I've gathered more than two dozen gifts that any home cook would be jazzed to get this holiday.
Picking out a great gift for someone who cooks isn't as simple as bagging the first snazzy Dutch oven or chef's knife you see. The thing is, seasoned home chefs often have much of the cookware and kitchen hardware they need and so, sometimes, an extra-special ingredient, bundle of pantry staples or swag for the dining table might be the better pick. But then, newer chefs are more likely to be in their cookware collection phase. For those giftees, a powerful stick blender or solid cutting board won't go unappreciated.
To help you nail down the perfect present for a kitchen warrior on your list, we've gathered more than two dozen of the best gifts out there for home chefs -- both new and experienced -- so you're sure to find that perfect something. (For more kitchen gift ideas, check out our picks for the ten kitchen buys that are worth the extra money and 19 slick kitchen gifts under $25.)
The production of D.O.P. balsamic vinegar is about as tightly regulated as any other food. Crafted in small batches in Modena, Italy using special grapes, a meticulous aging process (12 years minimum in wooden barrels), this "liquid gold" is as sweet, complex and flavorful as it gets.
All this careful production comes at a cost -- it's much cheaper if you go to the source -- but you can lay a small bottle on someone for $75 and it should last a while. Just don't let them waste it on sauces or salad dressings. This special balsamic is meant to be used sparingly to finish pasta, risotto or served solo with bread and cheese.
A spice grinder is essential for whole peppercorns, coriander seeds and whole allspice, but you can also use it to macerate ginger, garlic, chilis and other essential ingredients. This small cast-iron number doesn't take up much space and they'll be glad to have it when some recipe calls for a good grind.
Immersion blenders are one kitchen tool that even some seasoned home cooks don't have in their arsenal -- but they should. For pureed soups and sauces, a stick blender is far easier than trying to transfer hot ingredients to an upright blender. Breville's Control Grip model is the best one I tested, with tons of power and a sleek and sturdy build.
For beef eaters, Wagyu really is worth the hype. Swirled with rich marbling (also known as flavor), this special beef can cost a pretty penny, sometimes as much as $100 for one steak. First Light's Wagyu Box is nearly six pounds of the stuff -- sirloins and ground beef -- for just $96 and about as good a deal on Wagyu as you'll find. It's a surefire win for a carnivore on your list. Thrive also sells individual Wagyu steaks, including some for less than $20.
You can also score beef directly from First Light including a 3- to 4-pound slab of ribeye for $115 or eight-pack of wagyu burgers for $20.
If you're going to cook expensive steaks (see above) you'll want to make sure you nail the internal temperature. Oxo's simple precision digital thermometer gives an instant read between -40 F and 302 F and costs just $23.
For someone who likes to toy around and tinker in the kitchen, a bundle of interesting pantry staples is about as good a gift as they could hope for. Bokksu sells loads of Japanese pantry staples including misos, chili crisps, spice mixes and plenty of snacks, too. Snatch a preassembled bundle or curate your own for the home chef on your list.
Making paella at home is fun and much easier than you might think, but you need the right pan if you plan on serving a group. This excellent 15-inch carbon steel pan from Lodge is reserved for those with kitchen space to store it although it's not nearly as heavy as it appears (remember, it's carbon steel and not cast iron). It also looks darn good hanging from a cookware rack.
Pair it with Rumi's excellent saffron-seasoned salt, saffron threads or paella spice blend and wait for your invitation to paella night to roll in.
Sometimes the best gift you can give a busy home chef is a night or two off from cooking. If you're looking for a great gift to send from afar, Mosaic Foods' inventive plant-based meals are my pick. It's one of the best prepared meal services I've tasted and the brand allows for easy gifting. You can send six meals (four servings each) for under $100 or create your own custom box.
Read my full review of Mosaic Foods.
If you suspect the home chef you're shopping for has the kitchen gear covered, consider something to add some ambiance to the dinner table. This modern stoneware stick candle holder from H&M is just the thing and can be had for just $25.
If this doesn't match the vibe, you can scroll through dozens of unique candlesticks on Etsy until you find a perfect fit.
If a chef on your gift list is short a Dutch oven, Le Creuset's 3.5-quart round Dutch is a no-brainer. They'll praise you every time they bust out this elegant and durable pot for making a slow sauce, braise or soup. These luxury French pots can cost upwards of $500 so $279 for the 3.5-quart (a good size for cooking for two or three) is a proper steal.
While you might not use it at every meal and a good chef's knife works in a pinch, having a proper carving knife is a total chef's kiss when you need it. Laguiole's elegant carving knife and fork set is holiday party ready.
If you're a Star Wars fan who happens to love cheese, this Death Star cheese board and toolset feels like an absolute must-have. The cheese board is made from eco-friendly rubberwood with over 81 inches of serving space. The swivel top opens up to storage for four stainless steel cheese tools: a cleaver for crumbly cheese; a planer for hard cheese; a fork-tipped knife; and a classic hard cheese knife and spreader.
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 give a 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, 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.
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 2023 -- is better for intricate cuts, fine slicing, dicing and chiffonading. I certainly think it's worthwhile to have both a Western and Japanese knife in your collection.
Making seltzer at home is a good idea. It'll save you money and keep loads of cans from clogging up the recycling system. Plus, no more lugging them out to the curb. SodaStream is the most well-known brand, but Aarke has the plastic seltzer makers beat big-time when it comes to style. The Aarke carbonator is made from stainless steel and comes in both shiny and matte finishes.
It also uses the same SodaStream CO2 canisters, which are easy to find and have a great exchange program that'll only cost you $15 per bottle.
The cocktail shaker has been around for a long time but it's been short on innovation. This elevated shaker from Huckberry is double-walled so your hands don't freeze and has a no-stick lid so you're not pounding it around the kitchen like a maniac to get into your drink. It's also large enough to make four drinks at once.
It might just be the perfect shaker.
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 $70. The foodie on your list will definitely thank you, and wonder why they didn't think of these.
The chili crisp obsession has reached a true fever pitch in my home, and I'm not the only one. Lao Gan Ma chili crisp has been around far longer than most and this crunchy, slightly spicy, sweet umami bomb adds incredible flavor dimension to blank-slate foods, including eggs, chicken, fish, veggies and lots more.
Grab a few $6 jars to hand out to anyone you know who likes to cook (or eat, for that matter). Or snag two with an adorable pig spoon (yup, it's amazing on pork) for serving for $21 on Amazon.
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 $12 per month, sending freshly ground global spice mixtures to your giftee's home along with recipe ideas to try them with.
You can give a one-, three-, six-, nine- or 12-month subscription or buy a gift card for the person on your list.
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.
I am a big fan of the at-home pizza oven. Not just for pizza but for all sorts of meal-making when you don't want to turn the oven on. You can cook burgers, fish, veggies and lots more in very little time since these ovens get up to 900 degrees. And with its sleek, modern design, the Ooni Koda would make a stylish, as well as delicious, addition to anyone's backyard space.
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 -- $170 for the pan and another $45 for the striking lid -- but it's one of those kitchen splurges I believe is completely worth the money.
If you're looking for something at a more wallet-friendly price, you can't really go wrong with a Boos. This 16x11-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.
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.
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.