The Best Graduation Gifts for Their First Kitchen

From edible treats to vital kitchen tools, there are many gifts grads will love

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Graduating from college is a massive accomplishment. Students battle through homework, projects, and finals in order to earn their degree. If there’s a new graduate in your life, celebrate their hard work with a thoughtful and functional gift that will come in handy in their very first post-graduate kitchen.

From celebratory desserts to must-have cooking utensils, here are the best kitchen gifts for graduates.

Best Air Fryer: Chefman 3.7-Quart TurboFry Air Fryer

4.8
Chefman 3.5-Liter TurboFry Air Fryer

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Intuitive controls

  • Quiet

  • Easy to clean

What We Don't Like
  • Smaller capacity compared to other fryers

  • Only gets up to 400 degrees

Air fryers have been gaining popularity over the past couple years. They’re powerful cooking tools. This small-capacity fryer from Chefman has easy-to-use controls to change the timer or temperature. It can be set up to 60 minutes and ranges from 200 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which falls in line with most air fryer recipes. Compact and sleek, it won’t take up too much room, but looks great up on a counter. Grads can cook up fries, veggies, chicken, fish, and even tasty desserts. There are thousands of recipes you can try with an air fryer.

Our home and Lab testers found that the touch controls simple and intuitive to use. This model turned out perfectly crispy french fries and chicken tenders, too (the taste and texture outmatched several pricier models). Cleaning is also easier than others, as the basket and several other parts can be put in the dishwasher, though the metal racks must be hand washed. The only real downside here is that it lacks the versatility bake cornbread or roast a chicken. 

Capacity: 3.7 quarts | Weight: 7.2 pounds | Dimensions: 9 x 13 x 11.5 inches

What Our Testers Say

"This has become my go-to air fryer. It barely takes up any space on my countertop, has basic, intuitive controls, and turns out crisper frozen fries and tater tots than my standard oven." — Sharon Lehman, Product Tester

Best Blender: NutriBullet ZNBF30500Z Blender Combo

NutriBullet Blender Combo

Courtesy of Best Buy

What We Like
  • Easy to use and clean

  • Includes single serve cups

  • Powerful motor

What We Don't Like
  • Loud

Blenders are great for making smoothies, soups, milkshakes, and more. This blender from NutriBullet has a powerful 1,200-watt motor and strong stainless steel blades. There are three speed options, a pulse button, and an extraction function to get the most of the ingredients. The set also comes with two single-serve blending cups (one 32 ounces, the other 24 ounces) complete with to-go lids. The pitcher and cups are even dishwasher safe. NutriBullet also includes a recipe booklet to give grads some ideas on what to make. 

Includes: 1,200-watt motor base, 64-ounce blender with lid and cap, tamper, 32-ounce cup, 24-ounce cup, 2 to-go lids, easy-twist extractor blade, recipe book

Best Dinnerware: Casafina Modern Classic Ceramic Dinnerware & Serveware

casafina-modern-dinnerware

Courtesy of Food52

What We Like
  • Multiple colors

  • Microwave- and dishwasher-safe

  • Choice of soup or pasta bowls

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

After years of college living, it’s time to set up a kitchen. Grads will likely need quite a few supplies, including a good set of dinnerware. These ceramic pieces from Casafina make for a beautiful set. There are multiple colors available as well as ordering options if you just want plates, bowls, or the entire 12-piece set. Sturdy and durable, the stoneware pieces are both microwave- and dishwasher-safe for easy cooking and cleanup. 

Includes: 4 dinner plates, 4 salad plates, choice of 4 soup or pasta bowls

Best Pod Coffee Maker: Keurig K-Café Single Serve Coffee, Latte & Cappuccino Maker

Keurig K-Café Single Serve Coffee, Latte & Cappuccino Maker

Keurig

What We Like
  • Multiple drink options

  • Includes milk frother

  • Simple to use

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky

Coffee is the lifeblood of both college students and young professionals. This Keurig K-Cafe isn’t your average pod coffee maker—it can make a bunch of different drinks, including coffees, lattes, and cappuccinos, as it comes with a dishwasher-safe milk frother. There’s even a strong brew option if you prefer a potent cup of joe. Simple, yet versatile, this is an attractive and functional coffee maker. Our tester said it was easy to use, low maintenance, and "created full, foamy milk froth, perfect for an amateur latte or cappuccino." That said, this maker is oddly shaped due to the water tank and milk frother, so if your grad is looking to save on counter space, the compact Keurig K-Mini Plus may be a better fit.

Capacity: 60 ounces of water | Weight: 13.77 pounds | Dimensions: 12.5 x 15.3 x 11.7 inches

What Our Testers Say

"This would be an ideal machine for someone who wants to skip the many steps of using a home espresso machine, but still get a very similar result."Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester

Best Silverware: Robert Welch Westbury Mirror Flatware Set

4.8
Westbury Flatware

 Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

What We Like
  • Different set sizes available

  • Dishwasher safe

  • Classic look

What We Don't Like
  • Can’t wash alongside non-stainless steel utensils

Silverware is a must-have for any new kitchen. For a classic look, check out this Robert Welch set—each stainless steel piece is smooth and simple in design, with a pleasant heft. They’re also dishwasher safe. A single silverware set comes with a dinner fork, salad fork, dinner knife, soup spoon, and teaspoon, though it’s also available in a 20-piece variety, which serves five people, and a 42-piece option, which serves eight people. You could also get the 50-piece set, which serves eight, as well, but also comes with eight steak knives, a serving spoon, and a serving fork. 

Our tester appreciated the timeless design—sophisticated enough for an elegant dinner party, yet suitable for everyday use—and thought each piece was comfortable to hold and had a nice weight to it. Though the material does smudge a bit, it's simple to clean by hand or dishwasher and restore the shine via microfiber cloth. This durable 18/10 stainless steel set should hold up through many years of dinners to come.

Includes: Dinner fork, salad fork, dinner knife, soup spoon, teaspoon 

What Our Testers Say

"This flatware set is perfect for anyone that prefers a more classic look to their tablescape, and we really appreciated the versatility of the set." — Sage McHugh, Product Tester

Best Cookware: Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set

4.8
Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set

Amazon

What We Like
  • Comprehensive set

  • Uniform appearance

  • Dishwasher safe

What We Don't Like
  • May warp over time

Most college graduates are sick of ramen and takeout leftovers by the time they get their diploma, and this comprehensive 12-piece cookware set has everything they need to make incredible dinners. There are pots and pains of various sizes—each of which is oven safe up to 550 degrees. The pieces work on gas, electric, and induction stovetops and are dishwasher safe. With a lifetime warranty, this robust set is great for any budding cook. 

Our tester found the price to be "affordable considering the quality and number of useful pieces you get." They retain heat very well, too, so you can put the lid on your pot and its contents will stay warm while you finish setting the table or cooking a side dish. Just note that the side handles and lids get hot during cooking, so you’ll want to have a potholder nearby to lift them.

Includes: 1.5-quart saucepan, 3-quart saucepan, 3.5-quart sauté pan, 8-quart stockpot, 8-inch skillet, 10-inch skillet, steamer insert

What Our Testers Say

"The bright metal design hides fingerprints and won’t clash with any color schemes should you decide to paint a new backsplash in your kitchen." — Donna Currie, Product Tester

Best Knife Set: Chicago Cutlery 12-Piece Forged Premium Knife Block Set

Chicago Cutlery 12 piece knife block set

Amazon

What We Like
  • Cushion-grip handle

  • Full metal tang

  • Chestnut-stained wood block

What We Don't Like
  • Wash and dry quickly to avoid rust

Knives are incredibly useful tools in the kitchen and are well worth investing in. For a sturdy and long-lasting knife collection, consider this knife block set from Chicago Cutlery. Each knife is forged from high-carbon stainless steel for a strong and rust-resistant blade. The handles are cushioned, so you don’t have to worry about discomfort while chopping or cutting. Our tester said they were very comfortable to hold.

Thanks to the full tang, the knives are well-balanced and provide optimal control. This set comes with six steak knives as well as a handful of useful utensils, including a chef’s knife and bread knife. Our tester noted that the steak knives aren't serrated, but smoothly cut through steak anyway. It's likely that they will need to be resharpened at some point if used often.

Includes: 3.25-inch paring knife, 5-inch utility knife, 7.75-inch bread knife, 7.75-inch chef knife, 8-inch slicer knife, 6 4.50-inch steak knives, caramel-stained wood block

What Our Testers Say

"Given its extensive array of super-sharp knives, it’s definitely worth the cost." — Sage McHugh, Product Tester

Best Bakeware: Farberware 10-Piece Nonstick Steel Bakeware Set

Farberware 10 piece non stick bakeware set

Walmart

What We Like
  • Non-stick coating

  • Sturdy and warp-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • May stain over time

Maybe the grad in your life would prefer baking their own treats. They’ll need some solid bakeware to get started. Farberware has a great 10-piece selection of nonstick pans for making all sorts of baked goods. There are round and square cake pans, a muffin tin, a couple cookie pans, a loaf pan, and even a cooling rack. Each warp-resistant piece is oven safe up to 450 degrees. With this handy set, grads can bake delicious pumpkin bread or roast vegetables—whatever recipes they can dream up.

Includes: 10 x 15-inch cookie pan, 11 x 17-inch cookie pan, (2) 8-inch round cake pans, (2) 8-inch square cake pans, 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, 9 x 13-inch cake pan, 12-cup muffin pan, 9 x 14.5-inch cooling grid

Best Storage Containers: Glasslock 18-Piece Assorted Oven Safe Container Set

4.8
glasslock-18-piece-assorted-container-set

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Different sizes and shapes

  • Leak-proof and secure snap-lids

  • Oven and microwave safe

What We Don't Like
  • Lids are not heat safe

Whether someone needs to store leftovers or package food for work lunches, a good container makes all the difference. Glass containers are popular since they’re microwave- and dishwasher-safe. Glasslock has a large 18-piece set with a number of sizes and shapes included, and it's even oven safe, too. The snap-on lids are airtight and leak proof, making them great for transport.

After storing blueberries, peanuts, sunflower seeds, leftover chili, brownies, cookies, and more, our tester said that these high-quality containers were reliable, sturdy, and nice to look at. If you want a bit of color, there's a blue set available, as well. 

Includes: 6.3-cup rectangular container, (2) 3.5-cup rectangular containers, 1.6-cup rectangular container, 3.3-cup square container, 1.5-cup square container, 3.1-cup round container, 1.6-cup round container, 0.7-cup round container

What Our Testers Say

"I stored garlicky sauces and pungent leftover Thai food and found no residual scents after a quick wash." — Linnea Covington, Product Tester

Best Kitchen Utensils: Oxo Good Grips 15-Piece Kitchen Tool Set

Oxo Good Grips 15 piece kitchen tool set

Walmart

What We Like
  • Includes utensil holder

  • Dishwasher safe (except the can opener)

  • Non-slip grips

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to fit all utensils in holder

The right tools make cooking so much easier, and Oxo has a number of helpful kitchen utensils in this uniform and comprehensive set. There are practical everyday tools, such as a spatula, tongs, spoons, a can opener, and a peeler, as well as specialized tools, including a potato masher and pizza cutter. Each has a comfortable non-slip handle and is dishwasher safe (except for the can opener, which must be hand washed). The tools can be stored in the provided stainless steel holder to keep the kitchen nice and organized. 

Includes: Swivel peeler, ice cream scoop, potato masher, can opener, 11-inch whisk, spatula, meat tenderizer, 4-inch pizza wheel, nylon flexible turner, 12-inch tongs with nylon head, nylon square turner, nylon spoon, nylon slotted spoon, grater, utensil holder

Best Cutting Board: Fredericks and Mae Chopping Block

Fredericks and Mae chopping block

Coming Soon New York

What We Like
  • Bold design

  • Multiple colors available

  • Doubles as a serving platter

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Handle only on one side

Just because something is practical doesn’t mean that it has to look boring. Fredericks and Mae make incredibly vibrant and eye-catching cutting boards. Made of recycled food-safe plastic, the boards come in a variety of sizes and colors. Grads who adore bright colors may love the confetti option, while those with more subtle tastes can enjoy the black and white board. Many of the boards also come with a handle for easy maneuverability and can even double as a serving platter for parties and get-togethers. 

Material: Recycled food-safe plastic | Dimensions: 11 x 16 x 1 inches

Best Cookbook: Tasty Every Day: All of the Flavor, None of the Fuss (An Official Tasty Cookbook)

Tasty Every Day

Amazon

What We Like
  • Includes step-by-step photos

  • Meal prep tips

  • 75 different recipes

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t replicate recipes from Tasty videos

Famed for online cooking videos, Tasty developed a cookbook that’s great for newer cooks. Each of the 75 recipes has gorgeous pictures, many with step-by-step photos. The layout is easy to follow and aesthetically pleasing. Some delicious highlights include margherita French bread pizzas, steak and cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches, and shredded chicken tacos. There are slow cooker and Instant Pot recipes along with no-bake options and single-pan meals. The book is chock full of helpful tips and terminology that will inspire graduates to get in the kitchen. 

Pages: 192 | Recipes: 75 | Published: 2019

Best Oven Mitt: Homwe Extra-Long Professional Silicone Oven Mitt

5
Homwe Extra-Long Professional Silicone Oven Mitt

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Textured grip

  • Thin and flexible

  • Multiple color options

What We Don't Like
  • A bit bulky for smaller hands

Everyone needs a good oven mitt to protect your hands while handling hot kitchenware. This silicone pair is extra long for hand and forearm protection. The mitts come in a wealth of vibrant colors and a few different sizes, and they protect your hands up to 450 degrees. Due to the textured grip, you’re not likely to drop any pots or tins, either. This set is machine washable for easy cleaning, and since they’re steam resistant and waterproof, they won’t absorb any splashed liquids. Sturdy and durable, these mitts will serve for years to come. 

Our tester found that these oven mitts felt very substantial and well-made right out of the box. The flexible silicone has a raised pattern for extra grip, and the interior has an extra-soft quilted lining. Heat transfer was virtually non-existent thanks to the lining and silicone. It covered about 3/4 of her forearm, offering great protection when reaching into an oven or grill.

Material: Silicone, polyester | Dimensions: 11 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches

What Our Testers Say

"These gloves look and feel more expensive than they are. They came 3/4 of the way up my forearm, and the patterned silicone is extra grippy and kept me from feeling even a trace of heat transfer." Sharon Lehman, RDN, Product Tester

Best Gift Basket: Gourmet Gift Baskets Champagne & Truffles Gift Basket

Champagne & Truffles Gift Basket

A gift basket is a classic present to honor a big accomplishment, and Champagne is the ultimate celebratory gift for congratulations. Put the two together and you’ve got a great surprise for a hardworking graduate. This basket includes your choice of a sparkling wine from four great selections: La Marca Prosecco, Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, Dom Perignon, or Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne. It also comes with a bunch of chocolate treats from Lindt truffles to chocolate caramel grahams. 

Includes: 1 bottle of sparkling wine, Lindt white truffle chocolate bar, Lindt assorted truffles, French chocolate truffles, chocolate caramel grahams, Belgian chocolates

Best Candy: Dylan's Candy Bar Sweet Celebration Bucket Congrats Edition

Dylan's Candy Bar sweet celebration bucket

Dylan's Candy Bar

Graduating is a big deal, and Dylan’s Candy Bar created a gift basket to commemorate the accomplishment. The Sweet Celebration Bucket includes a wealth of candies packaged in cute Champagne bottles. There are jelly beans, chocolates, gummies, and even rock candy. It’s a tasty collection that graduates are sure to love. 

Includes: Jewels bulk bag (shimmer white sixlets, white rock candy, assorted crystal rods, dark chocolate foiled stars), filled Champagne glasses (Jelly Belly Champagne jelly beans, Jelly Belly Champagne bubbles, sour prosecco gummy bears), large Champagne bottle, small Champagne bottle, cocktail party trio (gold and silver milkies, gold meltaways, gold foiled balls and stars), foiled star pop, graduation sunglasses, sweet celebration 3-bar pack (dark chocolate latte bar and white creme coconut bar)

Best Cookies: Cheryl's Cookies Sweet Beginnings Mini Gift Tin

Cheryl's Cookies mini sweet beginnings gift tin

Cheryl's Cookies

Does the recent grad in your life have a sweet tooth? Treat them to some incredible cookies from Cheryl’s. This tin comes with graduation-themed decorations and plenty of goodies. There are classic selections, including chocolate chip and buttercream-frosted chocolate cookies, as well as some interesting flavors, such as peaches and cream. Cheryl’s offers a number of graduation celebration tins, including the jam-packed Graduation Party in a Box and adorable Graduation Smart Cookie tin. 

Includes: 2 confection pretzel clusters, 2 snack-size chocolate chip cookies, 2 snack-size sugar cookies, 2 snack-size fudge buttercream frosted devil’s food cookies, 2 snack-size buttercream-frosted peaches and cream cookies, 1 buttercream-frosted peaches and cream cookie, 1 buttercream-frosted cut-out cookie, 1 gift tin

Best Gift Card: Giftcards.com Uber Eats Gift Card

Uber Eats Gift Card

Giftcards.com

Starting a new job or moving into a new place can be exhausting, and sometimes people just don’t want to cook or crave delivery instead. A gift card for a service like Uber Eats is a fantastic idea for any recent graduate, as they’ll have access to nearby local restaurants, chain fast food eateries, and even grocery stores. If your grad prefers a different service to Uber Eats, Giftcards.com has physical and electronic gift card options for DoorDash, Grubhub, Instacart, and more. You can even choose a decoration to mark the special occasion. 

Amount: $15 minimum, $500 maximum

What to Look for in Kitchen Gifts for Graduation

Need

Many graduation gifts tend to be practical in nature. After living in dorms or small college apartments, recent graduates may not have all the tools and appliances for a fully functioning kitchen. Receiving a good, sturdy set of utensils, dinnerware, or cookware is both exciting and functional. Ask your grad what they’re looking for or coordinate with other friends and family members to avoid doubling up on items. After all, people really only need one colander, for example. If you can fill a specific need, the grad is sure to appreciate the gift. 

Function

You’ll want to find a gift that’s well-made and reliable. If you’re purchasing a knife set, that may mean looking for full-tang knives that are made of rust-resistant materials. For dinnerware, it may mean searching for plates and bowls that won’t easily chip and will hold up for years. In terms of appliances, research its versatility—multifunctional gifts are always a great option. 

Style


Function and fashion can intercept. When looking for a gift, ask yourself if it matches the recipient’s style. Is it in their favorite color? Does it match their aesthetic? Do they prefer vibrancy or muted tones? Do all the tools match or is each one unique? Tailoring a gift to the graduate shows your thoughtfulness. 

FAQs

What makes a good graduation gift?

A good graduation gift should be useful, heartfelt, and high quality. Graduates are just embarking into the professional world and may not have all the equipment they need in a kitchen just yet, or the extra funds to get them. Offering them a coffee maker or a sauté pan or food containers is a kind gesture.

If you’re on a budget, sweet treats are also a great gift. Let your hardworking graduate indulge in cookies or candies. It will put a smile on their face. 

How can I personalize a graduation gift? 

Many gift options will have engraving or print options for an additional fee. Most will allow you to include a personal message or card. If there aren’t any personalization options, you can still tailor the gift towards a specific person. If you know their style, look for something that matches their favorite colors or designs. If you’re looking for an edible gift, get them their favorite treat or flavors. 

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Allison Wignall is a writer who knows a thing or two about college students. She served as the lead writer, editor, and content manager at College Raptor for five years, writing about higher education and college life. She also knows a thing or two about treats and cooking since she’s got a sweet tooth and loves to recreate recipes from her travels. 

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