23 of the best student kitchen essentials to take to university this year
Heading off to university? You'll need a few key items of kitchen equipment. Discover our favourite handy tools to make student meals on a budget.
When it comes to cooking, students don't always get the best press. But let's face it, a cupboard full of broken pots and pans and a couple of electric rings would leave even professional chefs at a loss.
Being packed off to university with the right kit will raise spirits as well as keep hunger pangs at bay. Communal cooking is a great way of finding a sense of home, too, in addition to saving money.
So, whether you're going into halls or you're returning for a new term and now living with friends, we've compiled our definitive guide to the top gadgets and kit to stock up on before heading off to university.
For more on kitchen essentials, visit our kitchen appliance reviews section and find over 400 practical buyer's guides offering unbiased advice on what equipment is worth investing in. Freshers may be interested in our reviews of the best mini fridges, best saucepan sets, best kettles and best eco-friendly coffee cups.
Looking for the perfect student gift? Create an easily customisable My BBC Good Food cookbook filled with your pick of essential uni recipes. It's sure to be a lifesaver for first-time cooks or budding chefs.
If you have accommodation in your uni’s halls of residence, check with the university what their rules are on students bringing their own electrical appliances.
Best student kitchen essentials for university at a glance
Gadgets and appliances
- Slow cooker: Daewoo slow cooker, £34.99
- Air fryer: Cosori Air Fryer Lite 3.8L, £84.99
- Toastie maker: Daewoo SDA1389 toastie maker, £22.99
- Kitchen scales: Salter Arc electronic scales, £9.99
- Blender: Russell Hobbs Desire jug blender, £41.99
- Mini fridge: Russell Hobbs RHTTF67SS mini fridge, £150
- Mixing bowl: Joseph Joseph Nest 9 Plus, £29.71
- Garlic press: Brabantia Tasty+ garlic press, £8
- Chopping board: Brabantia Tasty+ chopping board set, £22
- Grater: OXO Good Grips box grater with removable zester, £38.26
- Can opener: Culinare MagiCan can opener, £5.49
- Measuring cups: Tala kitchen measuring set, £6
- Vegetable peeler: OXO Good Grips vegetable Y peeler, £8.99
Pans and tins
- Saucepan: Judge Vista 16cm saucepan, £27.98
- Frying pan: Stellar Rocktanium 20cm frying pan, £24
- Roasting tin: Lakeland non-stick roasting tin with pouring lip, £16.99
- Baking tray: Tala three-piece baking tray set, £23
Other kitchen basics
- Food storage containers: Lock & Lock eco two-piece set, £9
- Student cookbook: Roasting Pan Suppers by Rosie Sykes, £14.99
- Reusable water bottle: Hip water bottle, £14.99
- Lunchbox: Sistema salad and sandwich to-go lunchbox, £10
- Eco cleaning product: Method surface cleaner, £4
Best student kitchen essentials to buy before heading to university
Daewoo 3.5-litre slow cooker
Slow cookers may seem a bit more The Good Life than The Young Ones, but they're a great way of eating well on a budget. With a slow cooker, you'll be able to turn the cheapest cuts of meat into something spectacular with minimum preparation time.
There are lots of pros to buying a slow cooker. They are energy efficient and if you set your timer before leaving the house, you can arrive home from lectures to a freshly cooked hot meal – just like home. This thrifty Daewoo slow cooker has a 3.5-litre capacity so is ideal for batch-cooking recipes.
Read our full best slow cookers guide.
Cosori Air Fryer Lite 3.8L
Ideal for quick snacks like pasta chips, buffalo cauliflower wings, and sweet potato fries, air fryers have become a must-have kitchen gadget in recent times. This compact Cosori model comes with a good variety of presets, and at 3.8 litres, it's the ideal size for a student kitchen.
The touchscreen controls are a doddle to master – even if you're an air fryer novice – and we liked the tactile accents on the handle and cord storage at the back. During cooking it was impressively quiet too, and because it's easy to clean, all it needs is a simple wash and wipe after you've finished using it.
Daewoo SDA1389 toastie maker
Speedy and delicious, the toasted sandwich is a staple of student cooking, particularly when they're filled with lots of oozing melted cheese. This budget toastie maker from Daewoo is perfect for classic cheese toasties, and you can use it straight out of the box too.
This model performed particularly well when making deep-filled toasties, all of which were well cooked and fully sealed. The browning was slightly uneven, but it is impressively compact and cooks quickly – so you'll never need to wait for long.
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Salter Arc electronic scales
Guessing with amounts of ingredients is great for kitchen experiments, but when you're keen to follow new recipes or get the perfect rise on a bake, kitchen scales are often the key to success.
These scales from Salter are a good budget buy that measure in ounces and grams. Ideal for light cooking tasks, the small compact design also makes them easy to store away.
Read our guide to the best kitchen scales.
Russell Hobbs Desire jug blender
This Russell Hobbs blender makes light work of fruit and vegetables, which means it's ideal for whipping up pasta sauces, soups and smoothies quickly and easily. It's also compact, sturdy, and easy to clean, and we love that it comes with handy cord storage under the base, so you can keep it looking neat and tidy when you're not using it.
Russell Hobbs RHTTF67SS mini fridge
Fellow students stealing your milk is a common gripe for freshers. A personal fridge in your room will prevent any crimes against refrigerated goods. This mini fridge from Russell Hobbs is sleek and simple, and it does the job well too.
Read our roundup of the best mini fridges to find other recommendations at various price points.
Joseph Joseph Nest 9 Plus bowl set
Mixing bowls can be snack holders for movie nights, serving bowls for salads and vessels for combining what's left in the fridge into the ultimate leftover surprise.
This nest of nine by Joseph Joseph is the ultimate space saving set, fitting five measuring cups, a colander, sieve and a small jug with a pouring spout stacked within the footprint of its largest 4.5-litre mixing bowl.
Being plastic, they’ll survive drops and knocks, are lightweight and brightly coloured, making them easy to spot in packed shared cupboards.
Brabantia Tasty+ garlic press
Garlic adds flavour to any dish and a garlic press is a great bit of kit for making it easier to manage. You can pop a clove unpeeled into this press and it will still produce perfectly minced garlic. It's also dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning once you've scraped out excess casing.
Discover our top tried-and-tested picks in our guide to the best garlic presses.
Brabantia Tasty+ chopping board set
A must-have item in any uni kitchen, chopping boards are one of the most useful bits of kit for cooking prep. You can opt for plastic or wooden, but we love this non-slip set-of-three from Brabantia, each of which has one side for cutting and another for serving.
There are also grooves on either side that reduce spillages, not to mention all three are dishwasher-safe and slot away easily.
Read our guide to the best chopping boards.
OXO Good Grips box grater with removable zester
Whether it's pasta bakes or toasties, cheese is a staple in lots of student households – which means a good quality grater will get you far. This four-sided box grater from OXO comes with medium and course blades, plus an angled slicing blade and a removable zester, all of which are sharp and easy to use.
The soft handle across the top provides a secure and slip-free grip, and there's also an attachable grater box that sits underneath – handy if you want to keep things mess-free, or save some ingredients for later.
Read our guide to the best graters.
Culinare MagiCan can opener
Some cheaper canned foods can come without a ring pull, so a good can opener is a must in any student kitchen. This MagiCan can opener comes with a budget price tag, but still works brilliantly. It has comfortable, easy-to-use handles, and it bites into the can's lid firmly so there's no need for continual squeezing. There's also an integrated magnet to help you lift the lid up and off smoothly.
Read our full review of the best can openers.
Tala kitchen measuring set
This retro set of white measuring cups can be stacked in a cupboard or hung on their ring in your kitchen. There are seven different cup sizes and an egg separator included, plus a handy ingredient scraper with a measurement chart on the back for precise number conversions.
Read our full guide to the best measuring cups.
Oxo Good Grips vegetable Y peeler
Be it for quick dinners or Sunday roasts with your housemates, a good peeler will save you endless amounts of time and faff. This OXO peeler is particularly good as it comes with a non-slip textured handle and soft edges, which make it easy to hold. It's also sharp enough for citrus fruits and soft skins, and it has a potato eyer too.
It's a little more expensive than other peelers, but it's made from durable plastic so should serve you well far beyond university.
Read our guide to the best peelers.
Judge Vista 16cm saucepan
A new saucepan can inspire a bit of excitement when it comes to cooking. It's also easier to know which saucepans are yours in a shared kitchen.
Available separately or as a set of three (Amazon, £54.95 and Harts of Stur, £57.95), this saucepan from Judge was rated four out of five stars by the BBC Good Food team. It comes with a lid with an in-built strainer and volume markings up the sides of the pan.
There’s no need to worry about knowing which hob type your halls or new shared flat has, as this pan is suitable for all hob types. If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, it's dishwasher safe, too.
Read our guide to the best saucepans.
Stellar Rocktanium frying pan
It's also lightweight and easy to hold, and we found the non-stick coating to be very effective. Cleaning up is very easy too, especially as its dishwasher-safe.
Read our full best non-stick frying pans review.
Lakeland large roasting tin with pouring lip
Less costly than you might imagine, a decent roasting tin comes in handy for a multitude of different recipes from a Sunday roast to a sweet traybake.
This Lakeland pan has many positive features, including a non-stick surface, pouring lip for cooking juices and a generous capacity – essential when cooking for a group.
Read our full review of the best roasting tins.
Tala three-piece baking tray set
When you're shopping for student kitchen essentials, you want decent kit that you won't have to replace in a hurry – without leaving a dent in your budget. This Tala set is a robust and reliable option that comes with a 10-year warranty, and they nest nicely for easy storage.
Featuring two 25 x 18cm trays and one 34.5 x 24.4cm tray, these trays are also impressively versatile – they're oven-safe to 240C and are also freezer, dishwasher, and grill-safe too.
Read our guide to the best baking trays.
Lock & Lock eco two-piece set
A multi-pack is a great way of ensuring you have a versatile bunch of food containers in the cupboard. This two-piece set comes with a 1-litre and 1.4-litre box. Both are dishwasher- and freezer-safe, and boast impressive eco credentials. These containers are made from 100% recycled food-grade plastic. They're water- and air-tight too, so there's no chance of any nasty spills or food smells mixing in the shared fridge.
Read our full review of the best food storage containers.
Roasting Pan Suppers by Rosie Sykes
Written by chef and food writer Rosie Sykes, this book is filled with brilliant one-pan recipes that can all be made in just one roasting tin or pot, allowing for less hassle and minimal washing-up.
It's ideal for students, whether you're a novice in the kitchen or want ideas to expand your repertoire, and contains recipes for meat, fish, and veg-based dishes, plus sides and desserts. Each recipe is also categorised by length (under 30 minutes, an hour, over an hour, etc) and grouped into menus too.
Read our full guide to the best student cookbooks.
Hip water bottle
Ideal for lectures, the gym, library sessions and general campus life, this flat, lightweight bottle easily slots into a wide pocket or bag, and the silicone around it protected it well during our drop test.
There's a range of colours available and we love the wide neck, which makes it easy to fill and add ice cubes. The clear top also allows you to see how much water you're pouring in (up to 650ml), and you can pop it in the dishwasher too.
Read our full review of the best water bottles.
Sistema salad and sandwich to-go lunchbox
Taking your own packed lunches to uni will save you heaps of money. This budget lunchbox can be slotted into a book bag, plus it has a handy divider to keep your salad and sandwiches separated so your bread doesn't go soggy.
Read our guide to the best lunchboxes.
Method anti-bac all-purpose cleaner
Sharing a kitchen with housemates can be great fun, but keeping it clean isn't always as easy – especially if there's one who always leaves their mess behind. At least with this kitchen spray from Method, wiping down your countertops is effortless and quick, and the fragrance is pleasant too.
It can be used on standard countertops, tile, stone, wood, and glass, making it an ideal all-rounder, and the bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic, so it also wins points on the eco front.
Read our guide to the best eco cleaning products.
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Which kitchen equipment could you not live without at university? Leave a comment below...
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