Finding the perfect birthday, Christmas or other holiday gift for the home cooks in your life can be challenging.
Some are seasoned pros who have all the latest gadgets and tools. Others are just setting up a functional home kitchen. But no matter where on the spectrum your giftee falls, there is an item you can add to their arsenal.
If you’re on the hunt for the perfect holiday present, here are gift ideas from eight professional chefs.
The Best Cooking Gifts, According to 11 Chefs in 2021
1. For the Veggie Lover:
Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer
“It’s one of my favorite gifts to give someone who likes to cook—it shaves, juliennes and is an essential kitchen tool,” says Sophina Uong, chef and co-owner of Mister Mao in New Orleans. “I love it because it’s compact and expedites cooking time. Shaving veggies saves money too; a little goes a long way visually. And you can create a beautiful, colorful salad with so many different ingredients and textures.”
2. For the Home Cook Who Loves to Deep Fry:
Bamboo Spider Strainer
Uong’s favorite stocking stuffer is a Bamboo Spider Strainer. “Very few people even know what it is or does,” she says. As opposed to a colander, the spider strainer is the perfect tool for fishing food like gnocchi out of hot water. “And [it’s] terrific to use when deep frying, as it safely gets whatever you’re frying out of the hot oil,” she says.
3. For the Home Cook Who Hates Food Waste:
If you’re splurging, Uong loves the Vitamix Blender.
“This is a game changer for home cooks,” Uong says. “Take the scraps from the mandolin and blend veggies to make gazpacho. It’s amazing for smoothies, baby food, soups and juices … you can pretty much make anything in this incredible appliance.”
4. For the Home Cook Who Loves Oysters:
Toadfish Oyster Shucking Knife
“Around the holidays, I like to give gifts that people wouldn’t normally buy for themselves while also supporting local small businesses,” says Brian Landry, chef and owner of Marsh House in Nashville and Jack Rose in New Orleans.
He’s a fan of Coutelier, a tiny knife shop in New Orleans. “One item I especially like to give is this oyster knife. Shucking an oyster yourself, then devouring the tasty morsel is a soul-satisfying experience. Owning your own knife to facilitate that experience makes it even better.”
5. For the Home Cook Who Loves to Host:
St. James Cheese Company and Cheese Knives
“I love to give really fine, unique cheeses during the holidays,” says Isaac Toups, chef and owner of Toups’ Meatery in New Orleans and author of Chasing the Gator: Isaac Toups and the New Cajun Cooking. “They are perfect for entertaining or kicking back and enjoying them yourself with a beautiful bottle of wine. I am a huge fan of St. James Cheese Company. They ship everywhere, have an incredible selection and the owners are lovely people.”
Don’t forget the accessories, either, Toups says.
“You can’t go wrong with these beautiful gold and wood cheese knives,” he says.
6. For the Stylish Home Cook:
“I like to give a beautiful apron to my home cook friends. Tilit is my favorite—they have details like leather accents, and functional pockets that I like a lot,” says John DeLucie, executive chef of Ainslie in New York City.
7. For the Cook Whose Knives are Always Dull:
Chef’s Choice Knife Sharpener
“A sharp knife is safer and makes prep time more enjoyable,” says Jeff Osaka, owner and culinary director of Sushi-Rama, Osaka Ramen and The Empire Lounge & Restaurant in Colorado. “A lot of people think sharpening takes such a long time, or you need to send it out to a professional. The one I recommended has three stages for all aspects of sharpening, and it’s automatically at the right angle,” he says. “You don’t have to put much pressure on it, just guide the knife through. I use whetstones in the restaurant, but I’ve had this sharpener for home use for five years, and I’ve never replaced any of the parts.”
8. For the Home Cook Who Loves Herbs:
Toiro Katakuchi Suribachi and Surikogi Set
“An invaluable tool for me is a suribachi and surikogi set, commonly known as a mortar and pestle,” says Joshua Lanning, executive chef of The Woolly Bugger at Sankoty Lakes in Spring Bay, Illinois. “For people who love cooking with fresh herbs, or ground nuts, it is a perfect gift. I have a gorgeous blue-striped one from Toiro Kitchen that sits proudly on my counter at all times. It’s a practical, but beautiful tool. It looks like a piece of art.”
9. For the Home Cook Who Collects Tools:
Deep Basket Strainer
If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer, Lanning loves the deep basket strainer with a wood handle from Umami Mart.
“It’s actually a bar tool, but it’s so versatile,” he says. “I have six. I use them at the restaurant and at home. You can strain a cocktail. You can use it as a sifter. You can dust powdered sugar with it, and you could make a muddled drink with one end, then strain [the drink] with the basket. It’s a brilliant design.”
10. For the Cookbook Lover:
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner… Life: Recipes and Adventures from My Home Kitchen Cookbook
“I love gifting cookbooks, especially this one by Missy Robbins,” says Gabriel Lopez, executive chef at Willa’s in Tampa, Florida. “It covers all the basics from getting started grocery shopping and choosing ingredients to navigating a small kitchen. I love the way she breaks down, very simply, the do’s and don’ts for cooking the perfect whole chicken.
“ ‘Keep it simple’’ is her motto,” Lopez says, “and I agree.”
11. For the Cast Iron Fan:
Le Creuset Nonstick Cast Iron Stoneware Mini Round Cocotte
“One of the best gifts I have received and will be gifting in the future are mini round cocottes from Le Creuset,” says Drew Dzejak, executive chef at The Citizen at Alys Beach, Florida. “They are versatile for a variety of dishes, including desserts or French onion soup. Their cookware is great quality, and extremely durable. It can be used to cook indoors, outdoors, as well as on live fire and would make a great addition to any home cook’s collection.”