2016 Gift Guide

Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are quickly approaching. Here are some gift ideas for your friends and family who like to spend time in the kitchen.

Note: Many links below are affiliate links. By buying through these links you support this site and my Amazon habit. No one incentived me to post these things here. Every single item is here because I either have it or think it is great. Happy holidays!

Under $30



Help your friends refresh their cabinet of old, stale spices. I get most of my spices from Penzeys. Great quality and fair prices.

The gift boxes are always great. My regular order usually contains:

  • Turkish Bay Leaves – Better than anything you’ll buy in the grocery store and a more complex flavor than the California variety.
  • India Special Extra Bold Peppercorns – The highest grade of peppercorns. If the person you are buying for doesn’t usually grind their own pepper, get them this and a mill and you will change their world.
  • Smoked Paprika – I love the flavor of smoke. This stuff is a regular occurrence in potato dishes, meat rubs, and stews in our house.
  • Mural of Flavor – A dozen different herbs and spices mixed together to roughly mimic Mediterranean flavors. Great with chicken, pork, popcorn, and breakfast sandwiches.
  • Kosher Flake Salt – This is our house salt. Great general-purpose stuff. Get your giftee a salt box, too.
  • Roasted Garlic Powder – I’d rather have roasted garlic powder over regular any day of the week.
  • Cajun – Cajun spices regularly dust the outside of our chicken, pork, and beef before we sear them to add some extra flavor.
  • Whole Vanilla Beans – Make your own vanilla liqueur, flavor some mid-shelf bourbon, or use them to make some awesome homemade ice cream.



  • The Food Lab – J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is my favorite food blogger and one of the main inspirations for this blog. He meticulously tests every dish he makes and posts the results for the benefit of us all. I’ve learned so much from this book.
  • The Art of Simple Food – Alice Waters of Chez Panisse has the best books around for simple, flavorful dishes made with in-season ingredients. Each time I flip through this book I get new ideas. The second edition is great, too!
  • On Food and Cooking – This is the go-to source for the science of food and cooking. If I want to know what is going on when I ferment sauerkraut, which genus currants belong to, or the proportions and qualities of different kinds of cake batter, this is the book I pick up.


Other Food-Related Reading

  • A subscription to Lucky Peach magazine, the best food periodical in the game, from Momofuku.
  • The Raw and the Cooked – Jim Harrison is “the Henry Miller of food writing”. Hilarious, a bit raunchy, and a treasure trove of knowledge.
  • An Everlasting Meal – A meditation on cooking and eating.
  • The Belly of Paris – A classic about class struggle and the many tantalizing tastes and smells of 1850s Paris.




Very few people have proper soup spoons. If someone you know regularly eats soup but doesn’t have soup spoons, these will give them a huge quality of life increase. Get some soup bowls to go with them.


Cocktail Gear



Under $50



I had a whole post on inexpensive knives you’ll actually use a while back. These are great knives that make great gifts.


Coffee Gear



General Kitchen Tools


  • Mandolin V-Slicer – This makes slicing and shredding veggies into a uniform size very easy. It is a bit dangerous, but worth the risk.
  • Hand Blender – When I got this two years ago, I put my regular blender in the cabinet and havent touched it. This will change how you blend. It makes blending soups very simple and you can make homemade mayo with it in two minutes.
  • Amazon Echo Dot – This may be a tech gift, but its home is in the kitchen. It is a voice-activated assistant. Set timers, ask for measurement conversions, check sports scores while making a gameday snack, or have it order pizza for you when you burn your meatloaf.
  • Lodge Cast Iron Skillet – Perfect for searing meat, frying up potatoes, roasting half a chicken in the oven, or making crispy bar-style pizza. I don’t know where I’d be without my cast iron. I use it more than all my other pans combined. Works on both gas and electric glass-top ranges.
  • Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven – Perfect for braising, my go-to for soups, and even great for baking no-knead bread. Sure, you could get a Le Creuset that is 5x as expensive, but I’ve been getting along just fine for years with a cheaper one.


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