The Only Food Lover’s Gift Guide You Need

By on December 9, 2013 11:30am EST

There’s no lack of gift guides out there, organized by price point or cuisine or cooking technique. Instead of giving you 30 different gift guides based around our individual tastes or cooking preferences, we’ve compiled a list of Swiss Army gifts- gifts that would inevitably please any food lovers, from vegans to carnivores, from sous vide enthusiasts to lifetime bakers, from beginners to experts. Each contributor has selected their go-to gift for any and all food-types:

spoon butterAmanda- Spoon Butter! You’d be surprised how many owners of wooden spoons and wooden cutting boards don’t know that they should be conditioning their wooden tools regularly. Applying spoon butter (or spoon oil) will protect the wood from cracking and warping, and give it a longer life. You can easily make your own spoon butter from walnut oil and beeswax and gift it in a pretty jar, or buy it from a fancy kitchen store (or even Etsy).


Brett - A good, precise kitchen scale. Learning how to cook using ratios can change your life, especially if you’re a baker. Recipes given in volume are actually imprecise because of the fluctuation in mass for even the same ingredient, like flour or sugar. The best way to measure your ingredients is by weight. That way you know you always going to use the right amount. I recommend using a large scale that measures to the gram and a small scale for finely calibrated measurements.


microplane zesterColleen – I’ve gifted Lee Valley’s Stainless Steel Rasp and Zester Holder to a number of people and all of them, none of them in any way tending towards the hyperbolic, insist it’s Changed Their Lives. Obviously it’s super-excellent for zesting lemons and limes and oranges, but it is also the world’s best ginger grater–a very important thing to have when you need two solid tbsp of the stuff for a curry or a winter sicky tea. (Bonus tip: keep ginger in the freezer! This makes grating it double-super-easy.)


Elizabeth Bastos: Give the gift of cheese: “Milk’s leap toward immortality.”  A big hunk of Parmegiano-Reggiano and a cheese knife, por favore. It’s foodie Scooby Snacks. It’s crumbly, hard, crystalline, salty, hazelnutty, and brings to mind in the cold dreary East Coast winter a sundrenched view of the Italian countryside covered in poppies from A Room With A View, and it can even be served for dessert, yes dessert, drizzled with honey.


champagne coupShannon - A set of classic champagne coupes. These glasses are go-to options for both cocktails and champagne, and should replace all of those spillable martini glasses taking up room in the kitchen shelves. These ones from Cocktail Kingdom can comfortably house a drink of up to 3.5 ounces, or try these out if you’d prefer to guzzle 6 ounces. If you want to go a bit more vintage, just type in “champagne coupe” on Etsy, and check out the glorious options there!



Rebecca: An unbreakable French press (I use the 8-cup BonJour Hugo). Nothing, and I mean nothing, is worse than getting up in the morning, getting halfway through the coffee routine, and then having a French press break into smithereens. Glass goes everywhere. Water goes everywhere. Ground coffee goes everywhere, and you’ll never get all of it up no matter how many times you sweep and vacuum and dustbuster. And you’ll probably cry because it’s a terrible way to start the day. Give your coffee-loving friends the gift of good mornings. If you really love them, give them two so they can only have to deal with French press washing every other day.


il_570xN.393467981_qqu5Danguole: Cooking utensils with Mick Jagger’s face on em. Wooden spoons are essential in the kitchen: they’re sturdy, comfortable, don’t conduct heat, are gentle on nonstick surfaces, play nicely with acids (unlike some metals), etc. etc. These beechwood ones on Etsy come with an added bonus of giving a new meaning to “total rockstar in the kitchen.” Also, look at this selection. You’re bound to find something for the music-loving cook in your life!




garlic peelerRaych: Garlic peeler. I know you can just do it with your fingers or (ALLEGEDLY) with two mixing bowls, but sometimes you need to peel more than two but fewer than a thousand cloves, and this inexpensive little doo-hick will get it done in seconds.




rectangular spoonsJodi: Rectangle-shaped Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons. Yeah. I know. Maybe these aren’t such a big secret. Maybe all of you have not spent half your life trying to jam a giant, round tablespoon into the just-a-bit-too-narrow opening of a spice jar. If you’re like me, a little late to the party, these measuring spoons are a revelation. Glory be, I love how they fit in every spice jar in my cabinet. Since I nabbed a set of these beauties it has cut spice-spilling swearing by at least 96%. I got mine on Amazon, though I am sure you can find them elsewhere.


Amanda: The Art of Fermentation.  by Sandor Katz. A cookbook? No, THE cookbook if you love fermentation or want to understand why this addictive food preparation and preservation method has become all the rage in recent years. Sandor Katz’ James Beard Award-winning tome is not only comprehensive, it is also beautifully written, inspiring and fascinating.  It would make a wonderful gift for anyone who loves food science, food or science


olive oil mister Laura: Olive Oil Mister. I was given one by my MIL and immediately became obsessed. No more awkwardly trying to figure out how to grease baking pans without using disgusting store-bought aerosol sprays. Also, highly handy for getting a good fine coating on veggies you’re roasting. All of the models I’ve seen are relatively inexpensive and like this one from William-Sonoma you can add herbs and spices if you’re getting fancy and it won’t clog everything up.





Emily Gatlin: Silicone Ice Sphere Molds – I received a set as a gift, and they have totally changed the way we cocktail, mocktail, and cranberry juice. Instead of small ice cubes that dilute your cold drink, you get one big ice ball that melts slowly and evenly. Perfect for your “on the rocks” drinkers and would be fun for a little nugget’s lemonade glass.


paella panBob: An outdoor paella pan (and include with it a wooden paddle and a favorite recipe) – I enjoy communal meals, and making paella on an outdoor grill or firepit is a particularly fun and impressive one.  Everything has to be prepared in advance, which means the actual cooking is easy on a host.  Everyone can gather around it, monitor the progess, chip in as needed, ooh-and-ahh as it begins to finish up and especially when the rice on the bottom begins to crackle. If you give someone a paella pan as a gift, it’s like you are handing them a party.


Dana:  A mortar and pestle. Few kitchen tools feel more magical, more antique, more interactive than the mortar and pestle. Need to grind up some coriander? Use a small mortar and pestle and let the fruity aroma (very similar to that of Fruit Loops) make you feel connected to your spices. Need to make a creamy guacamole? Use this big ass mortar and pestle, in which you can crush garlic, pound down the fleshy avocado, and fold your ingredients into a tangy-salty-spicy blend. In our modern age of food processors, immersion blenders, and who knows what other motorized contraptions, the mortar and pestle is decidedly old-fashioned, but it is one of the best ways to mash the hell out of your food.


conversion chartSusie: I’m a huge DIYer when it comes to gifts, so this project from Shanty 2 Chic is right up my alley when it comes to a foodie gift: a measuring spoon organizer combined with a handy conversion chart. It’s an easy project to put together, and a nice set of spoons or cups (or both! why not? You could vary this design by putting the hooks in horizontally to make room for a set of each) would complement it beautifully–like the ones Jodi recommended!








muffin tinsJane Ward: Muffin Tins. It might sound simple, but when you really think about it, muffin tins are absolutely underused. Everybody knows they’re great for making muffins and cupcakes, which is reason enough that everyone should own them, but you can also make mini meatloaf, mini shepherd’s pie, or dozens of other savory snacks that are great as hors’ d’oeuvres or snacks to freeze and throw in school/work lunches when you’re in a hurry. You can even turn them upside down and make taco shells. If you’re worried the person on your list already has muffin tins aplenty, get them an extra one in a super cute novelty shape! And don’t forget to throw a recipe card in the box.


skilletCate Brown: Lodge 12” cast iron skillet. Because this baby does EVERYTHING.  It’s the workhorse in my kitchen.  I use it to sear, saute, roast, bake…  It’s the only thing you need (well, almost), and it’ll last your lifetime and beyond.  BONUS: Lodge cast iron comes pre-seasoned, so there’s no mysterious prep project required; it’s ready to go right out of the box, and only gets better with age. [Nikki Steele just chiming in here: YES. Yes a thousand times to what Cate just said.]


food artNikki Steele: I think custom recipe art is one of the most personal, beautiful gifts you can get somebody. Not only is it kind of fun to hang on the wall, but it also shows exactly which dishes that person cooked that made an impact on you. Food is art and it deserves some homage in the kitchen and to the person who creates it. Also, based on very unscientific statistics, it’s been proven that 9 out of 10 moms cry a little bit when you create something like this for them. Etsy has tons of options, whether actual print ones or downloadable depending on your preference. My favorite designs are from SmartyPantsStudio (shown in photo).


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Jo Hatherly

Joanne Hatherly is a Canadian cottager who writes about hosting hordes from her one-sink cottage kitchen. She is an author, journalist, incurable chocolate-addict and lake-swimmer. Repped by a UK literary agency, she is working on a literary crime thriller. Follow her eclectic ramblings on current news, census reports, literature and freakish encounters with snakes and other wildlife on Twitter: @johatherly