24 of the Most Useful Gifts You Could Possibly Buy for Beginner Cooks

updated Nov 17, 2021
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woman cooking in the kitchen
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Whether it’s a kid off at college, a young couple just moving in together, or a 30-something who is tired of living off of takeout, beginner cooks often require a lot of help. They likely need tools, appliances, books, and more. But it’s best not to overwhelm them with too many items or items that are too specific. No, they probably don’t need a cherry pitter — but a single pan that does the job of eight tools? Absolutely.

Here are our picks for the best ways to help a beginner cook set up their kitchen. With something for every type of person and every budget, we’re sure these items are just what they need to get started on the right foot.


1 / 7
Our Place
was $150.00

Beginner cooks are often short on space, which is why this pan is so brilliant. It has been designed to replace eight common pieces of equipment! With a fry pan, sauté pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, nonstick pan, spatula, and spoon rest all built into one attractive piece, this will ensure the person you’re shopping for will be able to prepare almost any recipe they want.

2 / 7
Great Jones

If someone only has room for one sheet pan, this should be it. Made of aluminized steel and topped with a magical, nonstick coating, this baby looks as hot as the temperatures it can withstand. Kitchn editors have been using these for months and haven't had a single issue with warping.

3 / 7

If treated well, this kitchen staple can last a lifetime — and then some! We’re big fans of Lodge cast iron skillets around here. They have deep sides and comfortable handles, and conduct heat very well. We’re smitten, and the lucky person who unwrapped this will be too.

4 / 7
Our Place
was $165.00

When buying someone their first (or only!) pot, this pick truly does have a leg (handle?) up on most others. This single piece of cookware does the job of multiple pieces including a stockpot, dutch oven, saucepot, roasting rack, steamer, strainer, braiser, spoon rest. It’s lightweight and durable, which is nice for those still finding their way around the kitchen. Click here to read more.

5 / 7
Kana Lifestyle

A classic cast-iron dutch oven is a kitchen staple that can last for years and be used to make so many different dishes. This pick comes at an entry-level price that’s a bit easier to swallow than others out there. But don’t worry, that lower price tag does not mean lower quality, and it even comes with a lifetime warranty. (It even won a spot in our Best List.)

6 / 7

A good, nonstick pan is likely to get a lot of play in most kitchens. It can be used to make pancakes, eggs, burgers, grilled cheese, stir-frys, and anything else the newbie cook in your life can dream up. This one has a nice weight to it while still being easy to hold and it’s oven and dishwasher safe. (In case you're wondering, yes, this also won a spot in a Best List!)

7 / 7
was $129.95

A beginner cook may not understand the qualities of a great pan just yet, but after cooking with this one a few times, they’ll learn quickly. With ​​three bonded layers of stainless steel and aluminum, this pick offers unparalleled heat distribution so cooks can sear and saute their way to a great meal.

Small Appliances

1 / 3
was $249.95

This more affordable model from industry-leader Vitamix has all of the features we’ve grown to know and love from the brand at less than half of the price. (For anyone who is unfamiliar, Vitamix is known for pulverizing its contents in a way that few other blenders can compare with.) This model is ideal for whipping up smoothies, sauces, dips, and frozen treats. And again it's around half the price of other Vitamix models.

2 / 3
was $79.99

When someone is just starting to build a kitchen, multitasking items are an ideal choice. This one packs seven cool functions into a relatively small footprint. With it they can steam, slow-cook, pressure-cook, sauté, and more. But the best part? They can use it to make one-pot meals 70 percent faster than conventional cooking.

3 / 3

This compact air fryer lets its user get in on the trend without sacrificing a lot of counter space. Ideal for one or two people — depending on how hungry they are — this 2-quart dynamo can crisp up half a bag of fries or half a dozen chicken wings at a time.

Pantry Staples

1 / 3

Building a comprehensive spice library is the key to producing flavorful dishes day after day. But all those little jars can be pricey! Help the beginner cook in your life get their collection started with this eight-pack, which includes many of the classics they'll need like thyme, cumin, crushed red chili flakes, and more.

2 / 3
Hive Brands

This pantry starter set has a little of this and a little of that (think: some staples like pasta and extra-virgin olive oil, but also a few yummy surprises like popcorn and granola). It’s a great way to help someone get started in a new place.

3 / 3
Che Fico Alimentari

Traveling to this Bay Area hotspot may not be in the cards, but that doesn’t mean someone can’t enjoy their pasta. This kit includes 2 Che Fico tomato sauces, imported Gentile rigatoni, and pecorino to top it all off with. The best part? Making this delicious meal is as easy as boiling a pot of water — perfect for a beginner.

Tools & Tabletop

1 / 9

Shopping for someone who follows along with a recipe or video on their phone? This bamboo cutting board has an extra-deep well to collect juices and a brilliant slot made specifically to hold a phone.

2 / 9

A spatula is one of the most-reached-for tools in many kitchens. It can be used while stirring, sautéing, browning, scraping, and smoothing. This set includes an 8- and 11-inch option so the user always has the right tool for the job. The spatulas feel great in the hand, are dishwasher-safe, and can withstand whatever heat gets thrown their way. Plus, they're made of silicone, without any grooves or places for gunk to hide!

3 / 9

Those who are stocking their first kitchen, are typically stocking a small kitchen. They don’t need (or likely want) enough place settings for a crowd. This starter set offers what they need right now, and nothing more. Two place settings, 10 items total. And, if they want or need more down the road, it’s easy for them to add on.

4 / 9
was $20.00

Made from repurposed kitchenware scraps, this 10-inch bowl is the ideal size for mixing up a batch of brownies, serving a salad, or eating a very large amount of cereal (only kind of kidding here!).

5 / 9
was $46.00

Every cook needs a great chef’s knife and this one fits the bill. (It's so great, in fact, that it's won a spot on our Best List of chef's knives!) Made from lightweight European steel, this knife feels great in the hand while it’s rocking back and forth on a cutting board. And it's not too spendy either.

6 / 9

When stocking a new kitchen, a thermometer isn’t usually something most people put at the top of their list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. This one is super easy to use, has a large backlit display for easy reading and it can detect a temperature in just 3 to 4 seconds. It can help take the guesswork out of cooking and build confidence of a new cook. And a thermometer isn't just for newbies, either, pro chefs and avid home cooks use them too!

7 / 9
Bed Bath & Beyond

Whether it’s used to measure out baking ingredients or to help with portion sizes, a kitchen scale is a great tool to have. This colorful option is easy to use and will measure up to 11 pounds. It also has a handy automatic shut-off feature to help preserve battery life.

8 / 9
Bed Bath & Beyond

Help a new cook keep flour, sugar, brown sugar, and the like as fresh as possible with these airtight canisters. The set also comes with some handy accessories like a tamper and a leveler.

9 / 9

To some, a mandoline might seem like a more advanced kitchen tool, but we think this slicer should have a home in all homes. It makes quick work of slicing, cutting, and julienning veggies of all kinds and it’s super fun to use. This version is slimmer than most, so it will easily slide into a drawer or cabinet, though we bet it won’t spend a lot of time hiding in there.

Just for Fun

1 / 2

There’s no need for home cooks to get their smartphone covered in flour while they're trying to Google measurements. This apron has all the conversions they’ll need: all they have to do is look down and maybe do a bit of math. The design is printed upside-down, which is actually right side up when someone is wearing it.

2 / 2

Following a recipe is one thing, but actually knowing how to cook is another. This book clearly illustrates the fundamentals that can turn a wannabe cook into someone who knows their way around a kitchen. Samin Nosrat believes that, by mastering four elements (salt, fat, acid, and heat), anyone can make delicious food. We agree.