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Best College Kitchen Gifts for Your Student

Updated on January 5, 2012
A typical dorm kitchen.
A typical dorm kitchen.

College kitchen gifts are some of the best and easiest gifts to give to a high school graduate going off to their chosen university. Many of the other supplies they’ll need, such as dorm bedding, they’ll want to choose themselves, while college kitchen supplies are usually much less personal.

Use this list as a guide to picking out the best college kitchen gifts for your soon-to-be college student. The Christmas preceding their first semester at college and their birthday of that year are especially good times to give dorm kitchen gifts. They also make great going-away or moving-out presents.

Small Appliances

Most dorm kitchens do not come with the small appliances your student probably takes for granted at home, making them excellent college kitchen gifts. Students moving into a college apartment with a kitchen are more likely to cook for themselves instead of purchase a meal plan, so anything that makes cooking easier fits in this category.

Some examples of small appliances that make great college kitchen gifts include:

  • rice cooker
  • slow cooker
  • hand mixer
  • blender
  • panini press or sandwich maker
  • toaster or toaster oven
  • microwave (depending on the apartment kitchen)

Some of these appliances tend to be communal in nature, so try to find out if your student’s planned roommates will be bringing any of these and if they’re willing to share before you buy.

Basic Kitchen Essentials

Some of the most basic kitchen supplies can be fantastic college gifts: things like towels, hot pads and sponges are relatively cheap and students often don’t think about them until the moment they need them. Small kitchen essentials also work well as fillers to go with a more expensive gift (e.g., matching towels and hot pads to go with a cookware set). This is a broad category, but most things that belong in it are small and very affordable.

Some basic essentials you can give as college kitchen gifts include (but are not limited to):

  • towels and dishcloths
  • hot pads and oven mitts
  • salt, pepper, and shakers
  • dish soap and sponges
  • spatulas, ladles, and other utensils
  • flatware
  • knives

Cookware and Bakeware Sets

If students plan to cook themselves instead of buying a meal plan, they need the cookware and bakeware to do it. Because cookware and bakeware are more expensive college kitchen gifts, many students receive hand-me-down or thrift store pots and pans to take to school.

If you have the means to supply your student with new cookware, look for sets that include a little bit of everything. A good student starter kitchen set usually includes standard-sized sauce pans, stock pot, and skillets, as well as various extras, like mixing bowls, utensil sets or common bakeware pieces.

You can also purchase a standard 10-piece set and the extras separately to create a custom starter kitchen set. Gift basket-style gifts like these work extremely well as college kitchen gifts.

Recipes and Ingredients

Another gift basket-style college kitchen gift, recipes with the ingredients to make them help the student stock their first pantry and smooth the adjustment to self responsibility. Favorite recipes from home and easy-to-make recipes with few or cheap ingredients make the best college kitchen gift baskets.

If you can't think of an easy recipe with cheap ingredients to give as college kitchen gift, try this one. Consider giving the recipe and ingredients with a stock pot, a set of hot pads, or a set of ladles and stirring spoons.

Mexican Soup

2 cans diced tomatoes, plain or with any combination of flavors (with Chipotle Chilies is good)
1 can beans, drained (black or kidney taste great)
1 can corn (plain or mexicorn both work well)
1 tsp. taco seasoning

Combine all ingredients in large pot and heat through. Ladle into bowls and serve with crushed tortilla chips and cheese.


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    • zumbafitness profile image


      6 years ago from Uk

      Great article, the best gift I got was a toaster!

    • chwwalker profile imageAUTHOR

      Christina Walker 

      6 years ago from Utah

      Axaflaxar, a panini press is a great idea! My parents gave me a sandwich maker when I moved to college. I'll add these ideas to the Small Appliances section. Thanks for the tip!

    • Axaflaxar profile image


      6 years ago from Virginia

      The best college gift for any student I think woukld be knowinbg there is a job for you when you graduate. WEspecially after all the money you owe!! Other than that a great panini press always worked for me


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