The Best Gifts for New Cooks

Useful gifts for the novice cook in your life

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Commerce Photo Composite

The Spruce Eats / Lecia Landis

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, here are the best gifts for new cooks.

Best Cutting Board: Material The reBoard Cutting Board

5
Material the reBoard

Material

What We Like
  • Colorful

  • Eco-friendly

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • No grooves for collecting liquid

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.

Price at time of publish: $35 for Sand

Material: 75% recycled plastic, 25% sugarcane | Dimensions: 14.75 x 0.38 x 10.75 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

What Our Editors Say

“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

Material reBoard

 The Spruce Eats / Sharon Lehman 

Best Cookware: Lodge 6-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

4.8
Lodge EC6D43 Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6-Quart, Island Spice Red

Amazon

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Excellent heat retention

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

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.

Price at time of publish: $80

Material: Cast iron | Weight: 15 pounds | Dishwasher Safe: No

Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

The Spruce Eats / Tierney McAfee 

What Our Testers Say

"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

Rachael Ray 10-Piece Cucina Nonstick Bakeware Set

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to clean

  • Silicone grip

  • Lid for transporting baked goods

What We Don't Like
  • Hand wash only

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.

Price at time of publish: $110

Material: Carbon steel | Heat Resistance: Up to 450 degrees | Dishwasher Safe: No

Best Mandoline: OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer 2.0

4.3
OXO SteeL Chef's Mandoline Slicer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Sharp blade

  • Adjustable thickness

  • Safety grip

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky

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.

Price at time of publish: $98

Material: Stainless steel, plastic | Dimensions: 3.8 x 17.6 x 7.1 inches | Dishwasher Safe: No

OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer 2.0

The Spruce Eats / Rachel Ellison

What Our Testers Say

"The sheer number of settings make this device feel like a professional tool."Rachel Ellison, Product Tester

Best Herb Garden Kit: Click & Grow The Smart Garden 3

Click & Grow The Smart Garden 3

Amazon

What We Like
  • Nutrient-rich soil mix

  • Sleek design

  • Self watering

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey replacement pods

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.

Price at time of publish: $80

Number of Grow Pods: 3 | Dimensions: 9 x 4.9 x 12.5 inches | Weight 3.52 pounds

Best Corkscrew: Laguiole En Aubrac Solid Horn Waiters Corkscrew

Laguiole En Aubrac Solid Horn Waiters Corkscrew

Amazon

What We Like
  • Handmade

  • Storage box

  • Lifetime warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

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.

Price at time of publish: $160

Material: Stainless steel, buffalo horn | Weight: 9.6 ounces | Finish: Polished

Best for Coffee Lovers: Hario Ceramic V60 Coffee Pour-Over Kit

Hario Ceramic V60 Coffee Pour-Over Kit

Amazon

What We Like
  • Simple design

  • Compact

  • Comes with filters

What We Don't Like
  • Fragile glass

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.

Price at time of publish: $40

Material: Ceramic, glass | Capacity: 4 cups | Type: Pour over

Best Meat Thermometer: Alpha Grillers Instant Read Thermometer

4.3
Alpha Grillers Instant Read Thermometer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Accurate reads

  • Backlit display

What We Don't Like
  • Not instant

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.

Price at time of publish: $20

Weight: 4.8 ounces | Dimensions: 6.3 x 2 x 1.6 inches | Battery: LR44

Alpha Grillers Instant Read Meat Thermometer

The Spruce Eats / Rebekah Joan

What Our Testers Say

"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

great jones hot dish

Great Jones

What We Like
  • Retro design

  • Versatile

  • High heat resistance

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

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.

Price at time of publish: $45

Material: Ceramic | Heat Resistance: Up to 450 degrees  | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

What Our Editors Say

"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: Mac Knife Professional 8 Inch Hollow Edge Chef Knife With Dimples

4.9
Mac Knife Professional Series 8-Inch Chef's Knife with Dimples

Amazon

What We Like
  • Super sharp blade that lasts

  • Balanced

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • No included sheath

A high-quality chef’s knife is a worthy investment, as it’s one of the most-used kitchen tools. “A good knife is an extension of your arm,” says Roger Sitrin, lead recreational chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. 

This knife received top marks in our Lab testing, during which our experts tried it on garlic, onion, tomato, and even a piece of paper. On the tomato, there was no tearing, and the knife was able to slice very thinly with ease. Garlic was smashed and minced flawlessly, and the knife's sharp hollow edge glided through an onion. It only experienced a slight drag when cutting butternut squash and properly sliced through paper twice, with only minimal tearing on the second run. The comfortable grip, balanced blade, and sharp edge make it a joy to use in the kitchen. Just note that this doesn’t come with a sheath.

Price at time of publish: $175

Material: Alloy steel, Pakkawood | Blade Length: 8.25 inches | Handle Length: 4.25 inches | Weight: 6.75 ounces | Dishwasher Safe: No

What Our Testers Say

When cutting the garlic, onion, and tomato, we essentially let the weight of the knife glide through the items—very smooth.”  — Donna Currie, Product Tester

Best Mixer: KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer

4.8
KitchenAid Artisan 5 qt. Stand Mixer

Bed Bath & Beyond

What We Like
  • 10 speeds

  • Heavy-duty bowl with handle

  • Variety of optional attachments

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

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.

Price at time of publish: $160

Material: Zinc, stainless steel | Weight: 22.8 pounds | Dimensions: 8.7 x 13.9 x 14.1 inches

KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer

 The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

What Our Testers Say

"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: Oxo Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler

5
OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler

Amazon

What We Like
  • Sharp blade

  • Non-slip comfortable grip

  • Peels in both directions

  • Peels smoothly and easily

What We Don't Like
  • A little pricey

Peeling is one of those everyday kitchen tasks that, depending on the tool you have, can be a breeze or total nightmare. This top-rated option from Oxo makes peeling nice and smooth, with peels falling away instead of getting stuck in the blade. Our tester noted that it took just 30 seconds to peel a potato using this peeler. It was even comfortable to hold after a long session, peeling wonderfully in both directions, making it an ideal choice for both right- and left-handed users. So when Thanksgiving rolls around and you need to make a big pot of mashed potatoes or apple pie from scratch, you’ll be glad to have this in your utensil drawer.

Price at time of publish: $16

Blade Material: Stainless steel | Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.25 x 0.75 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"It took an average of 30 seconds per potato to peel average-sized potatoes. The peeling felt smooth, and the peels fell away from the peeler rather than getting stuck in the blade."Donna Currie, Product Tester

Best Dry Measuring Cups: Bellemain 6-Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set

4.8
Bellemain Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set, 6 Piece

 Amazon

What We Like
  • Sturdy

  • Nesting storage

  • Etched measurements won’t wear away

What We Don't Like
  • Small handles

Dry measuring cups are essential for baking, and this six-piece set has everything you need––even the more elusive 2/3-cup and 3/4-cup measures that aren’t always included in basic sets. Each cup is etched with U.S. and metric sizes right on the handle, so you can tell what measurement is in your hand even if the cup is filled with an ingredient, and you don’t have to worry about it wearing away over time. They don’t come attached, but if that’s your preference, there’s a hole in each handle if you want to keep them on a ring.

Price at time of publish: $25

Material: Stainless steel | Number of Pieces: 6 | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Best Wet Measuring Cups: Oxo Good Grips 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set

5
OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set

Amazon

What We Like
  • Measurements can be read from above

  • Clear red markings

  • Non-slip handles

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic may wear over time

Liquid measuring cups are definitely not the same as dry measuring cups, so it’s a good idea to have both. You can use these to measure water, juice, milk, oil––whatever you need. Standout features on these include a non-slip grip that makes them easy to hold, even if your hands are messy, and measurement markings that can be read from above or the side. When they need to be cleaned, you can simply toss them in the dishwasher.

Price at time of publish: $24

Material: Plastic | Number of Pieces: 3 | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

Best Coffee Press: Espro French Press Everyday P3

5
Espro P3 French Press

Amazon

What We Like
  • Double filter

  • Easy to clean

  • Makes strong coffee

What We Don't Like
  • Poor insulation

After Lab testing more than 20 French presses, the Espro French Press Everyday P3 was declared the best overall––and for good reason. The coffee it makes tasted better and had less sediment than its competitors, which can be partially attributed to its patented double filter system. The only real criticism was poor insulation. Our testers brewed a full pot, and it was lukewarm after 30 minutes, ranking near the bottom of the models tested. That said, our testers called it a tremendous bang for your buck. The simple, yet stylish design is sure to look at home in any kitchen.

Price at time of publish: $40

Material: Glass and polypropylene | Capacity: 32 ounces | Finish: Black | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

What Our Testers Say

"The P3 tied for the best brew quality, not so coincidentally with the Espro P7. The ultra-fine, double-filter construction ensures a consistent, high-quality brew every time." — Donna Currie, Product Tester

Best Rolling Pin: Top Notch Kitchenware Black Walnut French Style Rolling Pin

Black Walnut French Style Rolling Pin: Tapered Solid Wood Design. By Top Notch Kitchenware!

Amazon

What We Like
  • Solid wood

  • Uses beyond baking

  • Tapered design

What We Don't Like
  • Wood fades over time

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.

Price at time of publish: $45

Material: Black walnut | Dimensions: 18 x 1.75 x 1.75 inches | Dishwasher Safe: No

Best Pizza Stone: Emile Henry Made in France Flame Pizza Stone

Emile Henry Made In France Flame Pizza Stone, 14.6 x 14.6", Burgundy

Amazon

What We Like
  • Oven-, broiler-, and grill-safe

  • Convenient handles

  • Elegant

What We Don't Like
  • Not very large

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.

Price at time of publish: $70

Material: Glazed ceramic | Dimensions: 14.6 x 1.0 x 14.6 inches | Dishwasher Safe: Yes

emile-henry-pizza-stone-pie

The Spruce / Donna Currie

What Our Testers Say

"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: Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice Toaster (22811)

5
Hamilton Beach 22811 Keep Warm 2-Slice Toaster

Amazon

What We Like
  • Easy to remove food

  • Defrost and bagel settings

  • Easy to clean

What We Don't Like
  • Short cord

Simple, speedy, and consistent, the Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice Toaster gets the job done. It has settings for regular toasting, bagels, defrosting, and even has a keep warm button should you need a little more time to finish making your coffee or eggs.

Our tester was elated with how well the appliance toasts both sides of a regular piece of bread, leaving no area untoasted. She also raved about the bagel setting, which cooks the inside of the bread without making the outside overly crispy. The toaster also features a “Toast Boost,” which raises your slices out of the toaster, making them easier to remove without burning your fingertips.

Price at time of publish: $49

Material: Stainless steel, plastic | Dimensions: 7.8 x 11.3 x 11.3 inches | Capacity: 2 slices | Wattage: 800

Hamilton Beach Toaster Review

The Spruce Eats / Camryn Rabideau

What Our Testers Say

"It performs reliably and has several settings, making it a worthwhile investment for any home." Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester

Best Knife Set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Set

4.3
Chicago Cutlery 1119644 Fusion Forged 18-Piece Knife Block Set, Stainless Steel

Amazon

What We Like
  • Sleek design

  • Great variety of knives

  • Super-sharp edges

  • Includes sharpening steel

What We Don't Like
  • Knife block could be nicer

A knife set isn’t for everyone, but if you’re just getting started, it is nice to have an assortment of knives for handling a variety of tasks. With a set, you don’t have to purchase each one individually, and the knife block offers a convenient storage solution. If you’re short on counter space you may want to store your knives in a drawer or on a magnetic strip.

In addition to the actual knife block, this collection includes a 7 3/4-inch chef knife, 7 3/4-inch serrated bread knife, 7- and 5-inch santoku knives, 5-inch utility knife, 3 1/4-inch paring knife, eight 4.5-inch steak knives, sharpening steel, and chop assist. Our tester used each knife to slice, dice, and chop everything from bell peppers to ribs to crusty baguettes. In the end, it offered an impressive performance and superb versatility.

Price at time of publish: $130

Material: High carbon stainless steel | Number of Knives: 14 | Sharpening: Sharpening steel

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 18-Piece Block Set

 The Spruce Eats / Sage McHugh

What Our Testers Say

"Aside from the unsymmetrical slots, the Chicago Cutlery knife set is well-made and looks great in our kitchen. Weighing over 13 pounds, the knife block was heavier than we expected, but that’s probably a good thing—as it certainly won’t tip over easily. We like the slanted design as it allows for easy retrieval."Sage McHugh, Product Tester

Best Smart Tool: Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System

4.8
hestan-cue-smart-cooking-system

Amazon

What We Like
  • Precise cooking

  • Beginner-friendly

  • Step-by-step recipes in app

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Price at time of publish: $498

Material: Stainless steel, ceramic | Dimensions: 12.5 x 12.5 x 2 inches | Cooking Type: Induction

hestan-cue-smart-cooking-system-using

The Spruce / Donna Currie

What Our Testers Say

"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 Nonstick Pan: All-Clad Hard Anodized E785S264/E785S263 Set of 2 Fry Pans

4.8
All-Clad E785S264 HA1 Hard Anodized Nonstick Dishwasher Safe PFOA Free 8-Inch and 10-Inch Fry Pan Cookware Set, 2-Piece, Black

Amazon

What We Like
  • Scratch-resistant coating

  • Riveted handles

  • Can use on induction cooktops

What We Don't Like
  • No large pan in set

A nonstick pan is an absolute must for cooking eggs and other delicate foods that tend to stick to the bottom of hot pans. The coating on these types of pans eventually wears out over time, so the ideal nonstick pan performs well without being too expensive. This set of two All-Clad pans is exactly that, and was declared the best overall pick by our testers. The durable construction and coating put them a cut above their competitors.

Price at time of publish: $110

Material: Aluminum | Dimensions: 19 x 11 x 6 in. | Dishwasher-Safe? Yes

Best Cast Iron Pan: Lodge Blacklock Triple-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge Blacklock Triple Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

Williams Sonoma

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Heats up fast

  • Looped handle stays cool

  • Lightweight

  • Super nonstick

What We Don't Like
  • Some spillage from pour spouts

When you think of cast iron pans, you likely think of Lodge, and it’s easy to see why: they last for years, are relatively affordable, and perform better than most competitors. This pan, which we tested in our Lab, is thinner than a classic Lodge design, which allows it to heat up twice as fast, and is extremely lightweight, making it easy to move on and off the stovetop. The looped handle boasts a high, ergonomic arch and stays cooler when transporting it in and out of a hot oven.

While the pan's pour spouts are not the best—pouring hot oil resulted in a messy countertop—our testers noted that its nonstick abilities are top-notch. Fried eggs came out of the pan effortlessly with a spatula, with minimal egg whites still stuck to the pan.

Price at time of publish: $60

Material: Cast iron | Dimensions: 15.4 x 3.3 x 10.8 inches | Weight: 5 pounds

What Our Testers Say

"This triple-seasoned pan was low maintenance between foods we made; it did not lose its seasoning after the first couple of tests and washes."  — Donna Currie, Product Tester

Best Kitchen Scale: Escali Primo Digital Food Scale

4.8
Escali Primo P115C Precision Kitchen Food Scale

Amazon

What We Like
  • Compact

  • Easy to use

  • Variety of color options

  • Visual tare reading

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t measure in milliliters

A scale is a great way to level up your baking game, since weighing ingredients is more accurate than measuring cups and spoons. With a scale, you can measure ingredients directly into mixing bowls and pots, making for a more streamlined process and, as an added bonus, fewer dishes to wash.

Our tester appreciated this scale's lightweight, compact size, as it didn’t take up much counter space during testing and was easily stored upright beside her cutting boards. She also said it was very easy to use and the provided instruction guide was clearly written. While making a pecan pie, she tested multiple ingredients using the special tare function for varied items, including sugar and flour, in the same bowl. All tests were precise and accurate.

Price at time of publish: $27

Size: 8 x 6 x 1.25 inches | Capacity: 11 pounds | Increments Value: 1 gram/0.05 ounces

Best Air Fryer: Instant Pot Instant Vortex Plus 10QT 7-in-1 Digital Air Fryer Oven

4.9
Instant Vortex Plus 7-in-1 Air Fryer Oven

 Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Seven different functions

  • Stellar performance

  • Cools quickly and quietly

  • Easy cleanup

What We Don't Like
  • Small interior relative to overall size

  • Instruction booklet is limited—full manual online

Air fryers are super trendy right now, but let’s face it: They take up a lot of room. So, if you’re going to make the cabinet space for it, you might as well get something that can do more than just air fry. Enter the Instant Pot Instant Vortex Plus, a multi-use appliance that can air fry, roast, broil, bake, reheat, dehydrate, and rotisserie. The rotating cooking basket is great for fries and wings, as it ensures everything cooks and browns evenly, and it’s large enough to cook a 4-pound chicken or roast in 45 minutes—just ask our tester, who said “it tasted as good as those that are slow-roasted for an entire day.”

Price at time of publish: $150

Weight: 16.6 pounds | Dimensions: 14 x 14 x 15 inches | Power: 1,500 watts

What Our Testers Say

"As an avid Instant Pot user, my expectations for the Instant Vortex Plus were admittedly high … luckily, it didn’t just live up to my expectations—it exceeded them."Lindsay Boyers, Product Tester

Best Combo Blender: Oster Pro 1200 Blender Food Processor Combo

Oster Pro 1200 Blender Food Processor Combo

Courtesy of Wayfair

What We Like
  • 2-in-1 appliance

  • Seven speeds

  • Preset programs

What We Don't Like
  • Noisy

Blenders and food processors might seem pretty similar (spinning blades in a bowl), but they have distinct uses and aren’t always interchangeable. Rather than get one of each, you can save a little on storage space with this 2-in-1 option that has a single base plus a blender jar and food processor bowl. Just grab the one you need, click it into the base, and blend (or chop!) away.

Price at time of publish: $160

Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 15.25 x 7.25 x 8 inches | Weight: 11.7 pounds | Capacity: 8 cups, 5 cups | Wattage: 1,200 Watts | Also Includes: 5-cup food processor bowl

Final Verdict

Every new cook needs a good cutting board, and you can't go wrong with Material’s The reBoard. Made from 100 percent recycled materials, it's both aesthetic and functional. Budding bakers will like the Rachael Ray 10-Piece Cucina Nonstick Bakeware Set, which includes every essential piece of bakeware you need for cookies, cakes, muffins, and quick bread.

What to Look for in Gifts for a New Cook

Tried and Tested

The great thing about online shopping is that product reviews and photos are readily accessible. Whether you’re checking out reviews on the product page itself or browsing our tested roundups, you’re sure to get a more well-rounded view of how a product will actually perform in your home kitchen and learn about potential pain points.

Versatility

Whether you’re looking to save money or precious counter space, multi-use tools and appliances are a great way to go. If the recipient is strapped for space, consider how often they’ll use larger appliances and whether or not they already have a cooking utensil that serves a similar purpose to a new one you’re considering.

FAQs

What kitchen essentials should every new cook have?

Good knives (a chef’s knife, paring knife, and serrated knife), dry and liquid measuring cups, a peeler, and some pans are all great to have, according to Sitrin. When purchasing kitchen tools for the first time, it can be tempting to walk down the kitchen aisle at the store and grab anything and everything, but the best way to ensure that you don’t end up with cabinets and drawers full of things you don’t actually use is to take a more gradual approach.

Starting off with a few key tools, rather than buying everything from the beginning, is the best way to build a collection. “This way, you can see what kind of cook you turn out to be and outfit yourself appropriately,” Sitrin says.

What are the most useful tools for budding bakers?

A stand mixer, digital scale, digital thermometer, cake pans, and sheet pans are among the long list of baking essentials that Sitrin recommends. Additionally, staples that need to be replenished, like parchment paper (for lining baking pans and rolling dough) and bamboo skewers (for testing cakes) are also helpful to have.

“For pricier appliances, I’m a sucker for a good quality stand mixer, blender, or food processor,” Sitrin says. “Do your homework and check for sales and refurbs; there are still deals to be had out there.” He notes that his Cuisinart food processor and KitchenAid stand mixer are more than 30 years old and still work well.

When should you invest in pricier appliances and tools?

The short answer: when you can afford it. “I always try to purchase the best-quality products the first time because in the long run, this saves money,” Sitrin says. For him, this means purchasing the best single knife you can afford rather than a set, which may have knives you’ll seldom use. “Put your money where it will be best used,” he says.

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.

Abigail Abesamis Demarest, who updated this article, is a freelance journalist who specializes in food and drink content. Giving gifts is her love language, and she loves finding functional gifts for her family and friends. She has strong opinions about kitchen essentials like nonstick pans and chef’s knives, and believes that with the right tools, anyone can cook.

Additional reporting by
Abigail Abesamis Demarest
Abigail Abesamis Demarest
Abigail Abesamis Demarest is a freelance writer, editor, and former New Yorker based in sunny Panama City Beach, Florida. Her writing has been featured in HuffPost Food & Drink, Forbes.com, Insider, The Kitchn, MarthaStewart.com, Thrillist, and more.
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