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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 on this list of the best gifts for new cooks.
Best Roasting Pan: Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Roaster With Rack
Heats quickly and evenly
Rack is nonstick for easy food release
Handles aren’t super comfortable
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 chicken or turkey suspended so excess fat will drain and your protein will develop that desirable crispy skin. Our tester can attest to this pan's stellar performance: "My chicken was evenly browned and the skin was cooked to crisp perfection, indicating excellent heat flow in and around the entire bird," she says.
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 the pan right into the dishwasher for easy cleanup.
"I like that it fits easily over two burners, which is helpful for making things like pan gravy." — Sharon Lehman, Product Tester
Best Countertop Appliance: Cuisinart ICE-70W Cool Creations Ice Cream Maker
Automatic and manual modes
Opening for adding ingredients
Heavy freezer bowl
24-hour freeze time for bowl
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. Our tester says the resulting ice cream is a fluffy soft serve, which hardens into decadent ice cream after a couple of hours in the freezer. 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.
"The coolest feature is the slightly slower churn on the gelato setting—one of the hallmarks of genuine gelato." — J. Fergus, Product Tester
Best Knife Set: Wüsthof 8-Piece Stainless-Steel Steak Knife Set
Made of high-quality stainless steel
Well-balanced and comfortable to use
Very sharp and cuts through steak easily
Wooden case is low-quality
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. Thanks to the serrated blade, many customers say it's easy to slice steak (or any other cut of meat).
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.
Best Cookie Press: OXO Good Grips Cookie Press
Easy to use and clean
Variety of designs
Comes with recipes
Dough sometimes gets stuck in the plunger
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.
Best Cutting Boards: Totally Bamboo 3-Piece Bamboo Cutting Board Set
Beautiful bamboo grain
Slim profile makes storage easy
Handle cutouts for holding or hanging
Needs seasoning before first use
May not be large enough for everyone
Must be washed by hand
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. Our reviewer does note that the wood is a little harder than many woods used for cutting boards, but also that it's soft enough to protect your knife blades.
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.
"These boards want to be seen. Sure, I used them in the kitchen for cutting, but I also found myself pulling them out for serving cheese or appetizers." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Cookware: Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
Easy to use and care for
Retains heat well
Limited lifetime warranty
Rounded bottom translates to smaller cooking surface
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—or even a Moroccan chicken tagine, which our tester made: "This was one of the easiest and tastiest dishes I've ever made—and my guests agreed on the latter point."
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.
"All Dutch ovens are not created equal. But when it comes to performance, the Lodge seems to cook just as well as its more expensive competitors." — Tierney McAfee, Product Tester
Best Bakeware: Rachael Ray 10-Piece Cucina Nonstick Bakeware Set
Easy to clean
Nonstick finish scratches easily
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- by 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.
Best Mandoline: OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer 2.0
Superior blade makes slicing a cinch
17 settings for variable thickness
Wavy blade can create waffle and crinkle-cut fries
Safety setting protects you when not in use
Protection holder only accommodates certain produce
Bulky design makes it hard to store
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—which our product tester says is the mandoline's best feature, adding that it was far superior to other mandolines she's tried. The blades all attach to the mandoline, and the food holder snaps onto the bottom to keep all the parts together for storage.
"The sheer number of settings make this device feel like a professional tool." — Rachel Ellison, Product Tester
Best Herb Garden Kit: Click and Grow Smart Garden 3 Self Watering Indoor Garden
Easy to set up and use
Guaranteed germination within a few days
Lights work on their own timer
App alerts you when water reservoir is low
Light is very bright and on for 16 hours
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. Customers rated this garden kit highly for how easy it is to set up and use, even for those who don't have a green thumb.
Best Pepper Mill: Peugeot Paris u'Select 9-Inch Pepper Mill
Four grind settings
Comfortable to hold
Made from sustainable French wood
May have some trouble with the finest grind setting
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. Not only is it pleasing to the eyes; many users say it's also a workhorse. 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.
Best Corkscrew: Laguiole En Aubrac Solid Horn Waiters Corkscrew
Comes in ebony storage box
Easy to use
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.
Best For Coffee Lovers: Hario Ceramic V60 Coffee Pour-Over Kit
Easy to use
Drip filter can be used over your own mug
Makes a very smooth cup of coffee
Glass server is fragile
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.
Best Meat Thermometer: Alpha Grillers Instant Read Thermometer
Display is backlit
Accurately reads temperatures
Magnet on back for easy storage
Not actually an instant-read thermometer
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 in about four to seven seconds, according to our product tester. The backlit digital display shows temperature in both metric and imperial measurements and has a range from -58 to 572 degrees. Alpha Grillers claims that this thermometer is accurate within plus/minus one degree when used within a temperature range of 4 to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. Our tester tried out this claim by placing the probe in boiling water and discovered that it was indeed accurate, showing a reading of 212 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.
"The length also helps to keep your hands away from the scorching heat of a grill or stovetop." — Rebekah Joan, Product Tester
Best Smart Tool: Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System
Burner works with any induction cookware
Step-by-step recipes in app
Pans not stove or oven safe
Smart control only works with smart cookware
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.
"While grilled cheese seems simple, it’s tempting to rush the cooking at a high temperature, so the bread burns before the cheese is properly melted. Using the Cue to control the pan, the cooking time seemed long, but the wait was worth it. The bread was perfectly golden brown on both sides and the cheese was warm and melted. It was better than the grilled cheese sandwiches that my mom made. I made that same recipe several times, with perfect results each time." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Vegetable Peeler: LINDEN SWEDEN Original Jonas Vegetable Peeler
Comfortable to hold
Can be used both right- and left-handed
Pricey for a peeler
"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.
Best Chef's Knife: Global 8-Inch Chef's Knife
Dimpled handle provides great grip
May scratch easily
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. Many customers agree, with one saying that because of how great it feels in the hand, "I find myself doing things in my prep work I have never tried before."
Plus, 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.
Best Carafe: Bormioli Rocco Premium Carafe
Well-balanced for pouring
Beautiful, unique design
Tricky to clean
This carafe makes a lovely presentation for everything from water to orange juice to cocktails and would look just as nice on display on a shelf or used as in impromptu vase. A carafe isn’t something most people will purchase for themselves, but that makes it even better as a gift. Many people also say that the glass is sturdy, and that the carafe feels well balanced when they pour.
Best Measuring Cups: OTOTO The Nessie Family
Cute and colorful design
Sturdy and durable
Ladle is a bit small
This cute and quirky set includes a colander, a soup ladle, and a tea infuser, all shaped like the infamous Loch Ness monster. But these aren’t just cute, they’re useful. The ladle is handy for serving soup, chili, and stews; the colander can lift vegetables, pasta, or other foods while straining out liquid, and the teas strainer can be used for loose tea or infusing spices into liquids. "I cannot wait to give these as a gift," one customer raved.
Best Coffee Press: Bodum Columbia Stainless Steel Thermal Vacuum Coffee Press
Holds heat longer than glass counterparts
Makes smooth, rich coffee
Easy to clean
Lid isn't insulated
Pricey for a French press
With this coffee press, the new cook won’t need a large electric coffee maker that takes space on the counter. It’s easy to use, and since it doesn’t require proprietary pods, it’s also inexpensive to operate. This one is made from stainless steel rather than glass, so it won’t break, to the delight of many reviewers who've broken glass French presses in the past. The double-wall construction keeps the coffee warm for that second cup.
Best Rolling Pin: Top Notch Kitchenware Black Walnut French Style Rolling Pin
Rolls dough evenly
Solid and well-balanced
Tapered ends make it comfortable to use
Some say there are rough areas on the wood
This rolling pin is both beautiful and functional, making it a lovely gift that will last a lifetime. In fact, it's such a gorgeous tool that one customer says she has it displayed on her counter when it's not in use. While a rolling pin is used mostly for baking, it can also be used for other kitchen tasks, like pounding meat or crushing nuts or crackers.
Best Pizza Stone: Emile Henry Made in France Flame Pizza Stone
Holds heat well
Makes a crispy crust
Easy to clean
A bit heavy
Pizza stones are good for more than pizza—you can bake bread or heat flatbreads in the oven. This one is safe for use in the oven, under the broiler, or on a grill. It’s safe for cutting the pizza right on the stone, and has a coating that makes it dishwasher safe. While this is meant for cooking, it can also be used for serving, making it even more useful. One customer suggests to leave it in the oven after you turn it off so that the stone can cool down gradually, decreasing the chances that it will crack due to a quick change in temperature.
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.