Twelve thoughtful gifts for the avid home cook
The great thing about shopping for someone who already knows their way around the kitchen is that you don’t have to worry about the basics — these are home cooks who have a go-to cutting board and pans that are perfunctory at least. That’s good news for you, gift-giver: That means holiday shopping gets much more fun.
Instead of knife blocks with unnecessary additions and baby’s first cast-iron skillet, you get to consider those upgraded kitchen items that a cook might like and want but not necessarily splurge on for themselves, and those specialized tools that a person only learns the value of once they’ve found their groove in the kitchen. These are the gorgeous objects that will make them understand how special a spatula can be (it’s possible!), and the kits that guide them toward their new cooking obsessions.
In effect, you get to make a devoted cook’s day by buying the things that will make their favorite hobby even better, whether that’s a portable salt tin so they can fix bland meals on the go, a skillet so pretty they’ll be happy to leave it on the stove, or a bread knife that’s finally worthy of their beautiful boules. With any of these gifts, you can rest assured, the avid cook will put them to good use.
An heirloom-quality peeler
A peeler? That’s not very exciting, you might think. And yet, try peeling a potato with one that’s dulled; a simple task becomes the doldrums. Think of Material’s thoughtfully designed version as an heirloom peeler, and one that will make an everyday task feel a little more special. Not only is this peeler sleek and pretty, but it also offers the upside of a sharp, replaceable blade, for a tool that can last a cook a lifetime.
A next-level skillet
Vermicular has earned a fanbase for its thin, light, even-cooking, and beautiful enameled cast-iron cookware. While a 10-inch Lodge skillet weighs in at 5 pounds, Vermicular’s is 2.4, allowing for easier single-handed flipping, storing, and maneuvering. Now with a metal handle, this version of Vermicular’s classic line is oven-safe and ready for winter braises. For the cook who has it all, here’s a just-right combination of beauty and brawn that’s worth making a little extra space for.
A masa primer
Since 2014, Jorge Gaviria’s Masienda has worked to expand the availability and understanding of heirloom masa and corn in the United States. Whether the cook in your life is a tortilla expert or a newbie in search of a new cooking project, this kit will set them up for success with Masienda’s heirloom blue and white corn masa harina and a decidedly aesthetic tortilla press (even available in a trendy sage green, for those yearning for Emma Chamberlain’s kitchen). Throw in Gaviria’s new cookbook, Masa, for pointers.
A meal kit worth the splurge
Even the most hardcore cook needs a break sometimes. You could get them a delivery gift card — or you could spring for Kitsby and Mike Chen’s hot pot kit, a fun way to get other people involved in the kitchen. Hot pot, of course, is mostly DIY: Everyone drops in and scoops out exactly what they want when they want it, taking the pressure off the tired chef. With soup-enhancers, inclusions, and a dual pot (allowing for two broths at once), this has the building blocks so your cook can make hot pot a regular occurrence.
An arsenal of spicy condiments
There’s no way the chile crisp craze passed your cook by. But the curious chef cannot be sated; they’re likely always thinking about how to try something new, maybe crispier, spicier, or more garlicky. Umamicart’s hot sauce gift set offers a great range of sauces, including the anchovy-enhanced Boon Sauce and the supremely crunchy chile oil from S&B. They can find their new favorite condiment of the moment, ready to improve even the simplest things they cook.
A bread bow
So you’ve got a bread baker to shop for! Their labored-over loaves deserve to be cut by something crafted with the same care, and this wooden bread bow from TG Designs is made by hand in the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky. The bow shape makes it easy to slice even, straight pieces of crusty bread, but its sharp blade is just as suited for gently slicing tomatoes. It’ll be a cook’s go-to knife during the tomato sandwich days of summer.
A pantry staple upgrade
This collection from Acid League, the company known for its interesting fermented products, is meant for Caesar dressing. With allium sauce, Worcestershire sauce, caramelized fish sauce, citrus vinegar, and olive oil, it’ll excel at that task, but any regular cook will be eager to play even more with these upgraded pantry staples. With salt, fat, and acid, these bottles will come in clutch whenever a dish or a sauce feels like it just needs something to take it from good to great — the only thing missing is heat.
Salt at the ready
The truly experienced cook knows their palate. They have a go-to salt and know how to use it, and they know when something is lacking in seasoning. Save them from those disappointing moments with these pocket-worthy tins from Oregon’s Jacobsen Salt Co. The collection includes plain flake salt, black pepper salt, habanero salt, black garlic salt, and lemon zest salt, so they can add flavor and crunch to any lackluster fast-casual salad or quick road trip lunch.
A butter warmer
Pancakes with butter and syrup is just about a perfect food, but the tiniest life hack toward improving a stack is serving it with warm syrup. A pretty glass warmer for butter and syrup is another of those nice kitchen things a cook might not buy on their own, but like a nice vegetable peeler, it’s a small way to make a ho-hum task into a treat. They’ll think of you every time they have their weekend batch of pancakes, or when they make a particularly buttery and delicious bowl of popcorn.
A beautiful spatula
The fish spatula is crucial in so many kitchens, with slots to drain off oil or liquid and enough flexibility to handle sturdy and delicate things alike. Oregon-based Ben Tendick’s fish spatula is not just a workhorse but a work of art: Made of titanium and anodized into colorful, fun patterns, it’s the kind of tool a cook will make an excuse just to use. (More understated cooks might prefer the non-anodized version, which offers the stylish addition of copper rivets.)
Extremely convenient graters
The Microplane grater needs no real improvement, but leave it to the company to create a more convenient version. These sharp, lid-style graters are perfect for things that will be stored in a mason jar, whether it’s raw garlic for salad dressing that will be shaken together in the container, fresh nutmeg for a spice blend, or shredded carrots for portable salad.
An olive oil sampler
Brightland’s olive oils are beloved not just because they look great on the counter, but also because they taste great and come in fun flavors for finishing dishes: chile-infused Ardor, garlic-infused Rosette, lemon-infused Lucid, and basil-infused Arise. This kit of mini-olive oils lets a cook try a few options so they can figure out what’s worth including in their kitchen in larger form.