Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Regular time logged in the kitchen means equipment that gets dull, worn down, or outright broken. Some cooking tools, like bread knives and nonstick skillets, aren’t made to last forever; that’s why we recommend buying inexpensive versions of these tools that can be replaced every few years. But other gear should last a lifetime—even if you cook every day.

High-quality cookware, like cast iron pans and well-made Dutch ovens, are meant to last for decades. Many even come with lifetime warranties. Although a high price tag is sometimes part of the deal, some of these kitchen essentials are surprisingly affordable. Whether it’s a generous warranty, well-sourced materials, impeccable construction, or easily interchangeable replacement parts, these kitchen tools will go the distance. Buy them once, treat them well, and they’ll be your longtime companions.

In a comprehensive test of 30 chef’s knives of different styles and price points, this 8-inch knife from Wüsthof earned top marks in almost every category. The blade extends the full length of the handle, and is made from carbon steel. Unlike wooden-handled knives, the polymer material of the Wüsthof will not warp over time (although it’s still never a good idea to run any cooking knives through the dishwasher). The blade is not as sharp as the Japanese knives that topped our review, but it is certainly sharp enough to meet the needs of home cooks. The profile and shape of this German-made knife will also feel familiar to most. 

Good to Know

Handle material: PolymerBlade material: Carbon steelWeight: 8.5 ouncesPrice at time of publish: $160Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Invest (and take CARE of, we scream) in a high-quality wooden cutting board and you’ll have it for life. Unlike plastic, wooden boards can be sanded down to create a new surface if the top layer becomes marred by knife marks. End-grain wooden boards are firmer than edge-grain boards, which have a little more “give.” While that can result in knives that become dull quicker, it means your board is more resistant to gouges—making the refinishing process infrequent. During our test of wooden cutting boards, we admired The BoardSmith Maple End-Grain option for its impeccable construction and thick, 2-inch profile. All their boards are customizable, so you can choose whether you want a juice groove or feet, as well as choose the ideal size. (A larger board can function as a complete work surface, although you’ll pay more for the increased surface area).

Good to Know

Customizations available: Finger grooves, juice groove, feetMaterial: Maple woodPrice at time of publish: $325Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Cast iron skillets, no matter the maker, are meant to last longer than a lifetime: these are generational heirloom pieces that can be brought back to life, no matter what. That said, value varies widely among brands, based on design and price point. We tested 22 skillets and found that the overwhelming best option was a pre-seasoned option from Lodge. It’s refreshingly affordable (although you can spend hundreds on a cast iron skillet, there’s no need to). Lodge’s brand reputation is sterling, and the layer of pre-seasoning is solid enough to be used straight out of the box. With proper care and regular maintenance, this just may be the longest-lasting piece of kitchen equipment you ever own. 

Good to Know

Weight: 5 pounds, 8 ouncesComes pre-seasoned: YesInduction compatible: YesPrice at time of publish: $25Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A carbon steel skillet may well stand in for traditional cast iron pans if you prefer thin and light cookware. Unlike most cast iron skillets (including the Lodge named above), carbon steel pans must be seasoned before use. But get a good one, and it’s worth the time spent. The Mauviel M’Steel frying pan was outstanding in our test of carbon steel skillets, owing to a generously-sized cooking area, and a handle that was truly comfortable to hold. It can handle seriously hot temperatures—up to 680˚F—so you don’t have to worry about it warping if you crank the oven or place it under a broiler.

Good to Know

Weight: 3 pounds, 3 inchesComes pre-seasoned: NoInduction compatible: YesOven-safe: Up to 680˚FPrice at time of publish: $95Serious Etas / Vicky Wasik

Woks can do just about anything (seriously: here’s a list). When we tested flat-bottomed woks, we found that carbon steel was an overwhelmingly high performer, thanks to a combination of durability, excellent heat responsiveness, and affordability. The Yosukata earned top marks due to its ease of use, and speed for boiling water (at nine minutes, it was the quickest of the batch we tested). It’s preseasoned, which makes the price tag seem like a steal. But unlike some of the other, cheaper models, this one is built to last: the handle is screwed into a welded bottom. 

Good to Know

Weight: 3 pounds, 8 ouncesDepth: 3.75 inchesPrice at time of publish: $61Serious Eats / Tim Chin

We’ve long recommended well-made Dutch ovens as one of the best investments you can make. These cooking vessels are infinitely useful: you can use them to make bread, soup, stew, and stock, as well as for braising, searing, and sautéeing. Brand does matter when it comes to enameled cast iron Dutch ovens. Our favorite brands, Le Creuset and Staub, offer lifetime warranties (not so rare) and are made at onshore factories with excellent quality control (rare). They’re both excellent buys, with the Le Creuset weighing a manageable 11.4 pounds and coming in more than a dozen core colors. It has generous, roomy handles, and performs well, turning out attractively browned food when used for searing and braising. The warranty is non-limited and honored by the brand for all structural damage.

Good to Know

Weight: 11.4 poundsCapacity: 5.5 quartsInduction compatible: YesWarranty: LifetimePrice at time of publish: $370Serious Eats / Will Dickey

An enameled braiser will go the distance, thanks to its cast iron construction. They’re surprisingly adaptable, and can be used for shallow-frying, sautéing, and making sauces in addition to low-and-slow braises. The Le Creuset braiser is a gorgeous, well-made option with roomy cooking space and virtually chip-free enamel (we tried, and failed, to damage it in our tests). It’s also comfortable to handle and doesn’t have to be babied like bare cast iron pans. And because it’s Le Creuset, it comes with that lifetime warranty.

Good to Know

Weight: 12 pounds, 11.5 ouncesCapacity: 3.5 quartsInduction compatible: YesWarranty: LifetimePrice at time of publish: $368Serious Eats / Taylor Murray

You probably won’t use your stockpot every day. But ideally, the one you invest in is durable enough to last you years worth of homemade stocks and broths, as well as any other large-format cooking tasks. During a test of stockpots made from various metals, in different sizes and styles, this 12-quart option from Cuisinart stood out from the crowd. It’s a little pricier than some of the competition, because the cladding (layers of aluminum sandwiched between stainless steel) is full, and covers the bottom as well as the sides of the pan. This makes for a more durable pan that’s better at heat retention, and is resistant to warping or damage. It’s also very comfortable hold and maneuver around the kitchen.

Good to Know

Capacity: 12 quartsInduction compatible: YesDishwasher-safe: YesPrice at time of publish: $170Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

This is an impressive pan. It’s heavy and has a generous capacity—the largest of saucepans we tested. It hits all the marks when it comes to performance (designed for comfort in handling and ease of use because of its wide size and flared sides). But it’s also sturdy and durable, thanks to 3-ply construction (a combination of stainless steel and aluminum) that will last longer and act as a better conductor of heat during cooking.

Good to Know

Weight: 4 pounds, 8 ounces (with lid)Capacity: 4 quartsInduction compatible: YesPrice at time of publish: $110
Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

Stand mixers are often listed on wedding registries because buying one outright can be intimidating: even smaller size models costs hundreds of dollars. But buying from a reputable brand means investing in a model that can stand years of use (and has easily replaceable, affordable parts in the case something breaks or stops working). Our top pick in a test of stand mixers is made by KitchenAid—no surprise there. We believe springing for their professional series is a splurge worth making, owing to the smooth mechanisms that allow for easier bowl lifting and lowering, as well as a large capacity bowl and powerful motor. It’s also sturdy and stable, and won’t “walk” around the counter when working at higher speeds. Plus, KitchenAids last forever. Senior commerce editor Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm recently upgraded her 20-year-old model.

Good to Know

Weight: 23.3 poundsIncluded attachments: Beater paddle, dough hook, whisk, and splash guardPrice at time of publish: $550
Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

A rolling pin made from one single piece of wood (as opposed to a handled pin) will last forever, provided you dry it thoroughly after use and oil it regularly. This French-style rolling pin has moderately tapered ends that make it easy to maneuver, while still retaining accuracy in consistent dough thickness; it was our favorite when we tested 16 rolling pins. Made from hardy maple wood, this rolling pin will last for generations.

Good to Know

Material: Solid maple woodWeight: 1 pound, 1.6 ouncesCare instructions: Hand-wash with warm, soapy water; dry thoroughly with a towelPrice at time of publish: $19Serious Eats / Eric King

In our extensive test of the best pie pans, we found that metal produced darker, more attractive crusts. But a stoneware pie pan has one big advantage over metal: it lasts much longer. While metal pans can become warped or misshapen over time, this porcelain pan from Made In will last decades (provided you don’t drop it, of course). We especially liked the flat edge, which made it easy to crimp crusts in a variety of different styles. The freezer-safe, high-heat compatible (up to 650˚F!) specs add to its functionality and longevity, too.

Good to Know

Weight: 2 pounds, 5.5 ouncesMaterial: PorcelainCare instructions: Dishwasher-safePrice at time of publish: $59
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Stone is king when it comes to mortar and pestles: It’s heavy enough to grind spices, alliums, herbs, and nuts, as well as virtually unbreakable unless dropped. Both components in our pick for best mortar and pestle set are made from granite. The interior of the mortar bowl is unfinished, which is a win for two reasons: The textured surface grinds ingredients more thoroughly, and there’s no chance a coating or enamel will get scratched or cracked. The bowl’s capacity is large enough to make this mortar and pestle set actually useful.

Good to Know

Material: GraniteCapacity: 3-plus cupsWeight: 15 poundsPrice at time of publish: $55
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

There comes a time in every cook’s life when an upgrade is made from single-use pepper grinders to refillable pepper mills. Investing in a pepper mill has lots of advantages: better control over the grind coarseness, and of course, the option to try lots of different peppercorn varieties! When we tested pepper mills, this one from Fletchers’ Mill excelled in both speed and agility, producing an impressive amount of ground pepper, even when set to a super-fine coarseness. It’s also easy to load, intuitive to use, and made from solid wood in a variety of colorful finishes.

Key Specs

Material: WoodWeight: 14.4 ouncesPrice at time of publish: $55Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

A mesh strainer is great for rinsing grains and beans, refining jams and preserves, smoothing sauces, and sifting flour. However, poorly made models may warp over time and the mesh bowl may even become detached from the rim. We tested mesh strainers and found that ones with wide hooks were more stable (and less likely to fall or become disfigured) when placed over a bowl. It’s excellent at sifting and straining, of course, and has a wide rim and hanging hook. Simply put: Our well-made favorite is well worth its high price tag. 

Good to Know

Material: Stainless steelCare instructions: Dishwasher-safePrice at time of publish: $32Serious Eats / Eric King

Sure, a manual pasta maker requires elbow grease. But that’s part of the appeal: the minimalist design means there’s less that can break or go haywire. Our tests revealed that you don’t sacrifice precision with a hand-crank machine, either: The Marcato produced the thinnest pasta with the little-to-no tearing. It also cuts cleanly, giving the sheets or noodles a high-end, polished look. It’s easy to clean, and you can make pasta without the aid of electricity.

Good to Know

Materials: Nickel- and chrome-plated steel, plasticNumber of rolling settings: 10Included cutters: Spaghetti, fettuccine (more available for separate purchase)Price at time of publish: $70Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez


How long should a cast iron skillet last? 

A cast iron skillet is made to last forever and ever. These are truly generations-long purchase. Cast iron is extremely durable, and won’t crack or warp, even at extreme temperatures. If your cast iron skillet does show signs of rust or erosion, it can be stripped down and reasoned. No cast iron pan is beyond repair! 

How long will a chef’s knife last?

Good chef’s knives will last for years or decades if hand-washed and immediately dried, as well as sharpened regularly. Even very dull blades can be sharpened back to a razor-like edge with a whetstone (or through a professional service). However, it’s worth noting that wooden-handled knives may get water-damaged, and chef’s knives that have a hollow handle may not last as long. 

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