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Twelve great ways to ease the transition from the dining hall to the kitchen.
Make cooking easier.
Thanks to a dining culture on overdrive, youngsters these days will be graduating with a knowledge of food and cooking miles ahead of previous generations. Where we had school newspapers and the occasional potluck, they’ve got school food magazines and dorm room omakase tasting menus. But don’t let that intimidate you when it comes to shopping for a food-related graduation gift. Odds are your budding dorm room chef will be starting with a completely blank slate in the pots and pans department, which makes your job as gift-giver easier — and more fun! — than it’s ever going to be again.
After four years of dining halls and mini fridges, literally any cooking-related gift is going to be appreciated. Since your present will be helping them set up their first grown-up kitchen, you can’t go wrong with anything you see as vital in your own, from gadgets to serveware to cookbooks. But in case you’re drawing a blank, here are a dozen gift ideas for every type of food-loving grad, plus some extra thoughtful touches to make sure you’ll be getting a hand-written thank you note.
Note that these products and services are independently chosen by the editors of Chowhound, our sister site. CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.
Every serious cook needs a cast iron skillet, and this handy (and affordable) set comes with two — one in the perfect size for searing steaks or making the perfect grilled cheese, and a second ideal for frying an egg or cooking up solo meals. You may want to include a warning to take good care of the seasoning… or hide it from roommates.
If they’ve already got the burr grinder, chemex, aeropress, and/or the Hario pour-over set, give a gift that will help power your grad through their first few months of adult life: a six-month coffee subscription. These beans are curated to surprise and delight even the snootiest of coffee snobs, sourced from some of the best craft roasters (who in turn source from the best growers) around the world.
This clever little item is perfect for anyone who loves entertaining but might be short on space. At first glance, it’s a cake stand. Turn the base upside-down and set the dome’s knob into the base, and you’ve got a 6 1/2-quart punch bowl! Let’s just hope they’re not serving cake and punch at the same party.
If your grad is really into cooking, they might already have a favorite chef’s knife. But it’s pretty rare for someone starting out to have a whole kit. Hook your new grad up with one of the best starter sets on the market. It has everything they’ll need and doesn’t require a ton of maintenance to stay sharp.
Any cook will appreciate a good quality cutting board, but instead of something utilitarian, opt for an extra-pretty option that doubles as a cheese board. Throw in some cheese knives and a gift card to Murray’s to really knock their socks off.
Even if your grad already knows what’s next (like grad school, a first job, or something else entirely) it’s still totally natural to feel a little anxiety for exactly what the future holds. Ease their mind with a handwritten note of (good!) fortune housed in this cool golden fortune cookie, which doubles as a chic trinket for their bookshelf or mantel.
If you want to give your grad something special that they’ll cherish forever, go for a timeless classic like a Le Creuset dutch oven. This extra-large pot will last a literal lifetime, and they’ll think of you every time they make something cozy and comforting. Buy one in their favorite color or consider passing down your own Le Creuset dutch oven, along with your favorite recipe to cook in it.
File this gift under things you’d probably never keep in a dorm room. Whether they’re making it for themselves or for their first dinner party in their new apartment, what could feel more grown-up than making pasta from scratch?
This kit from bar industry favorite Cocktail Kingdom has everything your grad needs to jumpstart their bar cart — except, you know, the bottles. Throw in all of the ingredients for a top shelf martini or Manhattan and you’ll win the gift-giver of the year award.
This pair of extra-long rolling pins is a game-changer for perfect pies, tarts, pizzas, cookies… really anything that asks to be rolled out to a certain thickness. The cleverness of the design is sure to be appreciated by any recipient who loves to bake, but especially the meticulous type.
Consider this your opportunity to impart a little knowledge, along with the message of congratulations, in the form of one of your favorite cookbooks. Can’t decide on a title? Choose from Chowhound’s list of the best cookbooks for beginners, or go with something totally classic like Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Bonus thoughtfulness points for bookmarking favorite recipes and/or including handwritten notes.
Whether it’s for Amazon, Sur La Table, Food52, or whatever your favorite shop might be, a gift card in an amount big enough to fully cover a big-ish item is an invitation for your foodie grad to pick out something special that says, “I’m a grown-up now!” according to their own taste. That’s actually better than cold hard cash, which (let’s be honest) will probably be spent on takeout or beer before it’s spent on a Boos Block or French table linens.
This story was written by Corinne Baldwin.
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