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Buying gifts for someone who you know loves to cook and bake can present a challenge. What do they already have in their kitchen? What do they actually need? What do they really want? I know because for many people, I am this person.
I have a kitchen that’s pretty well stocked with my favorite tools, gadgets, specialty ingredients, and equipment. And as a food blogger and Greatist’s resident food editor, I know there are plenty of things the cooks and bakers in your life genuinely want for their kitchens! They’re just not necessarily things you would know to buy without being prompted. And prompting, IMO, can ruin half the fun of an excellent gift.
So I’m here to do the prompting for them.
I’ve put together a list of the best unique food gifts I’ve given or received or one day hope to give or receive (anyone else suddenly channeling Joey’s wedding speech from “Friends” here?) in the hopes that it will help you find the perfect unique and useful gift for the kitchen wizards in your life.
You can’t always put a price on a gift from the heart, especially one as well thought out what you’ll be gifting. I’ve made sure to curate a list of white elephant-friendly gifts to things a little more personalized. Here’s how the pricing breakdown works:
- $ = under $25
- $$ = $26–$40
- $$$ = $40-$60
- $$$$ = over $60
Full disclosure: Some of the items on this list were sent to me as PR samples, but I’m only recommending things I actually liked and would spend my own money on.
Rolling out dough and keeping a pile of flour within reach to prevent sticking can be tricky in small kitchens where counter space is limited. This innovative rolling pin solves that problem by letting you store the flour inside the pin. Simply spoon flour into one end, insert the stopper, shake the flour out the other end, and roll, roll, roll.
Mason Cash is known for beautiful, timeless designs, and this clever twist on a classic kitchen tool is a more-than-welcome addition to any kitchen.
This genius multisize cake pan first caught my eye on “The Great British Bake-Off,” and I’ve been coveting one ever since. The pan has movable walls and dividers to allow bakers to bake multiple cake flavors at the same time and to create small or uniquely sized square and rectangular cakes.
The best part? The modular nature means it disassembles to fold flat for easy storage!
Macarons (those brightly colored almond sandwich cookies you see all over Instagram) are notoriously finicky to make. As my pastry teacher said when I asked why mine had cracked, “There’s only 47 reasons that may have happened.”
One way to help prevent cracks: Use a silicone baking mat with perfectly shaped and offset-spaced macaron stencils to encourage even airflow and prevent the macarons from getting too close to each other while they bake!
The unique loop-de-loop design of a Danish dough whisk makes it ideal for mixing everything from muffin batter to pizza dough. It’s so efficient that you’re less likely to overmix your dough (no more tough, tunneled muffins!). And the thick, sturdy wires can quickly cut through shaggy, wet doughs to break and scrape up any hidden lumps of flour.
Plus, it’s super easy to clean and, honestly, just makes any kitchen feel a whole lot cooler.
SprinklePop’s mesmerizing sprinkle mixing videos have been known to hypnotize on social media, but they’re even more eye-catching in real life. These colorfully blended sprinkle mixes don’t just play with color — they also play with texture by including metallic oblong dragees and crunchy, shiny pearls.
This year the company even started releasing sprinkles with flavors like hot cocoa and butterbeer. Luckily, the sprinkles are sold in themed collections and gift sets, so you don’t have to choose just one!
Ever since the price of vanilla skyrocketed in 2017, vanilla has been a precious — and pricey — commodity for home bakers. If you know someone who bakes a lot of sweet treats, trust me when I tell you they will definitely appreciate the gift of Heilala’s award-winning vanilla bean paste and extract.
To make restaurant-quality pizza at home without an expensive pizza-specific appliance, look no further than a baking steel. The steel absorbs and reflects heat exceptionally well, turning a 500°F oven into a 700°F high-heat environment perfect for creating blistered, crispy pizzas so good you’d never guess they didn’t come out of a wood-fired oven.
Baking steels aren’t unitaskers, either — they can help with even heat distribution when baking just about anything (just slide the sheet pan right on top) and can be used as a griddle on a gas stove or grill. They’re also super easy to clean and won’t crack or absorb oils and stains the way baking stones do. They truly are a gift that just keeps on giving.
A lame (“LAHM”) is a razor blade bread bakers use to slice designs into the tops of their loaves and control where the steam escapes during baking. Most lames come with a long, thin handle that can be tricky to master, and there’s no way of covering the blade for storage.
Wiremonkey’s beautifully carved round “UFO” design gives bakers better control over the blade. Both righties and lefties can use this lame, and with a few deft twists, the blade can be hidden completely inside for safety when it’s not in use.
Dansk is known for creating colorful, high quality kitchen tools made from enameled high carbon steel. No kitchen, IMO, is truly complete without a butter warmer. Dansk’s small butter warmer is perfect for boiling or poaching a single egg, whipping together a quick sauce, reheating gravy, and, of course, warming butter.
There’s no such thing as too many cutting boards, and this mini set from Joseph Joseph is the perfect gift for any home cook who’s whipping up big meals in a tiny kitchen. The boards are color-coded to prevent cross contamination, have rubber feet to prevent the dreaded cutting board swivel, and can be neatly stashed away in the vertical storage case.
Say goodbye to stinky garlic hands with this handy odor-absorbing bar of stainless steel “soap.” It makes a great stocking stuffer or white elephant gift for anyone who likes to add three more cloves of garlic than the recipe calls for (so basically, anyone who cooks).
The unique conical shape of this measuring cup makes even small teaspoon and tablespoon measurements super accurate. The best part? It’s easy to measure multiple ingredients directly into the same cup without having to dirty additional measuring spoons or cups. Now that’s a gift.
For some reason you can really only find these 3.5-cup KitchenAid mini food processors “renewed” or “refurbished” these days, but they’re so well-designed that I just had to put them on the list.
A big food processor just isn’t cut out for some tasks — and some kitchens just aren’t big enough for a full-size food processor. That’s where this mini model totally saves the day. The motor is strong, the lid has a small spout for drizzling oil while the machine is running, and the cord can be tucked neatly into the colorful base for easy storage.
Making ravioli has never been so easy — and fast! Simply sandwich the filling between two layers of pasta dough and roll this pocket-filled pin across the top. Speaking as someone who likes making pasta but has always struggled with ravioli, a tool like this would be a much-appreciated gift.
GIR Spoonula (3 sizes)
“Spoonula” isn’t just fun to say — it’s also one of the handiest tools in my entire kitchen arsenal. GIR (which stands for “Get It Right”) has truly perfected the art of this silicone spoon-spatula hybrid. It’s just curved enough to scoop but flexible enough to be scraped clean on the side of a bowl.
GIR spoonulas come in a range of bright colors and sizes, all with just the right amount of sturdiness and flexibility that make them a beloved tool of cooks (and bakers) everywhere.
Omsom’s boldly flavored Southeast and East Asian “starters” are the perfect playground for the busy home chef. These aren’t the buy-in-bulk “Asian” sauces you’d find in your grocery store’s “international” aisle — Omsom develops the starters in partnership with chefs who have deep ties to their respective regions.
If you’re after authenticity with a twist of modern integrity for regional representation, Omsom is your sous chef. So if you’ve ever heard a friend complain about not knowing where to start with cooking Asian cuisine, send them Omsom. These are totally giftworthy and beautifully packaged — an unboxer’s dream.
Soup dumplings are adorable little pockets of piping hot soup that are so fun to slurp off a spoon. Making them requires some unique tools and ingredients, like a steamer basket and agar agar (a vegetable-based gelatin) to help the soup set up inside the dumplings.
Perfect for anyone who loves to cook but also misses going to their favorite dumpling house, this cute kit comes with a recipe book and all the equipment you need to make soup dumplings at home.
Give the gift of cheese with this handy kit that includes everything you need to make up to 40 batches of 10 different kinds of cheese. That’s a lot of cheese! And all your gift recipient has to provide is the milk.
Most of the cheeses in the included recipe book can be made in just a few hours (if not less) and, oh yeah, Queen Elizabeth even awarded the kit’s creators an MBE for services to the food industry. When was the last time you gave a gift that was approved by royalty, huh?
Making hot sauce from scratch can open even the most seasoned home cook up to a whole new world of tastes and flavors. I always thought I didn’t like hot sauce, and then I tried making my own — it’s so good and has so much more flavor than the store-bought stuff. So imagine how someone who really loves hot sauce will feel about this!
This hot sauce kit comes with USA-grown, non-GMO heirloom peppers and all the other ingredients and tools you need to start making and bottling your own hot sauce — as hot or as mild as you want — at home with ease.
Home brewing has been on the rise lately, but it’s about time hard cider has a moment of its own. The only thing this kit doesn’t include is apple juice or cider. Other than that, it’s got all the ingredients you need to make three approximately 1-gallon batches of homemade hard cider.
The glass fermentation jar and tubing are reusable, which I always appreciate in a kit. When your giftee totally falls in love with hard cider making, they’ll be able to keep making it for years to come.
These stunning lamps are made from real bread, but don’t worry — they’ll never spoil. They’re extremely cool and unique, and you can feel pretty confident that your bread-loving friends probably don’t already have one. And on the off chance they do — no one’s ever been mad at more bread.
With more than 1,000 questions on a variety of food topics — cookbook authors, food history, flavor pairings, table manners, cooking methods, culinary science, and more — Foodie Fight is perfect for your friend who’s got more cookbooks on their shelves than novels.
It doesn’t take long to play, and the questions range from easy enough for those just beginning their culinary journeys to challenging enough to stump even the most knowledgeable of chefs.
Anyone who’s fallen in love with Samin Nosrat’s cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat — which rocked the food world in 2017 with its foundational approach to cooking and Wendy MacNaughton’s gorgeous illustrations — will love this collection of 20 prints from the book to hang in their kitchen.
Who knows when we’ll be able to have dinner parties again, but when we can, your friend who just loves to play host will love filling in this beautifully illustrated memory book. Each spread of pages features a place to write out the menu and the guests, so they never have to worry about serving the same thing twice!
Indoor plants are having a moment lately, so why not send your loved ones neatly potted edible herbs and apartment-size plants that arrive ready to cook with?
I was skeptical about sending plants through the mail, so when Bloomscape offered to send some samples, I jumped at the chance. The tomato plant arrived at just under a foot tall, with tiny green tomatoes already growing on it and lots of flowering buds (aka future tomatoes). The aromatic trio of rosemary, thyme, and sage arrived together, carefully packed with easy-to-follow care instructions.
With a spot on a sunny windowsill and regular trimming, these potted herbs can grow for well over a year, meaning your favorite home cook will only have to snip what they need and let none go to waste.
This cute kit is the perfect way to get any young chef with a green thumb thinking about how much work goes into making the food they eat (while still being more of an exercise in patience than anything else). It’s a little bit science and a little bit crafty too.
Kids will love watering and tending their little pizza garden, and when the plants are grown, it’s time to bake and eat!
For the person who truly doesn’t have room for a garden or potted plants but would if they could, consider the genius design of this upside-down tomato planter, which can hang in any sunny window. It uses regular potting soil, is watered from the top, and grows juicy red tomatoes all season long.
Vegetables and herbs aren’t the only edible plants in the world. Edible flowers open up a whole new world of flavor and color opportunity for creative cooks.
This kit comes with six types of edible flower seeds, peat disks for seed starting, and biodegradable pots that can be planted directly in the ground or inside a larger pot when the flowers outgrow them.
Let’s get this out of the way up front: This is a bold gift choice. It’s big, it takes up space, and you have to be absolutely sure the person you’re gifting it to likes avocados.
But it’s an apartment-size avocado tree! It can handle cold climates (as low as 20°F!), can live indoors or outdoors, is self-fertile (which means it doesn’t need another plant to produce fruit), and can produce usable avocados within the first year. (If any of my friends or family are wondering what to get me this year, I’ll take one of these, please!)
I received two of these as a white elephant gift a couple years ago, and even though I’m a grown-ass adult, I’d be lying if I said that using them wasn’t an immediate cure for a bad day. Of course, the tacos helped too. They’re a great gift for any kids in your life, but extremely cool adults won’t exactly be mad about them either.
Making your own ice cream at home has never been easier or more kid-friendly!
The design of this ice cream maker is simple: The ice cream base goes in on one side, rock salt and ice go in on the other. After 25 minutes of tossing, shaking, and rolling the ball around, you’ve got ice cream.
Kids will love the science and, of course, the ice cream. And parents will appreciate that it keeps tiny hands busy for half an hour.
Every single recipe in this award-winning cookbook is kid-tested and kid-approved. More importantly, they’re all America’s Test Kitchen-approved, so you know they’re going to be good. This is the perfect gift for kids who are just starting to grow out of wanting to “help” cook or bake and looking for a little independence in the kitchen.
Knives! For kids! No, I haven’t lost my mind. These nylon serrated knives are a great way to let kids practice their knife skills and join in on the kitchen prep fun. They’re sharp enough to cut soft foods like bananas, strawberries, brownies, and cakes without giving any adults in the vicinity a heart attack every time the blades come close to tiny fingers.
Rebecca Eisenberg is the Food Editor at Greatist. She’s the voice behind the popular food blog The Practical Kitchen, and when she’s not writing about food, she’s studying pastry at Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (Class of January 2021). She lives in Boston with her husband and two cats.