Kitchen Gifts for Newlyweds or New Grads

kitchen tools with siliconeBridal showers, weddings, college graduations, housewarming parties--all these suggest that a kitchen gift would be appreciated. Often, there are store gift registries and Amazon wish lists to consult, but sometimes you can't find an item in your price range on these lists, or perhaps you want to give something original, something the bride or the grad moving into his/her own residence hasn't realized is needed.  Here are some suggestions from our Advisory Board scientists and other sources.  To find out where they're sold (if not mentioned), just google the product name.


Prices or price ranges are indicated for most products. These are included just to give you a general idea of cost. Remember that online prices may change daily even on the same site, and different sites offer different prices and special sales.  It pays to browse. 


Basic Utensils

Joseph Joseph Nest 5-Piece Utensil Set: This set includes 5 items--a slotted spatula, spaghetti server, slotted spoon, solid spoon, and ladle. The set has a compact, self-supporting design.  The items are all held together by small magnets in the handles, which saves countertop space.  Amazon's price: $23.41


Betty Crocker 20-piece Kitchen Starter Set: $100.00


Anchor Hocking 10-piece Mixing Bowl Set:  $39.95


(See these 3 and other kitchen necessities on


Food thermometer: Food scientist Dr. Karin Allen reminded us about this kitchen essential.  To read about the different types, go to the USDA article "Types of Food Thermometers."  A digital thermometer is the way to go since it's faster. My favorite is the CDN DTQ450X ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer, I use it almost every day--even to take the temp of my scrambled eggs! Amazon price: $15.52


Silicone Kitchen Utensils: Various kitchen tools are made from wood, metal, or plastic. The newer silicone ones have these advantages: they're good-looking, available in cheerful bright colors; they're heat-resistant; they won't scratch your non-stick cookware; they're difficult to stain. Dr. Allen recommends these for the reasons stated above and because "silicone cookware is much easier to keep clean and bacteria-free than wood, plastic, or even metal." Rachel Ray has a whole line of these, and many well-known companies make silicone utensils. Products include pot holders and mats.


In 2005, Yahoo! voices published an article entitled "The Lowdown on Silicone Bake Ware."  The author tried several silicone kitchen items and discussed his experiences.  In general, he liked the products. Three of the ones I own (the spatula, turner, and basting brush shown in the photo) have been just fine (even the basting brush, which I wasn't sure would work as well as models with traditional bristles).


My favorite pitcher:  It's called the Ona pitcher, and you can see it on the Crate and Barrel site. It's described as having an off-center handle. I prefer to say it has no handle. By that I mean there's no handle sticking out to bang against the side of the sink and break. (I've lost many a pitcher that way.) It's also aesthetically pleasing. I've given this inexpensive item as a gift many times. One of my friends loves hers so much that she displays it as a decorative piece rather than using it to serve drinks.  In addition to Crate and Barrel, Bed, Bath, and Beyond also carries it.  It comes in two sizes; the larger one is more useful, I think.  $24.95


Novel Utensils and Ideas


Marinade Express:  Food process engineer Dr. Timothy Bowser recommended this one. Warning: it's expensive. To get the whole story, go to Here's a brief summary: This item is a tabletop vacuum tumbler that marinates food in minutes.  The site says it's faster and easier to use and makes food tender, juicy, and flavorful.  It "quickly infuses natural flavor, antioxidants, and moisture deep into protein tissues."  The tumbler costs $299.99.  The marinades are sold separately.  A 12-pack of assorted marinades sells for $24.99.


HAPIfork:  This product is discussed in an April 2013 Shelf Life Advice article entitled "Clever Inventions That Can Change Eating Habits."  It won't be available until perhaps September. Be careful about whom you give it to since it's an item designed to help people lose weight (or to aid folks with digestive problems). It tells you if you're eating too fast, but it's high tech and can do much more.  See our article or the HAPIlab website for more info.


A Basket of Goodies: Food scientist Dr. Catherine Cutter recommends making your own gift basket of some food pairings recommended by experts-- such as a particular wine and chocolate or beer and cheese combos).  Another idea from Dr. Cutter: Pack up a variety of wines and label them for specific celebrations in the newlyweds' future--their one-month and one-year anniversaries, their first New Year's Eve as a married couple, and perhaps the birth of their first child. One married couple I know celebrates annually their "meetaversary;" a special wine would be good for that occasion, too, though the bride and groom would have to insert the date. Wine doesn't have to be expensive to be good.  Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich recommends a French white wine, Domaine de Pouy 2011, which she found on sale at Whole Foods for $7.99.


The above suggestions from Dr. Cutter remind me of my Aunt Florence, who used to arrive at every bridal shower with an enormous box filled with a zillion individually-wrapped small kitchen gadgets that every household needs.  It was fun to watch the bride dig in and unwrap all these.


A gift for new campers: Crossover kitchen kits, listed on Everything Kitchens and Amazon, have all the cooking utensils needed for a camping trip.  They come in a lightweight wet-dry tote.  Prices start at about $30.


A great stove for tailgaters and other campers: Dr. Cutter highly recommends this item: the Camp Chef Outdoor Camp Oven with Grill (listed for $257.99 on this site).  It's also listed on for $195.95 for the site's spring sale.


Products with Kid Appeal


Ice cream maker:  There are many on the market. We saw some ranging in price from $24.99 to $69.99.  Some can make both ice cream and sorbet; some make ice cream and gelato.  Kids can have fun learning to make frozen desserts, but so can adults.  I know.  My husband enjoyed it.


Color-changing straws, spoons, and cups:  Some color-changing items can add a surprise to a child's birthday party, and one of these can even be the take-home gift for each child. You can get a look at these on the frozen solutions website




Cookbooks for kids: To reach the Shelf Life Advice list of cookbooks for kids, go to "Kids and Cooking: A Good Combo."   You should be able to find the prices online.


Cookbooks for the avid griller: Since it's now high grilling season, we're passing on the recommendations from the Chicago Tribune for these three new titles:  All Fired Up (by the editors of Southern Living with Troy Black, $24.95), Where There's Smoke (by Barton Seaver, $30), and The Grilling Book  (by Adam Rapoport, $45).


Cookbooks for special interests and diets: When buying a cookbook for a gift, we suggest buying one recently published so that you don't duplicate what the recipient already has. Browse online to find the gift that matches your friend's dietary restrictions for medical reasons, self-imposed limitations, ethnic favorites, or special cooking interests. A new title for those who need to avoid gluten is Cooking for your Gluten-free Teen by Carlyn Berghoff.  It can tell you how to make gluten-free pasta and pizza, among many other dishes. Amazon's price is $13.45; it's available on Kindle for $9.99.


Michael Pollan's new book:  Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore's Dilemma) has a new book out: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.  For your friends with a serious interest in what people eat and how it's prepared, this would be a good gift.  $27.95


My favorite gift book about food: It's entitled Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them and 100 Other Myths about Food and Cooking.  In addition to humorous discussions of the myths, the book contains 25 recipes.  Amazon's price: $6.40


Final Thoughts


If the preceding suggestions don't have what you want, other Shelf Life Advice sources to consult are "Kitchen Gifts That Really Work" and "A Potpourri of Gadget Gifts for the Kitchen."   (Note: a few items from the second article may no longer be available. Check online.) 


Whatever gift you select, it shouldn't be about what you would enjoy having; rather, it should show that you were thinking of the needs and tastes of the recipient. If you like the item, go ahead and buy it for your own kitchen!




Karin E. Allen, Ph.D., Utah State University, Dept. of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences


Timothy J. Bowser, Ph.D. , Oklahoma State University, Dept. of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering


Catherine N. Cutter, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University, Dept. of Food Science


Chicago Tribune "From lake to poetry, here's help to savor the slide into summer" by Mary Schmich, May 26, 2013


Chicago Tribune "Lighting the way: 3 new cookbooks guide your grilling"

May 22, 2013



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