gifts they might actually want

The Best Gifts for Every Type of Home Cook

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

I count myself in the very group of people this gift guide is intended for, an avid home cook who has a lot of gear and very particular taste. And I’ve also spent the last few years talking to countless professionals and trying out dozens (and dozens) of the latest tools, appliances, and ingredients myself. Bottom line: I know a thing or two about how to shop for someone who spends most of their time in the kitchen.

Here, I’ve gathered 42 truly special gifts for every type of home cook, including actually useful single-use gadgets they probably wouldn’t splurge on themselves, particularly nice upgrades to pieces they might already own, small indulgences like a stellar bottle of olive oil, and bigger ones like a classic (non–Dutch oven) Le Creuset. The items are curated from past and recent stories, as well as handpicked from gifts I’ve both received and given myself, so you can find something for the expert host, the budding pastry chef, the salt fiend, and so many more (even if you don’t know your way around the kitchen at all).

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For the home cook who hasn’t cleaned out their miscellaneous-tool drawer in years

Sometimes, the best gifts are a superior version of a mundane tool they probably already own — and this vegetable peeler from one of our very favorite brands fits the bill. It’s sleekly designed, has an extremely comfortable grip and weight, and comes with a replaceable blade.

For the home cook who keeps a salt cellar of Maldon next to their salt cellar of Diamond Crystal

Maldon Sea Salt Bucket
$16
$16

This 20-ounce bucket of everyone’s favorite flaky finishing salt barely needs explaining. It’s funny, it’s dramatic, and it’s endlessly (no, like really endlessly) useful.

For the home cook who already has the Maldon bucket

Saltverk Birch Smoked Salt
$12
$12

If they’re still making their way through the Maldon bucket you bought them last year, this finishing salt is an unexpected alternative that makes “everything taste better and fancier,” says Strategist contributor Hannah Howard. It’s dried over birch smoke, which means the granules themselves are crunchy and slightly chunkier than Maldon’s pyramidal flakes.

For the home cook who prefers salt in a grinder

Salt on the table, separate from their cooking and finishing variaites, is a must for salt fiends who like to add, add, add. I love how sophisticated and almost industrial this set looks (and you can buy each individually, too).

For the home cook who uses herbs with abandon

They’ll think of you every time they snip some tarragon or basil from this indoor kit in the comfort of their own kitchen. It’s our top-recommended model, too, endorsed by multiple experts and tested by my colleague Erin Schwartz, who says the compact size still “produces a prodigious quantity of herbs.”

For the home cook who has an entire fridge shelf dedicated to condiments

Not only does this preserved lemon paste come in a giftable, pretty jar, but it’s an incredibly vibrant and versatile condiment. Chef and writer Lauren Joseph told us that she swirls it into yogurt, turns it into a refreshing drink, mixes it into cake, dollops it into salsa verde, and more.

For the home cook who puts hot sauce on everything

Zab’s makes our very favorite hot sauce — which also happens to be beloved by many professional cooks and recipe developers I’ve chatted with over the years. Both sauces in this set offer a well-balanced mix of spiciness and vinegar, but the St. Augustine has a slightly sweeter heat. If they’re not already on the bandwagon, they will be now.

For the home cook who cares about what’s on their fridge just as much as what’s in it

This tape with magnetic backing is a favorite tool of senior writer (and resident art-supply aficionada) Liza Corsillo, who loves the floating effect it gives paper, she says. We think it would make a delightful small treat or part of a bigger gift so they can get rid of their clunky, mismatched magnets and keep the fridge looking streamlined.

For the home cook who eats dinner at their coffee table every night

These merino-wool felt coasters (that we’ve recommended before) absorb water droplets so liquid doesn’t pool on your coffee table — a simple but genius concept. They’re also one of my own go-to gifts for that reason: I’ve bought monochrome sets for friends with minimalist style and rainbow hues for those with louder taste.

For the home cook who’s always breaking wineglasses

$34 for 12

Stems are fancy, but tumblers have a certain sophistication in their own way — and these from Bormioli Rocco are durable but still thin enough to feel satisfying to sip from. The sizable-but-stackable set is easy to store in any kitchen, whether it belongs to a friend who’s constantly complaining about not having enough wineglasses or someone who just moved into a new apartment.

For the smoothie-obsessed home cook

The Zwilling Enfinigy is, in my opinion, the most attractive blender on the market. The personal-size one is perfect for individual smoothies (yes, those blades really work), as well as making smaller-batch sauces, emulsions, and salsas of all kinds.

For the home cook who needs new knives

Seki Magoroku Chef’s Knife
$37
$37

A chef’s knife is an undeniably great gift but can be prohibitively expensive. Not so with this shockingly affordable blade that cookbook author and editor Matt Rodbard says feels high-quality for the price, with a fine blade that’s easy to sharpen at home and a lightweight handle that makes it feel good in the hand.

For the home cook who’s always on dessert duty

$38

A serious baker is likely to have all the essentials, so it’s imperative you get them something extra-special they don’t already own, like one of Nordic Ware’s stunning decorative Bundt pans. They’re a favorite of chef Vallery Lomas, who loves them not only for their intricate designs but because they “are so well constructed and reliable,” she says.

For the home cook who’s never been able to splurge on a Dutch oven

Le Creuset Dutch ovens are beloved by many pro cooks (and if you can swing it, you could get them one) — but the brand’s skillets are just as pretty and hardworking. This isn’t a cheap piece, but it’s still markedly less expensive than that infamous bigger pot, and you’ll still go down in their book as being a remarkably thoughtful gift giver.

For the home cook who’s still using their plastic Ikea cutting board

John Boos makes the most revered wood cutting boards on the market. (I’ve had mine for nearly a decade and it still looks great.)

For the home cook whose go-to is pantry pasta

If their weekly repertoire includes raiding their fridge and pantry to throw together pasta, this package of four boxes of high-quality Sfoglini pasta will be much appreciated. The trumpet shape makes even the simplest combinations feel fancy.

For the home cook who spends the winter project-cooking

If they’re the kind of person who happily spends hours tending to a Sunday sauce or making bone broth to keep in quart containers in the freezer, this expert-endorsed fermentation vessel will be right at home in their kitchen. Chefs Dave Park of Jeong in Chicago and Kevin Fink of Austin’s Emmer & Rye both told us it’s the most useful one they’ve ever used, with an insert that creates a seriously tight vacuum.

For the home cook who relies on ground spices

Any professional will tell you that grinding whole spices fresh is one of the simplest ways to improve your cooking — and it doesn’t get any simpler than with the battery-operated FinaMill, which lets you swap in and out a rotating cast of pods and seeds and pulverizes them at the press of a button.

For the home cook who takes care of their cast iron

$14

I never knew how handy a cast-iron press would be until I got one about a year ago — I pull mine out for grilling sandwiches, searing meat, smashing potatoes, and more.

For the home cook living a Food Network fantasy

Hedley & Bennett aprons are worn in professional and test kitchens — and on the Food Network. They’re an industry standard because they’re sturdy and provide good coverage but still comfortable and stylish enough to wear at home.

For the home cook whose comfort show is Chef’s Table

$21

I first learned about the Kunz — a spoon that many professional chefs keep with them on the line — when I worked at Bon Appétit. It’s a nondescript but mighty tool that’s the perfect size and weight for sampling dishes, basting sauces, transferring foods, and drizzling dressings.

For the home cook who doesn’t have a dishwasher

Is a dish rack kind of a weird gift to give someone? In a sense, sure — but it’s also one of the best presents I have ever received, superior to every version I owned previously and something I am truly thankful for each time I use it (which is every day). It holds a lot and is sturdy, smartly spaced out, durable, and remarkably pretty to look at.

For the home cook who doesn’t have a dishwasher (and hates washing up)

Vesici Fruit Dish Scrubbers
$16 for 10
$16 for 10

Infuse a bit of fun into their routine with these adorable Korean dish scrubbers that Strategist writer Lauren Ro can’t stop buying. They come in all sorts of shapes to match your recipient’s interests, and Ro says they would make an especially nice gift paired with Korean Mamison dishwashing gloves.

For the home cook who’s a clean freak

If anyone I know is reading this, this dustpan and brush set is on my own wish list — the perfect marriage of style (I mean, look at how cute) and function (no crumb left behind).

For the home cook who Jackson Pollocks all over their countertops

DII Swedish Dishcloths
From $15 for 3
From $15 for 3

Dishcloths might not seem like the sexiest gift, but if history has taught us anything, it’s that everyone loves these reusable paper-towel alternatives; they’re a product we’ve recommended time and time again that Strategist readers buy in droves. Plus, you can choose from dozens of different patterns, which will make it feel thoughtful and tailored to your recipient’s taste.

For the home cook who has too many cookbooks

I recently rounded up the most exciting new cookbooks of this past fall that would make great gifts — but for the person in your life who already has the ones they want, consider this more unexpected volume from Tara Wigley, the in-house writer for Yotam Ottolenghi. Instead of actual recipes, she offers a ton of practical cooking takeaways in the form of 30 charming Dr. Seussian poems (it’s the kind of book they’ll keep on the coffee table).

For the home cook who has too many cookbooks (and not enough counter space)

It’s strangely difficult to find a perfect cookbook stand: one that’s sturdy enough for hefty volumes but still has a fairly thin profile, doesn’t block parts of recipes at the bottom of the page, and isn’t overly decorative or cheap looking. This one checks all the boxes.

For the home cook who takes pride in their popcorn-seasoning technique

W&P — the brand behind our favorite ice-cube trays — makes this fun and handy microwavable popcorn bowl where the lid doubles as a measuring device.

For the home cook who needs help with their popcorn-seasoning technique

I gave this jar to a friend last year and received so many exclamation points in their text response (and a subsequent report that it tastes amazing, like real cheddar cheese) that I knew it would become a regular in my gifting rotation. They’ll love it if their usual too-tired-to-actually-cook dinner is boxed mac and cheese or … popcorn.

For the home cook who’s obsessed with their Weber

Grill tools can often be cheap (a.k.a. flimsy) and overly designed (a.k.a. have too many unnecessary integrated functions). But these tongs from Strategist-approved Japanese brand Snow Peak are simple, sturdy, have a good grip, and — important for gift-giving purposes — look really good.

For the home cook whose kitchen is a little bleh

Regular cooks know you can never have too many kitchen towels — but while the everyday bulk ones are practical, they’re also boring. These, in Marimekko’s bold black-and-white Unikko pattern, will make a bold statement hanging on the oven door.

For the home cook who keeps accidentally slicing their fingers

If they’ve always been scared to use a mandoline, it’s time to change that with this chef-approved Japanese model that is sharp as can be (which actually means they’ll be less likely to injure themselves). Plus, they can replace the straight blade as needed, and it comes with a plastic safety covering to avoid slipping.

For the home cook who loves to host

Tapered candles make any table setting more inviting. These come recommended by Sandeep Salter, owner of Salter House, who says they’re her “No. 1 go-to” for their natural beeswax scent and range of available shades and sizes, including a shorter six-inch size (if you click “customize” you can see all the pretty colors). For extra credit: Gift them alongside a set of holders.

For the home cook already drowning in candles

Areaware makes well-designed functional objects — and I love this bold match striker. Your recipient can keep it on display and use it to light candles before their next dinner party (and all the ones after that).

For the home cook who always sets out Castelvetranos before dinner

I’m a fan of Casafina’s ceramics and think that this olive dish, with a separate compartment for pits, is a clever vessel any fan of the fruit would make great use of. The hand-painted design feels slightly kitsch (and also distinctly European) in a good way.

For the home cook who has never met a fromage they didn’t like

This is exactly the type of speciality item I wouldn’t necessarily buy for myself but would be thrilled to receive as a present. It will inspire many a cozy winter dinner party — so long as they “have good melting varieties and add a dash of nutmeg at the end,” says Amanda Parker, managing director of Cowgirl Creamery.

For the home cook who starts every morning with a cup of tea

Bodum Assam Tea Press
$20
$20

A true aficionado will pause to admire the color of their tea, which is why this transparent glass teapot, recommended by tea consultant Sara Shacket, would make a thoughtful gift.

For the home cook who starts every morning with fruit

Many of Alessi’s designs are instantly recognizable, including the brand’s iconic fruit bowl, which will make a statement in your recipient’s kitchen. The open sides let fruit breathe, too, keeping it fresher for longer — so it’s not all looks.

For the home cook who has mastered a perfect steak

Opinel’s knives (which we’ve written about before) are super-well-made, with sharp blades and comfortable wood handles. This set comes in four color options so you can choose the perfect one for your recipient to enjoy the fruits of their reverse-searing labor.

For the home cook who takes their food to go

This is a spendy gift, but one that’s well worth the money because Yeti makes the best-of-the-best coolers. We’re betting that your recipient will deeply appreciate having a reliable, comfortable-to-carry pack to take with them on park hangs, car rides, and trips away.

For the home cook loves a one-dish meal

If they’ve been relying on glass baking dishes (which are utilitarian but not exactly beautiful), upgrade their equipment with this handsome model from Made In. It’s clean and classic-looking so it will match any table — and baker Nicole Rucker says hard porcelain conducts very even heat, too.

For the home cook who has everything

When in doubt, fancy olive oil never misses. This pair from Brightland includes the brand’s signature varieties: one bold and robust, the other smooth and grassy. Plus the bottles themselves are pretty, making them extra giftable.

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The Best Gifts for Every Type of Home Cook