Graduation Gift Ideas for the Kitchen

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

It’s graduation season. That means thousands of young people are headed out into the world, getting new apartments, settling into new routines . . . and reaching for the takeout menus.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’re going to a friend’s graduation this weekend, and so we’ve been shopping for a good gift, and pulling together a few suggestions for you all as well. These aren’t necessarily the same as the items on our stocking a new kitchen list. These are things that someone who barely cooks will find useful, and thus will be encouraged to use his or her kitchen more.

Graduation Gift Ideas for Beginning Cooks and Non-Cooks

A blender Yes, it will probably be used for making smoothies and frozen cocktails at first. But include a few recipes for basic pureed soups and sauces, and they might just start experimenting.
A basic spice set For the first four months of living on my own, everything was seasoned with either garlic, onion powder, chili powder, or cinnamon. Why? Those were the spices the dollar store sold, and I was too broke to afford anything else. For this gift, just put together a good basic collection of spices, including oregano, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, tarragon, or even some spice blends.
A decent knife We’ve talked before about the value of a good knife, and how having one can exponentially increase your joy in the kitchen. For a graduation gift, give them a decent quality knife, and enclose a letter with your tips on the care and use.
A good skillet and/or a good saucepan If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of trying to make something in a flimsy pot, and watching it burn so easily, then take pity on your graduate. Get them a heavy frying pan or saucepan that will distribute the heat.
A sheet pan and a mixing bowl One of the first things people learn to make in a kitchen are cookies. So encourage them to get cooking by giving a sheet pan, which can be used for cookies and other dishes as well, a mixing bowl, and your favorite cookie recipe.
A toaster oven Somehow a toaster oven is less intimidating than the big one. And again, it’s a gateway
drug appliance. If they start making toast, maybe one day they’ll make their own bread.
The Joy of Cooking This classic is still one of our go-to books, and it’s great for a brand new cook. Whether they’re wondering how to boil an egg, or how to make a hamburger,
Joy of Cooking will have the answer.
• Buy Joy of Cooking, $23.10 at Amazon
• Another great option for a new grad: How To Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman, The Minimalist. $14.93 at Amazon.

Graduation Gift Ideas for More Experienced Cooks

And for those graduates with more kitchen skills, who are thrilled to have their own kitchens, here are a few additional ideas:

A stand mixer Even people who don’t cook that much have learned to idolize the colorful KitchenAid stand mixer.

A Microplane We can’t imagine our kitchen without one or two. And, since most post-college kitchens are small, they take up less space than a
A large wooden cutting board It’s just nice to be able to spread out when you’re chopping, and not resort to something flimsy and plastic.
A pretty set of dishes Help them show off their cooking successes on new plates and bowls, rather than grandma’s hand-me-downs.

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