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If you need a meaningful gift for the person in your life who loves cooking but seems to already have everything, you’ve come to the right place. Because that person is me, and I want everything on this list.
These are the big-ticket items that’ll make the cook in your life happy ― and by big-ticket, I mean anything over $100. But there’s a limit ― you won’t find any $1,200 espresso makers here.
The items include things I already own (and have obnoxiously been pushing to my friends all year) and things that I still covet ― an outdoor pizza oven, the chicest toaster oven on the planet, a bread knife that cuts like a samurai sword and more. A few of these are still on my wish list if you’re listening, Santa.
The most beautiful countertop appliances on earth
Haden/Crate & Barrel
Something about the pandemic is making me obsess over gorgeously designed toasters — maybe it’s all the sourdough toast we’ve all been eating. This one comes with coordinating appliances, too — it’s incredibly tempting to get the entire matching set.
Haden Silt Green Dorchester Drip Coffee Maker, $119.99; Toaster, $119.99; Kettle, $99.99 exclusively at Crate & Barrel. (There’s also a crazy stylish microwave, and these all also come in gray!)
The sleekest toaster oven you’ll ever see
I told you I have a thing for toasters right now. I’ll admit that I discovered this one through design influencers I follow on Instagram, but it’s easy to see why design lovers are drooling. It’s freakishly sleek, it uses steam to envelop your toast and its insides light up bright orange like a furnace while it’s working.
An outdoor pizza oven had always seemed like an obnoxious luxury — until the pandemic, when the idea of casually stopping into a pizzeria for a slice became an impossible dream. Ooni makes a few versions that are on the more affordable side (they start at $249) and you can choose between options powered by gas, wood, or a combination of wood, charcoal or gas. The best part? It reaches upwards of 900 degrees F in 15 minutes and can cook your pizza in under 60 seconds.
An Instagrammable cookware set that actually works
I own this set and have recommended it to countless friends over the past year. I’m a little bit of a cookware snob and rarely veer from All-Clad, but Caraway has become my new reliable go-to for its great nonstick surface, its ability to evenly hold heat and frankly, its aesthetic appeal in my kitchen. The ceramic-coated cookware is chemical-free, oven safe up to 550°, and comes with a fry pan, sauce pan, sauté pan, a Dutch oven and three matching lids. Best of all, it also comes with a rack that’ll keep your pans organized, and a lid hanger that lies flat against your wall.
My brother has become an incredible amateur bread baker (for what it’s worth, he got in on the sourdough trend before the pandemic started), and his eyes lit up when I gave him this very legit bread knife. If there’s a bread baker in your life, they deserve this knife. There’s just something way more satisfying about easily slicing through a freshly baked loaf with an enormous blade, rather than hacking through it with a sad, dull knife that doesn’t even stretch across the width of the loaf and crushes your bread flat.
I use my Instant Pot at least twice a week. You know what I NEVER use? My Air Fryer. It’s HUGE and it’s taking up valuable space in my kitchen. This whole time, I could have replaced it with this convenient little lid?!?!? No one told me about this, and I’m livid. The Instant Pot fan in your life will love you forever for this thoughtful gift — it fits right onto your multicooker and transforms it into a fryer.
If you go to a restaurant or look at beautiful food photography, the best food is almost always served up in a big old white bowl that’s got just the right ratio of width-to-depth. It’s not so deep that it’s a soup bowl, but it’s also not so shallow that the food will slosh up and over the sides when you’re shoveling it in your mouth. I’ve been looking for the perfect bowls for some time now, and the inimitable Jake Cohen has found them — I’ve been coveting them ever since he shared them on Instagram. They’re not exactly cheap and yes, they’re technically serving bowls, but they’re perfect for holding in your lap as you eat a big old bowl of spaghetti. They’re an investment that’ll be well worth it.
A baking steel is a 16-pound slab of steel that goes inside your oven and conducts heat insanely fast. When you put it under your pizza, bread or pie plate, it works magic to crisp up the bottom of whatever you put on it. Erin Jeanne McDowell, author of “The Book On Pie” (which just came out in November and would be an amazing gift for anyone who bakes), praises what a baking steel can do for pies — it makes crusts so sturdy you can stack them. No more soggy bottoms!
If you, like the rest of the world, have been cooking a lot more during the pandemic, you probably create a lot more food waste than usual. And if you’re feeling guilty about contributing to a massive global waste problem, you can toss your fruit cores, vegetable peels, dairy, chicken bones, etc., into this hi-tech food recycler and it’ll turn into compost in just a few hours. It’s compact, fits just about anywhere in your home, and claims to be silent enough not to bother you. (It’s also got a carbon filter that eliminates odor, which is a MAJOR plus for anyone who’s ever tried to compost.) It’s a splurge, but it’s better than waiting weeks and potentially stinking up your home.