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When you’re setting up your first kitchen and you plan on doing a bit of cooking, there are a few essentials that everyone needs, and there are also some niceties that will make cooking faster and easier, which is great on busy nights.
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Best Dinnerware: AmazonBasics 16-Piece Dinnerware Set, Service for 4
There's a reason that white dishes are so popular. They put the focus on your food, and not on any fancy patterns. Plus, even if you buy a budget set, simple white dinnerware can go on even the fanciest table. This simple set from AmazonBasics has four place settings that each include a dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, and mug. You'll get a lot of mileage out of these dishes, and at such a low price, you can probably even afford two sets. They are microwave, freezer, and dishwasher-safe.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best dinnerware sets.
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Best Flatware: Ikea Fornuft 20-Piece Stainless Steel Flatware Set
Flatware doesn’t have to be fancy, but it’s nice to have something better than disposable plastic utensils that can break, bend, or melt. This set is inexpensive, but it has a classic look that will match any dishware you choose. The 20-piece set includes four full place settings, so it’s enough for a small gathering. But you might consider ordering two sets if you plan on doing any entertaining. These are made from stainless steel that won’t discolor, and they are dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best flatware sets.
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Best Glassware: Galaxy Glassware 12-Piece Set
Glasses are essential in any kitchen, and this 12-piece set includes glasses in three different sizes, with four of each size. They are perfect for serving orange juice, water, soda, or cocktails. And while they’re inexpensive, they aren’t plain looking. They have a pretty pattern that’s not too detailed, so these would be compatible with almost any style of dishes. You’ll feel good about using these glasses every day, and about setting them out for a nice dinner with friends, and they’re dishwasher safe. Plus, they’re inexpensive enough to buy a second set, to have enough glassware for parties.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best glassware.
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Best Cookware Set: Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
When you’re setting up a new kitchen, inexpensive, reliable cookware is a must. It’s a bonus if the set looks good, too. This 12-piece set is made from polished stainless steel with a capsulated bottom for even heating and more reliable cooking. Lids are tempered glass, so you can see what’s cooking without lifting the lid and releasing heat and the handles are riveted on for long-lasting use. The twelve pieces in the set are ones that you’ll use often, and the variety of sizes means you’ll have just the right pot whether you’re cooking dinner for one or making stock for the freezer.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best cookware sets.Continue to 5 of 13 below.
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Best Bakeware Set: Calphalon Nonstick Bakeware Set, 6-Pieces
Made from heavy-gauge steel with a nonstick coating, this set includes the most common baking pans: two 8-inch round cake pans, a 9x13 baking pan, a medium loaf pan, a muffin pan, and a cookie sheet. Even if you don’t plan on making a lot of desserts, it’s nice to have baking pans on hand for those occasional uses. These can also be used for savory foods, so you’ll get plenty of use out of this set. The only drawback is that they are not dishwasher safe.
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Best Cutting Boards: CounterArt Flexible Cutting Mat with Food Icons, Set of 4
These flexible cutting boards are color-coded and marked with icons for fish, meat, poultry, and vegetables, to eliminate cross contamination while cooking. They’re thin, so they take very little storage space, and they’re flexible so you can bend them to pour cut foods into a pot or bowl. The plastic has a micro-ban feature that helps reduce the growth of bacteria or mold, and they’re dishwasher safe.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best cutting boards.
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Best Roasting Pan: Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 16-Inch Roasting Pan
This 16-inch pan has three layers of nonstick material for durability and easy food release, and it is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. If you want to save space in the dishwasher, this is also easy to hand wash, since food won’t stick.
This pan has large brushed stainless steel handles that are triple-riveted. The handles make it easy to lift the pan even when it’s full and you’re using bulky mitts. The pan is made from heavy gauge aluminum for even heating, while it’s lighter in weight than a similar-sized stainless steel pan. It can be used in the oven or on the stove, so you can make gravy or brown meat without using a second pan.
A nonstick V-rack is included that promotes even heat circulation for even browning and a crisp exterior. This also includes two stainless steel lifters and an injection baster.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best roasting pans.
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Best Immersion Blender: Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-75BC 2-Speed Hand Blender
A stick blender might seem like a non-essential item, but it makes cooking much easier, since you can puree soups or mash beans for refried beans right in the pot. You can also use it in a glass or mug to blend a smoothie or make a milkshake. It takes much less storage space than a standard blender, so it’s great for a small kitchen. This model comes with a measuring beaker that you can use the blender in. The blending shaft is removable and both the shaft and the beaker are dishwasher safe.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best immersion blenders.Continue to 9 of 13 below.
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Best Pressure Cooker: Instant Pot V3 Programmable Electric Pressure Cooker
While a pressure cooker might seem like a splurge for someone setting up a new kitchen, the Instant Pot has plenty of features that make it particularly useful for busy folks who might not have a lot of space for multiple appliances. The cooking pot is made from stainless steel, so you don’t need to worry about using metal utensils, and you can toss it in the dishwasher to clean it. If you don’t want to be disturbed, you can set it for silent mode, so it won’t beep.
While you can cook the same sorts of foods in a pressure cooker that you do on the stove or in a slow cooker, there’s a bit of a learning curve, so it’s wise to read the manual and perhaps pick up a cookbook that’s focused on electric pressure cookers.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best pressure cookers.
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Best Food Storage Containers: Rubbermaid Easy Find Lids Container, 42-piece Set
Food storage is an important consideration. While plastic bags work for some things, sturdy reusable containers are better for other foods. This set includes small containers that are great for leftovers, as well as larger containers for snacks or for storing dry goods. Each container comes with a tight-fitting lid for secure storage, and the containers nest when empty, so they won’t take a lot of room in a cabinet. They’re clear, so you can see what you’re storing, and they’re microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best food storage containers.
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Best Toaster: Hamilton Beach 22703 Toastation Toaster and Oven
This toaster combines a traditional toaster with a toaster oven, so you can use it for your breakfast toast or for reheating leftover pizza for dinner, all in one compact appliance. It has wide slots, so you can toast bagels or hot dog buns, and the oven can be used for baking or toasting. If color matters, this is available in black or in red.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best toasters.
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Best Casserole Dish: Corningware French White 4 Quart Oval Casserole
This casserole dish is a multi-use piece of cookware that’s good for more than just baking rigatoni. It can be used for roasting a chicken or a small roast, and it’s attractive enough to serve food, even if you didn’t cook in it. The fluted exterior looks pretty, and the white color is classic, so it will look good along with just about any dishes or serving pieces. The casserole and lid are safe in the oven, microwave, freezer, or dishwasher.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best casserole dishes.Continue to 13 of 13 below.
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Best Microwave: Westinghouse WCM660B 600 Watt Counter Top Microwave Oven
Microwave ovens are handy for steaming vegetables, popping corn, heating beverages, and reheating foods. This compact oven can do all that without taking over too much of your counter space. It operates with two simple dials. One dial is used to choose one of six power settings and the second dial sets the time for up to 30 minutes. Keep in mind that because it is a 600-watt microwave, you might have to adjust cooking times when reheating your food. It is available in black or white.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best microwaves.