Finding an ideal gift is tough! What do you give the home cook who already has a well-stocked kitchen? The friend who drinks coffee at a mildly concerning rate? The parent who semi-consistently undercooks poultry (...that might just be my dad)? Well, that's where we come in!
The Serious Eats editors are here with their picks for gadgets and gear they loved this year (or have already given as gifts)—and that would make great presents for any home cook on your list. Whether it's an incredibly accurate instant-read thermometer, a precise scale for brewing or baking, or an apron that's as functional as it is flashy, here are 15 of our favorite gift-worthy items of 2021, according to our editors.
Thermoworks Thermapen ONE
This is actually what I'll be gifting my dad (he already knows!). After an unfortunate undercooked chicken incident earlier this year that resulted in dinner absolutely being ruined, I was astounded to learn my dad didn't own an instant-read thermometer—especially because he swore he'd buy one after the last time he undercooked poultry. So, this year, he's getting a Thermapen ONE from me. It's the newest Thermapen from ThermoWorks (replacing Serious Eats' longtime favorite, the Mk4). The ONE features a stunningly fast one-second response time and is incredibly accurate. Truly, it's a fantastic gift for any home cook or baker. – Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, Commerce Editor
Made In Stainless Clad Saucier
We love a good saucier here at Serious Eats. Its gently sloping bottom sides remove the hard angle of most saucepans, making whisking and stirring easier and allowing you to toss as well. Our go-to size is 3 quarts. And while Made In's larger, 5-quart version is not currently in stock, it absolutely kills when making bigger batches of...just about anything. It's heavier and way more expensive than the aluminum "pasta pan" I've recommended, but the stainless steel exterior makes it non-reactive (hello long-simmered tomato sauces!) and dishwasher-safe, resulting in a versatile pan that is perfect for larger batches of risotto and pasta. However, I think you'll be happy with either size saucier. – Daniel Gritzer, Culinary Director
OXO 4-Piece Mini POP Container Set
OK, it's not exactly the sexiest of gifts, but if anyone got me a set (or three) more of these, I'd be thrilled. They're perfect for miscellaneous dried pastas, candies, and spices, among 3183218093 other things. Pop whatever you're looking to store in at peak freshness and feel free to forget about it until practically whenever; you'll come back to an identical product. - Tess Koman, Senior Editorial Director
Five Two Compostable Sponge Cleaning Cloths
The first time I went to Sweden on assignment I picked up a couple of reusable sponge-like dish towels at a design-centered store, largely because I liked the illustrations on them and they were inexpensive. Little did I know that this type of towel would become one of the most essential items in our kitchen, and that we would end up acquiring—not an exaggeration—literally dozens of them. They're incredible for counters and fixtures, and because they're wide and flat like a paper towel, but absorbant and reusable like a sponge, we've dramatically reduced our paper towel usage, which both saves us money and is environmentally friendly. They also dry rapidly, which returns them to their original, cardboard-like state, and helps to keep them from getting that rancid "I think the sponge has gone bad" smell. And if they do begin to take on an odor, you can pop them in a washing machine and they'll be good as new. – Jacob Dean, Updates EditorContinue to 5 of 15 below.
Williams Sonoma Double-Wall Glass Tall Coffee Mugs
I couldn't tell you why exactly I became obsessed with these mugs over the past 1.5 years I've owned them, but they're delightful. Actually, I can tell you exactly why: They're (1) pretty, (2) gently bougie, and (3) unusual enough that coworkers will continually try to guess what you're drinking each time you break one out during a Zoom meeting. The answer is always "coffee," of course, but it's still a fun game to play. – Tess
Lodge Pre-Seasoned 10.25-Inch Skillet
This is my go-to, default gift for most things—be it a housewarming or holiday. A great cast iron skillet is really the gift that keeps on giving for, literally, years and years. Shallow-frying, pan-roasting, making skillet cornbread: It can do that, that, that, and more. Plus, this skillet's just $18. You really can't go wrong for the price. – Riddley
OXO BREW Precision Scale with Timer
I saw this new-ish scale from OXO at my cousin's over Thanksgiving, and was impressed by its compact size. They sell it as a "Brew" scale for coffee, and it does lend itself to that thanks to an added timer, but really it can be used to weigh anything. OXO's scales have always performed well in our equipment tests, so if you or a loved one is living with limited space, this is a good scale to consider. – Daniel
DEX FIT Level 5 Cut Resistant Gloves
I'm going to try to atone for my sin of having previously said that a wadded up kitchen towel was sufficient protection from being maimed by a mandoline slicer by suggesting these gloves. They are the perfect gift for anyone who uses a mandoline slicer for anything. They're also inexpensive, and can easily be stuffed into a medium-sized stocking. However, their greatest quality is they may save you a trip to the emergency room, and possibly a fingertip or two. – Sho Spaeth, Editor
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Lark Handmade Porcelain State Platter
I've gotten one of these for three stupidly-difficult-to-shop-for friends whose only common threads are loving food and thinking merely being from their respective states is a personality trait and...it's been a gigantic and super fun hit each time. No matter the state, the platter is easy to grip and provides much more surface area for food than you'd think. To be clear, if they ever debuted a New Jersey version, I'd buy the whole stock. – Tess
Hedley & Bennett Crossback Apron
I prepare two kinds of dinners in my home: single bowl meals suitable for eating on the couch, or elaborate, multi-course affairs which take all day to cook and mercilessly crush guests with an avalanche of food. It's that second category, which I've titled "Shock and Awe Meals," which made me turn to Hedley & Bennett's crossback-style apron. It's perfect for people—enthusiasts and professionals alike—who either cook all day, or are simply irritated by having a traditional apron yolk sitting against the back of their neck. Instead, this model's straps sit on your shoulders, alleviating pressure and the build up of neck sweat (a real problem!). It's also thoughtfully designed with variously sized pockets, a hip loop for a dish towel, and is made from attractive, durable fabric. I own the Bordeaux-colored version, which I find to be particularly good looking, and which is just dark enough that it doesn't broadcast to the world when I've spilled something on myself. – Jacob
Qinline Reusable Food Storage Bags
This is definitely more of a practical gift rather than something that leaves a twinkle in their eyes, but these bags are a great way to spread the sustainable cheer. Since I’ve bought them, I’ve significantly cut down on my use of plastic Ziploc bags—which is both good for the environment and my wallet. The different sizes are great for storing a variety of food, whether it’s half an onion leftover from cooking or a meaty sandwich you’re packing for lunch. They’re also freezer safe and super easy to clean—just wash them with a sponge and let them air dry. It’s a simple gift with a big impact all around. – Yasmine Maggio, Assistant Editor
The Serious Eats Holiday Gift Box
You really can't go wrong with gifting someone a curated box of top-notch pantry items. And that's exactly what this Gustiamo box is! Gustiamo is a longtime favorite retailer of ours, specializing in Italian goods. And the Serious Eats team hand-picked all of the items in the box, including tomato concentrate, olive oil, pistachio spread, and more. — Riddley
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Bormioli Rocco Bodega Glassware Set
Whenever I catch wind that a friend or family member needs any kind of glassware, these are my go-to. They’re affordable, easy to use, and un-fussy. They’re a casual way to serve wine or sip low-volume cocktails (speaking from personal experience, a Negroni will fit!). They stack nicely, so you can keep a lot of glasses with a small footprint. And I love their sleek and clean look. – Jina Stanfill, Social Media Editor
E-Fish Fish and Shellfish
If I were to pick a gift-giving camp, I think I'd like to be in the one that doles out experiences rather than objects. It's very tough for me to buy things for people that aren't strictly utliitarian (my other suggestion for this gift guide is cut-resistant gloves!), but I think most people will like and appreciate a tray of uni. E-Fish has some of the best quality seafood I've ever bought in the United States, and the kinds of seafood they sell aren't your run-of-the-mill fish counter stuff. The mackerel, from Maine, is so fresh you could, if you wanted, eat it raw (please do some research before you try this, it carries a high risk of foodborne illness). Working my way through a couple pounds of their fish was one of the highlights of this last dismal year. If you've got the scratch, the live abalone is exquisite, and a very memorable treat. Of course, if you're buying these things for someone else, keep in mind that they'll take some preparation, so you'll have to prepare it for them unless they're game to figure out what they can do with pounds of the freshest seafood out there. – Sho
Hot coffee gone cold is really not my thing. That's where the Ember Mug comes in. This smart mug connects to an app on your phone, where you can set your ideal coffee temperature (mine is 135˚F). Once you pour your brewed coffee into the Ember, the mug lets the coffee cool down to this preset temp and then keeps it there for more than an hour. Seriously, coffee stays piping hot down to the last sip. The Ember comes in some fun colors, too, like copper and gold. I gifted one to my mom for her birthday this year and she says she uses it every day, despite not being a smart gadget "person." – Riddley