The 30 Best Gifts Under $50 for Cooks and Food Lovers

Including a budget-friendly chef's knife and pasta pot for superior saucing.

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a collage of a knife, pasta pan, thermometer, coffee maker, and dish cloths

Serious Eats / Chloe Jeong

Straight to the Point

The majority of our gift recommendations in this guide come from our product reviews. We provide the links to our full reviews when applicable, to give you the option to read how we tested and a more in-depth summary of the product.

As gift-giving season approaches and your wallet begins to tremble, fear not. There’s a plethora of kitchen tools, cookware, specialty foods, and nifty trinkets available to surprise and delight the food lovers in your life—all for under $50. Scroll through to see our top picks for budget-friendly, food-centric gifting that might even leave you with enough cash to pick up something for yourself, too. 

  • A Sharp Chef’s Knife

    Mercer Culinary 8-Inch Genesis Chef's Knife

    We’ve tested lots of chef’s knives and if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that a great knife doesn’t have to be expensive. This Western-style chef’s knife from Mercer Culinary can slice, dice, and chop with the best of ‘em—no bank-breaking necessary. Want to throw in a little something extra? Pair the knife with a magnetic strip for easy storage.

  • A Really Great Spatula (or Two)

    Oxo spatula
    Tavolo spatula

    You really can’t go wrong with a great silicone spatula—for scrambling eggs, scraping batters out of the bowl, or swooping down the sides of a blender to get every last bit of sauce out. Might we suggest gifting two of them and tying them together with a piece of ribbon?

  • A Very Good Balloon Whisk

    GIR Ultimate Stainless Steel Whisk

    The GIR Ultimate Whisk took top honors in our recent balloon whisk test thanks to its comfortable silicone handle and perfectly taut wires. A whisk is one of those utensils that most of us probably don’t give much thought to, but as soon as you use a really good one, you’ll realize what you’ve been missing out on. Grab a sleek-yet-utilitarian mixing bowl to gift alongside and you’re still well below the $50 threshold.

  • A Poppin’ Thermometer

    ThermoWorks ThermoPop

    We do love the ThermoPop—it gets a lot of airtime around here, as you may have noticed—but how can you blame us when an instant-read thermometer is so reliable and reasonably priced? The ThermoPop has a big display, reads in under four seconds, and comes in a bunch of snazzy colors. It’s the perfect gift, even for the home cook who has everything.

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  • An Elegant Bread Lame

    Goose Lame

    You probably have a friend who bakes sourdough, so why not give them an ultra-precise, safe, and swanky-looking bread lame this holiday season? Wire Monkey’s bread lames are sure to help your favorite baker level-up their scoring game.

  • A Perfect Pasta Pan

    Winco Aluminum Stir Fry Pan,11-Inch

    This delightfully deep pan is a Serious Eats favorite. And we especially love it for finishing pastas. Its heat conduction and sloping sides create ideal conditions for tossing—ensuring that every piece of pasta is perfectly coated in silky, saucy goodness.

  • A Trusty Cast Iron Pan

    Lodge L8SK3 Pre-Seasoned Skillet

    Cast iron pans are durable, versatile, and not nearly as intimidating as the internet loves to make people think. Every home cook should have at least one cast iron pan, and this one from Lodge is both affordable and practical with its dual pouring spouts. Gift this to your cousin who thinks cast iron is too much work to maintain, and enjoy proving them wrong in the coming year.

  • Stemless Glasses for Casual Drinks

    Schott Zwiesel Tritan Forte Universal Tumbler

    Casual wine drinkers will surely appreciate a set of stemless wine glasses. And these ones were our top picks after we reviewed eight different sets. For about $50, you get six glasses that are comfortable to hold and drink from. They're also excellent for cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.

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  • A Chef’s Press (or Two)

    Whether you’re toasting sandwich or smashing a burger, chef’s presses are awesome. We love this one for its pleasing weight and no-frills design—it’s the perfect way to give someone the gift of a great sear all year long.

  • A Well-Priced Digital Scale

    Escali Primo P115C Precision Kitchen Food Scale

    As far as we’re concerned, a digital food scale is non-negotiable in the kitchen whether you're making coffee or baking a cake. Measuring ingredients with a scale is easier, faster, and far more precise, and this one from Escali Primo is a great value.

  • A Moka Pot For Express Espresso

    Bialetti Moka Express

    If you’re going to give someone a Nespresso machine for the holidays, they better be someone you like a lot because those things don’t come cheap. For recipients who make it onto your gift list but perhaps aren’t in the running for a small appliance, consider the Bialetti Moka Express. Moka pots make a mean pot of espresso for a fraction of the price, and they look pretty darn cool while doing it. 

  • An Insulated French Press

    Coffee Gator 34-Ounce French Press Coffee Maker

    When we tested French press coffee makers this year, Coffee Gator’s insulated vessel made it onto our best-of list thanks to its durable construction and dual filter press. Say goodbye to the fragile glass French press and hello to heat-retaining sturdy stainless steel. This is a great gift for the camper in your life or even that colleague who always has a cup of coffee in hand.

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  • A Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker

    OXO BREW Compact Cold Brew Coffee Maker

    For your friend who drops a fiver on cold coffee multiple times per week, may we suggest OXO’s own cold brew coffee maker? It’s easy, it’s efficient—brew a week’s worth of coffee in one go!—it’s giving the most thoughtful-friend vibes.

  • Precise Culinary Tweezers

    Mercer Culinary Offset Tip Tweezers

    Tweezers are one of those kitchen tools you didn’t know you were missing until you actually have them, which is what makes them such a perfect gift. Kitchen tweezers are handy for garnishing, retrieving wayward bits of eggshell, or even flipping a piece of meat in place of tongs.

  • A Salt Storage Solution

    Emile Henry Salt Pig

    Salt pigs—or salt cellars, as they’re also called—have a fun name and serve a practical purpose: They keep salt at the ready. Having to navigate a grinder, box, or shaker just isn’t as efficient as being able to reach into a purpose-built container and grab a pinch.

  • Useful Reusable Food Bags

    Reusable Food Storage Bags

    Is this a sexy gift? No. Is it likely to inspire a “Just what I’ve always wanted!” response from the lucky recipient? Also no. But is it a money-saving, environmentally-friendly, actually-quite-useful present? Totally. These bags come in different sizes and keep food fresh without the bulk of boxes or the waste of single-use plastic. Pair it with a set of reusable food wraps for double the excitement.

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  • A Pair of Cut-Resistant Gloves

    DEX FIT Level 5 Cut Resistant Gloves Cru553

    This is another gift that is less “Wow!!” and more “Actually, these will come in handy,” which means they’re perfect for the home cook in your life who is prone to using a mandoline without a guard. Grab a pair for yourself while you’re at it—these gloves are literally a form of self-care.

  • Reusable Swedish Dishcloths

    Wettex Swedish Dishcloths, 10-Pack

    Once you go Swedish dishcloth, paper towels you may protest doth. These aren’t quite towels and they’re not quite sponges; they’re just really versatile, super-absorbent, and come in fun colors. They make cleaning a breeze, whether you’re hand-washing glassware or wiping down countertops.

  • A Beautiful Cookbook

    Mooncakes and Milk Bread: Sweet and Savory Recipes Inspired by Chinese Bakeries

    This book is an ode to Chinese bakeries and cafes, and it won author Kristina Cho two James Beard Awards in 2022. Give Mooncakes and Milkbread to the baker in your life and hopefully, you’ll get to enjoy the fruits of their labor as they make their way through it.

  • An Indoor Herb Growing Kit

    Ivation 7-Pod Indoor Hydroponics Growing System Kit

    Hydroponic kits can be expensive, but this one from Ivation gets you started without a hefty investment. (We do love the AeroGarden if you’re looking to spend up.) It’s an especially suitable gift for an apartment-dwelling friend or family member, who will inevitably think of you each time they snip some fresh herbs from their well-lit, properly watered indoor garden.

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  • A Top-of-the-Line Tumbler

    Zojirushi SM-SA36-BA Stainless Steel Vacuum-Insulated Mug, 20oz

    There are loads of travel mugs on the market, but it’s tough to beat Zojirushi for keeping liquids at a desirable temperature. This tumbler excels for both hot and cold beverages, it has a lid that locks and can be opened and closed with one hand, and it comes in some fun colors.

  • A Pair of Half Sheet Pans

    Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Half Sheet, 2-pack

    Baking sheets are for so much more than just baking cookies. From sheet pan dinners to roasting meats, a quality baking sheet shines with its multipurposeness. To really amp up its versatility, pair it with a cooling rack.

  • A Mess-Preventing Lid Stand

    Yamazaki Home Ladle & Lid Rest

    You know that quandary of what to do with a lid that is hot (and probably dripping with condensation) as you tend to a sauce or soup? Yamazaki’s lid stand solves this problem in style, keeping the lid upright and catching all the drips in the tray below.

  • A Flavor-Packed Trio

    FLY BY JING Triple Threat Trio

    Yep, you can (and should!) make spicy chili crisp at home, but for gifting purposes it’s tough to beat a trio of Sichuan sauces and spices from woman-owned Fly By Jing. This set includes their Sichuan Chili Crisp. Zhong Sauce, and Mala Spice Mix.

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  • A Fragrant Finishing Oil

    La Tourangelle Roasted Hazelnut Oil

    Artisanal oils are more than just pretty packaging—they’re an easy way to boost flavor and give dishes a little something extra. Add a few drops of this hazelnut oil to salad dressings or chocolatey desserts (or make your own Nutella) and see for yourself how oils and extracts can boost your baking. And at $9, why not grab a bottle of La Tourangelle’s roasted pistachio oil and give them both as a gift?

  • An Antidote to Wasted Wine

    Vacu Vin Wine Saver Pump

    Stuffing a cork back into an open bottle of wine is better than nothing, but if you really want to save the good stuff for later, you’ve got to get the air out. This set from Vacu Vin (which our Senior Editorial Director, Tess Koman, is a fan of) comes with four bottle stoppers and an easy-to-use vacuum pump—just put the pump over the stopper and lift the handle until you hear a clicking sound. Enjoy optimal wine for up to a week (if the bottle lasts that long…).

  • A Proper Piece of Servingware

    Open Kitchen by Williams Sonoma Handled Platter

    A nice platter It is not only useful for entertaining but also perfect for serving roast chicken on any old weeknight. This one from Williams Sonoma has practical handles and a curved design to keep juices contained, and its neutral color means it’ll fit nicely into any kitchen. It’s a fancy—without being too fancy—gift for your favorite home cook.

  • A Pourover Pair

    Mugen coffee dripper
    Hario

    If your giftee is a coffee person who enjoys tinkering with their brewing equipment, a pour over maker is a great present. One of our favorite pourover makers and its glass serving carafe are about $24 each—which brings the whole setup to less than $50. Not bad!

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  • A Two-Piece Boston Shaker

    Modern Mixologist Tin on Tin Shakers

    We’ve raved about the Modern Mixologist Boston shaker before—calling it the best Boston shaker in head-to-head tests—which is why we think it’s a great gift for that friend who keeps a well-stocked bar cart. The two stainless steel pieces fit together to create a strong seal for mess-free shaking, and they’re nicely balanced so they’re a pleasure to use.

  • A Bucket of Flaky Salt

    Maldon 3.1 lb Sea Salt Flakes

    Few things conjure abundance like a literal bucket of everyone’s favorite finishing salt. This is a practical gift made all the more fun by its sheer quantity. Enough said.

FAQs

What's the best gift for a chef?

The answer to this is highly subjective! Might we suggest something super useful and practical (because they likely have their basic kitchen gear covered), like a pack of Swedish dishcloths, or something ingredient-focused like a bucket of flakey salt?

Where should I shop for kitchen gifts?

Well, we think (for gifts under $50) this guide is a nice place to start! The majority of the products on this page can be purchased off of Amazon.