Essential Gifts for Beginning Cooks

Whether you're searching for the perfect gift for a novice cook or maybe a new culinary student, these must-haves are just what they need to start whipping up culinary magic. No kitchen will be complete without these essential tools.

  • 01 of 07

    Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Glass Measuring Cup

    Pyrex measuring cup

    Photo from Amazon

    This is essential because anyone who cooks is going to need to measure things. But forget about those measuring cup sets. For one thing, whichever one you're looking for is always missing. Or, if they're held together on a ring, they're always clanging around when you pull them out of the drawer, and it's a hassle to wash them. You just need a single 2-cup measuring cup; there're markings on the side. Plus, this one is glass, so it can go in the microwave or the dishwasher—anyplace but the stovetop or broiler.

  • 02 of 07

    Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale

    Ozeri

    Photo from Amazon

    Whether you're making pancakes or pizza dough, a digital scale is a must for measuring flour. Professional bakers know that measuring by volume is too imprecise to produce consistent results. Scooping a measuring cup into a sack of flour will give you more flour than if you spoon the flour into a measuring cup until it looks full. The way to make sure that a recipe works every time is by weighing the flour instead. This scale can be set to grams, which is the unit of weight most recipes use for flour, and it can also be zeroed out so that you can put your mixing bowl directly on the scale.

  • 03 of 07

    OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler

    OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler

    Photo from Amazon

    A beginning cook needs a good peeler. But what kind? There are swivel peelers and Y peelers. Both the swivel and the Y style will work; it's really just a matter of preference. But one small difference is that the swivel peeler works by pushing the blades away from you, while the Y peeler works by pulling it toward you. As a result, the swivel peeler is safer and perhaps a better fit for a beginner cook.

  • 04 of 07

    Vollrath Half-Size Sheet Pan (18" x 13")

    sheet pan

    Photo from Amazon

    Sheet pans are like friends, money, and books—you can never have too many. And like your books, your money, and your friends, you mustn't be too particular about how your sheet pans look. They'll be shiny and immaculate when you get them, and you'll vow to keep them that way, and you'll scrub them ferociously for the first few times you use them. (And the 18" x 13" size is just right for most people's ovens, without being too big to actually fit in your sink.) But after a while, you'll start to appreciate the brown patina of cooked-on oil because it will remind you of everything you've cooked on that pan. Eventually, you might get new ones, but they'll be so shiny that you won't want to use them. You'll just keep on using the burnt, blackened ones, and that's when you'll have become a pro cook.

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  • 05 of 07

    Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef's Knife

    kitchen knife

    Photo from Amazon

    Beloved by culinary students everywhere, it's the best knife per dollar you can buy. It's lightweight, it's durable, and it'll take an edge when you sharpen it. The textured grip is a real boon: Even if your hands get sweaty while you're working, you'll still keep a firm hold on the handle. Plus, it's affordable. While a 10-inch knife is a bit too much for a beginning cook, eight inches is long enough to be useful without being unwieldy.

  • 06 of 07

    Polder Digital In-Oven Thermometer

    Polder Digital In-Oven Thermometer

    Photo from Amazon

    You might have guessed an instant-read thermometer would be on this list, and while they are handy, especially if you're working in the food service industry, for most home cooks it's much more useful to have a digital probe thermometer that will basically make roasting meats a no-brainer. Simply insert the probe into the center of the meat, set the alert to your desired temperature, then sit back and flake out for however long it takes for your meat to hit the target temperature. The unit will beep to let you know when to take it out of the oven. This is perfect for slow-roasting a pork shoulder, prime rib, or even a leg of lamb.

  • 07 of 07

    CIA Masters Collection 6 Piece Measuring Spoon Set

    measuring spoons

    Photo from Amazon

    A set of measuring spoons is so obvious that it could almost slip your mind. This particular set of measuring spoons includes a half-tablespoon spoon, which will come in handy should you need to halve a recipe.