GreenLife 18-Piece Non-Stick Cookware Set
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Nothing is more frustrating than deciding you’re going to be all chef-like and cook a proper dinner, then scour the aisles of a crowded grocery store for all the random ingredients you need for one recipe (what is anise, anyway?!), only to find you actually don’t own a cast iron skillet. Thankfully, it’s the holidays, meaning this is the time to ask for new kitchen stuff, especially if you’re just now deciding to adult and, you know, not order from Grubhub so much. Below, we’ve compiled a must-have list of go-to tools every amateur, ambitious cook needs in his or her arsenal.

Citrus Press, $15.99 on Amazon


When a recipe calls for fresh lime or lemon juice, this squeezer is a total dream. Just slice the fruit in half, then place it cut-side down into the well that matches the size of your fruit, and squeeze the handles together. Best part? The well catches all the seeds.See It

Microplane, $11.32 on Amazon


Think of it as a tiny cheese grater (because that’s technically what it is) that’s also a lifesaver for zesting citrus and grating garlic or ginger when a recipe calls for them to be minced.See It

Glass bowls, $19.95 on Amazon


When you’ve got a recipe that requires chopping a lot of herbs and vegetables, you’re going to grateful that you have this matching set of bowls to keep it all organized. And because they’re transparent, you can see just how well you’ve mixed a sauce or batter.See It

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, $29.99 on Amazon


Sure, cast iron is fussy—you can’t throw it in the dishwasher, and dish soap is a no-no. But a perfectly seasoned skillet is something you can hold on to forever and use for a million different dishes. (And if it does get gunk stuck to it, rub a little salt into it with a paper towel and it’s gone in a flash.) This one fits a whole roast chicken, and it’s also a dream for frying up bacon or searing meat before you pop it in the oven.See It

Oxo Angled Measuring Cup, $6.95 on Sur La Table

Sur la Table

Cooks everywhere love this ingenious measuring cup that tells you how much you’ve poured from above—no more crouching down to read a line on the side of a cup. Plus, it’s easy to pour from and dishwasher safe.See It

Measuring spoons $8.47 on Amazon


When it comes to measuring spoons, go with stainless steel. Cheap plastic ones never last and sometimes the measurements can rub off easily. Also the ring is key to keeping these all together—nothing worse than when the 1 teaspoon you need to bake those muffins goes missing.See It

Chef’s Knife, $164.95 on Sur La Table

Sur la Table

You know how people like to give an entire knife block to someone who’s new to the kitchen? Unnecessary! Splurge on one really good chef’s knife and you’ll use it for everything: prepping fruits and vegetables, carving a chicken, slicing through butter and cheese.See It

Cuisinart 2-Quart Saucepan $35.36 on Amazon


One solid saucepan is all you need for whipping up sauces, pasta for one, and small-batch soups. This one’s heavy bottom means whatever you’re heating up will cook evenly, and the lid keeps things warm for when you’re ready to go back in for seconds.See It

Related Video: French Recipes Every Beginner Cook Should Master

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Header image courtesy of Walmart.

Julie Vadnal is a writer and founder of the newsletter JULES. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Esquire, Glamour, and Real Simple. Follow her on Instagram at @julievadnal.
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