prices. In general, look for midrange tools that are high quality. You don’t need top of the line gear, but cheap junk will cost you more in the long run. Also, don’t overthink it. Don’t waste your time being a gear hound. (At least at first, anyway) Cooking is more about technique than stuff.
Specific Gear Recommendations
These are products that I’ve used and like. Substitute as you see fit.
Lodge Dutch Oven (It’s just like the fancy ones, but it’s 1/6 the cost). You can toss these right in the oven, which makes them a great vessel for making things like carnitas. They can also act as a slow cooker if you don’t have one.
Nordicware pans (or any half sheet you can get at a restaurant supply store). These are just handy to have around. I use them all the time. The half sheet is what they use in restaurants and it’s a good size for a variety of uses.
Calphalon skillet. This is my most used pan. I love this thing.
Any cheap nonstick pan will do here, but I have these and they work fine.
Chefs knives made by the people who brought you the Swiss army knife. There are professional chefs that use these and they’re dirt cheap. I love my Wufstof knife, but these work just as well.
Polder Thermometer - They key here is the probe. That means you can plug it into a roast and monitor it from your cooktop while it cooks. This may not seem nessesary, but I think it’s essential. Being able to temp food takes the guesswork out of cooking and increases your success rate. There are other models, but this is the one I have and it works fine.
I’d add a santoku knife to the list…I find them very useful for thinly slicing things like garlic and dicing onions.
I also HIGHLY recommend this Victorinox serrated bread knife:
No, of course I don’t use it for bread. I use it for slicing cooked meats. Does a fantastic job, and remains one of the sharpest knives in my drawer even after several years of use. Great knife. And the long blade makes it easier to get clean slices, because there’s less back and forth motion when carving.
Another recommendation…I’m not a member any more, but if you are a member, or have a Sam’s Club nearby, they have a great selection of restaurant-grade knives, pots and pans, and other gear.
I’ve got several saute pans that I bought there (they sell both teflon non-stick, which I avoid these days, as well as just stainless steel) that have nice solid bottoms, heat evenly, and have held up very well. They’re also very reasonably priced.
I can recommend a brand of knives and similar utensils called RADA. They are only sold through local dealers, but I have found them to be of exceptional quality and reasonable price. I have never worn one out - I use the paring knives, tomato knife, and “meat” knife (don’t remember what the company calls it). And they have a much wider selection than I’ve listed… Though I have not tried their Chef’s knife.
For a minimalist kitchen, you could replace the chefs knife with a santoku. You strictly don’t have to have both. I have a lovely JA Henckels santoku. Brand doesn’t matter though. Get something with a comfortable handle and full tang and you’ll be alright.
I’d replace the non-stick skillets with a good cast iron skillet. Non-stick never last and eventually you are ingesting the non-stick coating. Cast iron is indestructible and far more non-stick than non-stick once you learn how to use it. I lived 56 years with non-stick crappy pans, but last year I dug out an old cast iron set my husband had before we were married. I watched a few you tube videos on how to clean them up, season, and use them and now I amaze myself at how great they are. I can even make thin, delicate omelets. They are great for keto cooking because you can use plenty of fat and it only improves the pan. I think they are a great investment for a minimalist kitchen. Cost Plus has pre-seasoned Lodge pans for really good prices.
I’ve used both. I like my enameled cast iron, but I use a nonstick pan for eggs. For someone just starting out, I feel that dealing with [non enameled] cast iron adds an unnecessary layer of complication.
I really like using cast iron for steaks. You can get a nice sear, finish in the oven if needed, and then deglaze the pan with butter and heavy cream to make a nice pan sauce.
I personally like the “eco” ceramic non stick pans. I got one of those recently and really like it.