Our Favorite Stocking Stuffers for Cooks (2018)

Small but thoughtful holiday gifts for cooks, perfect for stuffing that real or metaphorical stocking.

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Collage showing four stocking stuffing kitchen gifts.

Come Christmas morning, stocking stuffers don’t get enough love. While all my friends are focused on the big, bow-wrapped presents under the tree, I’m eyeing my stocking to see if I can guess what I’ve been given (and then peeking into it to see if I was right).

The people in my life know me well, so it's always full of essential cooking tools, ones I can't believe I didn't already own. Sure, they’re usually the smallest gifts, but they’re the ones I end up using most—my steadfast vegetable peeler, a trusty metal sauce spoon, the "fancy" tweezers I now use in place of regular tongs. Whether or not you and yours actually hang festive stockings on the mantle, this is the perfect time to buy small but essential kitchen tools for the ones you love—yourself included.

Luckily, some of our favorite kitchen tools and gadgets are just the right size to stuff in a stocking or exchange at a casual office party. Below are a few of our favorites. If none of these stocking stuffers are quite what you need, we have a whole category of small but meaningful kitchen presents for you to peruse over in the Serious Eats holiday gift guide.

A Mini Knife for a Mini Chef

This knife is ideal for a food-curious kid who's just transitioning into using adult-grade knives and other sharp tools. It has a plastic loop to keep their index finger safely away from the blade and a guard for the other hand, allowing the user to practice slicing and chopping with much less risk if their knife does happen to slip. Give this gift first thing in the morning, and you’ll have an enthusiastic sous chef by your side all day long.

A ThermoWorks ThermoPop Thermometer

There’s not a lot we don’t use this neat little thermometer for. It’s a must-have tool, and a perfect gift, for anyone who grills steak, broils salmon, roasts pork, or cooks any kind of meat, really. This highly accurate—not to mention adorable—thermometer comes in a variety of colors, and while it doesn’t read temperatures quite as quickly as the larger and pricier Thermapen, it’ll still flash a number in less than five seconds.

A Chef’s Press

Beef roast browning in pan under chef's press.
Photograph: Vicky Wasik

This chef’s press is another great gift for a grilling fanatic, but it’s just as handy for making grilled cheese sandwiches or panini as it is for ribeyes. The heavy press ensures constant contact between your ingredients and the heat source, while grates in the metal allow steam to escape, keeping whatever you're cooking from getting soggy. If you don’t have one of these for yourself yet, consider ordering a few extras. They stack easily when you're ready to put them away, and you’ll wonder how you ever cooked without one.

A Le Creuset Wooden Spoon

Most people already have a few stirring tools in their drawers, but not all spoons are created equal. This wooden Le Creuset model has a blunt end, which makes it perfect for scraping up fond or stirring vegetables. It might not seem like the most exciting holiday gift, but when your giftee sees that beautiful beechwood poking out of their stocking and feels the slightly contoured handle, they’ll understand.

Brooklyn Biltong Dried Beef

We admit, beef jerky isn't exactly the sort of glamorous gift you want to wrap up with a snazzy bow, but it makes a perfectly tasty stocking stuffer. South African–style biltong is made by putting the beef through a flavorful vinegar bath before it’s dried, giving it a mellow tanginess. While we don’t love the Original flavor, our office devoured the Jo'burg Steakhouse variety in mere moments. Plus, if this gift gets opened while you’re around, you get to eat half the bag. We don’t write the rules.

Rancho Gordo Beans

After you've given someone these heirloom beans, they'll never want to eat canned beans again, which is both a blessing and a curse. Rancho Gordo's inventory has impressed upon us just how many varieties are out there—some are rich and perfect for cooking slowly with big pieces of meat (we're looking at you, Flageolet), while others need little more than a drizzle of good olive oil and a touch of fresh cheese (here's to you, Christmas Lima Bean). Whatever legumes you prefer, you can't go wrong with one of Rancho Gordo's fantastically flavorful and colorful products.

A Mountain of Excellent Chocolate

No stocking is complete without at least a few pieces of chocolate, but the candy in most is often no more than a sweet afterthought. That's where this assortment of single-origin chocolate bars comes in: The bars are beautifully wrapped in colorful paper, and they offer the recipient a fun way to explore the world of chocolate and learn how different beans and countries of origin can impact its taste.

But Wait, There's More!

We're not done. You can find plenty more stocking stuffer gift ideas right this way »