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Article updated on November 9, 2023 at 8:00 AM PST

16 Best Kitchen Tools to Bring to Your College Dorm

A microwave is just the beginning. Here's everything you'll need to eat and drink well this semester.

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Written by 
David Watsky
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David Watsky Senior Editor / Home and Kitchen
David lives in Brooklyn where he's spent more than a decade covering all things edible, including meal kit services, food subscriptions, kitchen tools and cooking tips. Since earning a BA in English from Northeastern in Boston, he's toiled in nearly every aspect of the food business, including as a line cook in Rhode Island where he once made a steak sandwich for Lamar Odom. Right now, he's likely somewhere stress-testing a blender or researching the best way to make bacon. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.
Expertise Kitchen tools, appliances, food science, subscriptions and meal kits.
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$168 at Amazon
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GE air-frying microwave
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$56 at Amazon
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NutriBullet personal blender
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$155 at Amazon
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Frigidaire mini fridge
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$80 at Amazon
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Zwilling cool-touch electric kettle
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$69 at Walmart
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Galanz retro microwave
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$50 at Amazon
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Hamilton Beach single-serve coffee maker
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$85 at Amazon
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Keurig K-Mini pod coffee maker
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$15 at Target
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Reusable silverware
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$62 at Amazon
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Instant Vortex mini air fryer
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$24 at Amazon
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Kitchen utensil set
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$30 at Amazon
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Foreman quesadilla maker
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$32 at Amazon
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Zero Water filter pitcher
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$20 at Amazon
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Dash egg cooker
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$150 at Best Buy
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Ninja Foodi Flip-Away oven
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$80 at Amazon
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Instant Pot 3-quart pressure cooker
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$75 at Wayfair
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Bissell air purifier
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When it comes to college life, the culinary habits of dorm-room-dwelling college kids have come a long way. Now look, we hold no ill will towards any package of instant ramen (Buldak, if we're being specific,) but the days of that twentysomething staple being the only option for university students have long since passed. Don't have the time or are too "tired" to shuffle on down to the cafeteria? We get it. And we have some ideas to help.

Making easy -- and even healthy -- dishes has never been easier. Simply put, kitchen-less cooking has become a tangible reality, thanks to all sorts of technological ingenenuity. With just the push of some buttons, you can make perfect, simple dishes without firing up a big oven or plugging in other bulky kitchen appliances. So, if you or your offspring are headed off to a compact college apartment or freshman dorm room with a sorry excuse for a kitchen (or no kitchen at all), we've got a few cooking devices and kitchen essentials in mind to help take your situation from yuck to yum.

For this list, we included cooking gear and small kitchen appliances that are likely allowed in a college dorm and noted ones that may not be, such as air fryerstoasters and other appliances with electric cooking elements. Before buying anything, reference your school's student handbook or list of dorm rules and allowances.

Best kitchen appliances for college dorms

$168 at Amazon

GE air-frying microwave

This is about as perfect a dorm room appliance as you'll find -- if your school allows it, that is. The GE does everything a standard microwave does and has convection modes to toast, roast and air-fry foods that don't fare well in a microwave, such as chicken wings, leftover pizza and French fries.

At $200, the GE is a bit pricier than most solo microwaves or air fryers, but it's a lot of bang for the buck and a very efficient use of your limited dorm space. 

Note: Not all schools allow devices with electric cooking elements in dorms and student housing. Check your student handbook before buying.

$56 at Amazon

NutriBullet personal blender

We like personal blenders better than traditional ones because they're more compact, the blending container doubles as a cup, and they come with lids to make them to-go cups so you can sip on your way to class (or as you log in to your laptop at the kitchen island again). 

The NutriBullet Magic Bullet is a no. 1 bestseller for good reason: It can crush through ice, seeds, skins and stems for a smooth, even consistency. Ice and frozen fruit are no match for this nifty little machine, so it's great for cold, healthy drinks and smoothies. And, ahem, margaritas…

For more power, upgrade to the .

Read moreBest blenders for 2023, tested by CNET editors

$155 at Amazon

Frigidaire mini fridge

If your dorm room doesn't already include a refrigerator-freezer, then you've got to get a mini version. It's a must. If your dorm room is currently your childhood bedroom or basement, it's still nice to have a dedicated place for snacks. 

This retro-style 3.2-cubic-foot dry-erase fridge with neon markers is stylish and lets you write and erase lists and notes right on the fridge door -- whether it's a warning to stop stealing your oat milk or a note to self about next week's class schedule.

$80 at Amazon

Zwilling cool-touch electric kettle

In our test of electric kettles, this Zwilling model took the top spot. It's a perfect dorm room accessory for making tea, pour-over coffee and instant noodles cups. The Zwilling boils water in under three minutes and turns off automatically if you forget to flip the switch. 

This kettle holds 1 liter of water -- the smallest size for this model -- so it won't take up a ton of space. It also has a cool-touch body to remove the risk of brushing against it and burning your skin.

Read more: Best electric kettle of 2023

$69 at Walmart

Galanz retro microwave

Your dorm room may include a microwave in it when you arrive, so check ahead. If it doesn't, go with a small version and then make sure all your plates, bowls and mugs are microwave-safe. To fall within standard dorm safety regulations, you'll want a compact microwave with 700 watts of power or less, such as this stylish model with a retro oval window. It's available in three colors and will add some pop to an otherwise drab dorm.

$50 at Amazon

Hamilton Beach single-serve coffee maker

This should've been no. 1 on the list, really. I mean, it's coffee. Regular coffee makers take up a lot of space and make more coffee than one person needs.

Enter this top-rated model, which is sleek and slim. It uses a mesh scoop filter so you can choose your preferred coffee grounds. The personal coffee maker brews an 8-ounce cup in 90 seconds, but you're gonna want a 14-ounce travel mug's worth, which will only take about two and a half minutes to fill up.

Read more9 best coffee clubs and subscriptions for 2023, Tested and reviewed

$85 at Amazon

Keurig K-Mini pod coffee maker

If you prefer to go the pod coffee maker route, the K-Mini is the most popular, compact model that Keurig makes. 

$15 at Target

Reusable silverware

You'll definitely want some silverware in your dorm, but I say go for a set that's easy to pack in case you're taking lunch or dinner to the quad or a friend's apartment or dorm. This stainless steel set comes fit with a storage case so spoons and forks don't go flying.

$62 at Amazon

Instant Vortex mini air fryer

If your school does allow air fryers and toasters (or you're moving off campus), consider yourself lucky. With this little robot-looking oven, you can make all the classic fried favorites including wings, fries, tots, mozzarella sticks, empanadas and chicken in minutes and without any messy oil. A 2-quart air fryer is perfect for a dorm or small kitchen, and the digital presets include a 60-minute automatic shut-off for safety. 

All I'll say is, I sure wish I'd had one of these my freshman year. You kids have it so good nowadays. 

Note: Not all schools allow devices with electric cooking elements in dorms and student housing. Check your student handbook before buying.

Read moreBest Air Fryer for 2023, Tested by CNET

$24 at Amazon

Kitchen utensil set

If you're still in a dorm you probably won't need everything in this set, but keep it handy for next year when you move off campus and have to stock a real kitchen. 

This bundle of essentials includes a cheese grater, can opener, measuring spoons, measuring cups, veggie peeler and more cooking utensils. (There's also a bottle opener and a pizza cutter, which you might end up using more than the rest.)

$30 at Amazon

Foreman quesadilla maker

One of the most frequent questions you'll ask yourself in college is, "Wait, do I even have time to eat?" It's sad, but it's the truth. You'll need appliances that will help you prepare food in no time so that you don't starve if you're running late to class, or an internship, or wherever you need to be. This quesadilla maker is cheap and perfect for a quick and easy lunch. Just don't forget to put the top tortilla down before you close it up, like I definitely didn't do several times my freshman year. 

A waffle maker is a worthy alternative (and is far more versatile than you think; by the same token, the quesadilla maker should be, too).

Note: Not all schools allow devices with electric cooking elements in dorms and student housing. Check your student handbook before buying.

$32 at Amazon

Zero Water filter pitcher

Even more of an essential than coffee (gasp!), is clean, drinkable water. A filtered water pitcher is a great way to have the most necessary sustenance around all the time. If you can't fit one in your fridge, you'll want this. There are many kinds, but a slim design works best for a limited space. The Zero Water filter pitcher is the best at removing dissolved solids (the bad stuff) of the several we tested.

Read more: Best water filter pitchers for 2023

$20 at Amazon

Dash egg cooker

Getting out the dorm door with a proper breakfast is pretty much impossible, but an egg cooker can definitely help. The popular Dash cooker will make six perfectly cooked eggs in minutes -- hard-boiled, soft-boiled or poached (if you're fancy). Plus, it takes up little space, which is great because space is at a premium in college. 

Hooray for protein!

$150 at Best Buy

Ninja Foodi Flip-Away oven

If you want to kick things up a notch -- maybe a few notches -- spring for this beast of an oven and air fryer combo. With the Ninja Foodi oven, you'll get far more cooking capability than with a solo air fryer, including bake, roast, toast and warm functions. Plus, the entire unit folds up against a wall so it takes up way less space than any oven with this much oomph should. We've tested this one, and the air fryer function works like a champ, making ultracrispy wings and fries in 25 minutes or so. 

Note: This model is recommended for off-campus apartments. Most schools don't allow ovens with this much power in dorms and student housing. Check your student handbook before buying.

$80 at Amazon

Instant Pot 3-quart pressure cooker

If your school allows it, an Instant Pot is a no-brainer, and the 3-quart version is a great fit for small spaces (and those who might not want to deal with five pounds of pulled pork at a time). Make fast dinners and batch-cook protein for the week with the efficient, compact multicooker.

Note: Not all schools allow devices with electric heating elements in dorms and student housing. Check your student handbook before purchasing.

Read more: Best air purifier of 2023

$75 at Wayfair

Bissell air purifier

This one may not seem to have much to do with cooking, but if you're going to be making food in a dorm or small space, there are going to be smells and airborne food particles that come along with it. Save your roommate -- and yourself -- from some of that compromised air quality with a compact air purifier like this Bissell.