Christopher Kimball on What to Get the Beginner Cook in Your Life

Celebrity Chefs, Gift Guides, Holidays, Live, Meet

Christopher Kimball's No-Shrink Piecrust  

If you’ve ever tried to look up anything about cooking, then chances are that you’ve followed Christopher Kimball‘s advice. As the founder of America’s Test KitchenCook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country and now a new venture, Milk Street, Mr. Kimball has become America’s go-to expert for everything from the fluffiest pancake recipe to the the best-performing chef’s knife.


We caught up with him during peak holiday shopping season, so it only made sense to ask him for his kitchen recommendations. In addition to sharing what he’ll be serving this Christmas (hint: it involves a kale salad with smoked almondsherb-rubbed roast beef and sticky toffee pudding!) and the go-to gift for everyone on his list (a subscription to Milk Street, of course), he also shared his kitchen gift picks for the beginner home cook. Here are his five go-tos for friends and family who are just starting out behind the stove.


1. An Instant-Read Thermometer

Christopher says: “Nobody can tell what is actually going on inside a steak, a loaf of bread, a custard, a roast chicken, or even a cheesecake and so it is an instant-read thermometer to the rescue. The better ones are instant read and offer a digital display. The classic analog round dial thermometers take too long to register the proper temperature and the dials are often too small to read accurately.”

Our pick: Rösle Digital Instant-Read Thermometer

2. Chef’sChoice Knife Sharpener

Christopher says: “Sharpening steels do not sharpen knives; they just tune them up. A dull blade needs to be re-ground. A Chef’sChoice sharpener does this magnificently by using diamond sharpening wheels set at just the right angle to your blade—and you can also use this sharpener for a simple tune-up as well. To determine if your knife is sharp, cut down through a sheet of paper. The blade should slice through the paper without snagging or tearing.”

Our pickChef’sChoice 1520 Angle Select Electric Knife Sharpener


3. Staub Cocotte

Christopher says: “Staub has them best enameled cast iron on the market. It is beautiful—and also pricey—but this is the workhorse of my kitchen. You can boil water for pasta, blanch vegetables, make soups and stews, or simple sauté in it. I love the gray-green color and the black.” 

Our pick: Staub 7-Qt. Cast-Iron Round Cocotte

4. A Double Set of Measuring Cups and Spoons

Christopher says: “You can never have too many measuring cups and spoons and this set is well-made and well-designed.”

Our pick: All-Clad Stainless-Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons

5. All-Clad 12″ Fry Pan

Christopher says: “The 12-inch skillet or fry pan with flared sides is an essential piece of cookware for most jobs in the kitchen. Use the regular stainless steel lined pan; you want food to stick a bit to the surface so that you can create a nice fond for deglazing which produces a sauce. One word of advice: Never put a hot pan into cold water—thermal shock will warp the bottom, making the pan unusable.”

Our pick: All-Clad d5 12″ Stainless-Steel Fry Pan


Tell us: What gifts do you recommend for beginner cooks?


2 comments about “Christopher Kimball on What to Get the Beginner Cook in Your Life

  1. Joyce Millard

    I am looking for a replacement for a sauce maker that makes the most wonderful hollandaise sauce. It is electric. Here are specifics – it’s at least 15 years old.
    Sauce Chef
    Hamilton Beach Scovill
    Model MH862
    Made in France
    Food preparer
    Can anyone help or recommend a substitute?

  2. Max

    First thing is a working smoke detector…. It challenged me when I was young…Cook with fear of it going off…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *