A Baker's Dozen: 13 Great Gift Ideas for People Who Love to Cook, 2015
Gifts for the Gourmet Cook or Home Chef
Does your gift list include someone who loves to cook? If so, then you are in luck! Most home cooks have a secret desire for gadgets that they can't justify buying for themselves. At the top of many of those wish lists are some of the following items.
1. Fun Measuring Cups & Spoons
Measuring cups and spoons used to be either boring white plastic or plain stainless steel. While both are kitchen necessities, many home chef's have secret longings for a set of one of the many fun, cool, retro, nerdy, colorful, or ultra-modern measuring cups and spoons now available. My wish list currently includes the owl measuring cups pictured at the right. Other measuring cup sets include Matroyshka dolls (Russian nesting dolls), cats, Star Wars' R2D2, floral and teacup-inspired measuring cups, and vintage ceramics. Many sets also include matching or complementing measuring spoons. Etsy is a great source for vintage and antique measuring spoons and cups. Whichever set you choose, be sure it is dishwasher safe. If they are made of plastic, BPA-free is ideal.
2. KitchenAid Mixer Accessories
KitchenAid stand mixers are the gifts that keep giving. A range of great attachments can turn the mixer into a pasta maker, food processor, meat grinder, sausage stuffer, ravioli maker, an ice cream maker, and a grain mill--just for starters.
Last Christmas, I finally received the meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachments as a gift. I was thrilled to make my own nitrate and preservative-free breakfast sausage. The difference in taste between homemade and store bought meat is significant. With so many recipes available for homemade sausages, natural hotdogs, eclectic hamburgers, and meatloafs, your home cook is bound to have some fun with a food grinder attachment.
Never worry about the source of ground meat again! Suspect that your ground chicken might be from that "pink slime"? Avoid the risk by grinding your own quality ground beef, chicken, turkey, or pork from meat from your favorite butcher. The Food Grinder attachment is also a great gift for hunters, helping them prepare game burgers and venison sausage to their own taste.
Extras: Several differently sized grinding plates are also available online. Be sure to toss in the sausage stuffer handle, a package of natural casings, and an inexpensive sausage recipe book!
Affordable Chef's Accessories
3. Blender Bottle
Back in the 1970s, my mother had a yellow Tupperware version of this practical and versatile manual blender. One Thanksgiving, she had me make butter with it. (A great way to keep an under-10-year-old busy and out of the way for a while.) The modern BlenderBottle is a 28 oz shaker that is available in a wide range of colors and is BPA free and comes with a stainless-steel blender ball. In addition to quickly blending pancake mix, salad dressing, chocolate milk (and butter), the BlenderBottle is great for quickly mixing together popular protein shakes, marinades, and margarita mixes. Dishwasher safe.
Generally available for about $7.
4. Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mats and Cupcake & Muffin Cups
Help your favorite cook avoid chemical-laden oil sprays or messy buttered baking pans and foil with non-stick silicone baking mats. FDA-approved, the mats are available in a couple of rectangular sizes that will work well with cookie sheets and sheet cake pans. A great addition to a gift basket for bridal showers, holidays, and birthdays. BPA and BPP free.
Generally available in pairs for about $16-$18.
Reusable, colorful, BPA-free, non-stick baking cups for muffins and cupcakes generally come in sets of a dozen. Another fun addition to a baker's gift basket!
Generally available by the dozen for $4-$8.
5. Flexible Micro-Ban Cutting Mats
With an icon for each food category (fish, poultry, beef, vegetable) to help eliminate cross-contamination, these colorful cutting mats also feature a Micro-ban coating to further help you combat bacteria. I've had a set similar to those pictured for several years (probably time for me to replace). Their flexible design simplifies moving your chopped food from the counter to the skillet. They hold up really well and are usually just about a tenth of an inch thick, making storage simple.
Generally available in sets of 4 for $7-$12
For the Grilling Enthusiast
6. Backyard Electric or Traditional Smoker
We just had to replace our grill this spring, otherwise I would have been all over this for my birthday. Imagine your own Smokehouse in your backyard! Today's chefs or grill masters can choose from traditional charcoal-, propane- or electric-heated smokers. Ideal for the BBQ enthusiast who has everything!
7. No-Oil Turkey Fryer
The safer, healthier choice for frying your turkey, chicken, pork, duck or other beast. Using propane-based infrared cooking, this is the item for this year's holiday feast. Home cooks who are leery about frying their turkey in oil (but really wanted to try it) will love this! Unlike when frying in oil, dry rubs and marinades can be used with a no-oil turkey fryer.
Available Online for $109-$120
8. The Smoking Gun Portable Food Smoker
This bit of handheld food technology allows chefs to infuse anything with the taste of hickory or applewood smoke without having to grill or smoke outside.
Available Online for $96-$115
9. Talking BBQ Thermometer
The only thing this thermometer doesn't do is get up and flip your steak for you! With settings for doneness, alerts, temp ranges, programmable entrees and, of course, a remote talking function, your grill master can run in to check on the side dishes without worrying about burning the meat.
Available Online for $46-$70
The Latest Technology
10. Ninja / Nutra Bullet Blenders
Ninja and NutraBullet are perfect for creating healthy green smoothies, quickly whipping up sauces and marinades, and developing yummy dessert shakes.
Sous vide is the latest in cooking technology and is the ultimate gift for the gourmet on the go. Used by both professional chefs and home cooking enthusiasts, sous vide cooking locks in juices and flavor and preserves the vitamins and nutrition of the food being cooked. The result is amazing taste and texture: perfectly cooked steak, vibrant vegetables, juicy chicken, and more.
The sous vide technique involves cooking in vacuum-sealed packages submerged in a water bath held at a precisely-controlled temperature.
If you are searching for a significant gift for a serious home cook who is interested in health and wellness, a Sous Vide Water Oven would be a great gift. Multiple sous vide cookbooks are available that would make great add-on gifts.
12. Digital Nutritional Kitchen Scale
Somehow, the Salter Digital Nutritional Kitchen Scale is able to not only weigh your ingredient but give you a detailed nutritional analysis. This is perfect not just for those who are tracking calories, fat, salt, or other dietary components but is also valuable for serious home recipe developers. The scale works with both solid and liquid ingredients and gives data on calories, cholesterol, carbs, protein, fat, dietary fiber, and sodium.
13. Digital Measuring Cup & Scale
For a low price, this 4-cup digital tool converts five pre-set ingredients (flour, sugar, milk, water, and oil) from weight to volume and displays the conversion digitally on the handle. A great gift for the avid baker.
More by this Author
Who makes the best pizza in Chicago, home of the deep dish pizza? Everyone has an opinion! From Lou Malnati's to Pequod's, here are our views on the best pizza in Chicago. What are yours?
Tips on choosing the best turkey for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover, or a Sunday dinner. Choosing size, organic or conventional, fresh or frozen & estimating defrost times.
Gift ideas for 10, 11, and 12-year-old boys, including video games, Nerf, Apple iPods, and gifts for sports fans: birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, and stocking stuffers.