Food & Drink | November 8, 2021 12:00 am

The 29 Best Food and Drink Gifts for Home Chefs and Their Home Bars

Our favorite appliances and cookware, but also the culinary inspiration they won’t expect

A Dansk saucepan, Cafe coffeemaker, the book The Japanese Art of the Cocktail, a Beast blender, and a bottle of Maker's Mark whiskey, all great holiday gifts for 2021
From coffee to cocktails and saucepans to smoothie makers, this gift guide has it all.
Images via brands

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A gift guide for the home chef is really just a gift guide for everyone. Even the people in your life with the biggest takeout bills need a good coffee maker, and those whose home bars rival your local watering hole could probably use some extra help with their spice drawer.  As long as they take pleasure in a good meal and a well-crafted drink, you’ll find something here. 

Yes, there’s cookware, of the beautiful and useful variety, as well as some of our favorite new appliances, some of which you’ll be tempted to wrap up for yourself (we certainly won’t tell). There are also ideas for every gift-giving scenario you’ve got on your list. Impressive present for under the tree? Done. The perfect package to send to a colleague (that’s not too expensive)? We found it. And those impossible Secret Santa exchanges? It’s all in here.

Our kitchens and dining tables have continued to be places of refuge during this year, one that maybe wasn’t as much of a reprieve as many expected. From a better can of olive oil to a special whiskey to our favorite cast-iron skillet, these gifts will help reinforce that culinary sanctuary. 

Smithey No. 12 Cast Iron Skillet
Smithey No. 12 Cast Iron Skillet
Smithey

Smithey No. 12 Cast Iron Skillet

We’ve been testing cast-iron skillets all year, and we think this pan from Smithey is the best model for most people. The 12-inch size can hold a lot of food but isn’t unwieldy even if you’re only cooking for one or two; the smooth, polished finish actually lives up to the “naturally nonstick” promise, where other new cast-iron brands don’t; it’s deep enough to fry things in, making it a multifaceted kitchen workhorse; and while it’s pricey it’s not prohibitive, especially if you use it daily, which we do.

Hedley & Bennett Essential Apron
Hedley & Bennett Essential Apron
Hedley & Bennett

Hedley & Bennett Essential Apron

The most underappreciated tool in a home kitchen is the apron. Hedley & Bennett offers some of the best in the business, thanks to design help from actual chefs, and they’ve got all types of styles, from heavyweight waxed canvas to a new collab with the Grateful Dead. This Denver style is your best bet, though, as it has unisex appeal, will look good no matter what you happen to be wearing that day, and can easily be tossed in the wash when the grease splatter gets a little out of control. 

The Truff Best Seller Pack, a variety back featuring two truffle infused hot sauces and a truffle olive oil, launched in November 2021
The Truff Best Seller Pack
Truff

Truff Hot Sauce

If your ideal gift-giving scenario involves sharing indulgences that your intended recipients may not otherwise buy for themselves, then Truff’s elevated, truffle-infused hot sauces are a no-brainer. You can certainly pick up individual bottles, whether you want the classic chili blend, a white truffle flavor or something a bit hotter, but you should probably spring for a variety pack, which now includes the Best Seller Pack, a new combo that includes two hot sauces and truffle olive oil. The latter was launched to celebrate Truff’s third year on Oprah’s Favorite Things list, which is all the endorsement you really need.

Material reBoard Cutting Board
Material reBoard Cutting Board
Material

Material reBoard Cutting Board

For all the love and attention we bestow upon wooden cutting boards, they have a tendency to soak up scents even if you’re a capable scrubber. When we need an alternative to the traditional cutting board, we reach for Material’s reBoard made of recycled plastics sugarcane that offers a sustainable, stable surface upon which to slice and dice. It features a handy hanging hole to promote a little more organization in your cluttered kitchen, and the colors add a little pop to otherwise bland wares.

The Trade coffee Celebration Box, which includes three bags of coffee and a gift code for the giftee to order a fourth
The Trade Coffee Celebration Box
Trade

Trade Celebration Box and Coffee Subscriptions

Trade is the ultimate coffee curator, sourcing over 450 of the best coffees from around the world and delivering them right to your door. As such, there are a number of gifting options for the java lover in your life: this Celebration Box, which includes three bags of coffee for them to unwrap plus a code so they can personalize a fourth bag; digital gift subscriptions, which allow you to pick the number of bags of beans; and the classic subscription model, if you happen to live with your giftee, know how they make their coffee and what roasts they like. You can’t go wrong.

Beast Blender and Hydration System
Beast Blender and Hydration System
Beast Health

Beast Blender and Hydration System

Can a blender be sexy? That’s a question we didn’t know the answer to until the Beast made its arrival this year. While this appliance is especially good for the fitness crowd, as you can easily whip up a smoothie and then take it to go in the same container you blended it in, it’s also versatile enough to be the one blender in your kitchen. This specific kit includes multiple blending vessels, to-go accessories and an infusion chamber for making flavored water.  

Yeti Rambler Colster
Yeti Rambler Colster
Yeti

Yeti Rambler Colster

Vacuum-insulated, no-sweat, stainless-steel koozies that’ll keep your beer at an ideal temp. This is the perfect type of gift, something that may seem not worth the expense (especially when you’ve got a drawer full of free promotional coozies), but once you buy it for them, they’ll never again reach for a cold one without it. 

a pizza oven
Gozney Roccbox Pizza Oven
Gozney

Gozney Roccbox

Touted as “a slice of Italy in your own backyard,” the Gozney Roccbox is any pizza lover’s dream. Able to reach temps up to 950°F, the bite-sized toaster is just as good as a professional-grade oven at getting that perfect pizza crisp in no time at all. Since it’s packable, it’s a great camping (perhaps glamping) accessory, and the built-in thermometer means you’ll never have to worry about your pie’s fate.

Gastro Obscura book by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras 
Gastro Obscura
Atlas Obscura

Gastro Obscura by Cecily Wong and Dylan Thuras 

Atlas Obscura, the travel site that has managed to catalog the wonders of the world that still feel exciting in the age of internet ubiquity, added a food offshoot in 2017, Gastro Obscura. Now, a book has been cooked up offering a different perspective than your normal culinary guidebooks. This isn’t necessarily about the best places to eat around the world, but rather a look into the profound diversity of something we often take for granted, from coffee in a Victorian-era urinal to the spiced cannabis milk served during India’s Holi festival. 

Can of Fat Gold Olive Oil
Fat Gold Olive Oil
Fat Gold

Fat Gold Olive Oil

Make sure to include a note when you gift this can of California olive oil: Do not use for cooking. When you cook with olive oil, you lose all the flavor complexity. So a handcrafted jug like this should only be used for finishing, whether it’s in a salad dressing, drizzled on top of meat or roasted vegetables, or simply for dunking their homemade bread in.

Bamboo Composter Countertop Composter
Bamboo

Bamboo Countertop Composter

Okay, it’s 2021. That means if you’re not already, you should probably be composting. The act doesn’t have to be difficult, or gross, for that matter. Bamboo Composter’s Countertop unit is the perfect example: chic and discreet, it could be easily mistaken for just another jar or container that already inhabits your kitchen, but you’ll get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing this little fella is saving the planet, one banana peel at a time. It’s got all the modern features that make composting so simple nowadays, like not one, but two carbon blocks that eliminate any potential odor, a dishwasher-safe design, and a sleek bamboo exterior.

The Diaspora Co. Masala Dabba gift tin from Food52
Diaspora Co. Masala Dabba
Food52

Diaspora Co. Masala Dabba

They’ve done sourdough, canned salsa and brewed beer, but if your recipient has yet to venture beyond the spice aisle of their neighborhood big-box grocer, change their entire worldview with this collection from Diaspora Co. The young company sources single-origin spices from small farms in India and Sri Lanka, and this impressive brass container, or “dabba,” that’s available at Food52 includes seven jars, from coriander to mace. Their dinners are about to get a whole lot more flavorful. 

Vosges Prima Materia Truffle Collection
Vosges Prima Materia Truffle Collection
Vosges Haut-Chocolat

Vosges Prima Materia Truffle Collection

Gifting the same old box of holiday truffles you can buy at any corner store? Boring. Gifting a tempting, enchanting box of truffles from the flavor wizards at Vosges Haut-Chocolat? Now that’s something they’ll savor. There are a number of giftable collections to choose from, but we like this Prima Materia box with flavors like Egyptian sesame and Sicilian pistachios, and an included scroll “designed to transform your chocolate into a powerful force.”

Becoming Trader Joe book by Joe Coulombe
Becoming Trader Joe
HarperCollins Leadership

Becoming Trader Joe by Joe Coulombe

For that one person in your life who is obsessed with Trader Joe’s (we all have them), there’s this surprisingly vibrant memoir from the chain’s founder, Joe Coulombe, who passed away last year. It’s like the best episode of NPR’s How I Built This podcast in book form, especially insightful for the entrepreneurial folks in your life, but they don’t need to be starting their own business to appreciate this account of one of the biggest surprise successes.

Levain Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie Gift Boxes
Levain Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie Gift Boxes
Levain Bakery

Here’s the situation: You need to send a gift to someone’s office (real or home office). Maybe it’s a friend, maybe it’s a work colleague. You want something thoughtful, but not over the top. Enter: Cookie gift boxes from NYC institution Levain. Yes, they do offer freezer aisle boxes in grocery stores now, but there’s nothing that compares to these baked-to-order monsters. You could get a variety pack, but there’s a reason the chocolate chip walnut is the best-selling flavor.

Waterford Aras Double Old Fashioned Glasses
Waterford Aras Double Old Fashioned Glasses
Waterford

Waterford Aras Double Old Fashioned Glasses

This set of two double Old Fashioned glasses from Waterford’s Short Stories Collection features the Aras design, “a vertical cut representing the striking architecture of the turrets seen in Ireland’s many beautiful castles.” Don’t let them drink that good whiskey out of a second-rate tumbler. 

Food52 x Dansk Kobenstyle Saucepan
Food52 x Dansk Kobenstyle Saucepan
Food52

Food52 x Dansk Kobenstyle Saucepan

Instead of hopping on the latest cookware trend, get them this 2-quart saucepan from Food52 and Dansk, a home brand that champions mid-century Scandinavian design. This particular piece is enameled carbon steel with a top that doubles as a trivet for serving, a wood handle that stays cool while cooking, and a range of bright colors that’ll add some levity to mid-winter meals. 

The Japanese Art of the Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido
The Japanese Art of the Cocktail
Mariner Books

The Japanese Art of the Cocktail by Masahiro Urushido and Michael Anstendig

Possibly the best photographed cocktail book of the year, this tome offers a glimpse into the stories behind the drinks served at Masahiro Urushido’s NYC bar Katana Kitten. Plus, you’ll really want to learn how to make a Hinoki Martini.

Jack Rudy Cocktail Company Tonic Trio 
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Tonic Trio 
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.

Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Tonic Trio 

Three 8 oz. bottles of tonic that pair nicely not just with gin and vodka, but also tequila and dark spirits. Classic, Elderflower and Extra Bitter flavors — once you use these (you provide the booze and some soda water), you’ll never go back to supermarket plastic tonic bottles.

a coffe grinder
Fellow Ode Brew Grinder
Fellow

Fellow Ode Brew Coffee Bean Grinder

Fellow’s bean grinder has been on our favorites list for a while now, and for good reason. Beautifully designed frame aside, the Kickstarter graduate has over 30 grind settings, professional-grade flat burrs, and a slew of features that make the machine worth it’s price tag. The perfect gift for any coffee snob, the easy-to-use Fellow is a barista’s fantasy.

Marcellin Cocktail Smoking and Infusion Kit
Marcellin Cocktail Smoking and Infusion Kit
Bespoke Post

Marcellin Cocktail Smoking and Infusion Kit

A $70 cocktail smoking kit — most are two-to-three times that price — which proves you can accomplish extravagant smoky cocktails with ease. You should spring for the $95 option which includes wood chips, but that’s not the only ingredient to torch; you can use cinnamon, herbs, anise or even lemon peels, as our in-depth review taught us.

Speed Rack and Shaker & Spoon Collection
Speed Rack and Shaker & Spoon Collection
Shaker & Spoon

Speed Rack and Shaker & Spoon Collection

A collection of bartender-crafted kits — each kit will make about four drinks — that raise proceeds for breast cancer research and care via The Pink Agenda. We’re particularly excited about the Como la Mujer Kit by Ana Cabrera Marquez, which somehow makes Scotch into a fruity sipper.

Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series FAE-02 Whiskey
Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series FAE-02 Whiskey
Marker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series FAE-02 Whiskey

You can really pick up any of the Wood Finish Series from Maker’s and enjoy it, but each one brings out some unique flavor profiles. The FAE here stands for fatty acid esters, and this edition is all about texture. The cask-strength release is full-bodied and mouth-coating, and it also hits similar sweet caramel notes as a prior Maker’s Mark release in this series from 2020

DAOU Soul of a Lion 2018 Wine
DAOU Soul of a Lion 2018
DAOU

DAOU Soul of a Lion 2018

Aged for 22 months in custom French oak barrels, this Paso Robles vineyard utilizes both classic wine-making techniques and cutting-edge tech to produce the finest, most balanced California-based, Bordeaux-style red blend. 

Optimist Botanicals Three Pack
Optimist Botanicals Three Pack
Optimist Botanicals

Optimist Botanicals Three Pack

Booze-free spirits are having a moment. Just launched, these are alcohol-free botanical spirits (crafted by a master distiller) inspired by their Southern California origins. Serve with tonic and club soda, the three flavors here (bright, fresh and smokey) are gentle but flavorful.

Cascatelli Pasta by Dan Pashman and The Sporkful 
Cascatelli Pasta
Sfoglini

Cascatelli Pasta by Sporkful 

What do you get someone who has seemingly eaten everything? A pasta that was only invented this year. Cascatelli, Italian for “waterfalls,” is a brand new pasta shape designed by Dan Pashman of the James Beard Award-winning podcast The Sporkful. It’s been a tremendous hit so far, which means you’ll want to order a box now if you want it in time for the holidays. Actually, better make it two.

Café Specialty Drip Coffeemaker
Café Specialty Drip Coffeemaker
GE Appliances

Café Specialty Drip Coffeemaker

In recent years, a lot of attention has been paid to specialty coffeemakers: the pour-over, the French press, the Chemex. With the Café, you get a 10-cup brewer that offers all the specificity a coffee snob could ask for (including brew strength and temperature) with all the ease someone who grew up with Folgers could want (you can pick from four simple brewing modes). Plus, it’s pretty enough to leave on the counter all day long.

Benchmade Station Knife
Benchmade Station Knife
Benchmade

Benchmade Station Knife

We took a look at Benchmade’s new cutlery earlier this year, and while there are a number of kitchen knives to consider, the one we found most intriguing is the Station Knife. The width of a chef’s knife with the precision of a paring knife, the Station may end up being the blade they reach for most often. Spring for the CPM-154 stainless steel which is tougher and harder to chip.

The Morning Dram Starter Kit
The Morning Dram Starter Kit
The Morning Dram

The Morning Dram Starter Kit

Coffee beans for the spirits drinker, via the owner of NYC staples Fine & Rare and The Flatiron Room. These aren’t alcoholic, but the beans here (from Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico) are barrel-aged and certainly pick up some unique notes. The Starter Kit will get one bag of bourbon barrel-aged beans, one rye-aged bag, a house blend (not barrel-aged), a stainless steel dripper, enamel camp mug and a portable hand grinder. Or you can just buy the beans separately.