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- We asked professional chefs to tell us the best gifts to give someone who loves being in the kitchen.
- They personally use these 20 kitchen tools and appliances in their own lives to make delicious meals.
- Looking for more gift ideas? Find all of Insider Reviews’ gift guides here.
If you like food and cooking, you probably look to professional chefs to learn what to eat and how to cook. You can also learn from the actual kitchen tools professionals use at the center of any conversation about food.
We asked some chefs to tell us the best gifts to give someone who loves being in the kitchen, whether that’s yourself or another avid home cook in your life. The chefs personally use these products in their professional or home kitchens, so you know that they stand up to some real heat and pressure.
Here are 20 cooking gifts, as recommended by professional chefs:
A digital thermometer
Lavatools PT12 Javelin Digital Thermometer, available on Amazon, $26.99
“A thermometer could be the difference between a perfect steak and a pretty good steak. Using a thermometer takes a lot of the guesswork out of it.” — Matt Gillett, co-owner of Saddleback BBQ
Binchotan Charcoal, available at Korin
“The flavors of char and smoke are integral to the food that we make at the restaurant. As far as equipment goes, I’d say the most important piece is the medium that you are cooking with. When grilling, I’d really recommend seeking out high-quality charcoal. Lots of people cook with gas or propane, but it’s really no comparison to live fire.” — Nick Tamburo, chef at North Block
A good boning knife
Mercer Culinary Millennia 6-Inch Curved Boning Knife, available on Amazon, $13.99
“A boning knife is essential for getting your meat ready to grill. A sharp reliable boning knife is what I recommend. It can help you with everything from frenching bones to trimming brisket or ribs.” —Matt Gillett, co-owner of Saddleback BBQ
A pair of durable tongs
OXO Good Grips Locking Tongs, available at Amazon, $14.95
“I always use OXO tongs. I think they’re good. They’re not fancy, but they’re good. And, I always want metal-tipped ones for grilling.” — Morgan Bolling, deputy editor for Cook’s Country magazine at America’s Test Kitchen
The must-have appliance for rice lovers
Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer (3-cup), available at Target, $157.99
“It’s a must-have for Asian food lovers. You can make rice, congee, even soup with it. It’s very versatile and fun to experiment with.” — Amelie Kang, co-founder and owner of MáLà Project
A tool to sharpen and maintain their knives
Wüsthof 10″ Knife Sharpening Steel with Loop, available at Amazon, $50
“A diamond sharpening steel is a great gift. A sharp knife is essential for any home cook. Hint: Include a link to professional knife sharpening instructions, because this is a simple tool, but if used incorrectly, will take the edge off the knife!” — Kraig Hansen, executive chef at Fable Lounge
A sleek toaster oven with a built-in air fryer
Cuisinart AFR-25 Airfryer, available at Wayfair, $99.95
“My top recommendation for a gift is the air fryer. It’s great for cooking things on the fly and getting the best results. It allows home chefs to enjoy their favorite fried foods without the added fat.” — Chelsea Knight, chef de cuisine at Fable Lounge
A sturdy tool that makes whisking feel effortless
OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk, available at Amazon, $10.69
“This balloon whisk is perfect for a good handle when baking cacao or chocolate goodies at home. We create a lot of our products on-site, and therefore, need the proper tools to be successful.” — Oded Brenner, chocolatier and founder of Blue Stripes Urban Cacao
The stand mixer that every baker treasures
Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer, available at KitchenAid, $429.99
“If you have the counter space, a KitchenAid stand mixer is always worth it. Easy to mix up doughs or mixtures without the extra mess.” — Oded Brenner, chocolatier and founder of Blue Stripes Urban Cacao
Starter kits to help them make larb, sisig, spicy bulgogi, and more
Southeast Asian Omsom Sampler, available at Omsom, $29
“We love Omsom — the sauces and the ladies behind it. Not only are the Asian sauces they’ve created delicious but they’re so easy and versatile to use. It’s been heartwarming especially during the pandemic to see how much they’ve been supporting the Asian community.
They raised over $8,000 for Heart of Dinner, which allows us to then purchase over 1,000 hot nutritional meals from our restaurant partners for seniors and at the same time provides funding to help our restaurant partners and keep them going during this rough time!” — Moonlynn Tsai, co-owner and operator of Kopitiam
A powerful blender to make creamy smoothies and soups
Vitamix 5300, available at Vitamix, $559.95
“This blender is great for combining professional power and ease of use at home. It makes perfectly smooth soups and sauces, along with the fastest hollandaise sauce on the planet. It’s my favorite kitchen appliance to use on a Sunday morning when making brunch at home.” —Brad Warner, corporate chef at Bodega Negra and Tao Group Hospitality
A spice rack to keep their cabinets and countertops organized
Kamenstein Revolving 20-Jar Spice Organizer, available at Amazon, $41.22
“As someone who uses a lot of spices, a rotating spice rack is exactly what I recommend for organization and efficiency.” — Tarik Fallous, chef at Au Za’atar
The perfect knife for delicate knife-work
Masamoto Sohonten VG Petty Knife, available at Korin, $158
“This small utility knife is a little larger than the paring knife. It’s one of my most used knives in the kitchen. It is extremely versatile and is great for more delicate precision cuts.” —Tabitha Yeh, chef at Umma by Noodlelove
A sharp peeler ideal for long vegetables
Sur La Table/
Rosle Horizontal Peeler, available at Sur La Table, $20
“One thing I feel lost without is this peeler. I peel everything: veggies, root veggies, squash, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes. It makes it all fast and easy.” —Mee McCormick, owner of Pinewood Kitchen
A newly upgraded sous vide cooker that heats water very quickly
Anova Precision Cooker, available at Amazon, $149
“This immersion circulator cooks food to precise temperatures over long periods of time, creating amazing texture in meats and seafood. I love to use it to impress my friends when I’m hosting dinner at my house.” — Brad Warner, corporate chef at Bodega Negra and Tao Group Hospitality
Another sous vide model that less than a foot tall and only weighs 1.3 pounds
Breville Joule Sous Vide, available at Amazon, $249.95
“I love this sous vide machine because it is small, transportable, and reasonably priced. You can also operate it with the app on your phone, which makes it extremely easy to use.” — Leah Cohen, owner and chef of Pig & Khao and “Top Chef” alum
An apron that’s both functional and attractive
Hedley & Bennett
The Essential Apron, available at Hedley & Bennett, from $85
“Aprons from Valentich or Hedley & Bennett are sturdy, fashionable, with pockets in all the right places for your pens, tweezers, towels, and phone.” —Tabitha Yeh, chef at Umma by Noodlelove
The proper tools for DIY pasta night
Walnut Ravioli Stamp, available at Williams Sonoma, $42.95
Philips Pasta and Noodle Maker Plus, available at Amazon, $299.95
“There’s nothing more gratifying than making your own pasta at home. To make easy ravioli shapes, you can use a stamp to punch out the perfect pasta shapes with any fillings of your choice. Williams Sonoma makes a great option.
If you want an easy pasta maker to do the work, the Philips Pasta maker is a great tool to get fresh pasta at home, without the hassle of mixing and kneading the dough.” —Riccardo Orfino, chef at Osteria 57
A one-size-fits-all lid that instantly declutters their cabinets
Made In Silicone Universal Lid Kit, available at Made In, $59
“I would gift the Made In Universal Lid set to myself, and then probably any other “foodie” out there! I’m sure many can relate to having a plethora of differently sized pots and pans with a million different lids. These Universal Lids fit on all pots and pans, so you only need one — making it a lot easier to declutter and streamline, or as some say, ‘Marie Kondo’ their kitchen. — Brooke Williamson, co-owner of Hudson House and “Top Chef” winner
A ‘smart’ waffle maker that automatically adjusts cooking time and temperature
Breville Smart Waffle Pro, available at Williams Sonoma, $219.95-$279.95
“This is my favorite waffle maker to use on my days off when I am home with my husband Ben and now newborn. The waffles come out nice and crispy on the outside and chewy and tender on the inside. Easy to manipulate, too.” — Leah Cohen, owner and chef of Pig & Khao and “Top Chef” alum