29 First Apartment Kitchen Essentials (By a Single Millennial Who Doesn’t Cook)

kitchen essentials for new apartment

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Starting out fresh in your first apartment, but don’t know what kitchen basics you need? Worry not — as a new tenant myself (I recently signed the lease on my very first apartment), I got you. Below I’ve compiled a ‘first apartment kitchen essentials checklist’ of only the things you actually need to help you get started!

Before we start checking things off the list, I think some pleasantries are in order 🥰. Congratulations on taking the plunge and securing your new apartment babe! As independent adulting goes, you’re doing alright.

The thing nobody tells you when you score your own place is there isn’t a manual on how to actually do it right.

Featured image via @williamssonoma

Finding the perfect apartment was hard enough, but now what the heck do you do after that? What do you need to buy to put in your new apartment? To put in the kitchen? And what items are just a total waste of money?

As I too am starting off on this journey of moving into my very first apartment for the very first time, I totally understand how overwhelming and costly it can all be. That’s why I decided to compile this hopefully very helpful ‘first apartment essentials checklist’ series to help you on this journey, too. In every space of your new home.

Why I recommend these particular kitchen essentials for your first apartment.

For context, I’m a millennial girl. And how is that relevant to this first apartment kitchen essentials checklist?

Well, as a certain subset of millennials are, I’m somewhat of a minimalist. Not the extreme only owns a single fork, a single spoon, and a single pair of shoes kind of minimalist. Rather, I’m more of a “less is more” kinda gal. With that said, I want to only recommend for your new apartment, things that you will actually use and need.

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Additionally, I believe that the fewer things we own should be the best. In other words, I don’t like cheap shit. For my own first apartment kitchen essentials, I would much rather buy things that will cost you a little bit more but will be well worth the investment. And so I will only recommend the high-quality kitchen must-haves for your first apartment too.

Lastly, like many young people these days, I don’t often cook or spend a ton of time in the kitchen. I find it more convenient, and cheaper even, to eat out or take meals home.

This lifestyle aspect is important to consider when shopping for kitchen basics for your first apartment. So that you don’t overspend and buy stuff that you just don’t need.

Read this before shopping for your first apartment kitchen essentials.

Before you run off to Amazon’s Home Section, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, or any other store to shop, I highly recommend starting small.

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By this, I mean only buying what is absolutely necessary for the first weeks of moving in. Thereafter you can update a running list of items you actually need as you need them as they’ll reveal themselves.

A couple of weeks won’t kill ya, and it’ll save you from inadvertently spending out of your budget and collecting an abundance of unnecessary stuff in the long run.

First Apartment Kitchen Essentials Checklist

Now that you’ve got the gist, let’s run down the checklist, shall we? If you love to shop on Amazon, check out my Kitchen Essentials Amazon favs here.

The Kitchen Essentials You Actually Need.

According to a single millennial woman who doesn’t cook and doesn’t like cheap shit.

kitchen essentials for new apartment
Williams Sonoma Plate Set

A small dinnerware set.

Because if you’re a single person (or even a couple) why in the world do you need a set of 20+ plates? I’ll tell you — you don’t. Invest in a small dinnerware set that has everything you need. A set with, for example, 4 dinner plates, 4 salad plates, 4 bowls, and 4 mugs is plenty.

Choose a staple set from a brand like West Elm so that you can always buy more matching ones in the future if you need to.

A few drinking glasses.

A set of say glasses, for example, 4 tall drinking glasses and 4 short glasses is enough for a single person or couple (even when you occasionally have guests). If you want to be a little fancy, opt for a set of crystal glasses like this Marquis Markham HiBall Set of 4 from Waterford.

A couple of wine glasses.

If you’re a wine drinker, then you’ll definitely want to purchase a couple of nice wine glasses. And if you expect to have guests every once in a while, perhaps invest in a couple more. Wine glasses are fairly inexpensive, plus a quality set like this is sure to add an element of sophistication while you’re sipping and toasting to your first apartment.

Cool coasters.

If you plan on using your pretty new crystal glasses and entertaining, coasters will come in very handy. Plus, they’re are some really cool coaster options and designs on the market that allow an opportunity to add some personality to your space.

Quality silverware.

A basic set of utensils that includes 4 forks, 4 knives, and 4 spoons will do the job nicely. Avoid getting really cheap ones as they tend to bend easily and break quickly. If you’re not quite ready to splurge on a sterling silver set, this sterling silver set from Crate & Barrel is plenty bougie.

Drawer organizers.

To help store all of your utensils and kitchen tools in an organized manner, drawer organizers come in handy. They can help organize knives, flatware, and more so that you don’t have to rummage through the drawers looking for something specific.

Cloth napkins.

Because we’re adulting right? And cloth napkins don’t just have to be for fancy restaurants. For your first apartment, cloth napkins are an easy way to elevate the experience of eating at home. Cloth napkins will also save you money in the long run, since they can be washed and reused over and over.

Chef’s knife.

A big wooden block of 15 mediocre knives that, let’s be honest, you’ll barely use? Instead, I say invest in one incredible chef’s knife that can get any cutting job done with ease. Wusthof, a renowned German brand, has been producing high-quality knives for over 200 years. You’ll spend between $100-300 for a classic Wusthof chef’s knife, but it will move with you beyond your first apartment for years and years to come.

A solid wood cutting board.

If you’re going to invest in a chef’s knife that can do some serious damage, you’d better snag a high-quality cutting board too. A solid wood cutting board is a kitchen necessity for protecting your knives and preventing any cross-contamination. Plus, a beautiful wooden board will look amazing in the kitchen and can double as a chic charcuterie board too.

Few glass containers.

For when you’re in the mood to meal prep or bring home some bomb leftovers that you want to keep fresh. Glass containers are superior to plastic ones in terms of food safety and ease of cleaning. Investing in a set of glass containers with different sizes will give you maximum options for whatever situation you find yourself in.

One good pot + one good pan.

The cheap nonstick set of 8 assorted pots and pans from Amazon just will not do. One good pot, like this Lodge 12 Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, is a great investment for making delicious meals. For boiling up the occasional pasta or ramen at home, this Stainless Steel 3 Quart Sauce Pan you can snag on Amazon, will do ya just fine.

Non-stick heat-resistant spatula.

Again, if you’re not cooking up a storm often, you really don’t need the whole kit and caboodle when it comes to cooking utensils. Instead, invest in one essential tool — a quality heat-resistant spatula that won’t scratch your pans. Stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx always have really good budget-friendly ones.


When it comes to draining your cooked pasta or potatoes, a colander is one of those very convenient kitchen necessities to have on hand. Choose one that’s made of stainless steel and has a handle that won’t get too hot when straining something.

Glass baking dish.

Great for baking chicken, backing a cake, and whipping up some pre-made cookie dough, a glass backing dish is a versatile first apartment kitchen essential for regular cookers and one-in-a-while cookers alike.

Measuring cup or measuring spoons.

A measuring cup ensures that you always have the right amounts of ingredients for whatever dish you are cooking up. It also helps make sure that no ingredient gets overlooked or overused, resulting in a perfectly balanced dish that tastes just as good as it looks.

Wine opener.

This is one of those new apartment kitchen essentials that is easy to overlook. But then at the moment you really want to open a bottle of wine, you’ll really wish you hadn’t. Invest in one good wine opener that you can use for years. I like this Wing Corkscrew Wine Bottle Opener on Amazon because it’s multi functions to open your beer bottles too.

Coffee maker/tea kettle.

Whether you’re a coffee drinker or tea lover, having a quality coffee maker and/or tea kettle is essential to your morning routine (and life!) A french press or pour-over coffee maker will both make delicious java, while a tea kettle is an underrated kitchen appliance that you’ll use quite often. If you’re a matcha guy or gal, check out this super cute Matcha set to make your sweet matcha creation at home.

Paper towel holder + paper towels.

Even if you’re a fan of reusable cloth napkins, paper towels are a convenient first apartment essential to have around. Keep this new apartment kitchen necessity handy with a countertop paper towel holder. And don’t forget to stock up every once in a while when needed.

Absorbable cloth towels.

When it comes to drying hands, dishes, and whatever else you need, having a few absorbable cloth towels handy is essential. Unlike paper towels, these cloth towels can be reused multiple times before being thrown in the wash, making them an eco-friendly choice for the kitchen.

Dish rack.

While many apartments have dishwashers these days, a dish rack is still among the necessary kitchen essentials for your first apartment you should consider. If, for example, you just need to wash a couple of plates or glasses, it often doesn’t make sense to run it. Instead, buy a dish rack or drying mat to put over the sink or countertop to dry your dishes.

Soap dispenser/dishwashing supplies.

To make sure your dishes are squeaky clean, stock up on dish soap and a soap dispenser for your sink. A scrubbing brush or sponge is also a great thing to have around for tougher spots. Additionally, for an aesthetic look, you can find stylish soap dispensers like this Amber Glass Soap Dispenser set that will elevate your kitchen.

Garbage bin.

It goes without saying that you’ll need a garbage bin in your kitchen. But, don’t settle for any old plastic garbage can. Look for an aesthetic one that matches the décor of your apartment.

Here’s a curated list of some of my favorite essentials from Amazon, Williams Sonoma, West Elm, and more. 👇🏾

The Kitchen Essentials That’d Be Nice To Have (But Not Necessarily Essential)

You don’t need them, but they’d be really cool to have for your first apartment home.

kitchen essentials for new apartment
Williams Sonoma Bar Set

Bar set.

Is it just me or have you just always wanted to own one of these for your very first apartment? Play bartender when you have guests by whipping up something tasty with your shaker and strains. I’m loving this stainless steel Deluxe Boxed Bar Tool and Shaker set (that also comes in gold) from Willams Sonoma.


When it comes to the fabulous convenience that is an Airfryer, IYKYK. This kitchen essential is great for cooking up a batch of fried goodness with minimal oil. Plus, you can also bake things like cakes, muffins, and cookies in it!

Rice cooker.

Much like the air fryer, a rice cooker is another kitchen countertop appliance that helps make my life so much easier. In the rare events that I do prepare food at home, I always use my rice cooker to make a perfect pot of fluffy white or brown rice, and it doesn’t require any babysitting.


From morning green smoothies to healthy vegetable soups, a blender is an essential first apartment kitchen item if you like to blend things up. If so, invest in a powerful blender that has the power to do it all — blending, chopping, and grinding. A quality blender will last you years and will make your life so much easier when you want to whip up a quick smoothie or soup.

Kitchen sheers.

No matter how many knives you have in your kitchen, having a pair of kitchen sheers is always useful. In my kitchen drawer, I keep a pair that can be used for anything from snipping herbs to cutting through poultry bones.


This may sound trivial, but you’d be amazed at how often a peeler comes in handy when prepping vegetables or making garnishes. Invest in a good quality one that can easily handle tough and slippery skins like carrots, potatoes, and even mangoes.

Spice rack.

A spice rack is a must-have for all the flavourful dishes you’ll be making in your new apartment. If you’re not a big cook, a beautiful spice rack also makes for a beautiful countertop decoration.

Can opener.

Much like a wine opener, a can opener is one of those kitchen tools that you never think you’ll need… until you need it. Although many cans these days come with easy-open tabs, it’s still a good idea to keep a can opener handy in case you do need it.


Finally, an apron is also a great kitchen essential to invest in if you plan on doing any cooking or baking at home. It’s not only stylish but also ensures that your clothes don’t get stained with food splatters when you’re in the kitchen. How cute is this stylish personalized apron you can get customized on Etsy?

Floor mat.

A floor mat is also an important addition to any kitchen. Not only does it provide cushioning for your feet when you’re standing in front of the sink, but it also prevents slipping or tripping. Plus, with so many stylish designs available on the market today, you’ll have no trouble finding one that matches your kitchen’s décor.

Things You May Not Really Need and Why

Remember I’m a minimalist millennial who appreciates empty counter space and doesn’t like clutter or cheap shit.


Not only do most rentals already come equipt with one, a microwave is one of those kitchen appliances that you may think you need but actually don’t. Sure, it’s convenient for reheating food and making quick meals, but there are other ways to do these things without a microwave. Plus, microwaves take up valuable counter space which could be used for something more useful or aesthetically pleasing.

Toaster oven.

When it comes to a toaster oven, you don’t need one if you already own an air fryer. That’s because air fryers are just as capable at achieving the same types of results that a toaster oven can do, such as roasting and baking. Plus, they’re much more energy efficient and take up less space. For toasting bread, you can do this with a simple pan.

Water filter jug.

Many cities in the US have tap water that is suitable for drinking, after all, we often drink tap water in restaurants, right? Also many fridges these days come equipt with a built-in water filtration system. So save yourself some cash and skip out on purchasing a water filter jug.

Ice tray.

Similarly to a built-in water filtration system, many newer fridges come with an ice maker and dispenser, so you don’t even need to fill up and freeze your own trays. If your fridge doesn’t however, then I’d say definitely add this first apartment kitchen essential to your must-have checklist.

More Random Things You Can Forgo Initially

Especially if you’re not the “cooking type”, you can save your money and skip purchasing these kitchen basics.

  • Mixing bowls — use your regular bowls to mix small dishes like scrambled eggs.
  • Oven mitts — use a regular dish towel.
  • Food processor.

Cleaning Essentials For New Apartment Kitchen

Having the right cleaning products on hand at all times will make it easier to keep your new kitchen looking and smelling fresh.

Dish soap and Dish sponge.

Make sure to get a good quality dish soap that’s effective at cutting through grease and grime, as well as a durable scrubbing sponge or brush for tougher messes.

Baking soda.

Baking soda is useful for cleaning sinks, floors, and other surfaces around your kitchen. It’s also great for deodorizing your fridge and other areas in your kitchen that tend to have a lingering smell.

All-purpose countertop cleaning spray.

A countertop cleaning spray is also a must-have for your kitchen. Try to get an all-purpose cleaner that is safe for granite and other types of countertops so you can use it on multiple surfaces in your kitchen.

Paper towels.

Although you should use absorbable towels when possible, paper towels are convenient to have on hand.

Garbage bags.

Make sure you get a good quality, sturdy bag that will stand up to tough cleaning jobs. If you’re living alone, small ones should do the job rather than the big jumbo ones your family, for example, may have used.

Broom. Mop. Bucket. Good Ol Pine Sol or Fabuloso.

I know the young ones these days like to use a Swiffer or Swiffer wet jet to clean the floors. But as an old-school gal, you can divorce me from my mop and bucket or the whole house smelling of fresh Pine Sol.


Outfitting your kitchen with the right tools and appliances can be a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be, especially when you know what essentials you really need versus those that are simply nice-to-haves.

By following our checklist of must-have items for your first apartment kitchen, plus knowing which things may not be necessary like microwaves or water filter jugs – you’ll have everything you need to move in feeling ready.

With these first apartment essentials on hand, all that’s left is for you to get creative in the kitchen (at least sometimes) and make some tasty dishes!