22 Holiday Gifts for Serious Home Cooks

All the cookware, gadgets and pantry essentials for your favorite chef.

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December 13, 2022

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It might be intimidating to shop for the serious home cook in your life, but there are plenty of kitchen gadgets, cookware upgrades and pantry essentials guaranteed to dazzle and delight. Our top picks for gifts for serious home cooks cover all the bases, from heirloom cookware to functional-yet-stylish utensils. And we promise not to tell if you click add-to-cart on a few of those countertop worthy ingredients, either.


If your fave home cook doesn’t yet have a Vitamix or they need to upgrade their hand-me-down blender, the Vitamix Explorian is your best bet. It’s our top tested blender and lives up to its reputation for high-performance speed and power but at a lower price point than other Vitamix models. It can whip up your daily smoothie in a snap as well as process tougher ingredients such as nuts or whole spices. It’s just the right size for blending recipes intended for small family meals, and the variable speed and pulse settings make it a cinch to turn out hearty pasta sauces, chunky salsas, thick soups or silky purees alike.

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Often coveted and never duplicated craftsmanship, Le Creuset’s Dutch Oven is a must-have for serious home cooks. The heirloom quality construction features durable, enameled cast iron that delivers excellent heat distribution and retention, easy-to-clean porcelain enamel in a variety of striking shades, and ergonomic knobs and handles for easy lifting. Plus, it doesn’t require seasoning, so it’s ready to use right away. Plus, it’s compatible with all cooktops. Be on the lookout for seasonal designs, new colors and limited-edition numbers, like this recently released Quidditch™ Signature Round Dutch Oven.

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Thoughtfully prepared meals deserve equally beautiful plating. East Fork Pottery’s hand-hewn pottery line, spanning bowls, plates and platters instantly elevates any dish. We’re especially fond of The Coupe, the ideal in-between-sized vessel (not quite a plate, not quite a bowl) that’s perfect for plating salads and pastas. It also makes an ideal dredging station for containing liquids, breading and batters. Choose from seasonal hues or core glazes, such as the moody Black Mountain, the eternally classic Panna Cotta or the neutral-but-lovely Eggshell.

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Fresh herbs make all the flavor difference in cooking and finishing dishes, but not all serious home cooks have a green thumb. Plus, shelling out for clamshells of herbs can get expensive. The AeroGarden’s hydroponic system, built-in grow lights and plant food and water reminders add up to a gift that makes even the most novice grower feel like a master gardener. The set comes with six staple herbs, including Genovese basil, curly parsley, dill, thyme, Thai basil and mint, plus plant food and a detailed instruction booklet. Once the herbs grow and your recipient enjoys them for a few months, they can re-up their supply or choose from a variety of seed and plant pods.

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Home cooks know how important salt is when bringing out the flavors in recipes both savory and sweet, but this pantry starter kit takes that notion a few steps further. It includes three jars of essential sea salts (pure flake, kosher and fine), two vials of infused sea salts (black garlic and lemon zest), five sea salt tablets (the ideal amount for salting pots of water), plus a handmade ceramic salt cellar, guidebook and a salt 101s ‘cheat sheet’ magnet. Prefer to customize a gift? Opt for the Build Your Own Six-Pack and choose from a variety of seasonings; honeys, such as raw blackberry or raw carrot flower; and seasoned salts, such as Infused Pinot Noir Salt or JSC x Fly By Jing Tingly Sichuan Salt.

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Immersion blenders are a must-have for pureeing soups and sauces, whipping cream and chopping vegetables, but it’s often one of the last tools serious home cooks add to their kitchen arsenal. Save them the guess work with this best-selling immersion blender from Breville, which features a comfortable, ergonomic grip, 15 variable speeds, a non-scratch base and an innovative bell-shaped blending base that ensures efficient, controlled blending. As a bonus, it also comes with a whisk attachment, three-cup capacity chopping bowl with blades, a 42-ounce storage jug with lid and an instruction and recipe book.

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Quality vanilla is essential for baking, but it’s a versatile seasoning that works wonders in savory recipes, too — think creamy pasta sauces, roasted carrots or braised beef short ribs. We love this single origin Madagascar vanilla set from Beyond Good not only for its distinct, robust flavor and aroma but also because ingredients are sourced directly from local farmers and products are ethically made at the source. The gift set includes a two-ounce bottle of pure vanilla extract and a jar of pure ground vanilla, whose floral flavor is augmented by notes of dried fruit and warm spices.

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Ask any professional chef for their top cooking tip and chances are it will revolve around acid and its essential role in creating flavorful, balanced dishes. This four-bottle set from Acid League is an instant pantry upgrade, featuring some of their best-selling living vinegars in a range of flavor profiles. We love the surprising versatility of the spicy-sour Garden Heat, with its vegetal backbone of fresh tomato, celery, carrot and jalapeno juices, and their Apple Cider Vinegar provides a much-needed upgrade to the pantry standby, with a proprietary fermentation method that preserves the flavor of fresh, crisp apples and a dash of maple syrup to balance the tartness.

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Burlap & Barrel’s thoughtfully and sustainably sourced spices have done wonders to upgrade our spice cupboard and add a flavor blast to our favorite dishes. But even serious home cooks need a heavy dose of inspiration now and then. Enter Burlap & Barrel’s spice club subscription, which comes with four full-size spices, a brand-new collaboration food item, spice stories and recipes, plus free shipping. A recent box included toasted onion, cinnamon verum, pemba cloves and herbes de provence, plus a jar of Kashmiri-chili-infused mango chutney made in partnership with Brooklyn Delhi. You can order one seasonal shipment at a time or pre-pay for a year’s worth of four shipments. For an extra thoughtful touch, add a set of these exceptional woven cotton kitchen towels.

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Brightland has earned a following among professional chefs and home cooks for their olive oils and vinegars. Now they’re taking a walk on the sweet side with The Couplet, a duo of honey jars: California Orange Blossom, a dazzling, golden honey from single estate orange groves that’s described as intensely floral with a clean, citrus finish, and Kauai Wildflower, a deep amber honey with a molasses-like finish whose sources include hibiscus, eucalyptus and guava flowers, to name a few. As with their other products, Brightland’s honeys are supremely flavorful and jazz up just about any kitchen creation, including charcuterie and cheese boards, dressings, marinades, cocktails and baked goods.

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Wooden spoons are a welcome addition to any home cook’s utensil crock, but this striking six-piece set really ups the ante. The spoons are made from pakkawood, which is crafted from several layers of hardwoods, then infused with natural and chemical-free dyes. As a result, each piece boasts a unique finish that begs to be displayed. And unlike metal or plastic cooking spoons, pakkawood won’t scratch pots and pans. They’re also nonstick, making clean-up a breeze.

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Treat your favorite home cook to a collection of top-notch ceramic-coated bakeware. Each of the 11 pieces, including baking sheets, various shaped pans, muffin tins and loaf pans are made with a toxin-free materials, so home cooks can feel extra good about their end results. Plus, this set comes with an 18 x 13 cooling rack and two organizers to corral all the pieces and keep your kitchen tidy. It comes in a variety of eye-catching signature hues, including cream, perracotta, sage and marigold.

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Being a serious home cook doesn’t mean being relegated to the kitchen. For your favorite foodie who brings their cooking A game to tailgating, camping and road trips, Yeti’s coolers are tops. It combines its signature durability, rotomolded construction and up to three inches of permafrost insultation. There are a variety of sizes, but we’re a fan of the 45, a solid, all-purpose size that holds overnight camp provisions for four people or drinks for a day on the water. And some ambitious home cooks even use their coolers to cook proteins sous vide. This version also comes with one dry goods basket. Its color line-up makes a statement with hues such as Nordic purple or Alpine yellow.

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We firmly believe that you can never have enough good-quality extra virgin olive oil on hand, and this collection of four classics is an excellent value. The line-up includes bottles representing Spain, which is a touch fruity with bold notes of green tomatoes, verdant grasses, artichoke and almonds; Italy, a slightly fruity, lightly herbal number from Liguria that’s ideal for everyday use; France, a Provencal-style olive oil with fruity and a mild olive flavor; and Greece, a family estate-grown bottle boasting a balanced bouquet and flavors with hints of artichoke and arugula. The hardest choice will be deciding which one to use first.

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For an apron upgrade that passes muster with professional cooks, opt for the aptly named The Line Apron from BlueCut. It’s made from a durable poly-cotton blend and features thoughtful design touches like 100 percent cotton webbing on the neck and waist strap, antique brass hardware, two lap pockets and a thermometer pocket. The aprons come in a variety of colors like navy, cocoa and olive and are machine washable, giving them that quality of getting better with use. For the home cook whose counter-to-stove path is their version of a fashion runway, opt for the Maximus, a limited edition, design-forward apron constructed with buttery black leather and a stay-cool cotton lining.

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If your favorite home cook doesn’t have an instant read digital thermometer, or they’ve been settling for unreliable readouts for too long, upgrade their kitchen tool drawer with a ThermoWorks Thermapen. This aptly named model gives full, accurate readings in one second or less, with an impressive accuracy spec of plus or minus 0.5°F. It boasts a bright, automatic backlight to ensure clear readings, whether you’re at the stovetop or grill. Plus, its designed for durability with a waterproof case (in a multitude of colors) and its performance is backed by a five-year warranty.

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This cutting board won our pick for best bamboo board in our cutting board product test, and its beautiful design and versatility makes it one that we consistently love to gift, too. It’s got a just-right thickness, an extra-deep juice groove to keep drips and spills at bay, easy-to-grip edges and a phone slot, so you can keep your tunes close or watching cooking videos while you prep. The bamboo material means its eco-friendly, anti-microbial and water-resistant, making it an ideal work surface. It comes in three sizes, including the Little Wonder (ideal for snacks and citrus prep), the Happy Medium (perfect for everyday prep) and the Big Deal, large enough to carve a holiday roast or to use as a charcuterie or cheese board.

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For home chefs who love to cook or buy ingredients in bulk, save leftovers and preserve foods, a vacuum sealer makes a welcome but unexpected gift. This top-rated model features three settings, including dry, moist and double, and users can pick between normal or gentle vacuum pressure to protect more delicate foods. It’s got built-in storage for vacuum sealer bags and a bag cutter to customize bag sizes depending on your needs. We also love the optional double heat seal which adds reinforcement and assurance when sealing liquid-based foods — essential for saving holiday stews and large batches of soups and chilis. And, if you’re a sous-vide fan, you can use it to seal bags for that purpose, too.

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A sous vide machine — used to gently cook proteins and produce with precision — is an investment but one that makes the perfect splurge gift for your favorite home cook. The Breville Joule is the best of the bunch (we can vouch for it — it topped our product test results), with a sleek design and lightweight design that’s ideal for beginners and those with small spaces. It comes with three options for securing to a variety of pots, pans and containers and comes with an oversized clamp that works well with oversize vessels, such as a cooler. The Joule’s app features a variety of precision-focused recipes, which takes the guesswork out of cooking and makes for an easy-to-use experience. Pair with an instant read thermometer (like the one we recommend in this guide) for a precision present that’ll turn your recipient into a (practically) pro chef.

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A non-stick pan is a must for any serious home cook, and Made In’s offers a premium upgrade. It’s made from the same 5-Ply stainless clad construction as their stainless pans and coated multiple times to make them extra durable and resistant to wear-and-tear. The pan’s even and consistent heat transmission ensures consistent results, turning out velvety scrambled eggs and perfectly seared salmon. Plus, the pan is made from non-toxic materials, outfitted with a cool-touch handle and is oven-safe up to 500 degrees F. Made In’s nonstick frying pan comes in three different sizes, including 8-, 10- or 12-inch, or you can bundle and gift a three-piece set.

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If you know a couple who loves to make elaborate meals together, these Riedel Veloce Champagne Glasses are a perfect gift they'll use for date night at home. New to the Riedel line, Veloce glasses are the thinnest design the brand has ever created and they're designed for a more elevated sipping experience. Something we think the serious home cook would prefer.

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For serious home cooks who love a more universal pan, this braiser from Staub makes a great gift. The pan in all-new eucalyptus (a color exclusive to Crate & Barrel) can be used to braise meats, whip up a frittata, bake cinnamon rolls and more. The glass lid also makes it easy to see how food is shaping up without releasing that all-important steam.

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