The Best College Kitchen Gear, According to a College Senior

When you're one of eight (!) roommates, kitchen space is at a premium. Our summer intern shares her kitchen essentials.

Published Aug. 25, 2022.

I spent the summer interning with the ATK Reviews team. Over the course of nine weeks, I prepared tastings, researched article ideas, and took part in some passionate conversations about cookware.

But even before I interned with the team, I relied on their product reviews. My mom introduced me to America's Test Kitchen when I was in high school and I’ve never looked back.

While a college kitchen is often a hodgepodge of secondhand utensils, grandpa’s 50-year-old saucepan, and cheap Target basics, mine always has some quality staples. For those, I use ATK’s recommendations.

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Now that I’m heading back to my small apartment in Colorado to start my senior year, I wanted to share what items I’ve discovered are essential for college-style living.

When you're one of eight—yes, eight—roommates, it’s important to have items that do their jobs well and save time and space in the kitchen. This is the gear I'd recommend to anyone in a similar position. (To learn why each of these products topped their testings, check out this buying guide.)

Daphne's College Kitchen Essentials

GoWise Air Fryer

1. GoWise Air Fryer

This air fryer is my most used appliance at school. I use it to make "real" meals and to heat up Trader Joe's frozen food. I've also found it can bake one or two cookies if the oven is in use. (My air-fried cookie technique is still a work in progress.)

Chef’s Choice knife sharpener

2. Chef’s Choice knife sharpener

It took me and my roommates a good four months to decide to invest in this item. After getting tired of dull blades and dreadfully chopped vegetables we finally bought this sharpener. It’s changed our cooking for the better.

Braun hand blender

3. Braun hand blender

I love using this immersion blender before intramural soccer for my single-serve chunky monkey smoothies!

Wüsthof fish spatula

4. Wüsthof fish spatula

I probably use this spatula most often for pancakes. When we have an apartment breakfast, it’s perfect for making enough for eight mouths. It’s also really good for flipping the pancakes over your shoulder while someone else tries to catch them on their plate.

Zojirushi rice cooker

5. Zojirushi rice cooker

When I’m trying to finish my homework, get ready for game night, and make dinner, multitasking is a must. My rice cooker allows me to do just that without accidentally leaving a hot pan on the stove.

O-Cedar brush

6. O-Cedar brush

Sometimes you forget to clean a dish you left in the sink after dinner. And sometimes you forget about that dirty dish for a few days until that weird smell in the kitchen reminds you. This scrub brush is perfect for getting out those extra-nasty sticky messes.

OXO cutting board

7. OXO cutting board

We need a lot of cutting boards in our apartment, especially ones that stay put during some serious chopping, and I like having a smaller board as well. We also use cutting boards for things like pressing tofu, so we need enough to go around.

Nordic Ware quarter sheet pan

8. Nordic Ware quarter sheet pan

In my apartment we usually have at least three people cooking in one kitchen at the same time. Sometimes this means three people need to use the oven at the same time. With smaller sheet pans we can put more kinds of food in the oven at once.

Plastic tumblers

9. Plastic tumblers

These cups have the same diameter as a solo cup. Need I say more? (If I do: While these cups are perfect for drinking a glass of water at home, we also love to throw a drink and a straw in them to sip on while watching some D3 soccer at our school’s stadium.)

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