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University kitchen essentials

23 best student kitchen essentials

Published: September 26, 2022 at 1:47 pm
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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.

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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. Once you have your equipment, you'll need the recipes to go with them, so check out our student meals, healthy student suppers and top 10 basic recipes to take to university.

For more on kitchen essentials, visit our 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.

The best student kitchen essentials at a glance

Gadgets and appliances

  • Spiralizer: OXO Good Grips handheld spiralizer, £13.95
  • Weighing scales: Jean Patrique digital kitchen scales, £10.99
  • Blender: Russell Hobbs Desire jug blender, £54.85
  • Mini fridge: iceQ 43L table top drinks fridge, £99

Cooking equipment

  • Mixing bowl and measuring cups: Joseph Joseph Nest 9 Plus, £31.79
  • Colander: Joseph Joseph Prep and Serve colander, £13
  • Garlic press: Brabantia Tasty+ pink garlic press, £8
  • Knife: Presto by Tower three-piece knife set with chopping board and sharpener, Tower
  • Chopping board: ProCook non-slip chopping board, £8
  • Cheese grater: KitchenCraft Colourworks four-piece grater set, £11.95
  • Can opener: Culinare MagiCan can opener, £5.49

Pans and tins

  • Saucepan set: Judge Vista three-piece saucepan set, £54.95
  • Wok: Progress Scandi Smartstone wok, £25.99
  • Frying pan: AmazonBasics non-stick induction frying pan, £17.25
  • Roasting tin: Lakeland non-stick roasting tin with pouring lip, £16.99

Other kitchen basics

  • Food storage containers: Lock & Lock eco two-piece set, £9
  • Student cookbook: How to Dice an Onion by Anne Sheasby, £5.50
  • Oven gloves: Wolf & Badger Grill Power double oven glove, £29
  • Reusable water bottle: Bobble infuse filtered water bottle, £5.59
  • Utensil set: Symple Stuff three-piece bamboo kitchen utensil set, £11.98
  • Lunchbox: Black + Bum stainless steel lunchbox, £28
  • Mug: Memphis style geometric initial mug, £14

The best student kitchen essentials to buy

Mixing bowl and measuring cups

Joseph Joseph Nest 9 Plus

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.

Read our full review of the best mixing bowls and the best measuring spoons.

Set of pans

Judge Vista three-piece saucepan set

A new set of pans can inspire a bit of excitement when it comes to cooking. It's also easier to know which pans are yours in a shared kitchen. You get three different-sized saucepans in this stainless steel set from Judge, which was rated 4/5 stars by the BBC Good Food team.

Each pan 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 these pans are suitable for all hob types. If you're lucky enough to have a dishwasher, they're dishwasher safe, too.

Read our full Judge Vista 3-piece saucepan set review and our roundup of the best saucepan sets.

Food storage containers

Lock & Lock eco two-piece set

Lock&Lock Eco tupperware, best food tupperware and food storage

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 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.

Spiralizer

OXO Good Grips handheld spiralizer

One of our favourite kitchen gadgets, a hand-held spiralizer is a nifty bit of kit that transforms vegetables into spaghetti-like strands that can be used as a lighter alternative to pasta. This compact, hand-held version by Oxo is an inexpensive model perfect for making lighter versions of classic recipes like courgetti spaghetti bolognese or jazzing up your snack game with courgetti fritters and tomato salsa.

Discover more kitchen gadgets for under £20

Student cookbook

How to Dice an Onion by Anne Sheasby

How to dice an onion cookbook

Written by food writer Anne Sheasby, this is a brilliant handbook filled with tips and tricks to help you feel at ease in the kitchen – covering everything from how to prepare vegetables and make delicious stock, to how to store ingredients and identify the freshest fish. It's fantastic for beginners, but even those with a few skills up their sleeves may learn a thing or two, too.

More like this

Read our full guide to the best student cookbooks.

Oven gloves

Wolf and Badger grill power double oven glove

Jazz up your boring and drab-looking student kitchen with these bright and fun oven gloves designed by Stuart Gardiner. They're a pretty basic pair of gloves, and while they are not the thickest or the best insulators, they do get the job done. For ease, they can also be popped in the washing machine without fear of the design coming off.

Read our full review of the best oven gloves.

Kitchen scales

Jean Patrique digital kitchen scales

Eyeballing ingredients is great for kitchen experiments. When you're keen to follow new recipes or get the perfect rise on a bake, a pair of kitchen scales can be the key to success. These scales by Jean Patrique are a good budget buy that show metric and imperial weight options clearly on an LED display. The small compact design also makes them easy to store away.

For more, read our full review of the best kitchen scales.

Garlic press

Brabantia essential line garlic press

BRABANTIA TASTY+ - Terracotta Pink, best garlic presses

Garlic will quite easily add 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.

Blender

Russell Hobbs Desire jug blender

Russell Hobbs Desire Jug Blender on a white background

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.

Read our full Russell Hobbs Desire jug blender review and our guide to the best blenders.

Colander

Joseph Joseph Prep&Serve™ bowl with integrated colander

Joseph Joseph colander

With pasta, rice and noodles the most common student fodder, you'll need a good colander for draining. Student kitchen space is often at a premium so ditch the traditional clunky colander and go for something more contemporary. This design is genius – the colander doubles as a bowl meaning you can prep in it, as well as drain.

Read our full review of the best colanders.

Reusable water bottle

Bobble Plus filter or infuser water bottle

Bobble Infuser Water Bottle

Ideal for lectures, the gym, library sessions and general campus life, this versatile bottle can be filled with fruit or vegetables to infuse delicious fresh flavours into your drinking water. There's a range of colours available and we love the soft-touch lid too, which is securely connected to the bottle via a strong silicone strap. Replacing the filters is inexpensive, with each lasting the equivalent of 300 plastic water bottles.

Read our full review of the best water bottles.

Utensil set

Symple Stuff 3 Piece Bamboo Kitchen Utensil Set

utensils

Spoons for stirring are essential for most simple recipes. Find a utensil set that features a classic cooking spoon, a slotted version and a spatula at a minimum. Some sets also come with a potato masher, tongs, whisks and more. Think about what you'll most often use them for and go from there. We like this bamboo set as it's eco-friendly, sturdy and inexpensive and we love the pop of colour on the ends.

Wok

Progress Scandi 28cm non-stick wok

Progress Scandi wok

Stir-fries are a bit of a lifeline for students; they’re fast, cheap and tend to contain some vegetables, too. Invest in a big enough wok as they're a great way of feeding a crowd. A non-stick wok, like this Progress one, means there's very little scrubbing to do once you've finished cooking. We also rated this model the best wok for students.

Read our full review of the best woks.

Non-stick frying pan

AmazonBasics Titanium Plasma Non-Stick Induction Frying Pan

black frying pan with gold badge

A non-stick frying pan can be a companion for life if you treat it the right way. This AmazonBasics pan comes in two different sizes, and it's ideal for speedy, cheap dishes like pancakes and omelettes. 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.

Slow cooker

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.

Read our full best slow cookers guide.

Knife

Presto by Tower 3 Piece Knife Set with Chopping Board and Sharpener

Tower knife set with a gold accreditation badge

It can be tricky to find a good quality knife set that doesn't break the bank, but this budget-friendly offering from Tower impressed us. The set includes an eight-inch chef's knife, a five-inch utility knife, a three-and-a-half-inch paring knife, a chopping board, and a two-slot sharpener, and the knives themselves feel robust and are comfortable to use. The thick plastic packaging was the only downside; otherwise this is an excellent starter set.

Read our full review of the best chef's knives.

Chopping board

ProCook non-slip chopping board

ProCook non-slip chopping board

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 lightweight choice from ProCook, which stays firm on surfaces as you chop thanks to its rubber corners. There are also grooves on either side that lead to a narrow slope, so you can easily slide your chopped ingredients into a pan. At just £8, it's also a bargain, and it slots away easily too.

Grater

Colourworks set of four graters

Colourworks Set of Four Graters, best graters

Whether it's pasta bakes or toasties, cheese is a staple in lots of student households – which means a good quality cheese grater will get you far. This vibrant set from Colourworks comes with fine, medium, coarse, and slice graters, all of which are sharp and have a rubber foot to prevent your chopping board from getting scratched. They're also easy to hang up thanks to their silicone straps, and there's a small ident on the underside of each grater, too, which provides a handy rest if you're grating over a bowl.

Read our review of the best graters.

Can opener

Culinare MagiCan can opener

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.

Lunchbox

Black + Blum leak-proof stainless steel lunch box

Taking your own packed lunches to uni will save you heaps of money. This slender, space-saving lunchbox can be slotted into a book bag, plus it has a reliable leakproof seal and a handy fork.

Roasting tray

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.

Mug

Oli and Zo Memphis-style geometric initial mug

Caffeinated drinks are a mainstay of student life. One way to avoid ever losing your favourite mug without resorting to territorial post-it notes? Get one marked with your initial, like this Oli & Zo Memphis-style geometric initial mug.

Mini fridge

iceQ tabletop lockable fridge

iceQ Table Top Lockable Fridge on a white background

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 basic fridge from iceQ won't win any beauty contests, but does the job well.

Check out our mini fridge reviews to find other recommendations at various price points.

More student-friendly product reviews

Best hand blenders
Best toasters
Best food storage containers
Best kitchen gadgets under £10
Best reusable water bottles
Best kettles
10 gadgets to save you money in the kitchen
10 of the best kitchen scissors to buy in 2021

Student recipes and guides

7 healthy student recipes
Basic recipes for your first year as a student
10 vegan student recipes
10 vegetarian student recipes
Essential recipes for university
Our best ever student recipes
Cheap and healthy recipes

What kitchen equipment could you not live without at university? Leave a comment below...

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If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.

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