16 Kitchen Essentials for Your First Apartment (Tried and True Guide)

Moving into your first apartment is super exciting. Congratulations!

I remember when I moved into a brand new city for college and had to scramble to find my first apartment.

And once I did, I found the kitchen to be the biggest challenge for me.

Setting up your kitchen can be a huge task, especially when you’re starting from scratch.

With so many kitchen gadgets out there, what do you really need?

Before you run out the door with a mental shop list, let’s take a moment to pause and go over what you really need for your kitchen.

All the fancy tools can come later!

For now, here are the basics you’re going to need to get started:

First Apartment Kitchen Essentials

Are you ready to grab some kitchen items for your apartment?

Your kitchen doesn’t have to be the epicenter of style of decor, but it does have to be functional.

Here is a list of kitchen apartment essentials for your first apartment.

1. Quality Cookware Set

A quality cookware set is an absolute kitchen necessity! You need a durable set – like this gorgeous nonstick ceramic cookware set – that includes pots and pans of different sizes.

A non-stick skillet, saucepan, and stockpot are good choices that you can do a bunch of stuff with.

Look for cookware that evenly distributes heat and is easy to clean.

This is going to save you tons of time and effort in your first kitchen.

2. Sharp Knives

Another thing you need in your kitchen is a good set of sharp knives.

Now, don’t skimp on knives. I learned this the hard way.

When I first moved into my apartment I just bought plastic steak knives and one big knife.

Well, just after two months, my big knife’s handle was loosening and my steak knives just weren’t cutting anymore.

So, to save you money and headaches opt for a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife that can handle any cutting task.

I’m in LOVE with this Japanese chef’s knife kit!

Sharp knives make food prep quick and easy. They also prevent the blade of the knife from getting caught and slipping, making your first kitchen a safer space.

3. Cutting Board

When you get a cutting board, go for one that is sturdy and made from durable stuff like wood or bamboo.

You should also have more than one board – one for meat and one for veggies. This will help prevent cross-contamination that can make you sick.

I like this set of plastic cutting boards for veggies and meat. I can wash them in the dishwasher and make sure I have one board for on type of food.

A cutting board is something you don’t want to cheap out on either!

A quality cutting board is going to be gentler on those brand new knives, making sure they last longer.

4. Utensil Set

For your first apartment kitchen, you’ll also need a basic utensil set. One that includes a spatula, ladle, tongs, and a slotted spoon should do the trick!

Look for heat-resistant materials that can stand up to high temperatures.

When it comes to eating, you’re going to need those utensils too!

Forget about fancy cheese knives and dessert spoons. Just get a four-person set that has a fork, knife, big spoon, and little spoon.

5. Mixing Bowls

An assortment of mixing bowls is a great way to prepare and serve meals in your new apartment. Choose a metal set that has different sizes – usually three sizes are plenty.

Mixing bowls with non-slip bases and pour spouts makes cooking super convenient and easy, too!

6. Measuring Cups and Spoons

Unless you are really good at eyeballing ingredients, measuring cups and spoons are definitely essentials for your first apartment kitchen!

A set of measuring cups and spoons will help you make sure your recipes turn out just right!

Look for nesting sets to save space, especially if you’re short on storage.

And if you buy ones with engraved markings, they’ll last longer and won’t wear off!

7. Baking Sheets and Pans

Even if you’re not a baking enthusiast, having a few baking pans and sheets on hand opens up all kinds of cooking possibilities!

You can use them for roasting vegetables, making one-pan meals, and rocking a homemade pizza.

Look for non-stick coatings for easy cleanup. You can also have them last longer by lining them with tin foil or parchment paper before using them.

8. Toaster or Toaster Oven

This is an essential kitchen item you MUST get.

You don’t even know how much you need a toaster oven until you use it…every single day.

Perfect for quick breakfasts or reheating leftovers, a toaster or toaster oven is a small and useful appliance that deserves a spot on your kitchen counter.

While toasters are great for, well, toast (and bagels too!), toaster ovens are larger and can be used to toast multiple things or recrisp leftovers.

Check for features like browning settings and crumb trays so you don’t have to deal with burnt food and messes.

9. Microwave

Microwaves are a time-saving first apartment kitchen essential that you can’t skip out on.

Need to reheat your coffee? Make a quick snack? Pop some popcorn? Yeah, you need a microwave.

Look for microwaves with multiple functions that are energy efficient. You can even get a small microwave if you’re short on counter space – or you want to save room for awesome kitchen counter decor.

10. Coffee Maker or Kettle

Speaking of reheating coffee, you need something to make your coffee in the first place!

If you’re a caffeine enthusiast or need a cup of joe to get going in the morning, then you need a coffee maker or kettle.

Coffee makers come in different styles, from drip coffee models to French presses. But if you prefer instant coffee or pour-over coffee, a kettle will work just fine.

Just look for programmable features or rapid-boil capabilities to streamline your morning routine.

11. Storage Containers

Storage containers are key to keeping your kitchen clean and organized. You can use them for leftovers and meal prep or store your pantry ingredients to keep them fresh and dry.

You can go for stackable containers to save space. Just make sure you grab airtight containers so your food and ingredients don’t expire before their time.

12. Can Opener

A can opener seems like an obvious new apartment kitchen essential, but a reliable can opener can make a difference when it comes to opening canned goods.

You can find can openers with comfortable grips and ergonomic designs so your hands don’t get sore cranking open your cans.

Or, you can opt for electric can openers. Some are designed as little units that sit on your counter, while others can be installed under your cupboard. There are also electric can openers small enough to fit in your drawer.

13. Dish Rack and Drying Mat

Make sure your dishes are nice and dry with a dish rack and drying mat.

This duo will help you breeze through your dirty dishes and keep your kitchen looking organized and clutter-free.

Look for dish racks with removable trays for easy cleaning and drying mats made of quick-drying materials so you don’t have to deal with mildew and bad smells.

14. Trash Can and Recycling Bin

When you’re moving into your first apartment kitchen, these essentials are important.

You need a sturdy trash can to hold your garbage and a separate bin for your recycling (unless your city/town provides one).

Look for bins that fit into your space with lids and pedal mechanisms for convenience and odor control.

15. Dish Soap and Scrub Brushes

Keep your dishes sparkling clean with good-quality dish soap and a set of scrub brushes.

Scrub brushes will help you tackle stubborn leftovers that won’t wash off your dishes.

If you want to be more sustainable in your kitchen, go for washable scrubbies instead of scrub brushes. You can just throw them in the washing machine and keep using them instead of replacing them all the time.

16. Oven Mitts

Lastly, you need to protect your hands from hot pots and pans with a reliable pair of oven mitts.

I am in LOVE with these Gorilla oven mitts. They have held up for years for me and don’t have any burn marks.

Oven mitts made of heat-resistant materials are best to keep your fingers safe from burns.

Look for mitts with a non-slip grip so that you can hang on tight to hot cookware and avoid accidents in the kitchen.

Where to Buy Kitchen Essentials For Your First Apartment

So, where exactly do you buy these essentials for your first apartment kitchen?

There are tons of places you can check out to get the best deals on quality items. Here are some ideas:

  • Amazon: Amazon has a huge selection of kitchen stuff from big brand names. You can compare prices and snag some deals when ordering online.
  • Dollar Tree: Surprisingly, dollar stores can be a treasure trove for basic kitchen essentials! You’re more like to find smaller items here, but at a great price.
  • Department Stores: Retailers like Walmart and Target are known for carrying tons of kitchen products. Keep an eye on seasonal sales, clearance sections, and flyer deals to save some cash.
  • Costco: If you’re looking to buy some kitchen supplies in bulk, like paper towels, dish soap, and storage containers, check out Costco. They also have great prices on appliances and other kitchen gadgets.
  •  Second-Hand Shops: Thrift stores and second-hand shops are amazing places to find gently used kitchen stuff at lower prices. If you’re into thrifting, check out these stores for things like dishes, kettles, and more.
  • Facebook Marketplace: You can also find kitchen essentials on Facebook Marketplace for cheap. You can even negotiate prices! Just make sure everything is in good condition before buying.

By shopping around for your first apartment kitchen essentials, you can find the best prices for good quality stuff.

My First Apartment Kitchen Essentials Checklist

Alright! So we’ve gone over all of the essentials you need for your first apartment kitchen and where to find the best deals.

To make things easier for your shopping trips, here is your first apartment kitchen essentials checklist:

Happy shopping!

Hang On To This Kitchen Essentials List!

As you equip your first apartment kitchen with these essentials, make sure you focus on functionality and versatility.

All the fancy things can come later once you have everything set up!

Stick to these tried and true basics, and you’ll be totally prepared to enjoy your new kitchen space.