As with Mother's Day, we're expecting Father's Day to look a little bit different this year. Many families may be keeping gatherings small or won't be getting together at all, which is all the more reason to make this year's gift a little extra special.
To that end, I've included lots of fun tools and equipment that make futzing in the kitchen even more fun. And, since the way to most people's hearts will always be through their stomach, I included lots of tasty treats, too. Some are small and some are splurgy, but all of them will make any dad smile.
For Cooking, Baking, and Grilling
There is nothing—and I mean nothing!—more fun for my dad than a doohickey to futz with. One that makes fire? Well, that's really the doohickey to end them all. Of course, high-output torches are no toy. They can be extremely dangerous and should be used according to their instructions. If dad can handle that, then he has wok hei to achieve, crème brûlées to brûlée, and lots of steak to char.
Whether he likes his time in front of the grill or prefers cooking meat indoors, dad will love a good, sharp carving knife. This one was the winner in our review of the best carving knives. It's balanced, comfortable, and flexible—and it carves through meat like butter. It may not be an absolutely essential knife, but it's undoubtedly useful.
Belgian Waffle Maker
If your dad is a breakfast guy, there's no better way to upgrade his mornings than with a good-quality waffle maker. Trust us: A good waffle iron is the difference between soggy, sad waffles and crisp-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside ones just begging for maple syrup. Speaking of maple syrup, make sure he has the good stuff at home. No one wants perfect waffles paired with brown corn syrup. No one!
This ThermoWorks thermometer has long been a favorite of ours for everything from backyard barbecues to holiday feasts. It offers two probes so dad can monitor the temperature of whatever he's cooking and the ambient temperature of his oven, smoker, or grill. Plus, a wireless remote will let him monitor the temps up to 300 feet away, so he can cook and chill on the couch at the same time.
Cast Iron Combo Cooker
If your dad has recently embraced the bread life, consider picking him up a cast iron combo cooker. The cast iron means that once the cooker is pre-heated, it'll stay intensely hot for the entirety of your bake, and the snug-fitting parts help to create a nice steam chamber, which helps give your bread a crackly crust (without the cost of a professional bread oven).
Meat Grinder Attachment
Whether or not your dad can participate in grilling season—we see you, apartment dads—he can expect a vastly superior burger if he simply grinds his own meat. This grinder attaches to a KitchenAid stand mixer for super-simple at-home grinding. Then all he needs is a killer recipe.
Ice Cream Machine
Warm weather calls for ice cream. That's why grabbing an ice cream machine for dad is a very good idea. With his own machine, he can make his way through all of our ice cream recipes. They may even be better than his local ice cream truck.
The doohickies continue, this time with a food dehydrator. With this big boy, dad can experiment with all sorts of dehydrating, whether he wants to make his own jerky or replicate Trader Joe's dried mangoes.
Mortar and Pestle
There is no question that grinding up your own herbs, spices, and pestos makes for more a vibrant flavor. A mortar and pestle (plus some elbow grease) can make quick work of all of that—in an attractive, counter-friendly package to boot. While there are lots of different mortar and pestles out there, we prefer this Thai granite model because its stone-on-stone action can break down even the most fibrous ingredients.
End-Grain Cutting Board
There are a lot of cutting boards out there, but only some stand the test of time. In our review of the best wooden cutting boards, the end-grain model from The BoardSmith came out on top for its quality, durability, and ability to protect your knives. And if your dad is a *real* Serious Eats fan, you can grab him a custom Serious Eats cutting board, complete with our logo and custom specs direct from our culinary team.
Owning a scale will do wonders for any dad who loves to cook and bake. This one by OXO has long been a favorite of our team because it's easy to clean, it's incredibly accurate, and it has a pull-out display to make weighing simple even if you're using a big bowl.
Detroit-Style Pizza Pan
Perhaps dad hasn't been able to get out much to enjoy a slice from his favorite pizza joint. No matter: He can make his own at home. For crispy, chewy, perfect Detroit-style pizza that's loaded with brick cheese and pepperoni, he'll need a deep rectangular pan like this one.
It was Sasha who first brought the Chef's Press to our attention and now we can't get enough of them. More specifically, I can't get enough of them. I use mine several days a week to weigh down steak for the perfect sear, to get cheese extra melty in quesadillas, to get my hash all charred, etc. What's more, Chef's Presses are small (for dads with limited kitchen space) and affordable (for those of us who don't want to spend an arm and a leg on a present). I'm planning on sending a few to my dad and highly recommend you do as well.
One Serious Eats dad, Sho Spaeth, wrote a whole love letter to his honesuki knife. With light points, heavy blades, and single-beveled edges, these sleek little Japanese knives make cutting between joints and slicing through flesh and skin a breeze. If your dad is into butchering or if he wants to learn, this knife will quickly become his go-to.
Outdoor Pizza Oven
If you're looking to do a little splurge for your dad and are moderately competitive with your siblings, this outdoor pizza oven is a sure bet for child of the year. We recommend several different pizza ovens, and this newer Ooni model will make any pizza obsessive very, very happy.
For the Home
For those of us who have spent a whole lot more time at home over the past year, it has become apparent that more time at home means more mess. That's why treating dad to an actually good vacuum would be a very nice gesture. This handheld model from Dyson has all that Dyson power with a long, thin attachment to get all those crumbs from behind the oven and between cabinets.
It wasn't abundantly clear, I am obsessed with my Aerogarden. It has allowed me to grow a true bounty of herbs (and even cherry tomatoes) in my small Brooklyn apartment. It requires minimal effort and returns maximum plant-parent pride. For any dad who has an unexercised green thumb or black thumb for that matter, an Aerogarden will provide him endless entertainment and better-tasting food.
Another office dad, Daniel Gritzer, has written at length about why you should own a salt pig, and this one by Bee House is his new favorite. Unlike other salt pigs that have wide openings (for crumbs and drips to get in), this one features a nice cypress top to keep your salt fresh for whenever you need it.
Hey! How did headphones get onto this gift guide? Well, you can blame Daniel once again for that. I'm just going to let him speak for these ones.
"I know, this doesn't seem like much of a cooking rec. But I've been using these in the kitchen more than I would have ever guessed. First, they're wireless, which is an important safety consideration when cooking: wired headphones can snag and pull on pots, knives, cabinet handles, and more. But they're also bone-conduction headphones, which means they don't block your hearing, instead sending the sound vibrations through your skull. This, to me, is key, because cooking isn't just a visual exercise—sounds matter, too. I can tell by the sizzle in a pan whether onions are about to burn or a steak isn't cooking hard enough, not to mention a potential hazard like a pot boiling over or a person passing behind me. This is the only solution I've found that allows me to listen to safely listen to whatever I want while cooking and still hear everything that's going on around me."
If you haven't been leaving home too often, a good cooler can still be remarkably useful. Sho uses his to store drinks that otherwise take up a lot of space in the fridge. And if dad does want to have a barbecue or leave the house, he can take his cooler with him, filled with all the drinks and meats and cheeses he could want for a tasty backyard party of one.
Maybe dad needs some new recipes. For something to inspire and look good on the shelf, we recommend without reservation two new books from two of our very talented contributors. The first is The Arabesque Table: Contemporary Recipes from the Arab World by Reem Kasis. In her pages, you’ll find 130 gorgeous recipes that run the gamut from traditional to contemporary, like Makmoora (a chicken and pint nut pot pie) and tahini cheesecake.
There’s also The Flavor Equation by our food science columnist, Nik Sharma, which offers meticulously tested recipes, beautiful photos, and the information you need to make really, really good food.
Excellent Fish Delivered
E-Fish is a relatively new mail order fish service—beloved by two Serious Eats staff dads—that connects retail customers/home cooks directly with specific "harvesters" of fish and shellfish from across the country. Once you put an order in, it goes straight to the relevant harvester—mackerel orders to a fisherman in Maine, say, or fresh anchovy orders to a small outfit based in San Francisco—and if they end up catching what you've ordered, the product is shipped to you overnight. Having sampled products from E-Fish's various harvesters, our team was very impressed by the freshness of the products, but the kind of seafood was even more impressive. Sustainably farmed abalone? Beautiful lingcod? The aforementioned anchovies? These aren't commonly found at your local supermarket.
Tons of Pasta
When it comes to food gifts, I always turn to Gustiamo, an online marketplace for good-quality Italian ingredients—including five-pound bags of pasta. Gifting one to dad will work double-duty, allowing him to avoid the crowded grocery store and explore our many Italian pasta sauce recipes.
Tons of Olive Oil
This recommendation comes from our social media manager, Jina. Her dad is an olive oil fanatic and nerds out especially to California olive oils. She's picking him up a big container from Séka Hills for Father's Day. If you're also looking to treat dad to some good olive oil, be sure to read our guide to spotting the good stuff.
Really Good Bacon
If I could be with my dad on Father's Day, I am confident we'd kick things off with a bunch of crispy bacon. Since we won't be together, I'm planning on sending him some from D'Artagnan. Maybe we'll cook it over FaceTime. More slices for us both!
If your dad is working on his spice cabinet, I highly suggest picking up a jar of silk chili from Burlap & Barrel. This particular chili comes from Kahramanmaras, Turkey, and is botanically identical to the Aleppo pepper. I love it because it's not too hot—just warm enough with some roasty tomato flavor. I add it to all sorts of dishes, from Kenji's crispy kale hash to Daniel's vodka sauce.
After a long day, there is nothing better than pouring yourself a glass of wine and enjoying some good cheese, especially when it's really good cheese. Such is the case for this vacche rosse from Gustiamo, which Sho describes as "so, so, so buttery and good, and well worth the price." Dad can eat it on its own or grate it into anything that might call for Parmesan, which is just about everything.
Even More Cheese
So maybe one hunk of cheese isn't enough, and for that, we recommend creating your own gift basket from Jasper Hill. Beyond cheese (a massive selection), you can add all the right fixins, like dried fruit–studded crackers, honey, maple syrup, pickles, salami, and even little accessories, like a cheese spreaders and beeswax wrap for leftovers. That way, dad can have a nice spread to celebrate his day—maybe he'll even invite you over.
Good Grape Jelly
My dad eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at least once a week. And he keeps it really classic. Jiff peanut butter and Smucker's grape jelly. While he prides himself on being a traditionalist, I'm going to take a risk this year and send him some fancy grape jelly. This one is made from Zibibbo, a large grape that's native to North Africa and Pantelleria (a small island in the Mediterranean). When it's cooked down, it's sweet and tangy, a perfect foil for that supermarket peanut butter I'm sure my dad will use.
All the Mala
Mala Market is an excellent resource for Sichuan pantry staples, like dried chiles, doubanjiang, chile-broad bean paste, and Sichuan peppercorns. A gift box with all the essentials will keep dad busy (and tingly!) in the kitchen, as he makes bang bang chicken and mapo tofu. Better yet, pair this package with Fuchsia Dunlop's freshly updated book, The Food of Sichuan for an immersive Sichuan cooking experience.
New York's Most Fabulous Hot Sauce
If dad is working on his hot sauce collection, then Shaquanda's Hot Pepper Sauce deserves space on the shelf. We met founder Andre Springer last year and got a behind-the-scenes look at his hot sauce set-up. His line of four fiery sauces pay homage to Andre's Brooklyn upbringing, his family’s Barbadian roots, and his identity as a drag queen.