Here’s a quick holiday gift guide for the home cook with gifts that are tried and true from my kitchen to yours. Happy holidays!
I don’t normally do gift guides but I’ve noticed a lot more traffic this time of year to ‘Kitchen Essentials: The Basics‘ and come to realize that folks need a little help or some suggestions finding gifts for their loved ones. With that being said, I’ve put together a list of things in this holiday gift guide for the home cook which I have in my kitchen and personally use on a day-to-day basis.
While some of these are affiliate links, none of these were sponsored or given to me. I spent my own money buying these things over the years after hours of researching for quality, functionality and balancing them out with aesthetics. It’s a little tough and frankly annoying nowadays searching for what you want with so many options (sometimes too many options when all you want is a simple measuring spoon set) and unvetted or padded reviews. So hopefully this personal collection of my kitchen tools will help you.
Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker – It took me 10 years to replace my old beloved slow cooker that isn’t in production anymore and this is the brand and model I chose after much research. I noticed some brands ran hotter than others and were still boiling on the warm setting. This brand runs hot like it should which allows me to start my meals before bed and have it cook overnight without having to worry about it burning. After the set amount of time, it automatically switches to warm, which is another feature I was looking for in a dependable slow cooker. One added perk of this slow cooker is you can now sear meats directly with the insert over the stovetop. It’s great for recipes that call for searing before the slow cooking like this slow cooker pot roast.
COSORI Air Fryer 5.8 QT– This is my favorite air fryer. I use it for everything; from making healthy salmon meals like air fryer honey garlic salmon or air fryer honey mustard salmon to simple veggies like air fryer broccoli. I also use it a lot for reheating things like pizza or takeout leftovers. This is also a great gadget to make super crispy air fryer wings. You have to try it to believe it.
Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 6 Quart – I got this to replace an old-fashioned whistling pressure cooker I had and because I was curious about the hype. There’s a bit of a learning curve so make sure to read the instructions carefully and always use a wooden spoon to manually release the pressure so you don’t get burned. That being said, I’ve bought this 3 times now. Once for myself and two others as gifts for family and a friend. We’ve made a few recipes so far but one thing that amazed me was how it can function as a one-pot for things like a chicken pasta meal. You can literally brown some chicken in it first with the sauté option, then switch to the pressure cooker mode and throw in uncooked pasta, some broth and the browned chicken and come out with not soggy, but al dente pasta and perfectly juicy chicken. It was pretty impressive. I saved having to wash a Dutch oven to cook the pasta, a pasta strainer to drain it and a saucepan to brown the chicken. I also bought the recipe book to get me started. If you do that as well, do yourself a favor and try out the ‘Italian Ribs’ there.
CAST IRON/CARBON STEEL SKILLET
Lodge 10.25″ Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet – I’ve used Lodge cast iron for a long time. It’s great for getting a good sear on things like some honey garlic shrimp. I’ve also used it to bake things in the oven like this hash brown breakfast quiche or a cheesy meatball skillet. There are so many ways to use it once you get the hang of how to take care of it. I use soap and a chainmail cleaner to wash it up then spray it and wipe it down with a paper towel before storing it. You can also use regular canola or vegetable oil for the seasoning and wiping down but I just use the spray to make things easier.
Lodge 12 Inch Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet – I got this much later on when I wanted a lighter option to cook with but didn’t want to miss the brilliant sear. It’s slightly wider and flatter but much lighter. It cooks the same and the care routine is the same as cast iron. I’ve used this many times for a quick and low-calorie chicken dinner we like to season with The Spice Lab’s BBQ seasoning pack, some seared brussels sprouts and store-bought quinoa salad. And from that seasoning pack, we use the ancho chili coffee rub exclusively for our grilled steaks during the weekend and have bought refills for it many, many times.
Hammer Stahl Santoku Knife – A santoku knife is all I ever use in the kitchen. It’s versatile and fits nicely in my hand. I use it from chopping up onions and garlic to veggies like carrots, potatoes and celery. I also use it to cut up meat for prepping like butterflying boneless, skinless chicken breasts or removing fat from a chuck roast, I started out with a reasonably priced Farberware Santoku knife from Walmart and used it for 10 years before finally upgrading to a quality Hammer Stahl, I tend to like getting the 5-5.5″ ones because it’s a small enough size to slice and dice without worrying too much about cutting your fingers off. The bigger ones tend to be too unwieldy for me.
Hammer Stahl Cheese Knife – This is a recent buy after discovering its existence. I’m not sure how I survived a few decades of slicing tomatoes without knowing about this gem. You know how most knives, no matter how often you sharpen them, tend to put too much pressure on a tomato while you’re trying to slice it and it just comes off bad anyway? This cheese knife doesn’t do that. In fact, this cheese knife works like how all knives should work when you’re slicing tomatoes. I can even go into super thin slices if I want.
Hammer Stahl Steak Knives Set – For the longest time, we used to use the butter knives that came with our cutlery set to cut up our steaks. This year we finally decided to get a set of proper steak knives and spent a long time researching quality vs cost. We settled on this one and so far have been loving it.
STAUB Ceramics Rectangular Baking Dish, 13×9-inch – What I like about this is that it can withstand up to 450°F which is essential when you want to broil for a few minutes with recipes such as this chicken Alfredo pasta bake or this pizza pasta casserole.
KitchenAid Blender – I use this every morning to make my smoothie. It’s light, dependable, easy to clean and looks good in a modern kitchen.
Alpha Grillers Garlic Press – I love using this garlic press to get freshly minced garlic. I used to do it the hard way by mincing it myself on the cutting board and while this method is still preferable in certain recipes where you want some garlic bits to bite into, I prefer mincing it this way for everything else.
Pasta Silicone Holders – I got these specifically to take out stuff from the microwave. You know when the bowl is too hot to carry with your bare hands but slightly too full that your kitchen gloves are bound to get stained? This solves that problem. It’s easily washable and perfect small, little grippers for microwaving. Bonus points for being cute little pasta shapes.
Cuisinart Silicone Oven Mitts – Speaking of kitchen gloves or oven mitts, these are the ones I have been using for many years. I like how it comes pretty high up your arm for those oopsie moments when your wrist area accidentally brushes against an oven surface while taking something out. This takes out the fear of getting burned in the oven.
KitchenAid All-Purpose Shears – I used to use the simple, blue Ikea kitchen scissors but those rusted eventually then finally broke. SO I got these. I tend to use scissors a lot in the kitchen for opening up packaged food. This one has lasted me many years and so far has not rusted.
Zulay Splatter Screen – This is always used while sautéing things like chicken, bacon strips, or anything that splatters. I’m far too lazy to clean the floor after every meal so this helps tremendously. It has not rusted on me yet.
Elite Gourmet Easy Electric Cooker – This little guy cooks your eggs for you hands-free and takes the guesswork out of it. There’s this little measuring cup you fill with water and dump into the reservoir and at the end, it has a little needle. You prick the end of each egg (which is super fun by the way) and put it hole side up, fill up the reservoir, cover and press the button. An alarm will tell you when it’s done and that’s all there is to it. Easy hard-boiled eggs.
That’s about all I managed to find worth mentioning after scouring my kitchen. I hope you find something good and dependable to make someone happy this holiday season. Happy shopping!