We all have that one friend or family member who suddenly transformed into a cooking enthusiast during 2020’s never-ending quarantine. You know, the one who pivoted from takeout every night to sous vide every day. The friend who gained a newfound appreciation for Ina Garten around mid-March. And the cousin who is still making fresh sourdough bread (and hasn’t stopped posting about it on Instagram). This holiday season, treat kitchen connoisseur in your life to one of these 21 gifts that will take them from amateur home cook to pro-level chef in no time.
1. Chasing Flavor: Techniques and Recipes to Cook Fearlessly by Dan Kluger and Nick Fauchald
For the recipe follower
Dan Kluger, chef of NYC restaurant Loring Place, knows his way around a to-die-for recipe. His debut cookbook—packed with simple yet flavorful produce-forward dishes—is designed to help you master technique while becoming a more flexible and creative cook in the process.
2. Our Place Always Pan
For the master multitasker
It’s no secret we love this do-it-all skillet. The nonstick, nontoxic pan comes with a modular lid, custom nesting wooden spatula and steamer basket; can replace eight pieces of cookware (at a fraction of the price); and comes in five soothing colors. Even better, the brand is BIPOC-owned. Buy it for your city-dwelling friend who’s obsessed with one-pot meals and is also short on storage space.
3. Burlap & Barrel Complete Spice Collection
For the flavor enthusiast
Whether you’re buying this spice collection set for Mom who’s been using the same bulk tub of granulated garlic since 1988 or your cousin who loves to go on about the differences between chile peppers, this set will please the most serious of flavor seekers. Each of the 35 single origin spices—ranging from cinnamon to sumac—is sustainably and ethically sourced, and tastes way better than anything you’ll find at the grocery store.
4. Caraway Home Cookware Set
For the eclectic decorator
They’ve talked about ditching their stained aluminum pots and pans for years? This four-piece set in a sunny marigold hue will liven up their kitchen and their cooking. Each piece features a slick ceramic nonstick finish and an even-heating aluminum core, plus it’s oven safe up to 550°F and works on all types of burners. The set also comes with a nifty magnetic pan rack and canvas lid holder for tidy storage.
5. Vitamix Professional-Grade Blender
For the smoothie-a-day chef
You won’t get creamier purees or, well, smoother smoothies from any other blender. Vitamix’s pro-level machine combines a high-power motor and stainless-steel blades to blend even the toughest ingredients, and the 64-ounce pitcher can handle everything from a single-serving smoothie to a full batch. Basically, this is one appliance they’ll use every single day.
6. Three Bluebirds Reusable Swedish Dishcloth
For the climate conscious
Your sister says she cringes every time she uses a paper towel. Get her a few of these adorable, reusable, eco-friendly alternatives. Each cellulose-based towel can absorb 20 times its weight in liquid; is safe for granite, stainless steel and glass surfaces; and air dries quickly (without getting the funky smell your kitchen sponge does). A single cloth can replace 17 rolls of paper towels, plus they come in a bunch of sweet prints and yes, we’re partial to the adorable chickens.
7. Material The (mini) reboard Snack Set
For the snacker
While a large cutting board is nice, a tiny one is essential for slicing and dicing midday treats like cheese and produce. “I want this itty-bitty set because I LOVE slicing fruits for snacks,” says senior editor Cristina Gutierrez, who already uses Material’s larger cutting boards on a regular basis. The aptly named Snack Set comes with a mini cutting board made from eco-friendly sugarcane and recycled plastic, plus a four-inch paring knife as the cherry on top.
8. East Fork Fuchsia Otomi Table Runner
For the hostess with the mostess
Chances are, a gorgeous creation from East Fork Pottery has already graced your Instagram feed. The Asheville, North Carolina ceramics company is known for its covetable, colorful dinnerware, but did you know it also curates unique tableware from other small makers too? This hand embroidered Oaxacan runner will be the pièce de résistance of your BFF’s next tablescape.
9. The Original Baking Steel
For the pizza lover
They’ve perfected that naturally fermented dough, now it’s time to nail the bake. This carbon steel slab—which is like a pizza stone on steroids—won’t convert their oven into a wood-fired stove, but it’s the next best thing. By increasing the thermal conductivity in the oven, it cooks up crispy, airy pizza crust and sourdough loaves. Not to mention, it’s an easy way to upgrade frozen pizzas too.
10. Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer 7-in-1 Oven with Rotisserie
For the French fry connoisseur
An air fryer gives you the same texture and flavor as a deep-fryer but without all the unhealthy oil and messy cleanup. This one has the capability to bake, roast, toast, broil, dehydrate and even rotisserie a whole chicken. Says managing editor Rachel Gulmi, “I already have an air fryer…but I really want this one, because it’s bigger and does so many things!”
11. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Stone Pro Sharpening Stone
For the wannabe butcher
Ask any chef and they’ll tell you that a dull kitchen knife has the potential to ruin a meal…or at least the meal prep. This whetstone set, which is what the pros use to sharpen knives, comes with a dual-sided stone for sharpening blades, plus a rubber-footed tray to hold it securely on your countertop.
12. The Book on Pie by Erin Jeanne McDowell
For the baker extraordinaire
We’re slightly biased, since Erin McDowell is PureWow’s own recipes editor, but this is the only pie book your star-baker will ever need. Seriously: There’s an entire chapter devoted to crust, as well as detailed how-to’s that will make crimping and filling techniques easy as, well, pie. Oh, there are also drool-worthy recipes for masterpieces like peanut butter cream pie with raspberry meringue and Reuben pie.
13. Dot and Army Bread Bag and Bowl Cover Set
For the sourdough baker
They’ve already stocked up on proofing baskets and artisan flour, but there’s one more way to take their loaves to the next level. These cloth bowl covers pop over mixing bowls when it’s time to let the dough rise (buh bye, plastic wrap), and the matching drawstring bags will keep boules and baguettes from going stale after they come out of the oven.
14. Breville Joule Sous Vide
For the tech-savvy chef
This top-rated sous vide device connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, so you can literally cook short ribs from the couch. It works by circulating a water bath at a constant temp, so nothing is ever under- or over-cooked. We like this model because it’s small enough to fit in a kitchen drawer when not in use.
15. KitchenAid Classic Stand Mixer
For your great British baker
This stand mixer needs no introduction. But in case you’ve never heard anyone brag about their KitchenAid, its tilt-head design allows easy access to the bowl; it’s sturdy enough to last a lifetime; the 10 speeds can do hours of work in minutes; and it also comes with a flat beater, dough hook and wire whip. Plus, you can buy all sorts of different attachments for it (like a pasta maker, food processor and spiralizer).
16. Made In Knife Set
For the budding sous chef
This set contains the essentials for proper slicing and dicing: a chef’s knife for everyday tasks, a Santoku knife for hefty vegetables, a paring knife for precision jobs and a utility knife for slicing bread, hard cheeses and meats (among other culinary delights). They’re all fully forged, aka made from one solid piece of stainless steel, so they’ll age gracefully.
17. OXO Silicone Baking Mat
For the cookie monster
A home baker can never have enough of these silicone mats, which turn any baking sheet into a nonstick surface and replace all that parchment paper that would end up in the trash. It’s dishwasher-safe but also easy enough to clean by hand and it works for sweet and savory recipes alike. (Buy two—including one for you—is what we’re saying.)
18. Stasher Reusable Silicone Half-Gallon Bag
For the meal-prepper
Instead of single-use plastic bags, gift your meal-prepping co-worker a few of Stasher’s reusable storage bags. They’re airtight, plastic-free and made from food-grade silicone that comes in an array of pretty colors. Plus, they can transition from the fridge to the freezer…to the microwave, the oven (up to 400°F) and yes, they can even be tossed in boiling water. Can a regular baggie do that? We didn’t think so.
19. Zero Waste Cocktail Kit
For the mixologist
It’s five o’clock somewhere…and it’s also 2020, so we could all use a strong drink. This set from Package Free includes a silicone spherical ice tray, stainless steel reusable straws and a mason jar cocktail shaker all wrapped up in a cotton tote. Cheers to that.
20. GIR Ultimate Tool Set
For the gadget guru
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of breaking in a brand-new set of cooking utensils, and the ones from GIR (it stands for “get it right”) are among our favorites. Why? They’re made with 100 percent pharmaceutical-grade silicone, so there’s no chance of molding, cracking, staining or funky smells. They’re heat-resistant up to 550°F, come in any color you could desire and have a lifetime guarantee. Get mixing.
21. The Caker Lemon Strawberry Poppy Seed Cake Kit
For the person who loves a shortcut
This one goes out to that person you know who buys boxed brownies and tries to pass them off as homemade, no shame. Gift them a major upgrade in the form of these inventive and—dare we say?— chic cake mixes from The Caker, a New Zealand-based cake company. Each mix, including this lemon strawberry poppy seed number, comes with fun add ons like freeze-dried fruit and a sweet glaze, plus they’re vegan-optional. Oh, and it just might *actually* pass for homemade this time.