Giving culinary gifts can be complicated, because hardcore home chefs typically don’t want to stuff their kitchens with any more random gadgets and doodads than they already own. And yet, kitchen tools are some of the most carefully crafted, timeless objects you can give someone–pick the right one, and they’ll still be using it decades later to cook dinner. And for your friends who don’t cook, we’ve included some goodies for anyone who loves to eat, too.
I’m a sucker for clever measuring spoons–and clever items make great stocking stuffers. Two spoons caught our eye this year. One is pinchable, so it will automatically level off fine powders when you’re baking. The other is foldable, so it stores flat and doubles as a spreader. Take your pick. Neither option costs more than $15.
Home-delivered sushi is one of the greatest breakthroughs of the modern era, but dipping your $5 piece of sashimi into one of those tiny plastic takeout cups can spoil the mood quickly. Soy Shape ($30 for a pair), by designer Duncan Shotton, mixes Japan’s traditional “Hakuji” white ceramic with modernized geometry. Simply by shaping the ceramic at varying depths, Shotton turns the tiny pools of brown liquid into carefully shaded gradients, creating complex 3D shapes that are a delight to the eye (and mouth). Buy them here.
Whether it’s old-world soup dumplings or the latest in sous vide techniques, ChefSteps–an offshoot from the same team that published the visually stunning cooking tome Modernist Cuisine–is the recipe site that can provide truly heavily researched, step-by-step methodologies to help you prepare a dish perfectly. The photography is great, the instructions are clear, and the recipes lack the 3,000-word personal narrative bloat that so many cooking sites suffer from. But what I really appreciate about ChefSteps is that its $24 premium subscription to all of its cooking content doesn’t need to be renewed every year; it’s giftable and good for a lifetime. Buy it here.
New Vintage Pyrex Bowls
All I want is for Pyrex to bring back its Colors bowls from 1943. Their nested design coupled with simple color-coding is kitchen design perfection. But while I wait, Pyrex has rereleased a few other vintage patterns that originated between the 1950s and 1970s. Though they’re smaller in size and not rated for oven use like classic Pyrex, these $30 six-piece sets are microwave- and freezer-safe, with handy plastic lids for storing leftovers. And here’s the kicker: They’re available at Walmart of all places, practically guaranteeing that your snobbiest friends will never see the gift coming. Order them here.
Oxo Edge Smith Can Opener
A modern-day classic, the Oxo Edge Smith ($16) is a can opener that works like no other. Instead of piercing the lid and leaving sharp edges, it spins around the cylinder to break the soldering point between the top of the can and the sides. Oxo’s approach feels a bit weird, but it leaves you with a can that won’t threaten to cut you. The first time you use it, you ask yourself, “is this thing even working?” But after living with the Oxo for a year now, I’ll never go back. Get one here.
Murray Carter Knives
A butcher knife is the single most useful kitchen tool. And a handmade, one-of-a-kind butcher knife is one of the most precious gifts you can give a cook. However, of all the American knife producers you might buy from, who practice their craft by hammering molten steel upon itself again and again to create a razor-sharp multicolored grain that resembles mountains or marble, Murray Carter is one of the only guys who actually has any of his work regularly in stock. This prolific bladesmith lives in Oregon but trained for 18 years in Japan. His knives range from about $450 to well over $1,000. Get them here.
Jones Cutting Boards
Wood cutting boards won’t dull your knives as fast as plastic ones, and they’re gorgeous just sitting there. If you want a beautiful maple, walnut, or cherry wood slab, most publications will point you to Boos, a cutting board company out of Effingham, Illinois. But in recent years, many have complained about deteriorating quality–something also noticed by The Sweethome–and I’ve found the company doesn’t stand by its product after the one-year warranty is through. As an alternative, try the family-owned Jones Cutting Boards, out of Pennsylvania. Its site is full of custom, mixed-wood boards that may or may not be your style, but retailers around the web feature more conventional Jones boards up to two-inches thick, too. Prices vary by size, ranging from under $100 to around $300. Find them here.