Mother's Day Gift Guide

All of our favorite gifts for all of your favorite moms.

Does your mom love to make fancy salads, crowned with delicate ribbons of carrots? Is she obsessed with serving the perfect potato gratin at holidays meals? There are some kitchen tools that make the difference between amateur-looking food and pro-level stuff. A small mandoline is one of them. This one, from Oxo, is compact, easy to use, and very sharp. It only has three thickness settings, but in my experience, that more than covers most home slicing needs.  — Daniel

Your mom might already be the ultimate entertainer, but this gift will make her parties even more fun. Sure, you can serve crushed-ice cocktails in a regular old glass, but these shiny pineapple-shaped tumblers really up the ante and make a tiki-themed evening feel special.  — Maggie

Sorghum syrup is made from the pressed juice of sorghum grass, which grows prominently throughout the American South. This amber-colored syrup has a unique nutty flavor that's both sweet and savory. And since the 1960s, the Guenther family of Muddy Pond, Tennessee, has been making some of the best.  — Keith

Indian food has a reputation for being difficult and time-consuming, with hard-to-find ingredients and new techniques. I get it. It's intimidating. But in this book, Serious Eater Denise D'silva Sankhé breaks Indian cooking down into simple techniques that any home cook can master to produce amazingly flavorful dishes with minimal effort. Over the course of more than 100 recipes, Denise introduces us to simple cooking from every region of India, focusing on home-style dishes that move well beyond the world of curries. I'm also super stoked that she's included notes with every recipe on whether it's vegan, vegetarian, and/or allergy-friendly.  — Kenji

Does Mom like her drink fizzy, refreshing, and with a side of history? This good-looking book is the perfect companion to cocktail hour, tracing the story of Italy's apertivo tradition and offering up a collection of tasty recipes, both classic and innovative. The photos (and the drinks) will get your mouth watering. If Mom goes for fun-and-fruity, start with the easy-drinking Aperol Betty, made with a little fresh orange and grapefruit. Does she have a taste for all things bitter and bracing? Get her a bottle of Barolo Chinato, too, and make her the vibrant Appennini Spritz.  — Maggie

Spending $50 on cheese knives feels a little silly, especially when a regular knife does the trick just fine. But that's why they're the perfect gift—arguably unnecessary, but nonetheless useful, they feel like a real luxury. I'm pretty sure they also raise your "real adult" status by at least 10 points. Especially when they're these beautifully crafted Dubost Laguiole knives. I like the simplicity of the olivewood handles, but they do come in other colors and styles, with the same high-quality blades.  — Niki

With their smooth surface and cool temperature, marble pastry slabs are a baker's best friend. They're great for rolling out pie crusts, laminating doughs, and tempering chocolate—plus, this one's pretty enough (albeit heavy) to use as a serving platter.  — Niki

Kentucky-based writer Ronni Lundy is an expert on the foods and foodways of the Mountain South. In her latest book, Sorghum’s Savor, she explores the history and folklore, and the many uses, of the region’s staple sweetener. Recipes range from fried chicken to sorbet.  — Keith

These thin chocolate disks have a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a complex, pleasantly fruity bitterness. But it's the scattered cacao nibs on top that take them from memorable to exceptional. The crunchy bits of bean are toasty and flavorful in their own right, but Recchiuti goes the extra mile, tossing them in caramel and fleur de sel for a brightly salty-sweet finish that electrifies each bite.  — Serious Eats Staff

Old cast iron has a perfectly smooth nonstick surface that's surprisingly easy to maintain. You can sear, bake, roast, braise, stew, and deep-fry in it, and there's nothing more thoughtful than a gift that you have to expend a bit of effort to find (check out eBay, yard sales, and flea markets). Of course, these modern Lodge pans will do in a pinch if vintage isn't in the cards.  — Kenji

This hand-blown and -etched mixing glass from Japan looks stunning on a bar cart and even better in action, whether you're stirring a Negroni, a Martini, or a Manhattan. Mixing glasses made from two parts joined together sometimes split at the seam, but this version, made in one piece with a beaker-like spout, can stand up to heavy use.  — Maggie

If her first two books are any indication, Nancy Singleton Hachisu is poised to become the Julia Child of traditional Japanese home cooking. In this, her second book, she tackles the deeply fascinating—and even more delicious—world of Japanese preserving. From easy pickles made by packing foods in miso (kabocha squash! eggs! apple pears!) to homemade miso, salt-rubbed vegetables, and air-dried fish, this should be the next frontier in all of Mom's home preservation undertakings. I'm getting excited just thinking about it.  — Daniel

High-quality Swedish steel and Japanese design, along with great features like a perfectly balanced handle and blade and an ergonomic bolster, make the Misono UX10 Santoku the most-used knife in my arsenal.  — Kenji

These wine glasses feel fancy enough for Mom's most elegant dinner party—and she can just throw them in the dishwasher after, which is a pretty rare attribute. I've had a few sets for five years now, and have found them remarkably sturdy.  — Maggie

These stoneware casserole dishes get pulled out, filled, and popped into the oven at least once a week at my house. They're great-looking on the table and provide gentle, even cooking all around for really nice, crisp edges on your lasagna.  — Kenji

I have a problem with wooden spoons. I collect them like nobody's business. But there are a few I always turn back to, and this one, from Le Creuset, is one of them. It's gorgeous to look at; it has a flat front, which makes it great for scraping up fond or stirring vegetables; and it's got a smooth, ergonomic grip that makes using it a joy.  — Kenji

Heavy-duty kitchen towels have a tendency to accrue big, ugly stains. That's why it's nice to keep a separate set of more attractive towels for gentle drying, transporting too-hot-to-handle serving dishes, and lining bread baskets. These colorful, summery tea towels instantly brighten any kitchen or tabletop while still doing a standup job at the tasks they were made for.  — Niki

No pasta machine? No problem. This book is devoted to the art of handcrafted Italian dumplings, from yeasty spindle-shaped cecamariti to classic gnocchi to golden-brown parallelograms of deep-fried crescentine. If the adage "practice makes perfect" fills your mom with excitement rather than dread, this is the kind of book that will make her utterly determined to prevail.  — Niki

I can't tell you how many times I've burned bread crumbs or forgotten about the nuts I've been toasting in the oven. But that was all before I got myself a couple of these easy-to-use, loud kitchen timers that I can hang around my neck, so I never forget about something in the kitchen, even if I leave the room.  — Kenji

Manhattan chef Jody Williams's Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food, is as charming and inviting as the restaurant that inspired it. This is a book to get greasy and damp as you cook through its pages, and it's a nightstand read, dreamy and warm, to flip through as you wind down. Channeling a traditional French bistro, with a bit of Italy and a touch of New York thrown in, the recipes are classics, both inspirational and totally doable. Some are so simple that they hardly count as recipes at all—they're more like suggestions for how to better your day with a plate of food, from breakfast through dessert after a lingering, late-night supper. Perfect for your impossibly, effortlessly stylish mother.  — Serious Eats Staff

It may sound nuts to mail-order cornmeal and grits, given that they're found on any supermarket shelf. But I'd argue that you haven't experienced the best cornbread, grits, or other classic Southern dishes until you've had them made with the kind of high-quality stuff Anson Mills is selling. It'll change how you understand those foods and what they can be.  — Daniel

Sack-like contemporary aprons may do the job, but they’re far from flattering. This ‘50s-style cut, on the other hand, is the kind of apron I wish I could wear out on the town—it’s colorful, lightweight, and fitted for equal parts comfort, function, and fashion.  — Niki

Salad servers should be functional, but it doesn't hurt to have a set that actually looks good on your table. This olivewood duo is sturdy and durable, with a warm, lustrous finish and natural woodgrain pattern that's complemented by smooth, polka-dotted bone handles.  — Niki

This is the electric kettle of my coffee-delayed dreams. It has an elegant gooseneck spout that makes pouring a thin, controlled stream easy (very helpful for Chemex and other pourover coffee methods), and a base with controls that allow you to set a specific temperature and hold it there.  — Daniel

My good friend and former Food & Wine coworker, Kristin Donnelly, runs this awesome lip balm company called Stewart & Claire with her husband, Phil. Every lip balm she makes uses great ingredients that you wouldn't hesitate to smear all over your mouth, but even cooler are the scents she comes up with, many of them inspired by foods and cocktails. Recently she teamed up with the talented folks at Death & Co, a great NYC cocktail bar, to develop three limited-edition scents. I've been walking around with "Smoky" in my back pocket for the past couple of months: It's inspired by the smoky scent of Scotch and mezcal cocktails, using smoked olive oil, along with citrus and spice notes, to achieve that effect. It's like a mezcal Negroni or Rob Roy for your lips, but subtle enough to sit under your nose all day.  — Daniel

I've never been to Zahav, the Philadelphia restaurant where Michael Solomov serves his Israeli cuisine, but its namesake book has nevertheless changed the way I cook. If Mom still cooks the occasional meal for you, you might point her toward the hummus tahini, which includes a novel technique for incorporating garlic and lemon that alone is worth the price of admission. I've loved the Yemenite beef soup (and the accompanying hot sauce), his wide focus on vegetarian-friendly dishes, and a host of homemade condiments that will elevate almost any meal, even if you don't follow full recipes from the book.  — Kenji

How much praise can I throw at a Le Creuset Dutch oven? This is a piece of cookware that Mom will use for everything, including serving at the table, and then she won't want to put it away because she just likes looking at it. This is a workhorse of the kitchen. Yes, it costs a lot. But things that are built to last a lifetime despite daily use usually do.  — Daniel

Woks are the best tool for stir-frying if you want to get that distinctly smoky wok hei flavor, but they're also versatile vessels that you can use for braising, deep-frying, or even indoor smoking.  — Kenji

I eat a lot more vegetables than meat these days, so my paring knife sees more and more use in the kitchen. This one from Wüsthof is a classic, with solid blade and handle construction, a full tang for strength and durability, and a razor-sharp edge to make trimming, peeling, and dicing vegetables a snap.  — Kenji

I don't know if there's a book about cooking that I've thought about more than this one by Tamar Adler, a former Chez Panisse cook who was once an editor at Harper's Magazine. It's about cooking simply, and enjoying the simple meals that naturally follow from one another if you begin to think of your ingredients in cycles. We forget, sometimes, that the leftover stems from blanched broccoli are wonderful cooked with olive oil and piled on toast, that their cooking liquid could be the base of a soup, that the stems of greens like Swiss chard and kale make a lovely pesto. She reminds us that stale bread can make something delicious and that yesterday's bean broth could be the start of a pasta dish today. I read this book over and over again to help myself remember that dinner doesn't always need to be a big deal.  — Maggie

The Cadillac of kitchen thermometers is indispensable when roasting meat, cooking steaks, making candy, deep-frying, or at any other time precise temperature control is needed. With a big display and a blazing-fast measuring time of under two seconds, you won't find a better, easier-to-use thermometer out there.  — Kenji

A good carbon steel pan has many of the qualities that make cast iron great—it's durable, it forms a completely nonstick surface if cared for properly, and it's inexpensive—but it's lighter and easier to maneuver, making it great for sautéing and searing everyday foods.  — Kenji

Coffee and tea just feel more luxurious in this pretty handmade mug from Portland's Mazama Wares. I love the satiny, soft-colored glazes and find the handle particularly comfortable. They also stack nicely thanks to an unfinished tapered section at the base of each mug.  — Maggie

A good digital scale is an essential tool for bakers or home charcuterie makers. The OXO Food Scale comes with an easy-to-clean removable stainless steel weighing surface, great accuracy and precision, and a pull-out backlit display to make measuring easy, even for large or unwieldy items.  — Kenji

A good pair of kitchen shears is one of those things that are hard to appreciate until you have them. Sure, there are all the obvious uses, like opening food packages with a snip and cutting up poultry, but that's just the start. Take another look at those things. Yes, that's right, they're also a nutcracker. Aha, yup, and a bottle opener. Did you see the flathead screwdriver built into them? Handy, right? Oh, they can also be used to unscrew stubborn jar tops. They're way more than just a pair of scissors. Plus, the two blades come fully apart, so you can wash them really well—no icky chicken juice hiding in the recesses. Isn't avoiding salmonella poisoning a gift worth giving?  — Daniel

Lightweight and virtually unbreakable, melamine can be super convenient for outdoor entertaining or big parties. Unfortunately, it's not always super attractive. That's why I'm so in love with these plates, which look like hand-painted ceramic, with the weight and heft of, well, plastic. Plus, I get complimented for them all the time.  — Niki

If your mom is into DIY and has a bit of a sweet tooth, she really should own an ice cream maker. Homemade ice cream tastes better than almost anything you can buy in a store, and it's a snap to make. This ice cream maker, from Cuisinart, is all the gear she needs: an easy-to-use workhorse that makes delicious ice cream every time. The simple construction means that there are few moving parts to break, and the wide mouth at the top makes it easy to add mix-ins and scoop out the ice cream when it's at its fresh, creamy best.  — Serious Eats Staff

If you're following my advice to buy your Mom some julep cups, you might as well go all the way and grab a canvas Lewis bag as well: It's used to smash ice into a fine powder with a mallet. Unless, of course, she already owns an ice crusher.  — Daniel

Published on what would have been the late British author’s 100th birthday, Elizabeth David’s On Vegetables will teach you how a bag of grocery store onions can be transformed into an unforgettable roasted side dish, and how some fresh shelled peas can yield the most vibrant soup you’ve ever tasted. Filled with recipes that are simple, straightforward, yet often revelatory, this book also features a few of David’s best essays, as well as gorgeous photography.  — Keith

On more than one occasion, I've been tempted to try out the cool new pepper mill on the block, but none of the ones I've used have held up over time. That's why I've settled on a good old classic, a wooden Peugeot pepper mill. The steel burrs last and deliver whatever grind I want, from fine-as-silt to chunky and coarse.  — Daniel

A good bench scraper is one of those tools people don't think they need until they start using it. I use it for everything from transferring chopped vegetables or herbs from one place to another, to portioning dough, to giving my cutting board a quick clean. Next to my chef's knife, the bench scraper is the tool you'll see in my hand most often.  — Kenji

Whether I'm making a puréed soup directly in the pot, a batch of 2-Minute Mayonnaise (or 2-Minute Hollandaise), or whipping up a single serving of whipped cream, the hand blender is the easiest way to get there. The great power on this one, from Cuisinart, gives you the best bang for your buck.  — Kenji

In the inexpensive-thermometer department, the ThermoPop is the new kid on the block, but he comes in an impressive package. An easy-to-read display rotates at the touch of a button, so you don't have to twist your head to read it. It takes a few seconds longer to read temperatures than its big brother, the Thermapen, but it's every bit as accurate.  — Kenji

I don't often recommend single-function items, but for the cocktail enthusiast, a couple of julep cups really are fun to have. There's nothing like holding that metal cup frosted with ice on a blisteringly hot summer day—glass just doesn't pull the effect off in the same way. If your Mom doesn't have an ice crusher, check out my Lewis bag suggestion as well.  — Daniel

Another essential kitchen tool, the Microplane grater does fine grating work way better than those tiny, raspy holes on a box grater. Whether you're quickly grating fresh nutmeg or cinnamon, taking the zest off a lemon, or turning a clove of garlic into a fine purée, the Microplane is the tool to reach for.  — Daniel

They may not come in the most festive or glamorous packaging, but you can't go wrong with Effie's Oatcakes. Buttery, crumbly, nutty, and salty-sweet, they're insanely addictive. Case in point: I've eaten three in the last 10 minutes. My advice? Purchase them in bulk so you can give a few packages to Mom and hoard the rest for yourself.  — Niki

A bean is a bean is a bean. Or is it? We promise that once she gets started, Mom will fall in love with high quality, freshly-dried beans, and their vast variety of flavors, textures, and colors. Some are starchy, some are nutty, some are earthy, and some are slightly sweet. Rancho Gordo is one company that sells some really cool ones to try.  — Daniel

Based in Lafayette, Louisiana, the La Canne company makes flavored sugars that are sure to give added depth to everything from baked goods to Mom's morning coffee. Flavors include ginger, lavender, and pecan smoked sugar, which is smoked over real pecan shells.  — Keith

These days, I keep this solid slab of steel permanently atop one of the burners of my stove. One side has a pebbled surface—ideal for getting extra-crisp, better-than-a-baking-stone crust on homemade pizzas. And unlike a baking stone, this thing is going to last forever. The griddle arrives as shiny steel, but with just a few uses, it seasons up into a dark, slick nonstick surface that Mom can use for everything from pancakes to eggs to hamburgers to grilled cheese.  — Kenji

Native to Cincinnati, Ohio, goetta (pronounced "get-a") is a sublime beef and pork sausage made with steel-cut oats (as opposed to the cornmeal used in its close cousin, scrapple). Glier's is one of the biggest and best producers of the German-style pork product. Just slice it, fry it, and serve it for the ultimate Mother's Day brunch with eggs and toast.  — Keith

If you're looking to give your mom the one definitive primer on pasta-making in its myriad forms, this is it: Superlative step-by-step photographs take the guesswork out of potentially intimidating fundamentals like mixing and kneading dough, as well as more intricate tasks, like pleating teardrops of corn- and cheese-stuffed culurgiònes. Better yet, Vetri arms you with the tools and knowledge that allow for controlled, intelligent experimentation and exploration before sending you into the fray.  — Niki

Calling all lovers of bittersweet drinks! In terms of flavor, Barolo Chinato is somewhere between vermouth and amaro, but the best chinati are more delicious than either of those. Even the fanciest vermouths are usually made with a basic, cheap white wine, while the base for Barolo Chinato is certified DOCG Barolo wine—that is, 100% Nebbiolo from the Barolo region in Piedmont, which is then mixed with an infusion of herbs, spices, and bittering agents. I love this one from Cappellano.  — Maggie

This epic set of stainless steel pastry tips is perfect for the home baker with professional-grade aspirations...or the food-enthused, arts-and-craftsy Mom in your life. With this kit in hand, nothing but practice stands between her and gorgeous piped flowers, leaves, stars, and beyond.  — Niki

A New York Times best-seller! The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt is his eponymous Serious Eats column on this very website, blown up to 900+ pages (and 7+ pounds) of concentrated culinary science. Gorgeous color photos, detailed how-tos, and elaborate explainers cover ingredients, technique, gear, and the secrets of the universe underneath it all. May include puns.  — Serious Eats Staff

This isn't your standard hot cocoa: it's a rich drinking chocolate mix, made from organic, 74% cacao single-plantation chocolate from the Dominican Republic and 68% cacao wild-harvested chocolate from Bolivia. Whisk the ground chocolate with warm milk for an intense cocoa experience: It's silky and deep, with hints of orange zest, cinnamon, and juicy berries, tempered by a subtly bitter edge.  — Maggie

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