Culina Stainless Steel Grilling Basket
A good grill basket should be durable, with a tight enough weave to allow very small foods to be cooked without risk of getting lost. Finally, it's worth hunting down one that's sizable enough to cook large batches of food in one go. One of our favorites is the simple Culina stainless steel basket. The metal mesh keeps even the smallest food items up on the grill grate where they belong. You can even toast or smoke nuts in it.
This meat cleaver has a well-balanced weight, sharp edge, and solid construction—a boon since a lot of more-affordable cleavers like this one feel very cheap and after repeat use get wobbly around the handle.
Messermeister Avanta Steak Knife Set
The Messermeister Avanta steak knives deliver premium performance at an unbeatable price. They are well-constructed, remarkably sharp, and very handsome.
Tojiro's santoku knife held its own throughout the testing. It feels a little chunkier in the hand than our top pick, and it cracked one slice of carrot before sailing through a dozen more slices without any problems. It's a well-made knife, offering an excellent money-to-quality ratio.
Benton's Country Ham
Benton's country ham is an exemplar of American charcuterie. We recommend the deboned and trimmed smoked ham (just $3 more than the whole smoked ham), but the cured, unsmoked ham is also fantastic. With shipping, it's about $90, which is still a steal when you consider the quality and quantity, and the fact that the trimmings can be used to make many, many super-smoky pots of beans. Fry slices up with brown sugar and brewed coffee, and eat them with a stack of parathas—trust us.
Stainless Steel Boning Knife
This knife is perfect for those who want to experiment with specialty Japanese blades without shelling out too much cash, or for those with aspirations of understanding how to make yakitori at home. Unlike a true honesuki, or Japanese poultry knife, this blade has a double-beveled assymetrical blade, so it is a little more multipurpose—it can be used for boning out poultry and other meats, and it can even be used for slicing and chopping in a pinch—and it is easier to maintain for novice knife sharpeners than a single-beveled blade. But it really shines at boning out chickens, and if you're used to using a flexibe western boning knife, it is nothing short of miraculous to experience the ease with which this knife's tip can maneuver around a bird's bones; it sometimes feels as if the knife is willing the bones to rise up out of the meat.
Leave-In Dual-Probe Thermometer
The Smoke is designed for grillers and barbecuers, but it’s a precise two-probe thermometer that can be calibrated and is just as handy indoors. Use the meat probe to gauge the temperature inside a roast and the ambient probe to track the smoker or grill’s temperature.
The Original Bear Paws Shredder Claws
In addition to making you look like Wolverine, shredder claws make quick work of pork butts (hello, pulled pork!), smoked chicken, smoked chuck roasts, and other meats, allowing you to tear the meat into shreds in no time. Sure, you could try doing it with forks, but you'd better have a lot of time on your hands.
Frankies 457 Olive Oil
Fancy olive oil always makes a good gift, but there's a difference between fancy olive oil and good fancy olive oil. The house oil from Frankies 457 Spuntino in Brooklyn is delicious (i.e., great on fresh bread and in dishes), is DOC certified, and comes in a chic tin that prevents light from spoiling the product.
Insightful (and very well-written) memoir by the elder statesman of food and cooking in the United States. From his early memories of picking salad for his mother to his recollection of eating raw clams on a Connecticut pier, the book shows how food is not just a passion or a career; food, for Jacques Pépin, is life.
Good Meat: The Complete Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Meat
This 400-page guide to meat may be focused on sustainability and local eating, but that doesn't make it any less comprehensive. Krasner goes deep on all the basics of meat, including beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and more, offering anatomy charts, buying tips, basics on animal husbandry, and, of course, plenty of recipes.
Incredible Beef Ribs
Louie Mueller's beef ribs are so good, we feel comfortable comparing them to Aaron Franklin's brisket. These gargantuan specimens of flesh and bone give new meaning to fall-off-the-bone-tender, and they have such a concentrated beefy flavor, you'll think you're eating beef confit (which, in a way, you are). How big are they? One rib feeds two people, easily.
High-Tech Propane Grill
If you're looking for proof that the future of grilling involves technology, look no further than Weber's Genesis II line of gas grills, which come preconfigured with a dedicated spot for the installation of their latest iGrill3 Bluetooth-enabled digital thermometer. This speaks volumes to us, because a mass-market brand as big as Weber has never before built this kind of tech right into the grill itself. The signal is clear: Weber believes better temperature-monitoring technology is the future of grilling.
Char-Griller Kamado Smoker
The Akorn is a double-walled, insulated steel egg that is much lighter and in some ways more durable than the popular Big Green Egg. It performs fairly close to traditional kamados at a fraction of the cost, so you can spend your saved bucks on getting some great meat.
Lighter fluid is fun to play with, but it can impart an off flavor to your food. A chimney starter is faster, cleaner, more efficient, and better for the environment. It's a tall metal cylinder with holes punched in it and a grate at the bottom for holding the charcoal. It works with the power of convection: When a lit newspaper is placed at the bottom, igniting the lowest coals, the hot air rises up, pulling fresh oxygen in through the vent holes and through the bottom. This constant supply of fresh oxygen, coupled with the fact that the metal efficiently reflects heat back toward the coals, means you require nothing more than a single piece of newspaper and a match to turn a full six quarts of coals into a roaring inferno within 20 minutes.
D'Artagnan Porcelet Shoulder
It can be hard to find skin-on, bone-in pork shoulders for roasting, but luckily D'Artagnan has got us all covered with their fantastic porcelet shoulder. We think everyone should ditch the tired holiday spiral ham this year, and slow-roast a milk-fed piglet shoulder instead. We promise it won't disappoint.
Work Sharp Ken Onion Knife Sharpener
We've long enjoined home cooks to learn to sharpen their knives on a whetstone. But we've finally come to admit that it's just not realistic for most people. The learning curve required, plus the need to do it frequently to maintain the muscle memory, makes it unlikely most home cooks will ever get good at it. Sadly, most home knife sharpeners suck, making it difficult to offer any alternative aside from finding a good knife-sharpening service. But after using this sharpener, we've been converted. It's not the absolute simplest to use, but once you learn its features, it will give you by far the best sharpening job most people will probably ever get at home, and it rivals (and, truthfully, even bests) the quality many sharpening services deliver.
KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment
The great thing about buying a meat grinder attachment is that you already know that the hardest-working part of your grinder—the motor—is going to be a workhorse that can power through even the toughest grinding projects. Stand mixer attachments are a great option if you make a lot of sausage. You can grind the meat directly into the processor bowl, then attach the bowl to the machine and immediately start mixing it with the paddle to develop protein. It's a real time-saver.
REC TEC Wood Pellet Grill
REC TEC offers high-quality pellet smokers featuring excellent digital controllers and sturdy construction. With a 40-pound pellet hopper, a 680-square-inch cook surface, and nine inches of headroom, the REC TEC 680 is a large, smartly constructed pellet smoker. It also looks awesome.
A Chinese-style cleaver is an all-purpose knife for the kitchen, just as good at carving up meat as it is at chopping vegetables. The large blade surface is quite useful for transferring chopped ingredients from your cutting board to a bowl or a pan, and is particularly efficient at smashing things, like garlic cloves and cucumbers. While they take some getting used to if all you've ever used is a Western chef's knife, once you get the hang of a Chinese-style cleaver, it can do almost anything a Western chef's knife can do. This knife is made from carbon steel, which needs to be cared for with a little more attention than stainless, but it's easier to sharpen and will hold its edge like a champ. A perfect gift for your knife-curious loved ones.
Breville Smoking Gun
Equipped with an assortment of wood chips, the Smoking Gun allows you to easily smoke anything indoors with just the flip of a switch. It's instant fun right out of the box.
Brooklyn Biltong Dried Beef
Biltong is a dried meat, similar to jerky, that hails from South Africa. As we understand it, the process is distinct from making jerky in that the meat is given a vinegar bath before drying, which gives the final product a slight tang. We got samples of Brooklyn Biltong's stuff a while back, and while we can't actually recommend the "Original" flavor, which is a little bland, the "Jo'burg Steakhouse" variety is addictive. The "Zulu Peri Peri" flavor ain't bad, either.
Mercer Culinary Genesis Chef's Knife
One of the more affordable options among the German-style knives tested, Mercer's Genesis chef's knife delivers good bang for the buck. The knife is quite a bit lighter than the Wüsthof Classic and has a grippy rubber-and-plastic handle that's comfortable to hold.
Louie Mueller's Brisket
Slow-smoked brisket is Texas's best-known contribution to barbecue culture, and, though you can now get it in just about every major city, you still need to go to the source to get brisket so good it will make you cry. But if you can't make it to Texas, ordering Louie Mueller's brisket is the next best thing—they ship the whole brisket, which means you get plenty of the critically important fatty half.
Messermeister Knife Case
Most professional cooks own a knife bag so they can tote their knives around from one job to another. But knife bags can be really useful storage options, as well. They're compact, they can hold many knives, and they can be moved around as needed, which means you don't necessarily need to have a dedicated knife drawer as long as you can find somewhere safe to stash your knives.
Perceval Steak Knife Set
The 9.47 knife was designed by a former Michelin-starred chef, and, unsurprisingly, it's a dream to cut with. While its modern, minimalist look isn't for everyone, there's no arguing with its performance.
Leave-In Probe Thermometer for Grilling
If you’re seriously into barbecuing pork butts, briskets, and ribs, the FireBoard is the brainiest thermometer we tested, aimed at making your cooking more predictable. The app enables you to name, chart, and store your smoking sessions, and the base has a port to accept a fan accessory, which controls the temperature of a smoker or charcoal grill by adjusting airflow.
Mercer Culinary Genesis Santoku
For great performance at a low cost, Mercer is killing it these days, and its santoku knife is no slouch on either front. One of the most affordable knives we tested, Mercer's blade outperformed many knives that cost more than twice as much. For the price, you might as well grab one—it's the perfect knife for guests who want to be helpful in the kitchen, but whom you don't trust with pricier blades.
The BoardSmith X Serious Eats End-Grain Cutting Board
The BoardSmith is a family-run company that makes some of our favorite wooden cutting boards. When the founder approached us about creating a custom Serious Eats cutting board, we couldn't say no. This model has nice handle grooves for easy maneuvering, and even a ruler, should you want to perfect your knife cuts.
Ruhlman and Polcyn do a great job of demystifying one of the more abstruse cooking arts, and, while charcuterie may seem daunting, it can be gratifyingly easy. Start simple, with the pancetta, confit, rillettes, and duck prosciutto, and you'll find yourself with a mold-inoculated curing chamber in no time.
Kristina's mom's signature dish is her homemade lefse, a Norwegian potato flatbread rolled gauze-thin and cooked on a round griddle, just like this one, at a blazing-hot heat. If you're not into the Scandi thing, you can use this griddle to make crepes, injera, or regular old pancakes.
Casella's Heritage Prosciutto
The first time we tried Tuscan chef Cesare Casella's American-made prosciutto, we knew it was a significant achievement—a domestic prosciutto that can hold its own against the Italian stuff. Made from heritage-breed pigs raised on several different small and independent family farms, each prosciutto is slowly cured the way it's done in the Old Country. The results: sweet, nutty, and tender.
Misono Travel Knife
After experiencing one too many Airbnb kitchens with terrible knives, Daniel invested in a travel knife: a small, sharp blade to take with him so that cooking can be a pleasure even when he's not at home. The wooden sheath makes it safe to keep in a bag, but remember not to fly with it in a carry-on.
Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
The Char-Broil's WiFi-enabled digital electric smoker is very easy to use and has WiFi connectivity, so you can monitor and control the smoking session from a paired smartphone. Electric cookers lack serious heat and combustion gases, because of the electric element, making them better suited for imparting a light smoke flavor, especially on bigger cuts of meat.
Misono 440 Molybdenum Chef's Knife
Even lighter in weight than its more expensive sibling, the UX10, the Misono 440 offers an incredibly agile experience, with an especially sharp out-of-the-box blade. It handled all our testing tasks with ease. The price variance between this one and the UX10 mostly comes down to the steel used, a difference most home cooks won't likely notice, making this one a good intermediate choice.
Cuisinart Stainless Steel Roasting Pan
While we don't believe that a roasting pan is generally the best tool for large roasts—a wire rack set in a sheet pan often works better—there are times when a roasting pan with a rack is ideal. Cuisinart offers one of the best values in roasting pans on the market, and it can handle any job just as well as its more expensive competitors.
Laguiole en Aubrac Steak Knife Set
If you're into more of a classic luxe look, then you'd be hard-pressed to find a more iconic design than a Laguiole-style steak knife. Unfortunately, the term "Laguiole" is not protected or regulated by a trademark, which means that there are a lot of shoddily made knockoff "Laguiole" knives on the market. However, there are a small number of real-deal producers, like Laguiole en Aubrac, that make beautiful knives of exceptional quality with a timeless aesthetic.
OXO Good Grips Two-Piece Grilling Set
A quality spatula and tongs are essential for good grilling. Seek out ones with long handles, such as OXO's two-piece grilling set, to keep your fingers as far from the heat as possible. The nearly flat, scalloped edge on the OXO tongs is especially appealing—it's extra easy to slide the tongs under meat, vegetables, and other ingredients on the grill.
If you love beautifully seared steaks, golden-brown grilled cheese sandwiches, and crispy-skinned fish and poultry, this is a great thing to have in your kitchen. Chef's presses help you get even contact between ingredients and your skillet. They're vented, so you won't accidentally steam your food, and they're stackable, so you can get a couple for weighing down heftier items.
MAC Professional Santoku Knife
This santoku from MAC's professional line is an absolute pleasure to use, no matter the task. It's lightweight, well balanced, sharp as can be, and comfortable to hold. It made perfect carrot cuts, broke down a chicken with ease, and filleted a whole fish as if it were a fish-shaped block of butter.
Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling
In this book, Meathead Goldwyn, the founder of AmazingRibs.com, distills decades of research on the art and science of barbecue and grilling into a single volume that shows not just the best ways to take food to live fire, but why the techniques work. Far more than a recipe book alone (though there are tons of bulletproof recipes), this text will teach your favorite barbecue lover the hard-tested fundamentals of outdoor cooking, giving them the confidence to cook anything, even without a recipe. The myth-busting and equipment tips alone were enough to get us hooked.
Paleta Iberico de Bellota
The best ham on earth doesn't come cheap, but this is the caviar of pork: jamón ibérico puro de bellota, from purebred Ibérico pigs raised on acorns for a ham that's nutty and sweet, with meltingly soft fat.
Set of Two Rectangular Grill Grates
If you've ever used a gas grill and grown frustrated with unfixable hot and cool spots and overall weak performance, this tool is for you. Made from hard anodized aluminum, the GrillGrate system sits directly on your existing grate, amplifying and evening out the heat, which allows for more even cooking, flare-up resistance, and exceptional sear marks.
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
What's important to new cooks? Making dishes that compound in flavor as they cook, require minimal effort, and little in the way of special equipment. That means braising, and All About Braising is one of the best treatments on the subject. Author Molly Stevens breaks down every stage of the braising process for cooks of all skill levels—taking out the mystery of what's going on under the lid. We think that's one of the best ways to learn: master a technique rather than cook from a catch-all encyclopedia. From pages of notes on braising vessels to detailed breakdowns of how it all comes together, she takes delicious-yet-intimidating-sounding recipes like sausages and plums with red wine and makes you shout, yeah, I can do this! Oh, and the vegetable recipes are some of the best.
Mac Knife Chef's Knife
We were impressed by all the Mac knives in our testing, across their range of price points, but this one came out on top thanks to its combination of price and performance. While not inexpensive, it was one of the more affordable Japanese-made knives we tested. This blade is comfortable in the hand and has hollow-ground dimples to help reduce friction when cutting.
Misono UX10 Chef's Knife
A deft and nimble blade, Misono's UX10 is one of the lightest-weight knives we tested. It's razor-sharp right out of the box and handled every task we threw at it with ease, dicing an onion as if it were as soft as a blob of Jell-O and making paper-thin slices of smoked salmon as if the knife were a true slicer.
The One True Barbecue
Race relations, religion, the New South versus the Old: These are just a smattering of the heavy issues Rien Fertel writes about through the lens of—well—smoked meat, in this new book. And, while you might be thinking, "Oh, man, another book about barbecue?", this one stands out from the crowd thanks to Fertel's superb writing and storytelling skills. In a book that's part culinary history, part personal narrative, and part tale of an American road trip, Fertel travels throughout the South, documenting the men who have long stood behind the fires practicing the time-consuming pursuit of whole hog barbecue—the ones who have been keeping alive the embers of what once seemed like a dying art, and the ones who are inspiring a new generation of pitmasters today.
The Chili Cookbook
This isn't just a chili cookbook. Author Robb Walsh digs deep into the beloved dish's ancestry, tracing threads through Mexico City, San Antonio, Santa Fe, Hungary, Greece, and the Canary Islands. Walsh is one of food writing's best storytellers, so the book is a satisfying read best enjoyed with a big bowl of chile con carne.
Leave-In Probe Thermometer
While it’s one of the most precise thermometers we tested, the ChefAlarm is also easy to use. The probe, which comes with a pot clip, has about six inches of usable length to reach into the thickest roasts, and springs on both ends of the 47-inch-long cable that protect it from wear at common failure points.
Mercer Culinary Millennia Chef's Knife
For those who just don't want to spend much, or who want a "beater" knife—one that they can abuse without feeling guilty—this option from Mercer is hard to, um, beat. It's not the best knife by any measure—its balance feels off, and its thick handle can make a chef's grip awkward for smaller hands—but it has an impressively sharp edge and a price that's just about as low as it gets.
Manual Meat Grinder
Manual grinders are the cheapest way to get good-quality freshly ground meat at home, and are a great choice if you don't own a stand mixer. Our favorite is this suction-mounted grinder from Gideon. The suction cup provides as firm a base as bolt-mounted models we've owned, and it does such an excellent job grinding meat that we often reach for it instead of our stand mixer attachment.
The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science
A New York Times best-seller! The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, by J. Kenji López-Alt, is his column by the same name on this very website, blown up to 900-plus pages (and seven-plus 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.
Welding Gloves for Grilling
After countless failed grilling mitts, we got ourselves a pair of welding gloves to use when grilling or smoking and never looked back. With great heat protection, dexterity, and construction, these are a necessity for every backyard cook.
Snow's Barbecue Brisket
Even if you live in Texas and want to avail yourself of the incomparable brisket at Snow's BBQ in Lexington in person it's not easy to do. You see, they're only open on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) from 8 am until the 'cue runs out.
The Complete Nose to Tail
The Complete Nose to Tail combines Fergus Henderson's seminal The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating with its sequel, Beyond Nose to Tail. Don't let the name mislead you: It does shine a light on offal, but its primary focus is Henderson's unfussy, straightforward cooking, the most famous example of which is his signature dish of roasted bone marrow and parsley salad. While that dish may have spawned a thousand imitators, both here and across the Atlantic, cooks the world over would do well to crib from some of the other recipes in the book. The recipe for duck legs with carrots alone makes it worth the price, and "trotter gear"—chicken stock fortified with wobbly bits of pigs' feet—is a pantry staple that everyone needs in their life.
Wusthof Classic Chef's Knife
If you're dead set on a traditional German knife profile—characterized by a more curved blade that's bigger and heavier than the Japanese options—the Wüsthof Classic continues to be a stalwart. It weighs more than most of the other knives tested, giving it a solid and sturdy feel, but it still handles well and has a sharp edge.