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22 best student kitchen essentials

Published: September 17, 2021 at 1:30 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.


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 to buy

Mixing bowl and measuring cups

Joseph Joseph Nest 9 Plus

Joseph Joseph nest of nine mixing bowls and measuring cups, Student kitchen essentials

Mixing bowls can be so much more than just mixing bowls. They’re 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

Judge Vista 001

A new set of pans can genuinely 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.


OXO Good Grips handheld spiralizer

OXO spiralizer, kitchen student essentials

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

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

Budget kitchen scales, student essentials

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.


Ninja 2-in-1 blender with Auto-IQ

Ninja 2-in-1 blender

A must-have for any student, this Ninja blender is a powerful piece of kit that makes light work of fruit and vegetables alike, meaning you can make soups, pasta sauces and dishes like hummus quickly and easily. This blender also has a crushed ice preset - frozen cocktails anyone? It's intuitive and easy to clean. We particularly love the addition of the 700ml cup, which is ideal for smoothies on the go before early morning lectures.

Read our full Ninja 2-in-1 blender with Auto iQ review and our review of the best blenders.


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

Hip water bottle


Ideal for lectures, the gym, library sessions and general campus life, a refillable water bottle is an absolute essential. Not only will it help you save on expensive bottled water, you'll also cut down on single-use plastic. This Hip water bottle is great looking and slim, meaning it wont take up any essential space in your bag.

Read our full review of the best water bottles

Utensil set

Symple Stuff three-piece bamboo kitchen utensil set


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.


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

Ninja Foodi non-stick frying pan

C30030UK 30cm frying pan NINJA

Treat it well and a non-stick frying pan can be a friend for life. It's brilliant for cheap, speedy dishes like omelette and pancakes, and should lessen cooking disasters for the new chef. This non-stick frying pan from Ninja comes in a variety of sizes and earned the title of "best frying pan" in our test. It's lightweight, easy to clean and comes with an impressive non-stick coating. And at such a good price, this pan is a must-buy for everyone, not just students.

Read our full best non-stick frying pans review

Slow cooker

Daewoo 3.5-litre slow cooker

Daewoo 3.5L slow cooker, Amazon 700x350

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 review


Ikea Vardagen chef’s knife

IKEA VARDAGEN chef’s knife on a white background

A proper chef's knife will make the world of difference to your cooking experience if you can invest or 'borrow' one from home. Although they tend to come with high price tags, those serious about their cooking will keep theirs throughout their entire student life and beyond. You can pick up a very good knife for under £40, but we love this Ikea Vardagen chef's knife. It's remarkably cheap, multi-purpose and cuts with absolute precision.

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

Chopping board

Salter bamboo chopping board


A simple plastic or wooden chopping board is definitely an essential on the shopping list before heading off to uni. A large board is a useful bit of kit for lots of prep, plus you'll save on washing up as you only need to use the one board. If you've got the money or are looking for something more hefty, go for a butchers block-style board. Our cookery team can testify to how brilliantly designed and clever this bamboo chopping board is – it's strong, sturdy and a good size.


Cuisipro 5-in-1 tower grater

CuisiPro grater, student essentials

Pizza, toasties, pasta bakes – student households can get through a lot of cheese. This 5-in-1 clever gadget has sides for fine, coarse, ultra and slicer grating, as well as a base for ginger grating. It also sits flat without wobbling, avoiding mess and mishaps. Great for shredding vegetables and crushing garlic too, it's a gadget you'll use over and over again.

Read our review of the best graters

Can opener

OXO Good Grips soft handled can opener

Can opener on white background

Cheaper canned foods tend to lack a ring pull, so a good can opener is essential for the student kitchen. This robust OXO Good Grips opener has soft handles and is easy to use, plus it comes with a bottle opener.

Read our full review of the best can openers


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

Blue and black roasting tray on white background

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


Oli and Zo Memphis-style geometric initial mug

Memphis mug with the letter g

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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