For those of us obsessed with food, cooking is pure fun. It’s a recreation that allows us to slow down, focus our creativity, and practice new skills, all while still feeling functional. Whether it’s dreaming up haute cuisine for a date or making comfort food for a house party — everyone needs to eat.
With Christmas rapidly approaching (only two more days to get things shipped on time!) we’re bringing you the best gifts for the would-be chef in your life. Some of these are high-level gadgets you’ll only find in top-notch restaurants. Others are basic but necessary items for the well-equipped home cook. Either way, you can bet that these gifts will leave the food aficionado in your life eager to race into the kitchen and start experimenting. Which just might be a big win for you!
-Steve Bramucci, Editor Uproxx Life
I dare you to find a chef who isn’t at least partially obsessed with A) knives, and B) cheese. They’re the two true loves of most anyone who spends time in the kitchen. As such, a cheese knife set is going to go over like gangbusters. Wüsthof knives sit right at the price-functionality-performance sweet spot. They aren’t exceedingly expensive custom items, but they are absolutely professional grade.
This three-knife set with a bamboo box is a conversation piece in and of itself. It begs questions about the practicalities of cutting hard vs. soft cheeses (insert your own jokes here), and the unique flavors of the cheeses themselves. Plus it feels fancy AF. That’s a winning gift. -SB
GOOGLE HOME HUB
This is the perfect product for someone who’s trying to up their kitchen game in a hurry. It’s a virtual assistant that Google is specifically marketing to home cooks (though there are plenty of other smart home and personal applications). Functionality wise, it’s pretty much the best sous chef you could ever hope for.
Anyone who’s ever had to race through a recipe, while tidying up for guests, setting the table, and trying to make a solid playlist, knows the pain of flour-dusted cell phones. This is where the Google Home Hub excels. It’s on a stand, with built-in speakers. Better still, it’s ready to play videos straight from YouTube on command and it’ll read recipes to you aloud. This 1-2 punch makes things exceedingly easy (even for the technophobe).
Whether it’s pasta making or cake baking, this is our number one pick for an in-home assistant to help in the kitchen. It’s easy to use and as intuitive as current technology allows. Now if it could just do the dishes… -SB
HUROM HZ SLOW JUICER
This juicer is just such a useful tool in the kitchen — from juicing fruits and veggies to making ice cream. Though the latter function is handy, it’s the former that really matters. The Hurom is a slow juicing wonder, not just because of the juice that you get out, but also because of the lack of work you have to put in.
Across the industry, the annoying thing about juicing has always been just how much of a hassle it is to set and clean up. Hurom seems to be working against this trend with the HZ model and it shows. All of the molded plastic parts are simple to clean and the set up is only a matter of clicking a few pieces into place.
If you care about your health and want to walk into yoga with your own slow-pressed juice or simply need the juicing capability to help you experiment with new kitchen techniques (I have a chef friend who juices a pound of butternut squash to increase the flavor of his butternut squash agnolotti), this is top of the line — both in performance and functionality. -SB
COPPER CHEF DEEP SQUARE PAN
This pan just might be the best all-arounder on the market. You can do pretty much anything in it (it comes with frying and steaming add-ons) and it cleans insanely easily. If you get this for the chef in your life, they’ll tell you that it takes a little getting used to — copper conducts heat differently than stainless steel or cast iron — but the learning curve is quick. Soon, they’ll be using this one for sauces, stir-frys, eggs, and about a million “single pot” recipes.
If the cook in your life hates to clean (looking at myself here) and needs a high degree of functionality to combat the limitations of a small kitchen (same), this Product of the Year award-winner is the way to go. -SB
KRUPS AIR FRYER
Look, it’s not a riddle to figure this one out. Fried food tastes great but it’s bad for you. This air fryer fries food and it’s… less bad. If that sounds like something a friend or loved one needs to meet their health, fitness, and general “living past 40” goals, then this is clearly a solid gift.
It’s not going to taste exactly like traditional fried food, of course. But the joys of this air fryer are many: 1) waaaaaaaaaaaaaay simpler cleanup than a traditional deep fryer, 2) crispy outside texture on foods, 3) nice, tender inside textures, 4) no oil bombs (and therefore gut bombs that weigh heavily on you throughout the day).
This is a must-buy for the fried food lover who is looking for a way to keep their favorite dishes in the rotation without all the negative health effects. -SB
Have you ever had mashed potatoes that blew your mind with their airiness and deeply potato-forward flavor? Then you went home, did a few google recipe searches, and tried, desperately, to recreate that seemingly simple dish to little success. It’s probably because you were missing a key kitchen tool, a potato ricer. Once you eat mashed potatoes made with a ricer, you’ll never go back to mashing again.
This is how great restaurants do it and so should you. -ZJ
This is another seemingly simple kitchen tool. It’s one of those things that feels like you can skip. Don’t. You’ll never be able to slice anything like a mandolin can, no matter how many years you’ve spent in a kitchen. A mandolin allows you thinness and continuity that’ll up your vegetable game on every level.
Just mind those fingers when you’re starting out. -ZJ
Brewing a great cup of coffee is a tricky brand of alchemy. There are a lot of ways to screw up a cuppa. Some German chemist decided to find a way to take as much guesswork out of making a killer cup of coffee at home and came up with the Chemex Urn. The brilliance of this coffeemaker is the simplicity.
Boil up some water, grind a delicious roast, and discover how easy great coffee can be. -ZJ
THE SIOUX CHEF’S INDIGENOUS KITCHEN
This year, Chef Sean Sherman, won a James Beard Foundation award for his ground-breaking cookbook. The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen is a deep dive into the foods, ingredients, culture, and spirituality of Indigenous foodways on the Great Plains of America. This book will offer you a chance to take a journey through the food growing outside your door and leave you rethinking what American food was, is, and can be.
This is an essential book for any kitchen shelf. -ZJ
THE MEATEATER FISH & GAME COOKBOOK
Steven Rinella blends conservation, the outdoors, and self-reliance into a masterclass cookbook devoted to sourcing, prepping, and cooking wild foods. This cookbook is essential for anyone looking to move past industrial forms of food and into something more sustainable. This is also so much more than just a book about hunting and fishing, it provides a framework that’ll allow you to explore the wild food experiences in your own backyard. It’s fresh, detailed, and accessible to everyone. -ZJ
THE COOKING GENE
Michael W. Twitty’s The Cooking Gene is an essential American cookbook and a historical tome about the American South. The cookbook takes you on a journey — detailing how the soul food of the American South moved from slave barracks into home kitchens across the country over the course of centuries. This is important historical context of the American experience with amazing recipes to boot. -ZJ
ANOVA CULINARY SOUS VIDE PRECISION COOKER NANO
This is the appliance that’ll change the way you cook just about everything. A sous vide cooker will allow you to dial in your cooking skills both quickly and easily — and there’s a high degree of “no fuss” that’s ideal for the home cook/ high class chef hybrid. This is the sort of device that offers exactness with little to no fuss. You set it, drop in a bag, and walk away.
Anova recently released their Nano edition, which has made mastering sous vide cooking even more accessible to everyone with a lower price point. If you care about new techniques and crave a little experimentation, it’s time to master the water bath. -SB
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