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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 step up their game in the kitchen.
Whether you're shopping for the holidays, a housewarming, a birthday, or just because, find something at every price point on this list of the best gifts for new cooks.
Best Cutting Board: Material The reBoard
Cutting boards don’t have to be just another bland necessity in the kitchen. Material’s The reBoard, available in seven different colors, is made from 100 percent recycled material, with plastic combined with renewable sugarcane that makes the board extra durable. The cutting board is both aesthetic and functional and would make a perfect gift for those who love prepping ingredients in the kitchen. It earned high marks from our tester and it's one of our editor's picks this year.
“These gorgeous cutting boards are lightweight (but they don't warp!) and they come in a bunch of great colors. They're also dishwasher safe and are made of recycled plastic.” — Ariel Knutson, Associate Editorial Director
Best Cookware: Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
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 6 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
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
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
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 Corkscrew: Laguiole En Aubrac Solid Horn Waiters Corkscrew
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
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
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 Hot Dish: Great Jones Hot Dish
The Great Jones Hot Dish is a must-have in the kitchen with its simple, retro design and high functionality. The “casserole dish” is more than just for casseroles. Able to withstand oven heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, the hot dish is great for baking brownies and pies or making a cheesy batch of evenly-cooked lasagna. It’s also microwave and dishwasher safe, so you don’t have to worry about reheating food or washing the dish. It's also a top editor's pick this year.
"Doesn't looking at this dish make you feel happy? I love the updated midcentury design on this versatile, oven-to-table ceramic stoneware. Splurge on the whole Fully Baked set if you’re flush." - Adriana Velez, Senior Editor
Best Chef's Knife: Global 8-Inch Chef's Knife
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. 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 Mixer: KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer
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.
"Even with lightweight tasks like whipping cream or mixing cake batter that could be done by hand or with a hand mixer, this machine proved its worth." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Vegetable Peeler: LINDEN SWEDEN Original Jonas Vegetable 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 Carafe: Bormioli Rocco Premium Carafe
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
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
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
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
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. Our tester was impressed with its performance, and its aesthetic appeal makes it quite giftable.
"The surface is sturdy enough that you can cut the pizza right on the stone, and it retains heat well enough that it keeps the pizza warm while everyone is eating." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Toaster: HAY Sowden Toaster
The HAY Sowden Toaster is a colorful, one-of-a-kind, retro-vibe toaster that looks great in the kitchen. Available in three different colors, the toaster has a fun dial to use to set your optimal toasting time, and the top doubles as a warming tray for other breads of your choice. It also has a crumb tray that’s easy to remove and clean to keep the toaster in top shape. It's one of our editor's picks this year.
“This unique find is perfect for anyone you know who wants to have ‘the coolest toaster on the block.’ The Sowden Toaster is 1950s chic meets Swatch. Bread beware…” — Todd Coleman, Creative Content Director, Social
Best Knife Set: Wüsthof 8-Piece Stainless-Steel Steak Knife Set
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 Smart Tool: Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System
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
Every new cook needs a high-quality chef's knife, which makes the Global Classic Chef's Knife one of our top gift picks. You also can't go wrong with Material’s The reBoard (view at materialkitchen.com) or the Rachael Ray 10-Piece Cucina Nonstick Bakeware Set (view at Amazon) for someone who likes to bake.
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 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.