Despite what the media wants to say, I know many families are in practical gift mode, either by choice or circumstances. If you have a new or aspiring cook on your list, some of these kitchen items may be a hit. With the exception of the knife block, I’ve tried to keep the items fairly conservatively priced.
Be careful with the presentation.
A fat separator isn’t exactly thrilling to open, but perhaps you could include your grandmother’s recipe & technique for gravy. Adding a personal touch to these items changes the tone from, “Boy do you need some help in the kitchen or what?” to “Hey, I’m excited about your interest.”
A word to the husbands out there. Unless your wife has specifically asked for kitchen items or small appliances, these probably are not going to cut it. I know *I* love getting items like these, but if you’ve been reading for a while, you’ve probably noticed I’m a kitchen geek. My Christmas list focuses on items that will help me improve my food photography. That’s probably not normal, take that into consideration. I’d file these gifts in the siblings, adult children, aunts, uncles, & cousins circle. You’ve been warned.
The items I have listed are all tools I use frequently. There may be better or more expensive options out there, but these are ones I have experience with and believe to be a good investment. As you may guess, my kitchen sees a lot of use. These are the tools I rely on.
Not included in the list are: silicone whisks, wooden spoons and spatulas, measuring spoons, and measuring cups. All of these items are great and receive a lot of use, but I didn’t see any of my favorites on Amazon, but I know you can find great versions at World Market, one of my other favorite places to get lost. Sometimes, I just wander around their kitchen section and drool.
This list is not all inclusive of everything you need to set up a kitchen. I will do one of those in the future.
I still have two of these three knives, I use them all the time. I also haven’t ever properly taken care of them (except for the sharpening) and they have taken the abuse. The chef knife is the one I reach for on a daily basis. It’s so cheap that I really don’t worry about eventually replacing it. I know that probably puts me in some form of culinary sin, but there you have it. I’ve had these knives for ten years, but I have no idea where the paring knife went.
I’m torn on suggesting the knife block. Really all a beginner cook needs are the three knives pictured above, but some cooks like variety and this one includes the sharpening steel. They will still need a sharpening stone. Please remember that knives are pretty personal. Some people swear by Henckels and Wusthoff, those are both fantastic brands and I used them when I cooked professionally and my restaurant footed the bill, but at home these are the ones I reach for time and time again.
Chicago Cutlery Walnut 10 piece knife set with block 74.95.
A peeler is another kitchen essential that can help take the drudge work out of cooking. A good peeler with a comfortable handle is an absolute kitchen necessity. Get rid of the chintzy all metal, rusted thing in the tool drawer and replace it with my favorite version. (I kind of like Oxo as you’ll notice in this list).
Oxo Good Grips Peeler 11.75
Need something super cheap as a stocking stuffer for a baker? How about a good biscuit cutter? I swore by using a glass until a friend sent me an actual biscuit cutter. What a difference. Go ahead and include this recipe for these excellent no-knead biscuits.
Biscuit Cutter 6.18 (If you aren’t ordering enough for free shipping, just wait until you see one at a box store like Target)
A spatula is a spatula you say? I thought that, too until I received one with a Le Creuset gift. I went out and purchased similar spatulas to compare and I have to say the quality of this brand is superior to the cheaper versions I’ve found, the flexibility and strength are great. The head has never separated from the handle in the year and a half I’ve been using it. I don’t necessarily like the color of these -I dig red in the kitchen- but you may like the green.
Le Creuset 3 Piece Spatula Set 24.95
Want good gravy? A good fat separator makes pan gravy so much easier. Insert the plug, strain the pan juices, use the drippings on top to make roux, and then remove the plug and whisk in the delicious pan juices. So easy. So good.
OXO Fat Separator 14.99
Taylor Thermometer 15.99
So this one might be slightly off topic, but if you have a wine drinker on your list, a waiter’s tool is a great gift. The wine reps used to hand these, with their logo, naturally, out and we’d snatch them up. A wine tool is far superior to a standard cork screw and doesn’t take up much room at all in the kitchen.
Waiter’s Wine Tool averages from $5 to $15
The newbie cook on your list will be the hero of the apartment complex during every power outage. Having an emergency food pantry really doesn’t mean a whole lot if you can’t get into the supply. Manual can openers are a must for every kitchen. Yes, even yours.
OXO Manual Can Opener 13.79
If you have someone who is starting to get serious about learning to cook, a set of ramekins may be exactly what they need. Why? There’s a technique called mise en place where cooks line up their measured ingredients. It’s an especially useful technique when you’re just learning and want to set yourself up for success. Going through the recipe and measuring ingredients beforehand helps reduce errors and ensures all the ingredients are actually on hand.
6 Piece Ramekin Set 12.67
I won’t lie, I’m a big fan of Pyrex. Next up we have a few of my favorites from that brand.
Pyrex Bakeware with lids – 26.73
Pyrex 1 Cup Glass Liquid Measuring Cup 8.27 (Yes, glass is far superior to the crappy plastic ones you see)
Pyrex 1 Quart Glass Liquid Measuring Cup 11.98 Not only is this handy for measuring liquids, it’s great for heating them in the microwave before adding to a recipe.
There are many more Pyrex items I’d add to the list, but I’m trying to keep this post under control, but still my glass mixing bowls are always handy, as are the 8×8 baking pans. You get the idea, I am a Pyrex fan for their price and quality.
This last item seems like a bit of a stretch, as it’s not really recommendation for a newbie cook, but I use mine far more often than I ever thought I would and it’s going strong almost 12 years later. (This post is making me feel old) You see, it’s not only handy for peeling apples, it also peels potatoes in a flash. When you end up being asked to make potato salad for 60, that’s nothing to sneeze at. If you have a baker or preserver, they may love this handy device.
We also use this for a rare treat of french fried potato spirals. Oh. My. Word. I suppose you could bake them, but as a once in a while treat?
Heaven, deep fried or apple pied.
Apple Corer, Peeler, Slicer averages $10 to $25
I know this list isn’t comprehensive, so what would you add? Aside from baking sheets? (I get mine at a restaurant supply store, great quality, low price).