‘Tis the season! For love, laughter, family, friends, and of course the gifts. To make your holiday shopping a little easier, here is my gift guide for your favorite home chef. Whether you are shopping for someone who is just starting in the kitchen, a home cook who wants to become a home chef, or a self professed foodie that loves being in the kitchen, this list won’t steer you wrong! These are my personal favorites. The tools in my kitchen that allow me to elevate my cooking to the next level.
Everyone knows a someone who loves to cook. They may have the basics down. They may have years of experience. Possibly they have the passion for cooking, but don’t have the proper tools to create the masterpieces in their heads. If you know someone like that, this is the perfect gift guide for you!
The gifts you find in this guide are the right tools to get the job done. Nothing super fancy, and no gadgets that serve a single purpose but spend most of their time in the drawer. These are the gifts that make cooking fun and cleaning up fast. The gifts that can make anyone fall in love with their kitchen for the first time or for the hundredth time.
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1. A high quality chef’s knife. My mother always used Cutco and they are still what I use in my kitchen. My go to is Cutco’s 7 5/8″ petite chef. This knife is ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand, with the right weight to make repeated use easier. You can see their entire line here, but starting out you really only need one versatile knife. This is the one knife I will constantly use and wash during the preparation of a meal. Make sure you get it professionally sharpened once a year and pick up a sharpening steel to hone the edge as needed and this will become a gift that can last a very long time.
2. Bamboo cutting boards. I have 6 or 8 of these in various sizes including 2 extra large ones, which I use every day. There is plenty of room to chop multiple ingredients and move things around the kitchen easily. They also look beautiful for presentation of everything from cheese boards to breads. The bamboo is easier on your knife blades than plastic or traditional hardwood and safer than using glass cutting boards. While reviews are mixed on the antibacterial benefits of bamboo, I use a basic plastic cutting board for raw meat.
3. An extra-large mixing bowl. The only thing little bowls are good for is making a big mess. Prep work is much quicker if the food stays in the bowl where it belongs. When I received my first extra large mixing bowl, my initial thought was: when am I ever going to need this? I quickly learned that the answer is: all the time. My extra large bowl is my go to for whipping up all kinds of batters, doughs, marinades, salads, and pastas. It’s worth it, even if it takes a bit of effort to find a place to store it. (I’d recommend the top of the fridge, covered with a tea towel.)
4. A cast iron skillet. If I could only have one skillet, it would be a 10″ cast iron skillet. They go from stove top to oven in the blink of an eye and can even handle the high heat of the grill. Yes, they take specialized care (minimal soap, do not soak, make sure to occasionally season) but if treated correctly they can function as a non-stick skillet. Use them for cornbread, steak, pork chops, pizza, the list goes on and on. Best part: this gift can become an heirloom to pass on to your children’s children if properly care is taken.
5. Kuhn Rikon Y-Peeler. These are the absolute best peelers I have ever experienced. The first time I touched one was at the Culinary Institute of America during a cooking class. I was so impressed that I bought one before leaving the building. At less than $8 for a pack of three, they are cheap to replace when they dull. A word of warning, it has a carbon steel blade, which you must hand wash and dry immediately to prevent rusting.
6. An immersion/hand blender. When it comes to pureeing soups, sauces, and such, using a hand blender makes a world of difference. You don’t have to cool the food before processing and you can do it in one large batch saving you the work of cleaning the blender and additional bowls. The one I have includes a chopper attachment that makes quick work of hummus, salad dressings, and all kinds of dips. This blender makes creating from scratch easy enough for a weeknight. The one I own is no longer on the market. This is the one on my shopping list for when mine finally stops working.
7. A microplane. I resisted getting a microplane for way too long. At less than $13 I have no excuse for waiting, but wow has it made a difference. This tool makes quick work of hard cheeses, citrus zests, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, onion, and more. If you have someone in your family that doesn’t like the texture of onion or garlic, simply grate it before adding. You get all the aromatic benefits without the evidence. When making lemon anything (chicken, muffins, sorbet, salmon, pasta, etc) add a bit of lemon zest to take the flavor to a new level. It’s an easy tool to use, but be careful as it is share and can catch your knuckles if you aren’t paying attention.
8. Wireless Digital Meat Thermometer. We all know that the secret to getting juicy chicken, tender pork chops, and fall apart in your mouth steaks is having a reliable kitchen thermometer. This wireless prober version takes that a step ahead. This thermometer is for use in the grill or the oven. It allows you to insert a probe into the meat and walk away, all the time being able to monitor how high the internal temperature is getting. It also lets you know if your grill is too hot or not hot enough. When cooking larger cuts of meat, a probe style thermometer is a game changer.
9. Classic kitchen scale. Most recipes written for the US market are for volume measurements instead of weight measurements, but if you are outside of the US having a scale is as necessary as having measuring cups. Even in the US, many recipes that include meats and vegetables list the weight with a cup estimate. If you chop to a different size than the recipe creator your weight measurement won’t equate, which can really throw off your results. The easiest thing to do is check the weight, especially while you are still learning what is what in the kitchen.
10. Stand Mixer. No kitchen gift list would be complete without a stand mixer, especially at the holidays. While I used to recommend KitchenAid, earlier this year I was introduced to the WonderMix at a food conference and was blown away. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with them this year, but this a paid product placement. WonderMix has raised the bar. It makes quick work of doughs, cakes, cookies, potatoes, and so much more. It can make meringue out of a single egg white and my homemade breads have never turned out better. This one comes with a blender attachment and has other attachments, like a meat grinder, available for purchase. Bonus: it’s slightly cheaper than the KitchenAid.
The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. My mother-in-law gifted me this book the Christmas after I launched the blog and to this day it’s the most used book in my kitchen. It’s by an English author so some of the ingredients are called by different names, like coriander leaves instead of cilantro and aubergine instead of eggplant, but it is an invaluable resource in my recipe development. It is an amazing resource for people who want to learn to cook from scratch instead of learning to just follow a recipe. It allows you to look up a main ingredient and find the best complimentary flavors for your dish. By knowing what flavors work well together, you can take a basic recipe and completely change the flavor profiles for an entire new dish.
Didn’t find what you are looking for? Check out my Kitchen Essentials for all my kitchen tool recommendations. If you like this gift guide, pin it or share it on your favorite social network!