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If you have a friend who has only recently learned how to cook, it's likely that their kitchen holds only the most essential tools. Help them expand their culinary expertise (and kitchen gadget collection) by gifting them with something from this list, where you'll find suggestions for beginning bakers or coffee lovers, as well as "must-have" tools recommended by chefs that will help a novice cook level up in the kitchen.
Whether you're shopping for a housewarming, birthday, or "just because", find something at every price point in this list for the best gifts for new cooks.
This stainless steel roasting pan by Calphalon is a fantastic addition to your cookware—you'll be able to confidently cook your own roast chicken, prime rib, or Thanksgiving turkey. It features a heavy-gauge aluminum core to promote even heating, and a nonstick roasting rack to keep your turkey suspended so excess fat will drain and your protein will develop that desirable crispy skin.
This sturdy pan can be used in the oven, under the broiler, and right on the stovetop (perfect for making pan gravy). Riveted handles allow you to easily and securely transport your roast to and from the oven. Since it doesn't have a nonstick coating, you can use metal utensils to scrape up the browned bits without worrying about damage. You'll also be able to scrub away any food particles and place it right into the dishwasher for easy cleanup.
Even the most beginner-level cook can master dessert with this popular ice cream maker from Cuisinart. It has a generous 2-quart capacity and a countdown timer to monitor the progress of your frozen treat. The control panel has three different settings and multiple speeds for making ice cream, gelato, sorbets, and more.
Freeze the bowl 24 hours ahead of time and make a full batch in just 20 minutes. Add chocolate chips, crushed cookies, nuts, or fruit using the ingredient spout to customize your ice cream and get creative with flavor combinations. The machine will shut off automatically once the ice cream is done.
Elevate any table setting with a stunning set of steak knives from Wüsthof, a renowned knife manufacturer based in Germany. These precision-forged knives are made of 18/10 stainless steel from tip to handle, giving them the same quality as a heavy-duty kitchen knife. The serrated blade will make it easy to slice steak (or any other cut of meat) with style.
Knives should be washed by hand, dried, then stored in the included velvet-lined wooden presentation box. These knives also come with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
Making cookies can be a fun and sometimes therapeutic activity that can also be done as a family. This cookie press by OXO is a great way to make uniform shortbread or sugar cookies with just a pump of a lever. Simply fill the chamber with dough, and use the lever to push out the perfect amount of dough per cookie.
This model comes with 12 different discs, from floral designs to snowflakes and wreaths, so you can create decorative treats to share for special occasions at work or family gatherings. The entire press disassembles for easy filling and cleaning, and the included instruction manual has four recipes to get you started.
A good cutting board is a kitchen essential, and if you want to preserve the longevity of your knives, a wooden cutting board is your best bet. This set of three boards is made from organically grown bamboo, a sustainable, eco-friendly material that grows back quickly—preserving hardwood forests while providing a durable cutting surface.
The largest board in this set is ideal for use as a cutting board, while the smaller ones can be used for prepping small quantities or for creating a charcuterie board.
An enameled Dutch oven is one of the most versatile pieces of cookware one can own. From baking bread to making chili, the heavy construction of a cast-iron oven retains heat well and promotes even cooking for long braises and simmering stews. This Dutch oven from Lodge holds 4.5 quarts, a big enough capacity to make a generous amount of beef bourguignon.
Cast iron can go from stovetop to oven with ease and is attractive enough to use as a serving dish on the table. The porcelain enamel is easy to clean and resistant to scratches and stains—you'll be able to keep this piece of cookware for a lifetime.
A stand mixer can be quite a financial commitment, but it's a worthy investment for those who love to cook, according to Chef Amy Sins, chef and owner of Langlois in New Orleans. "If you’re a novice chef it is perfect and it is a tool you can grow into with tons of attachments," says Sins.
While Sins has faithfully used a professional version of this machine in her restaurant kitchen for over 15 years, the KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-qt Stand Mixer is a much more manageable home version thanks to its smaller size. It has ten speeds, a whisk, paddle attachment, and dough hook, and features a tilt-head for easy access to the stainless steel bowl. Great for making yeasted bread, mixing cake batter, beating egg whites, and more, home cooks can explore more adventurous cooking endeavors like homemade pasta and country patés—they just have to buy the attachments.
For the home cook that has developed an interest in baking, this bakeware set is a perfect gift. Made of heavy gauge steel, the nonstick surface of these pans makes it easy to remove cakes and muffins from their tins. This set includes two baking sheets, two 9-inch round cake pans, a 9-inch square cake pan, a two-piece loaf pan, 9 x 13-inch covered rectangular cake pan, and a 12 cup muffin pan—everything a beginner could need for their foray into baked goods.
Silicone grip handles provide a solid grasp for moving pans in and out of the oven, and the pans are oven safe up to 450 degrees.
For those who are still working on their knife skills, a mandoline can help speed up shredding and slicing tasks. "Our choice at home is the OXO chef's mandoline," says Omid Tavallai, chef and co-founder of Emperor Norton of Paris. "The straight blade can be turned around and used as a wavy blade for making crinkle-cut pickles or even waffle fries. It's an easy way to add some fanciness to your cooking without risking your fingertips."
Its simple design consists of a single stainless steel blade on one side that provides even, precise cuts; adjust the thickness of your slices using the knob on the side. It also comes with a plastic safety grip to hold onto whatever you're slicing while protecting your fingers. The blades all attach to the mandoline, and the food holder snaps onto the bottom to keep all the parts together for storage.
Fresh herbs are a great way to liven up home-cooked dishes, and you'll have them right at your fingertips if you grow them yourself. This indoor garden includes a planter base, an LED lamp arm, and three basil starter pods. The proprietary soil mix is inspired by NASA research and contains nutrients released in sync with the plant's life cycle.
The company also offers a variety of seeds to choose from so you can customize the herbs that you are growing (or you can simply buy your own seeds). Available in three colors to coordinate with any kitchen, this is a fun way to add some plant life to an indoor space without taking up too much room.
Black pepper is an oft-used spice in the kitchen, but pre-ground doesn't pack the same punch that freshly ground pepper does. This French-made pepper mill from Peugeot comes in a variety of finishes and an iconic silhouette that also looks beautiful sitting on the table. Turn the base to select your grind—from fine to coarse—and hand mill your pepper as needed.
Each mill is carved from PEFC certified beech wood from local sustainably managed French forests. There is a lifetime warranty on the mechanism and a five-year warranty on the body of the mill.
While an electric corkscrew is a fun gadget to have, nothing compares to the reliability of a waiter's corkscrew, the preferred tool of professional sommeliers around the world. This beautifully crafted wine key by Laguiole is handmade in France—this model's handle is made of solid buffalo horn, and the foil cutter and worm are made of heavy-duty stainless steel.
Each corkscrew is pieced together by a single craftsman and comes in a beautiful ebony storage box that makes it perfect to give as a gift. Laguiole guarantees its wine keys with a lifetime manufacturer's warranty.
For nearly a decade, Tavallai's company has worked almost exclusively with specialty coffee purveyors as they began to sprout up around Paris. He noted that while other brewing methods have come and gone, the Hario V60 setup has been a constant fixture at popular coffee shops around the city and is easy to use at home. "Their glass seems light and delicate but it's sturdy and compact," says Tavallai. "Add in their gram scale to get the perfect brew. If you want to go over the top, splurge on a conical burr grinder and the Hario Buono electric gooseneck kettle for water at the perfect temperature for brewing."
This kit comes with a ceramic dripper, glass serving pot, filters, and a coffee scoop to get you started on building that perfect morning cup of coffee.
Cooking meat can be intimidating for new cooks, but this instant-read thermometer takes all the guesswork out of measuring the doneness of a cast-iron seared steak. Simply use the thin probe to gauge the internal temperature of your meat within seconds. The backlit digital display shows temperature in both metric and imperial measurements and has a range from -58 to 572 degrees.
This thermometer can also be used for making candy or monitoring oil temperature for deep-frying. The body is waterproof, so you don't have to worry about splashing or accidentally dropping the thermometer into water.
Tech-loving cooks will appreciate this induction burner set by Hestan Cue. This appliance uses Bluetooth to connect a tri-ply stainless steel smart pan, induction burner, and app to guide you through recipes and control cooking temperatures. The app features easy to follow, chef-tested recipes with videos to walk you through the steps.
"This is a tool my hubby, who doesn’t cook, feels confident using when I’m out of town," says Sins. Though it comes with a hefty price tag, it's a tool that can help novice cooks expand their cooking repertoire and gain confidence in the kitchen.
"There are many types of vegetable peelers, from moderately priced plasticky things to very expensive Swiss-engineered showpiece," says Tavallai. "They all leave a lot to be desired when compared to this classic peeler." He loves the straight, virtually unbreakable swivel blade that stays sharp for peeling everything from potatoes to apples, shaving chocolate, or making zucchini tagliatelle.
Made of 18/10 stainless steel, this peeler also features an ergonomic handle that makes it suitable for both right- and left-handed cooks. It also carries a 10-year warranty from the manufacturer.
Anthony Bourdain famously recommended the Global Chef's Knife as a great knife for beginners in his book, Kitchen Confidential, and it is still a fantastic choice. Made of high-tech molybdenum/vanadium stainless steel, this well-balanced knife retains its sharpness really well. The dimpled handle provides plenty of grip so the knife won't slip out of your hand.
Since it's very lightweight, you won't get fatigued if you're chopping and slicing for an extended period of time. This knife also comes with a lifetime warranty against defects and breakage.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The author of this piece, Bernadette Machard de Gramont, is an LA-based writer who specializes in global food and wine content. She spent two years working for Williams-Sonoma HQ and as a result, amassed a solid collection of kitchen gadgets and small appliances. She personally owns and uses several of the products mentioned above, like the Peugeot U'Select Paris pepper mill, Laguiole corkscrew, Global chef knife, Hario V60 pour-over set, and Kitchenaid stand mixer. She also interviewed two experts for this piece: Amy Sins, chef and owner of Langlois in New Orleans, and Omid Tavallai, chef and owner of Emperor Norton of Paris.