As the average age of marriage has increased over the past 40 or so years, I’m guessing the average skill level of the newly married cook has gone up alongside it. My mom gave my brother and I the classic reference cookbooks, mandolines, and cutting boards for our college graduations, not our engagements. I spent my 20s learning to roast chickens, whisk vinaigrettes, and lay out crudités platters. So, if anyone ever marries me, they’ll be getting a Boos block, a sharp set of knives, and a full set of cookware along with me—in addition to some hard-won opinions about the best ways to scramble eggs and emulsify pasta sauces.
Still, the concept of a beginner cook is nebulous. After all, there’s always plenty of learning to be done. And I still feel like a beginner cook every time I take on an elaborate baking project or try a technique I’m unfamiliar with (or a lot of the time when I’ve bitten off more than I can chew when I cook for company).
Keeping in mind this loose idea of a beginner cook, here’s a registry for newly engaged couples who still have some learning to do in the kitchen. Maybe they’ve worn out all their Ikea kitchen tools that were still hanging on from that first apartment and need some upgrades—like fancy, extra-sharp knives and cream-of-the-crop Dutch ovens. Maybe they’re using their wedding registry as an excuse to add in some fancier gadgets and learn some new techniques, like sous vide cooking. Or, maybe they really are starting from scratch, learning to fry an egg or sear a chicken thigh. We’ve got registry-worthy options—no matter what your definition of beginner is—below. Add them to a Zola registry here.
If you’re starting from scratch
Here, we’re laying out the best versions of all the items you’d find on a very traditional, old-school wedding registry. We’re including all the pots and pans that a starter kitchen needs; each category selection won our product review against others in its field. At the end, you’ll find some add-on tools that make great lower price point options for wedding guests—some aren’t totally essential, but these items have made Epi editors’ kitchen lives much better.
The pots and pans
Let’s start with this important point. We do not recommend registering for a full cookware set. Instead, it’s better to include just the best version of each type of essential pan. You’ll minimize clutter and avoid filling your cabinets with pans you don’t really need. So here are the essentials: A nonstick skillet (to read more about ceramic versus conventional, visit our review) for scrambled eggs and omelets, a stainless-steel skillet for searing proteins like salmon, and a cast-iron skillet for, well, basically everything. A small saucepan and a large stockpot should cover your basic soup, braising, boiling, and saucing needs in the beginning of your cooking life.
$100.00, Sur La Table
Good knives are obviously essential, but here again we don’t recommend registering for a set. Mac knives are extra sharp and lightweight, meaning you’ll master delicate knife work with a worthy partner. We like Misen’s balanced, sturdy bread knife, which will be a good match for any crusty loaf of sourdough.
The cutting boards
Get a beautiful wooden cutting board along with a few bright, fun recycled plastic ones from Material. You’ll appreciate the big block for everyday slicing and dicing, but it’s nice to have some lightweight cutting boards that you can easily carry to the sink—especially for slicing raw meat or whenever you want to hand guests an extra board to help with some prep work.
The small (but important) add-ons
One simple way to improve your cooking and make your life easier? Make salt accessible. A salt cellar is a fun add-on to a larger wedding gift. Or, give it as a gift set along with our favorite mixing bowls, whisk, and spatula. Mini measuring cups and citrus squeezers that catch and measure the juice will allow for more cooking precision, and an immersion blender is a shockingly versatile tool for the couple who might not feel ready to invest in the counter space that a Vitamix requires.
$15.00, Crate & Barrel
If you’re upgrading to fancy versions of the basics
Okay, you acquired most of the items above before you got married, but now you’re using your wedding as an excuse to upgrade to the nicer, more beautiful versions of classic cookware. Maybe it’s your dream to own a Le Creuset or a showy, beautiful-in-the hand chef’s knife. A carbon-steel skillet offers all the even heat retention and oven-to-stovetop versatility of a cast-iron skillet, but it’s lighter in weight and somehow just…sleeker. A set of steak knives might be something that always felt a little too adult before, but they’re finally justified, since you’ll be entertaining as a married couple now. Finally, a gadget upgrade in the form of a convection toaster oven or the G.O.A.T. blender is a genius registry move, always.
$275.00, Smithey Ironware
$410.00, Le Creuset
$350.00, Bed Bath & Beyond
Learning new techniques (or get techy)
Maybe you got engaged during the pandemic, and that engagement coincided with a certain obsession with baking sourdough. If you’ve got the space, why not register for this mini combo oven, which has a steam feature that will improve the crusts on your boules? (Read our full review of it here.) A few more specialized baking tools like a lame, pizza steel, and proofing baskets are also great wedding registry ideas for the baker or baking-curious. Or, use your new marriage as an excuse to get into sous vide cooking (it’s a great work-ahead cooking hack for entertaining to sous vide your mains in the morning, and then sear them with a torch right before serving).
$99.00, Baking Steel
Originally Appeared on Epicurious