For those who enjoy cooking, the world of helpful gadgets, tools and ingredients make excellent gifts. If you don’t spend much time over dicing garlic on the wooden block or sautèing on a hot cast-iron pan, it can be intimidating to try and select a gift for someone who does.
The best gift for a home cook or foodie is, of course, something they don’t already have but will use and appreciate. We’ve been testing (and tasting) to find new and exciting kitchen gear as well as exceptional ingredients that all make particularly good gifts for a home chef this holiday season. We’ve given a bit of background on each, including why we love them and think they deserve a coveted place in the kitchen, cabinet, pantry or fridge.
Below you’ll find gifts for those who love to mix it up in the kitchen, including modern cooking gadgets as well finely made versions of classic kitchen tools. Most of these kitchen and cooking gifts should read a little more thoughtful than your standard-issue cheese basket or bottle of booze (no offense to either). So tuck in your linen napkin and feast upon the best kitchen and cooking gifts for a foodie on your list this year.
Unless the foodie on your list is extremely well versed in knives, it’s likely they have a Western chef’s knife by default. Those heavier, bulkier knives are great for workhorse chopping but a lighter Japanese-style knife like this Mac Classic Chef’s blade — our top pick for the best Japanese chef’s knife in 2021 — is better for intricate cuts, fine slicing, dicing and chiffonading. I certainly think it’s worthwhile to have both a Western and Japenese knife of in your collection.
A gorgeous hunk of sushi-grade fish
Riviera Seafood Club
Riviera Seafood Club
There are the gifts we think people want and the gifts they definitely want. An absolutely beautiful piece of sushi-grade tuna belly is the latter for a foodie, I promise. If you’re looking to gift a really special piece of tuna belly, hamachi or yellowtail, I suggest this family-owned online seafood purveyor based out of Los Angeles. The Ito family procures some of the best high-end sushi-grade fish, along with more common catches like wild salmon, black cod, prawns and unagi.
Riviera ships fresh or flash-frozen fish to all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and most of it is sashimi-grade, meaning you can slice and eat — no cooking necessary. It’s also very reasonably priced for the quality with an 8-ounce filet bluefin tuna starting at $24 or a filet of sushi-grade yellowtail for $18.
I had a fun time playing with Dreamfarm’s innovative cooking utensils earlier this year, most of which made me think, “Duh, why didn’t I think of that?” I especially loved the silicone serving spoon that twists into a ladle and rests on a hinge so it doesn’t need a spoon rest to keep from dirtying up the counter. I also dug the Chopula, a spatula with one sharp edge so you can chop things up that are already in the pan.
Snag a fun and colorful set of five Dreamfarm kitchen utensils for $60. The foodie on your list will definitely thank you, and wonder why they didn’t think of these.
Having nice cocktail glassware around always makes happy hour a little bit happier. If I unwrapped these vintage-looking 10-ounce owl old-fashioned glasses alongside a nice bottle of whiskey, I’d be one happy home bartender. The owl glasses’ accents are hand-painted in Turkey with real gold paint, too.
Bonus: They can be had for $23 when you pop in promo code EXTRA at Williams Sonoma. A similar set with dogs in place of owls is down to $32.
Fly by Jing
This is by far my biggest condiment obsession of late and I’m not the only one. Chili crisp is a crunchy, slightly spicy, sweet umami bomb that adds an incredible flavor dimension to blank-slate foods, including eggs, chicken, fish, veggies and lots more.
Grab a few jars to hand out to anyone you know who likes to cook (or eat, for that matter). They’ll totally love you for it.
You may need different types of cookware depending on what you’re making and the results you’re after. For searing steaks, burgers, pork chops and other meats, it’s hard to beat carbon steel. For one, it holds heat well, getting and staying hotter than Hades, but it’s also lighter than cast iron so you can maneuver it over the stovetop easily. Pair this sleek pan with a box of quality cuts of meat from one of our favorite online butchers.
The Vermicular cast-iron skillet is a wonder to behold and perhaps the best piece of cookware I discovered this year. The Japanese cookware company managed to create a skillet that holds heat just about as well as thick cast iron but weighs a fraction; a 10-inch pan is just 2.4 pounds.
The skillet is also very nice to look at if not just a tad fussier to care for than the classic cast iron. It’s not a budget buy — $160 for the pan and another $40 for the striking lid — but it’s one of those kitchen splurges I believe is completely worth the money.
A blender might seem like a lame wedding gift, but have a look at the Beast. Any kitchen warrior would be glad to unwrap this mighty machine, which looks like something Apple dreamed up. I’ve been using the Beast personal blender for the better part of a year. It’s simple, intuitive, solidly built and sturdy. Most importantly, it blends incredibly well. This is an elegant upgrade from the many NutriBullets and NutriNinjas that came before it.
This is another gift for a foodie or home chef that’s about as foolproof as it gets. Every chef uses spices, but sometimes we’re limited by region or a meager selection at the grocery store. RawSpiceBar opens up a world of exciting spice blends for less than $10 per month, sending freshly ground global spice mixtures to your giftee’s home along with recipes ideas to try them with.
You can gift a three, six or 12-month subscription or buy a gift card for the person on your list.
The only problem with this magnificent Stella Falone cutting board is the pangs of guilt you’ll feel when you first drop a sharp blade on the perfectly treated West African ebony. Fear not, it can withstand the wear and tear of daily cooking and still make a stunning vessel on which to serve your cheese and charcuterie. The gorgeous, dark boards are handmade from the same Cameroonian ebony wood used to make Taylor guitars. In the spirit of leaving the Earth better than they found it, founder Bob Taylor and his team have planted over 15,000 ebony trees in West Africa since 2016. That’s many more than they’ve used to make guitars and cutting boards.
The reversible board comes in two sizes, at $129 for the small and $199 for the large. Both are sold directly through the Stella Falone website. Stella Falone offers two-day shipping for just $25.
John Boos & Co.
If you’re looking for something at a more wallet-friendly price point, you can’t really go wrong with a Boos. This 16×11-inch maple block is light enough to fling around the kitchen but maple will last a while if you care for it properly. This is perhaps more of a workhorse than a showpiece, but any home chef will appreciate it for many chops to come.
Jean Dubost Laguiole
This is a very nice gift for a serial dinner party host. You’d be surprised at how many home cooks go without a proper carving knife.
Sous vide is nothing new, but the sleek Breville takes the technique to another level. Not only is cooking gourmet food with this setup faster and more efficient than with similar gadgets, but it’s also half the size of the typical setup. It’s a must-buy for the home chef with limited space.
Fulton Fish Market
Unless you live close to the docks, the easiest way to get quality seafood may be via one of these great online fish purveyors. Fulton Fish Market has one of the best selections anywhere — web or otherwise — with loads of wild salmon, trout, scallops, shellfish, caviar and more for unique edible gifts a food lover will enjoy. Snatch a bundle and have this unique gift delivered directly to your giftee’s home. They’ll certainly appreciate making one less trip to the market.
Catch the best seafood delivery services of 2020.