With limited budgets, most of us who cook are good at making do. We use that one pan that scorches on the right side since it’s what we have. We buy the basic versions of things, though we eye the fancy upgrades on Instagram. This is why, come gift-giving season, we hope someone will buy us the slightly bougier, not exactly “necessary” items we’re prone to talking ourselves out of getting: the knife that we want because it’s cute; the sheet pans that are objectively better than our crooked ones; the vegetable cutter from TikTok that we can’t get out of our head. Here’s what to get for the cook in your life, from stocking stuffers to gifts that will be kitchen staples for years to come.
A pair of squeeze bottles
Home cooks are increasingly adopting what chefs have long known — that squeeze bottles give you the most control over your oils, vinegars, and sauces while cooking, not to mention the perfect drizzles and drops while plating. (At this point, we’re all well aware of that social media-famous squeeze bottle of olive oil.) Oxo’s squeeze bottles, which come in two sizes, have attached hinged caps for easy one-handed use.
Nordic Ware sheet pans
There are certainly cuter sheet pans out there, but aesthetics are a low priority when it comes to good, always-reach-for-it bakeware. Seasoned cooks and bakers know: It’s all about the straightforward functionality of Nordic Ware. Irresistibly affordable at $40 for a set of three (including a tiny quarter-sheet that’s great for organizing mise en place and baking just a cookie or two from the freezer), these sheet pans bake evenly and resist rust and warping. Best of all, they last, unlike all the wonky nonstick sheet pans we’ve put up with in the past.
A supply of beans
If we had a tomato-girl summer and a pasta-girl fall, are we due for a bean-girl winter? Make it so with this sampler from Primary Beans, a company that promotes lesser-known bean varieties (see their not-a-pinto set). If you’ve ever been skeptical of whether different varieties actually taste different, these flavorful beans will remove any doubt. It’ll make an especially good gift for a cook looking to diversify their protein sources.
A spice upgrade
Slinging ingredients from basic to esoteric to fancy, SOS Chefs has been a staple of New York City’s culinary community for almost three decades. Its 12-item kitchen essentials set is a good mix of staples (salt) and playful additions (smoked soy sauce). It will come in handy for the cook who’s let a few years lapse since last refreshing their spice shelf, or who recently moved and needs to build their collection back up. The neatly labeled, industrial-chic glass jars look great on the shelf as is; no need to transfer to “more aesthetic” containers.
Six months of pasta
Whether it’s bougie hand soap, merino wool socks, or artisanal pasta, high-end items are always a good gift, especially for someone who doesn’t tend to treat themselves. Sfoglini’s bronze-cut pasta, made from a range of grains including einkorn and rye, is extruded through bronze dies into a variety of specialty shapes before being slow-dried. The result is a slightly rougher (and overall better) texture that holds its shape. This subscription includes two shipments of six boxes of pasta — some for now, some for later.
A bread chopping board
What do you get the cook who has everything? That’s when you start troubleshooting hyperspecific culinary problems you imagine they’re having. So, save a bread lover from the constant tyranny of crumbs with this handy slotted cutting board. Its many wide divots will catch the shards from their crustiest baguettes, and every errant seed from their most-flecked loaves. You just solved a problem they didn’t realize needed solving.
A stylish electric kettle
In a world full of boring black and silver kettles, be a cheeky yellow (or bright blue) Ettore Sottsass electric kettle — or just buy one. Designed by the founder of the Memphis design group, this MoMA Design Store exclusive revamps Bodum’s classic electric kettle through the lens of the once-again trendy aesthetic. Get it for the minimalist in desperate need of a pop of color in their millennial gray kitchen, or the “dopamine decor” devotee who already has the Dusen Dusen salt and pepper grinders to prove it.
A beloved bowl scraper
As far as gifts go, a bowl scraper is like a pair of socks — unlikely to draw oohs and aahs as everyone takes turns opening gifts, but surprisingly likely to inspire quiet feelings of gratitude in the future. Matfer’s beloved scrapers are more than little pieces of plastic. They’re stiff enough to cut gnocchi and move around minced chives yet pliable enough to scoop out sticky dough or pour out the last bit of batter. We reach for ours literally all the time. Slip one into a cook’s stocking, and we promise they’ll be thankful for it.
A magnetic wood trivet
In her debut cookbook The Secret of Cooking, Bee Wilson gives more credit than most to the humble trivet: “Without them [in addition to discard bowls, she writes], the whole business of cooking is so much trickier than it needs to be.” While a basic trivet does the job, consider giving the gift of a magnetic trivet. Skip the awkward maneuvering of carrying a hot, heavy dish to the dining table and use a trivet that attaches itself to the bottom of the pot instead. This one is designed for a Staub Dutch oven, but Le Creuset makes one as well.
Le Creuset Thyme collection
Le Creuset’s springy Shallot colorway got a lot of fanfare earlier this year. But can we hear a little more commotion for Thyme, the new and luxurious, muted-but-rich green? It’s eye-catching without being trendy, and close enough to a neutral to fit into many different kitchen vibes. Thyme is timeless, if you will, just like a Le Creuset Dutch oven. Another upside of these darker colors: The inevitable scorch marks on the outside will be less noticeable.
Williams Sonoma Slice and Dice bundle
The situation: The cook in your life has spent too much time scrolling on TikTok, and now they’re cursing all their knives, desperate for a vegetable chopper to simplify Meal Prep Sunday. Show them you understand with this bundle from Williams Sonoma. It will streamline their vegetable prep with a chopper, a multipurpose mandoline, and a trio of cute peelers. The real gift is making their life a little easier.
An eye-catching chef’s knife
If you’re reading this, you’re aware of the importance of a good, sharp chef’s knife. Wusthof knives are classic. Their new colorways are less so, which is what makes them so appealing as gifts this season. We’re especially drawn to “purple yam,” which is essentially the popular “Gen Z purple.” Get it for the newer-to-cooking girly pop who wants to show off their cute gear during golden hour in hopes of becoming TikTok’s next big cooking star.
Korin Tohigaru sharpening stone
So much for having a good knife if it’s always dull! Remembering to get your knives sharpened is a chore, and having a sharpening stone at home lowers that barrier. This Japanese sharpening stone from Korin is double-sided, with a medium grit for sharpening on one side and a fine grit for finishing on the other. It’ll be a great gift for the cook who likes picking up new projects, or who’s good about setting aside time every month to oil their cutting boards, season their cast iron, and so on.
Airtight silicone lids
Some of us, sadly, have horrible kitchens that make organization less than ideal, with the one lid we need always lodged at the back or bottom of the cabinet. To that end, consider this pack of multisize silicone lids, which can cover pots on the stove and dishes in the microwave or take the place of plastic wrap. The seal is airtight, and since the lids lie flat when stacked, they’re easy to store and don’t take up much space. That other lid can stay wherever it’s buried.
Sturdy, versatile, and with no coatings to wear off or degrade, stainless steel pans are restaurant kitchen-worthy workhorses. Eater partnered with Tennessee’s Heritage Steel, an over-40-year-old, family-owned company, to make a line of five-ply stainless steel cookware. The five-piece set will step up the game of any cook — and for a long time, as Heritage Steel offers a lifetime warranty. Real Eater heads will appreciate the subtle embossing at the base of every handle; even restaurant obsessives have to stay in and cook some nights.
Tweezers often end up at the butt end of jokes about fussy food. But there’s no denying they’re useful in the kitchen doing what tongs can, but, in many instances, better. Tongs can break off the delicate breading on a cutlet, while tweezers press gently, leaving it undisturbed. They’re dextrous enough to maneuver tiny herb garnishes or decorations on top of a cake. And these, from fancy Japanese kitchen tool company Gestura, just look really, really good, whether you get them in gold, silver, or gunmetal.
Emile Henry large storage bowl
Emile Henry has been making ceramics in Burgundy, France, for over 150 years. Any cook will delight in its beautiful cookware and bakeware, but might we suggest a more overlooked part of the kitchen? Storage. This two-level storage bowl will make putting produce away more special, with a ceramic base that keeps potatoes and onions cool underneath a cork lid that holds ready-to-eat fruit. Get it for the cook with lots of counter space.
The best ice cream scoop
Save the trigger scoops for making cookies; Zeroll scoops are an ice cream shop go-to for good reason. With a large, curved mouth and handle filled with heat-conducting liquid, this scoop cuts through even stiffer ice creams, with no finicky springs or sticky triggers. They’re nicely weighted and comfortable to hold, whether you curve your wrist to scoop or keep it straight. The home cook who makes good use of their ice cream machine will love having this around.
A year of Fat Gold olive oil
There’s no reason why gifts need to end with the holidays. Stay in your favorite cook’s good graces year-round with a replenishing supply of olive oil from Fat Gold. The California olive oil company’s stated mission is to “de-commodify extra virgin olive oil and elevate its place in American food culture.” Accordingly, each of the four deliveries comes with a zine, where the company shares information about how the oil was produced and how to use it.
A tapered French rolling pin
This popular rolling pin is incredibly simple — just a long piece of wood that tapers on both ends. That’s what makes it so good though: It rolls smoothly, feels comfortable in the hands, and is easy to maneuver and pivot without sacrificing control. It may arrive at the tail end of holiday pie season, but the baker in your life will have plenty of time to practice using it for perfect pie crusts next year.
A solid butcher block
In this age of board-ifying everything, one can never have too many large wooden surfaces for displaying your grazing spreads. This hefty, beechwood butcher block from Made In is durable enough to leave on the counter for daily cutting, while still being pretty enough to use as the base of any board you can dream up.
Vân Vân, a new company that imports single-origin herbs and spices from Vietnam, hopes to highlight the diversity of Vietnamese ingredients and to create new markets for Vietnamese farmers. Sold dried, Vân Vân’s spice bundle will be especially convenient for the cook who struggles to use up fresh lemongrass, or who hates to run back to the store for the single shallot they forgot.
A pasta machine
Get this for the friend who keeps saying, Going out to dinner — in this economy? Fresh pasta is relatively affordable, but maybe more importantly, the act of making it will scratch that experiential, interactive itch that might otherwise be fulfilled by a night out. Feeling extra generous? Pair this no-frills pasta machine with a cookbook like American Sfoglino: A Master Class in Handmade Pasta, from Los Angeles pasta icon Evan Funke.
Microplane spice grinder
We’re cutting down on pricey coffee-shop beverages and making our fancy little drinks at home now, haven’t you heard? This handy little spice grinder from the grating experts at Microplane makes it a cinch to turn whole nutmeg and cinnamon into fresh, flavorful powders for each pumpkin spice latte, gingerbread-esque iced chai, and whatever else we’re duping next.
It’s debatable how beneficial pressure is in many parts of life. But when it comes to ensuring the most even cooking, pressure will give you uniformly golden grilled cheeses, pan-fried fish with perfectly browned skin, and beautifully seared mushrooms. These presses are an elegant alternative to constantly holding down a spatula or making do with a heavy pan. They stack neatly onto each other, allowing for multiple weights.