20 Super-Practical (and Fun!) Gifts for Your Favorite Recent College Grad

published May 16, 2021
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Credit: Samara Vise

Since the pandemic started, I feel like I have no concept of time. The days, weekends, weeks, and even holidays seem to kind of blend together. Which is why I was shocked when my sister casually mentioned that both her and her boyfriend would be graduating from their Master’s programs this month. (“What?! It feels like you guys just started those a couple of months ago,” I replied.)

Of course, graduation means graduation gifts. And because my sister and her boyfriend will soon be moving into their first apartment of their very own, they’re in need of most things. Outside of giving them cash for life and student loans (which, obviously, would be appreciated), my specialty is kitchen-related gifts. More specifically, things that are super useful and will be employed on a weekly basis. But still Fun with a capital F.

Here are 20 kitchen-related gift ideas I know my sister and her boyfriend would love. I think many other college grads would love them, too.

1 / 20

My sister's boyfriend is incredibly hard to shop for. And with him graduating and moving to a TBD city, I know one thing won't change: His love of beer. NewDuds is a Vermont-based company that sells pairs of beer glasses with super fun prints on them (like these pizza ones)! I've ordered from them twice previously (for other people) and both times the shipping is super-fast and the glasses arrive very carefully packed.

2 / 20
was $40.75

You probably don't need another person saying how useful a cast iron skillet is, but it really is a versatile kitchen workhorse that'll last a lifetime — which makes it a fantastic gift.

3 / 20
Kana Lifestyle

A Dutch oven is able to braise, bake, roast, sear, simmer, boil, and more. This particular Dutch oven is amazing at a more affordable price point (compared to bigger brands), comes with a lifetime warranty, and is induction-friendly.

4 / 20

An electric kettle is super helpful for making tea, coffee (hello, French press!), and things like instant noodles. Pair this kettle with a tin of nice tea and/or a coffee mug and you've got a well-themed gift.

5 / 20
was $56.00

Every home cook needs a few great knives. Get this chef's knife for anyone just starting out, and if it's in your budget, this paring knife and serrated (bread!) knife to round out the set. In my opinion, it's a must-have trio. A magnetic knife strip isn't a bad addition either!

6 / 20
was $35.00

No chopping, mincing, slicing, or dicing can be done without a good cutting board. This one from Material comes in tons of fun colors and is so good it was featured on our list of Kitchn Essentials.

7 / 20

With first jobs and some offices returning to a hybrid in-office, work-from-home schedule, a lunch bag will be super helpful. This one is well-made, machine washable, and comes in fun colors. It's a splurge and something I never would've bought myself post-college, but would've absolutely appreciated. My sister just landed her first job, so I gotta get it for her!

8 / 20

There is definitely a huge difference between a good dish rack and a great dish rack. I've had my simplehuman dish rack for years, and it's incredibly durable, easy to clean, and holds lots of dishes. The compact size is ideal for apartment living or small ktichens.

9 / 20

Lifestyle Director Lisa Freedman says these containers are the best gift she got when she graduated from college. "We were all on a tight budget and knew we’d be cooking most of our meals at home, so we figured we’d use the containers now and then," she says. "Almost daily, we were either putting leftovers into them or eating leftovers out of them. Food very rarely spoiled in that apartment, and budgets were followed."

10 / 20

Depending on what kind of coffee drinker your graduate is, there are a bunch of different machines or gadgets you could buy them. If they like convenience, a Nespresso is a great choice. If they want a machine machine, this model by OXO has fun features including an option to make a single serving of joe. And, of course, there's also a French press or an Aeropress!

11 / 20

I ate a ton of pasta right after college (and, ha, still do). After all, it's pretty cheap and almost always means leftovers. This colander is the best for pasta — with holes all over that easily drain water and a substantial base that raises it off the bottom of the sink, preventing water from flowing back into the colander.

12 / 20
Our Place

I would've loved to have been gifted nice tableware. These plates from Our Place come in pretty, neutral colors like Spice and Steam. The brand also sells sleek drinking glasses and matching bowls.

13 / 20
was $242.99

Rice cookers are super helpful for making, well, perfect rice every time. However, they can be used for things other than rice, too! Depending on what your gift budget is, this model by Zojirushi is tough to beat. However, this rice cooker from Hamilton Beach is about $35 and is a great starter, budget-friendly model.

14 / 20

For fans of sparkly water, a sparkling water maker will be a well-appreciated and well-used gift. This bundle comes with a CO2 cartridge and flavor drops, which my sister loves because they add a little something-something.

15 / 20
Bed Bath & Beyond

I know this might seem pricey for a toaster oven, but Breville makes the best, most accurate toaster ovens I've ever tried. Of course, a great toaster oven does more than just toast. It can bake cookies, roast chicken thighs, broil asparagus, and more. This toaster oven is great for new cooks and more advanced ones, alike!

16 / 20
was $21.99

For cooking sheet pan dinners, baking cookies, roasting vegetables, and making smashed potatoes, it's essential to have a couple of good half sheet pans. The ones from Nordic Ware are reasonably priced and incredibly durable. I suggest pairing them with a couple of these cooling racks, which fit perfectly inside of the baking sheets and are helpful for cooling baked goods, broiling chicken wings, draining food post-deep frying — whatever!

17 / 20

Surprisingly, I've tried a lot of nonstick skillets that actually aren't all that nonstick. This one, however, is a winner. It's also dishwasher-safe and oven-safe to 430°F.

18 / 20

This isn't the most obviously helpful present, but if your college grad is going to be doing any sort of baking or meat cooking, an instant-read thermometer is awesome. At $35, the ThermoPop is very well-priced for its quality and accuracy.

19 / 20
Williams Sonoma

For a powerful blender that doesn't take up a ton of space (hello, apartments!), this is a fantastic, under $100 option. It even comes with a drinking cup lid for smoothies.

20 / 20
was $39.98

I'm including these because my sister actually asked for these as a graduation present. And because my sister is a lot cooler (and younger) than me, maybe square wine glasses are in nowadays? Regardless, they're well-priced, so it won't be too sad if one of them accidentally breaks.

What kitchen-related graduation present did you find super helpful? Tell us about it in the comments!