In these food obsessed times, there’s a high likelihood that your graduate is a foodie, but also likely accustomed to the ease of college or graduate school dining to venture into the kitchen. Whether they are in the first throes of adulthood with a shoebox sized kitchen, or re-entering the world with a further degree, they will surely appreciate some basic cooking equipment.
While not exhaustive, our list is a helpful primer of culinary essentials, and who wouldn’t be enthused by shiny, gift-wrapped appliances? Pair any (or all!) of these gifts with a favorite cookbook—we happen to know of a good one!—for the ideal graduation present that will guarantee you at least one home cooked meal.
1. Mini food processor
For everything from mincing to dicing to mixing, food processors are a versatile kitchen tool for any established or aspiring home cook. But the full-sized versions are often expensive and bulky, so gift your graduate with a smaller processor, which will be easier to store, and just as helpful.
High speed blenders come in a range of prices, and will be a boon to any kitchen. Whether it’s soups, smoothies, or (let’s be honest) frozen margaritas, a blender makes a terrific present for a newly minted cook. In fact, if a food processor seems excessive and expensive, purchase a blender with high horsepower instead.
3. Hand Mixer
If your graduate enjoys baking, a handheld mixer will be indispensable in their arsenal of appliances. Far more affordable and space saving than a stand mixer, hand mixers are available in a range of prices, and easy to clean and store.
4. Coffee Maker
Even as coffee shops are ever popular, few things beat a hot steamy cup of Joe sipped in the privacy of your own home. Spring for a high quality drip coffee maker, and your graduate (and their energy reserves) will thank you. Hot tip—look out for a new line for our friends at Braun in the coming weeks.
9. Knife Block
Every cook needs a good set of knives. For a wonderful gift, though, we recommend a knife block, which come in many varieties and price ranges. If you’re going for just a few knives, make sure to include a large, sharp chef’s knife, a small paring knife, and a long serrated blade. Need to learn how to properly use them? We’ve got you covered.
10. Garlic Press
In the kitchen, time saving tools are always a plus. Garlic presses are economical, easy to use, and a snap to clean. Not only will you have evenly crushed cloves, but the sticky pieces won’t end up everywhere.
POTS & PANS
5. Cast Iron
Although they require a bit more upkeep (read: pre-seasoning and no dishwashing), cast iron pans are truly the unsung heroes among pans. Whether you go for the totally acceptable hardware store brands, or spend a bit extra for a premium pan, naturally oven-safe cast irons make for even cooking and will help provide that perfect sear.
Easy to use and quick to clean, a set of nonstick pans make a great gift for home cooks. Stick to high quality on these, though, as the nonstick surface is prone to wear and tear.
7. Baking Round
Whether a baking novice or a pâtissier extraordinaire, everyone needs at least one round baking pan. The basic size is a 9-inch, so start there, and then gift more according to your grad’s enthusiasm for the sweeter side of things. Pair a baking round with a hand mixer and a cookie sheet for a cohesive gift an amateur baker will appreciate.
8. Set of pots
Anyone delving into the world of cooking needs at least one pot—preferably three (or more). Pots are sold widely in a huge range of prices. For an essential set, purchase one large, tall pot for soups and boiling pasta, one small saucepan for making, you guessed it, sauces, and then a medium sized pot for everything in between.
11. Kitchen Towels
Professional chefs are never without a towel, either tucked into their apron or wrapped around a pan handle. Kitchen towels soak up spills, provide protection from hot edges, and are essential for drying newly washed items. A set of kitchen towels will be appreciated by any home cook, and can add a pop of color and design to the room.
A fun, colorful apron (monogrammed, perhaps?) is always a perfect gift for any cook, aspiring or masterful. Plus, you can never have too many of them, and a collection makes for fun kitchen activities en masse.
13. Tablecloth or Table Mats
What’s the use in cooking if you’re not stylishly equipped to serve your creations? From practical easy-to-clean plastic and vinyl mats to brightly hued ones made of cloth, table mats and cloths make meals feel civilized, and reduce cleanup.