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People with niche hobbies tend to be easier to shop for when gifting season comes around. If you know someone who loves to read or bake, for instance, then you can all but guarantee that they’ll love a gift that elevates their reading or baking.
Finding a good gift within a specific area of interest isn’t always that simple, though, especially if the person you’re shopping for has a tendency to buy things on impulse. Many people who love to cook are guilty of doing this — instead of putting things on a wishlist, they often just buy things when they need them or, if they’re like me, when they’re aimlessly browsing the internet. Space is another issue: Kitchen cabinets can only hold so many pans and small appliances, so you need to make sure you’re buying them something they’ll use and not just another kitschy gadget that will collect dust until it’s donated.
If you’re shopping for a chef who seems to have everything, what are you supposed to get them? Home cooks are always looking to update their essentials, and many aren’t even thinking about small accessories that can help them cook food or store leftovers. Below, we rounded up some of our favorite gifts for chefs we think Select readers will enjoy this gifting season, plus a few expert picks from our previous roundups.
The best gifts for chefs in 2021
To determine the best gifts for home cooks, we referred back to our previous coverage and expert guidance around small kitchen appliances. We also rounded up top-rated items and new releases that we think Select readers will care about.
Best cooking tools and appliances to gift
Our Place, creator of the coveted Always Pan, recently released the new Perfect Pot just in time for the holiday shopping season. The pot, which currently has a 4.9-star average rating from more than 250 reviews, is designed to replace your stockpot, Dutch oven, sauce pot, roasting rack, steamer, strainer and braiser, the brand says. The pot has an aluminum body for even heating and is available in most of the colors the Always Pan comes in.
In our guide to Dutch ovens, several professional chefs pointed to Staub as one of the best brands. The dishwasher-safe pots are made of enameled cast iron designed to retain and evenly distribute heat, according to Staub, which adds that the pot’s inside is coated with a black matte enamel for added durability. The Dutch ovens come in several colors to help ease the burden of matching it to the giftee’s kitchen.
For the chef who is trying to make the most of their limited space, Breville’s smart ovens are a great gift. The highly rated Smart Oven Pro uses the brand’s Smart Element IQ technology to heat up quickly and maintain a precise temperature, the brand says, whether you’re toasting bread, roasting meat or baking cookies. It includes 10 preset functions: Toast, Bagel, Bake, Roast, Broil, Pizza, Cookies, Reheat, Warm and Slow Cook.
Sous vide immersion cookers are great for chefs who prefer to put in minimal effort: All you have to do is seal whatever food you want to cook in a plastic bag and submerge it in a pot of heated water so the immersion cooker can do its job. I bought the Anova Precision Cooker for my husband a few years ago, and it’s now the only way he cooks his steak. If you want to leave the kitchen while your food cooks, you can also monitor the progress of your meal via the Anova app.
Vitamix is arguably the most highly acclaimed name in the world of blenders, thanks to its machines’ power, durability and ease of use, as experts previously noted in our guide to blenders. Select social editor Sadhana Daruvuri has the E310 at home, and she raves about its ability to make smooth dips, chunky salsas and thick smoothies. Though Vitamix is known for being on the pricier side, the Explorian series offers the same quality as the brand’s other lines at a slightly lower price, according to Vitamix, and is backed by a five-year warranty.
If you know a budding chef who could use an upgraded set of knives and you’re able to spend a bit more this holiday season, German knife maker Wüsthof is a great option. This nine-piece knife block set includes all the essential sharp tools a chef typically needs, including a 3.5-inch paring knife, 4.5-inch utility knife, 5-inch serrated utility knife and 8-inch bread knife. The tools are backed by a lifetime warranty and can easily be sharpened with either a whetstone or knife sharpener, according to the brand.
Best cooking accessories to gift
Rainbow bagels are a fun addition to any brunch spread — and with this DIY kit, anyone can make them at home. Included in the kit are baking mix, baking yeast and liquid gel food coloring, all of which are good for up to 18 months, according to the company. This is a fun cooking gift that the entire family can use (and eat).
With a pasta machine, anyone can make their own lasagna, fettuccine or tagliolini pasta right at home. This stainless steel hand-crank machine comes from Italian kitchenware company Marcato, which has been making high-quality pasta machines and accessories since 1930. With 10 different thickness settings, the machine allows you to control your pasta down to your desired density, according to Marcato. On Amazon, the pasta machine has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 7,100 reviews.
If your freshly formed dough is too sticky, it runs the risk of losing its shape when you cook it in its pasta form — that’s why many chefs dry their noodles before boiling them. For those who like to make long, thin strands of pasta, this drying rack is great for those drying sessions. It can hold up to 4.4 pounds of pasta at a time, according to Marcato, and has 16 rods to hold oodles of noodles.
Whether you’re using a sous vide cooker or just freezing extra meat for later, a vacuum sealer takes the air out of the bag you’re using to help protect your food. This one from Anova has three one-touch functions depending on the bag you’re using and the food you’re sealing.
Truffle might be delicious, but it’s also expensive, which means many of us only get to enjoy it on occasion. Thanks to truffle-infused products, though, the fungus is much more accessible and easy to incorporate into everyday dishes like scrambled eggs, pasta and risotto. This truffle-infused salt, concocted by two professional chefs, can help you add a nice and subtle hint of earthy truffle to any meal, according to the company.