The Best Splurge Gifts for Cooks

Big ticket items that are actually worth it.

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a photo collage of splurge gift ideas
Photo collage: Vicky Wasik

It's officially holiday shopping season! We've got lots of recommendations, from tasty stocking stuffers to big appliances for all the food lovers and cooks in your life. While many of our gifts are recommended with your wallets in mind—good cookery shouldn't put you in debt—we also know that sometimes you want to give someone a real showstopper. Below you'll find a great assortment of splurge-worthy gifts to make everyday cooking feel just a bit more luxurious. Whether you're in the doghouse for skimping on dish duty or you just got a bonus (well done!), we have something for everyone on your list.

  • Custom Serious Eats Cutting Board

    Photo: Vicky Wasik

    For the cooks out there who also happen to be Serious Eats fans, consider our custom cutting board, which we designed with The BoardSmith. This board is our preferred size for everyday use (22 by 16 inches)—and it doesn't have any feet, so you can use both sides without any issue. We also added some finger grooves, which make picking up the heavy board a bit easier.

    Our final little design flourish is an unobtrusive 12-inch ruler that's laser-etched onto one corner of the board, so that you or your giftee can practice extra precise dicing and slicing any time you want.

  • Easy-to-Grow Herbs at Home

    Photo: J. Kenji López-Alt

    Ariel treated herself to an AeroGarden a few years ago, and it has continued to prove useful—especially now when her grocery trips have become more infrequent (and stressful). This hydroponics system makes growing fresh herbs at home absolutely foolproof. Plop in the seed pods, add some water, and follow the notifications for when you need to add more water or nutrients. The lights go on and off automatically to keep your basil, mint, thyme, parsley, and the like thriving. In just a few weeks, your giftee will have fresh, aromatic herbs. And while the machine itself is pricey, it'll pay for itself in yield over the coming months and years.

  • A Versatile Toaster Oven

    Okay, there's pretty much nothing sexy about a toaster oven. But what it lacks in flash, it makes up for in versatility. It can toast your English muffins and up to six slices(!) of toast at a time. But it can also cook salmon, reheat pizza, and make a pretty nice batch of cookies. It's especially useful around the holidays when oven space is scarce or during the summer when you don't want to heat up your whole house. Pick one up for someone special and they'll enjoy year-round toaster time.

  • A Better Caffeine Boost

    Photo: Daniel Gritzer

    There are many things you can do to improve your morning joe. You could buy a better coffee maker or learn the ins and outs of brewing coffee. But one common piece of advice is to upgrade your burr grinder. In his review of the best coffee grinders, Daniel had several recommendations, each designed with a certain kind of coffee drinker in mind.

    For any coffee drinker who wants more control, a chance to experiment with grind sizes, or wants to explore some of the more detailed coffee-brewing concepts without a huge cost of entry, he recommends the OXO model below. However, this post is all about splurging, so if you really want to go for it for someone in your life who is all about that TDS (total dissolved solids), pick up the Breville Smart Grinder Pro.

    Breville BCG820BSS Smart Grinder Pro Coffee Bean Grinder
    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • Really Good Pantry Ingredients

    We wrote a whole story about our favorite pantry ingredients that are worth the splurge. And if your giftee is passionate about good ingredients, this is absolutely the place to start. No one would ever turn their nose up at Faella pasta (especially in a five-pound bag) or fancy cheese from Gustiamo.

    You could also pick out some spices or a good-on-everything tamarind date sauce from Burlap & Barrel. All of these pantry goods are items that really do keep on giving. Pick up a few and wrap them in a box for the ultimate splurge (and it may even benefit you, if your giftee likes to share).

    If you don't feel like putting together your own package of goodies, we did the work for you. Below you'll find custom (and very tasty) gift boxes from The Japanese Pantry and Gustiamo. Every item in these boxes has been hand-picked by our team, and they'll make for excellent gifts for home cooks who truly appreciate a good ingredient.

  • No-Fuss Homemade Ice Cream

    Photo: Vicky Wasik

    When we started doing research for our ice cream machine review, we tested two different models. One is a canister model; the other is a compressor. Where canister models take a bit work—you need to freeze all the components way beforehand in order to get your ice cream cold enough to become ice cream—compressor models do literally all the work for you in a super sleek machine. Just pour in your base, press the button, and without any prior freezing or chilling, your ice cream will whip up in no time.

    Our favorite ice cream maker, made by Breville, also comes fully loaded with 12 hardness settings and precool and keep-cool options, as well as classic ice cream truck tunes that alert you when your ice cream is done churning. If that isn't a blessed gift for an ice cream fanatic, we don't know what is.

  • A Crumb-Free Kitchen

    We spend a lot of time talking about what goes into a great meal at Serious Eats, from selecting the right ingredients and using the best techniques to choosing the perfect cooking vessel. Unfortunately, we spend much less time talking about the best way to clean it all up. One thing we can all agree on is that having a Dyson in your clean-up arsenal makes all the difference in the world. Use this handheld one to gather up pesky crumbs between your stove and dishwasher or dropped nibbles after dinner. It's so powerful that it makes cleaning—gasp!—actually fun.

  • Crispy and Fluffy Belgian Waffles

    Photo: Vicky Wasik

    Few experiences compare to waking up to the sweet, buttery aroma of freshly made waffles, whether they're yeasted or made with buttermilk, Belgian-style with deep, square pockets for syrup, or the thinner and circular American-style variety. We tested over a dozen waffle makers and this super-swanky number from All-Clad was a clear winner. If your giftee swears by crisp-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside, Belgian-style waffles with deep divots for luscious toppings, this is the machine to make them smile.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • The Only Stand Mixer We Recommend

    The KitchenAid Pro stand mixer is an iconic kitchen splurge. With it, your giftee will be able to tackle a whole new realm of recipes. Think Stella's one bowl cinnamon buns (ideal for a holiday breakfast), effortless angel food cake, and, with the right attachments, armloads of fresh pasta.

  • The Cadillac of Blenders

    A Vitamix is a kitchen tool that will never go out of style. It's certainly a splurge, but our culinary team swears by it for just about anything you can imagine, like milling grains, making smoothies, and blasting through ice. If you're not sure if it's worth the pricetag, you can see how it performed against more affordable blenders in our equipment review.

    Vitamix 5300 Blender
  • More Space on the Stovetop

    It's hard to describe just how powerful this induction cooktop is; it can boil a pot of water in seconds. It's also easy to move and to clean, so your giftee can take it out, wipe it off, and store it whenever the time calls. We have two of these babies in the Serious Eats test kitchen and they've always proven useful when the stovetop is packed.

    We know, we know; that price is absolutely insane. But you asked for splurges, and this one takes the cake.

  • Chic Steak Knives

    Photo: Vicky Wasik

    Behold, a convincing quote from our very own Sho Spaeth: "As a person who has never owned a nice set of steak knives in his life, and probably never will, this is a very personal pick. Nice steak knives make me think of nice restaurants, nice houses, nice dining room tables—well, dining rooms, period—basically, all the stuff I have very little experience with and have no hope for in my future, which is bleak because I work in media. Will I ever own a set as nice as these Perceval steak knives? Probably not, since I got married years ago, and even then we didn't do a registry because we're fools! But I did get to participate in the testing we did for our review, and these knives are so nice to use. I stated on my testing sheet that they could easily work as kitchen knives: I'd be happy using them to mince shallots or flute mushrooms, if I ever did flute mushrooms, that is.

    "Aside from having a cool look and cutting things nicely, these knives have the added benefit of being easy to sharpen by yourself. There are no serrated edges that will inevitably get dull over time, so they'll serve whoever your giftee is until the world ends or death comes for them, whichever happens first."