“Oh snap, did Chris just throw shade at the Instant Pot?!” Little bit. Really I don’t care how people choose to cook their food, so long as it’s safe (which the Instant Pot is, as far as I know). But man alive, can we stop putting them on gift guides for people who love to cook? The Instant Pot is designed specifically for people who don’t like to cook, so if you’re shopping for someone who actually enjoys the process of turning random ingredients into an expertly crafted meal, hopefully this will be a better list for you (and them). No gimmicks, no back-of-the-drawer uni-taskers – just the things your favorite home cook actually wants.
1. Vibrant Flavor
Someone who loves to cook understands that every flavor needs to be balanced by its opposite. Citrus can wake up a dish better than just about anything, and this cool-looking manual juicer (made from recycled aluminum) will make sure they don’t waste a drop.
2. Enjoyment of the Mundane
They want to enjoy even the simplest food preparation, and equipment is a big part of that. This Smeg 4 slice toaster looks good, works amazingly well (I have it in my kitchen), and the long slots will fit all of my favorite breads – sourdough included.
3. Just Rightness
Overcooked meat is dry and not enjoyable. Undercooked meat will make people sick. This Lava Tools meat thermometer reads temperatures fast, and the readout rotates according to how you’re holding it so there’s no mistaking that 9 for a 6.
4. More Skills to Master
Chances are they already have a Kitchenaid Mixer, which is great for you because those things are expensive! But you can buy them an attachment for that mixer and let them expand their culinary skillset. There are pasta attachments, spiralizers, meat grinders, food processors and more.
5. A Touch of Sweet
When what I’m cooking needs a hint of sweetness, I almost always opt for honey as opposed to sugar or syrups. I have this same honey pot and it’s a fixture in our kitchen. Always out, always handy.
6. Goodness On-The-Go
Obviously someone who loves to cook can’t cook every meal. But they can still throw together a delicious smoothie and take it out the door in the mornings. A blender bottle for their Vitamix keeps it convenient, and cuts down on plastic usage. (If they’re a Blendtec person, you’ve still got them covered).
7. Inspiration and Challenge
They don’t want to make the same thing every night, but it’s hard to keep the new ideas coming. I’d say these Foodie Dice are the closest thing to a gimmick you’ll find on this list, but I’m allowing it because it’s actually super helpful! The person you buy this for doesn’t need a recipe because they already know how to create flavor. They just want a little inspiration, and maybe a challenge.
8. An Expanded Guest List
When you have a large roasting pan, you can roast large things. And when you roast large things, you can have a large guest list.
9. The Uniform of a Worker
It’s no coincidence that an apron is essentially a backwards cape, because the right apron makes you feel super. This apron is ready to work as hard as you are, and it legitimizes your place in the kitchen.
10. Precision & Speed
For a lot of uniform slicing, nothing beats a mandoline. And with something you don’t use every meal, there’s no need to make it big. This handheld mandoline gets the job done quick and tucks away discreetly until you need it.
11. The Sundance Kid to Their Butch Cassidy
When it comes to the kitchen, Nothing is more important to a cook than their knife. It’s their sidekick, their companion, their best friend. An 8in Chef’s knife, in my opinion, is the ultimate cook’s tool and every kitchen should have a good one. Right now my favorite is this Miyabi Evolution; German steel, Japanese design – I love it.
12. A Better Option
I’m in the “Teflon is horrible” camp, so I put my money toward supporting safe, effective nonstick cookware. Greenpan was one of the first, and they’re just killing it. I love the look of the Napa line, and glass lids are forever my jam.
13. An Angel on Their Shoulder
That’s what I call my kitchen towel. When I cook, I have a kitchen towel over my shoulder and I use it constantly. Your home cook wants a towel that looks good, is absorbent, and environmentally responsible doesn’t hurt.
14. The One That Will Never Let Them Down
I’ve had this exact cast iron dutch oven for a few years now, and it is by far the piece of cookware I use the most. I care exactly zero that it has Martha Stewart’s name on it – it’s just a really great piece, and I use it for everything. And it just happens to be on crazy sale through the end of November, so definitely jump on that.
15. A Cross Contamination Preventer
When I’m cooking, I am keenly aware of the last thing I’ve touched. I wash my hands constantly as I cook because I’m always cooking for others, and I don’t want to get them sick. The more stuff you have to touch when your hands are dirty, the more likely it is you’ll have cross contamination. We have this Simple Human automatic soap dispenser and couldn’t love it more.
16. A Trusty Toolkit
I’m always reaching for a wooden spoon, but sometimes the spoon shape isn’t what I need. Your home cook is going to love these wooden kitchen tools, and they’ll quickly become the thing they reach for over and over again.
17. A Worthy Canvas Upon Which to Paint
Your home cook is an artist, and their medium is food. It may be hard to understand their obsession with it sometimes, but really it’s not about eating – it’s about creating. It’s about making something that they can see someone else enjoy. That they themselves can enjoy. And while giving plates as a gift may seem stupid, for the true home cook it definitely is not. I’ve used these coupe plates for years (it’s like a hybrid between a plate and a bowl). They were given to me, for Christmas, from my wife and they’re amazing for everything. Steaks, salads, seafood, soups – they’re so versatile and the perfect canvas for the art your foodie is creating.
Hopefully those are some helpful ideas for you. And as a foodie, I can tell you that your home cook isn’t looking for something unique or crazy or something they’ve never seen before. The gift that will mean the most is the one that shows them you see their passion, and you support it.