While many people you know spend their pre-meal hours ordering from DoorDash or driving for takeout, there’s still a good load of folks out there that actually take the time to make their own meals in the kitchen. And some of them will be your family and friends, whether it’s that aunt who’s always commanding the kitchen during family dinners, the cousin who’s taken up cooking as a new obsession, or a newly-married friend who’s finally cooking after subsisting on takeout all these years.
Here are some reasonably-priced kitchen gifts that, we think, they’ll find useful all year round.
Veggie Gripper Cutting Board
Got a friend you once saw sporting cuts on their fingers from sloppy food prep in the kitchen? Let them know you never forget by getting this special-purpose bamboo cutting board, which has a rounded cutout in the center that will stabilize any round fruit or vegetable (so you don’t have to hold them), as well as deep grooves in the middle, so you can plunge the knife edge down to the base of each produce. If you’re cutting something less round, flip the board and use the clean flat surface like any regular chopping board.
Yes, you can use any scissors to open packaged food, snip herbs, and cut through most leafy vegetables, but can you use them to rip through thick crab shell, fish bones, and chicken bones? This thing can. It might underwhelm your recipient (scissors aren’t exactly the most amazing present), but once they realize the things these blades can cut through, they’ll definitely be thankful. Seriously, these are the only kitchen scissors anybody needs.
For the friend who likes to treat the kitchen as a science lab, this collection of 10 different spice blends will should have enough unconventional mixes to keep them busy for weeks. How do these blends taste? We’re not entirely sure, but that’s the whole point of getting spice blends that aren’t traditionally what you have on the rack. It keeps things interesting. Hopefully, the people you’re cooking for will feel the same way.
Gifting a bona fide hot food enthusiast? Can’t go wrong with this three-pack of spicy sauces from Heatonist, which run the gamut from mild heat (The Classic) to middle-of-the-pack (Los Calientes) to way up there in the Scoville heat rating (The Last Dab XXX). Yes, these are the same hot sauces you regularly see on the lineup of the Hot Ones YouTube show, so fans of the series should also be able to appreciate the gift.
A spice grater equipped with Microplane’s photoetched blades, this grinder can go to town on fresh, hard spices like nutmeg and cinnamon with very little effort. Since it’s a manual grinder, you can control the amount of pressure you apply when twisting, allowing you to adjust to the exact type of ground you want to produce. It has a large airtight compartment for keeping whole spices, so you can just keep them there, ready to grind whenever you need them, while the fully-covered 128-teeth internal blades ensure you’ll never accidentally cut any part of your hand throughout the whole process. Do note, this is strictly for hard spices, as they sell a different, gentler grater for soft foods.
Oil flying out of the frying pan is inevitable. Some food make light splatters that only spread the oil around the cooktop, while others make the oil explode like an active volcano slinging all over the kitchen. Whichever the case, minimizing that splatter is in your best interest, whether you’re hoping to avoid burning your skin or performing a ridiculous amount of post-cooking cleanup. The Frywall does just that, erecting a tall wall around the pan’s edges that catches the splatter and slides it back down to the cooking vessel. No, it won’t catch everything (if it’s any taller, you might not be able to flip the food over), but it’s tall enough to cut down on the mess in a significant manner.
Thawing your meat by submerging it in water sounds like a good idea. Until you actually do it and realize that the darn thing takes forever because the food ends up floating most of the time. The Thaw Claw makes submerging in water a valid technique by ensuring that the food stays submerged the whole time. To use, simply stick the suction cup to the bottom of the sink, attach the frozen food to the claw, and fill the sink with water. According to the outfit, doing this will thaw a big slab of steak in 18 minutes and a bag of chicken wings in 24 minutes, allowing you to get started cooking without the long waiting times you had to endure in the past.
If your recipient has been entertaining the idea of sous vide cooking at home, this more compact version of their regular sous vide machine offers arguably the best way to dip their toes in the field. It can heat up to five liters of water per minute to anywhere between 32 degrees and 197 degrees Fahrenheit, then continually monitor temperature and make the necessary adjustments to make sure it stays at desired heat levels, all while fitting comfortably in any kitchen drawer. Comes with a companion app with over 1,000 recipes, so your recipient won’t have to spend time scouring cooking websites to find any dishes they can use this on.
This three-row tilted rack comes with four slots on each row, giving you a place to accommodate each one of the 12 included jars. The rack is made from stainless steel, the containers cut from glass, and the caps are covered in a chrome finish, so every part of this looks premium and well-built. Unlike most spice racks that only give you the containers, this one comes with actual spices, with each container lid labeled with whatever item it’s holding. Heck, a purchase of the spice rack even entitles you (well, your recipient) to free spice refills for the next five years, so they’ll never have to pay for basil, thyme, or garlic salt for the next half decade.
There are plenty of cast-iron skillets out there under $100. If you want one with the satin-smooth surface and gently-sloping walls that will let you flip steaks, toss veggies, and handle the most delicate food with ease, this 10.5-incher from Stargazer is your best bet at this price point. With a drip-free flared rim and forked handle that stays cool (for the most part), it’s thoughtfully-designed, too, making it the kind of gift any recipient will likely enjoy using frequently in their kitchen.