What to Buy for a First Apartment: 10 Kitchen Essentials (2024)

So, your college student has their first real kitchen and, aside from the sample sized bottle of dishwashing liquid, there’s not much there. Where to start? Here are the 10 kitchen essentials I would buy for a beginner cook.

Are these the cheapest items on the market? Nope. But they will last and last. Are these the only 10 items you need? Nope. But with these 10 items, you can make dinner. As a bonus, I’ve included links to some of the easy recipes found in my two cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and the The Mom 100 Cookbook.

Note: We are a reader-supported site and receive small amounts of compensation for purchases made through the links in this post.

10 essentials for a first kitchen

1. J.A. HENCKELS  Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife (Amazon)


Henckels knife

The first thing you need is a solid chef’s knife, an 8-inch workhorse for chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing. You want one with nice balance and weight, so you have good control.

2. All-Clad Stainless Steel Bonded Dishwasher Safe 3-Quart Saute Pan with Lid (Amazon)

sauce pan The critical skillet with a lid. This one is not too big, not too small. This multipurpose pan is shallow enough to make pancakes in, deep enough to make a one-dish casserole. It’s completely oven safe, so you could bake or roast in it too, and the fact that it has a lid means you can poach or steam as well as sauté.


3. Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven (Amazon)

Le Creuset dutch ovenYou need a big pot. This one is made of enameled cast iron, so there’s a slightly nonstick quality (and you could absolutely buy a stainless steel one as well, which will be less pricey). This is the pot for pastas, soups, stews, and chilis. And it’s great in the oven, perfect for braising big cuts of meat.


4. Vollrath Aluminum Wear-Ever Heavy-Duty 16-Gauge Sheet Pan (Amazon)

sheet pan Not only will this pan be used for baking cookies, it will be used for all kinds of baking and roasting. This is the go-to pan for myriad one-dish oven meals. Buy one that is very sturdy and won’t warp.


5. OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Stainless-Steel Mixing Bowl Set (Amazon)

mixing bowlsThese bowls have a stainless steel interior — which chills well when needed and doesn’t retain odors — and a non-slip bottom. The three sizes are very handy for everything from mixing up a marinade to making a pasta salad.


6. 3-Piece Nonslip Cutting Board Set – Dishwasher safe (Amazon)

cutting board set Sturdy plastic cutting boards with grooves to catch juices are a must. Make sure you buy ones that are dishwasher safe.


7. OXO Good Grips 5-Quart Stainless-Steel Colander (Amazon)

colander A big stainless steel colander for draining pasta and washing vegetables is absolutely on the list.


8. OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Stainless-Steel Locking Tongs (Amazon)

tongs Tongs are extremely useful, for everything from stir-frying to flipping chicken breasts, removing baked potatoes from the oven, even stirring.


9. OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Turner (Amazon)

Whether to get a metal or a silicone spatula first is up to you — both have their strong suits. Necessary for flipping burgers and removing things from your new pans.


10. 10-Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cup and Spoon Set (Amazon)

measuring cups and spoonsEven seasoned chefs need to measure, and beginner cooks rely on measuring cups to get their bearings when following a recipe. Make sure to get both cups and spoons.


And then there will surely be 10 other items that you’ll want to buy, and then another 10, but if you’re looking for a place to start? These are 10 items you will never regret buying.

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Whether you are stocking a kitchen when your child goes away to college, or getting ready to move into your first apartment or dorm, these are the 10 essentials everyone needs for a new kitchen. #kitchengadgets #kitchenessentials #dormlife #dorm #firstapartment #kitchenideas #kitchengifts

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, an activist in hunger issues, and the author of the beloved Mom 100 Cookbook.

Published in 2012, The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket was Katie’s first book. It was nominated for an IACP award and selected by Cooking Light as one of the best 100 books of the past 25 years. This summer (August 2015), she follows up with Dinner Solved!: 100 Ingenious Recipes That Make the Whole Family Happy, Including You!

Read more posts by Katie

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