Chances are you know at least one person whose greatest passion in life is good food. Not only do they watch the Food Network religiously, they actually make the recipes they see on TV. They have 75 spices in their cupboard, including some you’ve never heard of.
It’s often tricky to figure out what to get this person, especially if you’re not up on the latest food trends. You know what they love most: food. But any food you know how to prepare for them would pale in comparison to their gourmet creations.
Instead of making food for your epicurean friends, give them gifts to help them prepare and serve something delicious. They probably already have a full set of basic kitchen tools. But many other kitchen gadgets are useful additions to even the most well-stocked kitchen. Avid cooks delight in fancy ingredients, new cookbooks, special tableware, and drinks to pair with their latest chef d’oeuvre.
With so many options, there are gifts for food lovers at pretty much every price point. So no matter what your budget is, you’ll find something to make your favorite foodie happy.
Foodie Gift Ideas Under $20
Browsing through a fancy kitchen specialty shop like Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma, you start to think the only appropriate gifts for gourmets cost hundreds of dollars. But if you look more carefully, there are smaller items – even at these fancy boutiques – for under $20. And if you expand your search to include other stores – big-box stores, bookstores, and even supermarkets – there are even more budget-friendly gifts your foodie friend will love.
Food lovers are always interested in trying new spices and seasonings. Visit a specialty spice shop like SpicesForLess.com to find all kinds of interesting herbs, spices, and blends to tempt an epicure’s palate, from Spanish paprika to Sazon seasoning.
If you’re shopping for small token presents, like a teacher gift or stocking stuffer, small jars of spices – even the good stuff – are inexpensive but thoughtful. Gift boxes of assorted spices are better for larger gifts, like birthdays or wedding anniversaries.
Potholders are some of the most battered items in any kitchen. Even if they don’t get singed during a close encounter with a hot stove, they eventually start to fray. Sooner or later, a cook is guaranteed to need a new pair.
There are many kinds and styles of potholders – cute, funny, or practical. A high-end pair of silicone oven mitts won’t put you over your $20 budget. Or pick something amusing like a pair of bear paws to make your favorite cook smile. If you’re a crafter, try making your own set customized to the cook’s tastes. At Skip to My Lou, there are instructions for a super-simple pair with just a square of batting sandwiched between two squares of fabric.
3. Cookie Cutters
For the baker in your life, a new set of cookie cutters is like a new toy to play with. Cookie cutters come in an astonishing variety of shapes, with collections for every imaginable holiday and whimsical shapes like dinosaurs or cacti. They also have – ahem – adult themes for a humorous gift. And even sets from high-end brands like Wilton or Ann Clark are surprisingly inexpensive.
4. Balloon Whisk
One fancy tool many cooks don’t realize they need is a balloon whisk. True gourmet chefs swear by this gadget, which has a bulbous shape with lots of space between the loops. This design incorporates lots of air into batter, egg whites, or cream with each stroke. It’s key for whipping up light, fluffy desserts, such as angel food cake. And even the top-rated choices are quite affordable.
5. Cooking Thermometer
For the average home cook, getting the temperature of food exactly right isn’t such a big deal. You just follow the instructions in the recipe for time and temperature settings, and it will be close enough. But for certain dishes, precise temperatures are crucial, and a specialized food thermometer is the best way to measure them.
Different types of food thermometers do different jobs in the kitchen. For instance, a meat thermometer is useful for cooking large cuts of meat, such as roast beef, to the perfect doneness. A hands-free candy thermometer is essential for making certain types of candy and monitoring the temperature of cooking oil.
6. Onion Goggles
Many of the best recipes start with “chop an onion.” But alas, that simple step literally brings tears to the eyes of many cooks, no matter how much they approve of the results. There are all kinds of tricks for tear-free onion cutting, from chilling the onion to changing your chopping technique, but the one many cooks swear by is protecting your eyes with goggles.
Specially designed onion goggles are made of sturdy plastic and have a soft foam seal that blocks out tear-inducing vapors. And they’re useful for other activities as well, such as skiing and bike riding. (One caveat: They won’t fit over eyeglasses.)
7. Rasp Grater
Most cooks already have a basic box grater for shredding potatoes or grating cheese. But a rasp grater is a whole different creature. This tool is ideal for delicate jobs like removing the zest from citrus fruits at lightning speed while leaving behind the bitter white pith. It expertly grates chocolate, fresh nutmeg, and hard cheeses like Parmesan into tiny shreds. It can even make flavorful pastes of fresh ginger or garlic.
8. Oil Mister
For health-conscious cooks seeking to keep their recipes as low-fat as possible, an oil mister is an amazingly handy tool. Like a can of cooking spray, it allows them to apply just enough oil to a pan to keep the food from sticking without weighing the food down.
But unlike those prefilled cans, an oil mister is refillable. Not only does the oil cost much less per ounce, it never runs out at an awkward moment. And the cook has the freedom to choose whatever type of oil they like.
Oil misters have other applications too. They’re good for greasing bread pans or coating dough with oil so it doesn’t dry out. They can also lightly coat pasta so it doesn’t clump and add just enough oil to popcorn for salt to stick.
The most well-known oil mister on the market is the inexpensive Misto, which uses a pumping action to pressurize the oil inside the bottle. However, reviews suggest it’s worth paying a little extra to upgrade to the spray bottle-style Evo or the button-top, glass-bottle Öl mister. Both of these get better ratings for their durability and their fine, even spray.
9. Food Scale
Cookbooks typically list ingredient amounts by volume; cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons are common. However, baking recipes often list ingredients by weight, which is more precise than volume. For bakers, an accurate food scale is a must.
Food scales have other uses too. For people watching their weight, it’s an easy way to measure out portions, such as an ounce of cheese or 4 ounces of chicken. Using a food scale helps you get a handle on how big your servings really are so you don’t overeat.
Though some food scales are analog, digital models are the most popular type. You can find many well-reviewed digital scales, such as the Ozeri Pronto, for less than $20.
10. Foraging Guide
Foraging for edible plants is a way for food enthusiasts to get their hands on ingredients stores either don’t carry, such as pawpaws and morels, or charge a premium for, such as pine nuts and chanterelle mushrooms.
However, foraging is a tricky hobby that requires careful training. Get your favorite foodie off to a good start with a foraging guide. Top books on the subject include “Foraging” from Idiot’s Guides and “The Forager’s Harvest.”
11. New Cookbook
There are thousands of cookbooks covering every cuisine, technique, and food type imaginable. That makes it easy to find the right cookbook for every foodie on your list, whether they enjoy the classics, eat a special diet, or love to host parties. If you’re not sure how to decide, start your search with one of these:
- Classic. “The Joy of Cooking” by Irma Rombauer is an all-purpose cookbook that generations of cooks have relied on. It’s been newly revised and updated for 2019.
- Frugal. For thrifty cooks, Leanne Brown’s “Good and Cheap” offers an array of healthy meals you can prepare on a budget of only $4 per person per day. This was the average daily benefit for people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) when Brown wrote the book in 2014. Cor every copy you buy, the publisher donates another to a person or family in need.
- Vegetarian. New and experienced vegetarians alike will love “The Clueless Vegetarian” by Evelyn Raab. It’s packed with easy meatless recipes everyone will love, whether they’re strict vegans or casual omnivores trying to cut back on meat. And there are plenty of handy tips on the vegetarian lifestyle interspersed among the recipes.
- Gluten-Free. Some people have specific illnesses that require them to eat gluten-free, and many more are experimenting with gluten-free eating for general health. Whatever their reason, they’ll love Nicole Hunn’s “Gluten-Free on a Shoestring,” which offers gluten-free versions of everything from pizza to apple pie.
- Bread Baking. Baking your own bread is an old-fashioned skill that’s seen a big revival in 2018 and 2019. For the friend who wants to get in on this trend, buy “Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza” by Ken Forkish. It’s a fantastic compendium of the basics.
- Desserts. Dessert never goes out of style. There are whole cookbooks dedicated to specific types of goodies, such as cookies, pie, ice cream, and pastries. One good all-purpose cookbook that covers a wide range of sweet treats is the wonderfully named “BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts” by Stella Parks.
- Cooking for Guests. Alison Roman’s newest cookbook, “Nothing Fancy,” explains how to throw a dinner party millennial-style. It’s not about entertaining. It’s about sharing good food with good friends, without the pressure of trying to make everything perfect.
A flavorful meal deserves a flavorful bottle of wine to go with it. And fortunately, wine is an affordable gift, even on the tightest of budgets. Although high-end wines run hundreds of dollars per bottle, many under-$20 bottles are highly regarded. Following these guidelines will help you save on good wine:
- Choose the Right Type. Just a little understanding of wine will save you money. Speaking with CNBC, wine expert Kevin Zraly noted some varietals and regions are consistently cheaper than others. For instance, prosecco, a sparkling white wine from Italy, costs significantly less than Champagne. Other good choices for modest budgets include rosé, pinot grigio, malbec, Rosso di Montalcino, Beaujolais, and Côtes du Rhône.
- Buy the Wine, Not the Label. The best-tasting wines don’t always come from the most famous vineyards. Instead of shopping by brand, consult reviews to find recommendations for specific wines that are excellent values. For instance, wine experts interviewed by Insider offer up suggestions for 10 affordable wines that taste much more expensive than they are.
- Know Where to Shop. Trader Joe’s has long been one of the most popular destinations for wine lovers on tight budgets. You can also find wine bargains at warehouse stores if you have a membership. Lastly, consider shopping online. Sites like Wino on a Budget, Vino 100, and WineZap help you find quality wines that fit a modest budget.
Foodie Gift Ideas From $20 – $50
If you’ve got a slightly bigger budget to work with, there are even more food-related options to choose from. Many kitchen gadgets, serving pieces, and even small appliances are easy to find on a budget of $20 to $50. And in this price range, you can also branch out into more exotic ingredients cooks consider luxuries.
The more time you spend in the kitchen, the more you need an apron to protect your clothes from splashes of cooking oil and pancake batter. Keep your favorite foodie looking spiffy and feeling special with an apron that tells the world they’re a cook.
Apron styles range from the practical to the entertaining. A simple denim chef-style apron provides lots of coverage and is equally suitable for men and women. Funny aprons feature amusing slogans like “Never trust a skinny chef” or “May the forks be with you.” Or make a chef feel special with a personalized apron emblazoned with their name or pictures of their kids.
14. Produce Protector
Especially when you’re investing in expensive or exotic ingredients, reducing food waste is vital. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch a container of beautiful ripe berries turn brown and mushy.
Produce protectors, also known as a produce savers, prevent this problem. They improve air circulation around produce, reducing the buildup of ethylene gas that causes fruits and vegetables to ripen and spoil. Some of them also actively remove ethylene, either by filtering it out or by breaking it down. This helps cooks save money and do their shopping further in advance.
Some produce protectors are also containers. The well-reviewed FreshWorks produce saver containers from Rubbermaid come in various sizes. Others, like the Bluapple produce saver, simply sit in the crisper drawer and filter out ethylene gas. And some fancier models, like the GreenTech Environmental pureAir produce saver, actively break down ethylene throughout the whole fridge.
15. Mortar & Pestle
For ordinary cooks, ready-ground spices from the supermarket do the job just fine. To a true foodie, freshly ground herbs and spices provide a subtle improvement in freshness and flavor that makes a real difference.
To enjoy freshly ground ingredients, they’ll need a mortar and pestle. The mortar is a bowl made of a solid material, like stone or ceramic, that holds the spices. The pestle is a knob with a handle that crushes the spices to powder or paste against the mortar’s surface. This combo is also handy for making dishes such as salsa and guacamole.
The best-rated mortar and pestle sets are usually natural stone, which is both durable and good-looking. Choose from sleek marble, rough granite, or polished granite to suit your favorite cook’s style.
For folks who have jumped on the low-carb bandwagon, a food spiralizer is an incredibly handy tool. This gadget turns zucchini and other squash into long, spiral-shaped strips to take the place of noodles in a recipe. It’s a food substitution that cuts way down on calories and carbs and boosts the amount of healthy veggies.
But that’s far from the only way to use a spiralizer. It also makes just about any vegetable into spirals, which cook up quickly in a stir fry, creates perfect ribbon fries, and shaves off strips of veggies for garnishes.
17. Veggie Chopper
Chopping ingredients is the most time-consuming part of many recipes. A food processor makes the job easier, but not everyone has the space to store one. Plus, they’re a nuisance to clean.
A small, manually powered veggie chopper is an excellent middle-ground option. These little gadgets make quick work of any small-scale chopping job – fruits, veggies, herbs, nuts, even ice cubes – all without electricity. Your foodie friend can toss all the ingredients for a salsa in the bowl, give it a quick whir, and have it ready to serve in under a minute. And the whole thing cleans up easily in the dishwasher.
Food choppers come in a variety of styles and sizes, from as small as two cups to as large as five cups. And even the largest models are much smaller and less expensive than a full-size food processor.
18. Slow Cooker
For people who love great food but seldom have time to cook a delicious dinner at home, a slow cooker is a real blessing. It allows a busy cook to throw a bunch of ingredients into the pot in the morning and come home to a hot dinner, ready and waiting. Plus, it saves money by making it easier to enjoy a home-cooked meal on a weeknight rather than eating out.
Slow cookers come in a range of sizes. There are mini-cookers with a capacity of less than 4 quarts and huge ones that hold more than 7.
They also have numerous features to choose from. Even the simplest ones usually have two temperature settings – high and low – plus a warm setting. More sophisticated cookers come with programmable timers so the cook can dial in the exact hour for dinner to be ready. There’s even a slow cooker with a removable crock that’s stovetop-safe to brown food without dirtying up another dish.
19. Coffee Maker
People who love good food often love good coffee too. Unfortunately, buying it at the coffeehouse every day is both expensive and time-consuming. But a top-notch coffee maker lets your favorite foodie home-brew gourmet coffee that rivals the best Starbucks has to offer.
If you’re looking for a coffee maker they’ll really appreciate, don’t waste your time on automatic drip models. Instead, consider these types:
- Filter Cone. The latest hot coffeehouse trend is pour-over coffee. The technique for making this at home is complicated, but the equipment isn’t. All it takes is an inexpensive filter cone, such as the Kalita Wave.
- French Press. Many coffee aficionados swear by the French press. It makes coffee without a filter, leaving in more of the oils that carry the flavor and fragrance. It’s also easy to use, though it is a bit of a hassle to clean. One of the best models is the Bodum Chambord.
- Cold Brewer. Cold brew is the best technique for making iced coffee. It produces a strong but less bitter coffee extract that gets cut with water. For this type of brewing, the OXO Good Grips cold brewer is a good choice.
- AeroPress. The AeroPress is a proprietary design that works like a French press but faster. It also adds a fine-mesh filter that makes cleanup easier. It produces either regular-strength coffee or a strong, espressolike brew to use in homemade lattes and cappuccinos.
20. Gourmet Salt
If you think all salt is alike, clearly you’re not a food snob. According to food experts – and a blind taste test done by The Washington Times – the salt you use makes a big difference in the quality of your food. Salts from different areas have distinctly different textures and flavors based on the minerals they contain.
That makes gourmet salt an ideal gift for a food lover. It will put a new flavor spin on everything they cook. Give them the gift of variety with a sea salt sampler from The Flavory, or choose one extra-special salt like the white truffle-infused sea salt from Jacobsen Salt Co.
21. Gourmet Vinegar
Another ingredient most people don’t pay much attention to is vinegar. But to a true gastronome, there’s a world of difference between an aged balsamic vinegar and the cheap white vinegar available by the gallon at the supermarket. The right vinegar completely changes the character of a salad dressing or glaze, taking it from just OK to fabulous.
Open up a whole new world of flavor to your favorite cook by treating them to one of these special vinegars:
- Aged Balsamic. A cask-aged balsamic vinegar like Giuseppe Giusti grows mellower over time. It develops a perfect balance between sweet and sour flavors. Rich and full-flavored, it’s ideal for meats, veggies, and salad dressings.
- Champagne Vinegar. Made from the same grapes as the famous sparkling wine, Champagne vinegar has a fresh, bright flavor. This one from Williams Sonoma is suitable for vinaigrettes, marinades, and sauces.
- Sherry Vinegar. This Spanish vinegar has a flavor Cook’s Illustrated describes as “nutty, oaky, savory.” Columela‘s aged sherry vinegar develops a deep, complex, aromatic flavor that earns consistently high marks from reviewers.
22. Mushroom-Growing Kit
Cooks prize exotic mushrooms like shiitakes and oyster mushrooms. These fancy shrooms aren’t available in most supermarkets. Connoisseurs have to go to specialty stores and pay a pretty penny for them – unless you get them their very own mushroom-growing kit.
These all-in-one kits provide the spores and growth medium necessary to grow exotic mushrooms at home. There are versions for white oyster mushrooms, pink oyster mushrooms, shiitakes, and even cherished morels, which typically only appear in the wild.
23. Serving Dishes
For an epicure, preparing a delicious meal is only part of the challenge. The other part is presenting it beautifully so it looks as great as it tastes. Even before guests dig in, they know they’re about to experience something special.
Help them serve up beautiful fare with the gift of a lovely serving piece. For instance, a gorgeous hardwood slab is excellent for serving up items like bread, cheese, and crudités, and it can double as a cutting board. Or consider a whimsical bamboo board in the shape of your favorite cook’s home state. A wooden bowl is a good choice for salad or fruit.
If wood isn’t their style, consider ceramic pieces. On a $20 to $50 budget, it’s easy to find a set of colorful mixing bowls that are pretty enough for serving. Or choose a single statement piece, like a beautiful marbleized bowl or a serving platter with a pattern in soft, muted colors.
24. Salt & Pepper Set
A table setting isn’t complete without salt and pepper. Help the food bon vivant on your list dress up the table with a special set of salt and pepper shakers in a fancy or funny style.
Foodies with a wicked sense of humor will appreciate a cheeky Marie Antoinette salt and pepper set shaped like a bust of the famous queen – with a detachable head. Those of an artistic bent might prefer classy marble shakers that resemble a modern sculpture. And anyone who insists on fresh-ground pepper would love a handsome pair of wooden salt and pepper mills that hold coarse salt and whole peppercorns.
Foodie Gift Ideas From $51 – $100
With a budget of $51 to $100, you can really go all out to impress your food-loving friend. On this budget, there are all kinds of specialty kitchen appliances only a true gourmet would put to good use. Or treat your favorite home cook to extra-special ingredients and gear to make them feel like a real chef.
25. Chef’s Coat
A chef’s coat is a big step up from an apron. Anyone can wear an apron, but a chef’s coat says the wearer is a true professional – or at least on the same level as one.
Chef Works sells a variety of stylish chef’s coats in different styles, sizes, and colors. Examples include the asymmetrical Hartford design, the double-breasted Bordeaux, or the wide-cut Lisbon. Or treat your foodie friend to a custom-embroidered chef’s coat from Chef Designs.
- Speed. A pressure cooker cooks nearly any food faster than conventional methods like boiling or baking. It cuts the cooking time for brown rice by up to 70% and fully cooks soaked dry beans in as little as 20 minutes.
- Flavor. Because you lose so little water with pressure cooking, you keep more of the flavor in your food. It’s even possible to brown and caramelize foods without drying them out.
- Low Energy Use. Because a pressure cooker cuts cooking time, it also saves energy. Plus, it won’t heat the kitchen like running the oven or cooking on the stove, which can reduce air-conditioning costs in the summer.
- Programmability. Like most slow cookers, you can set a multicooker in the morning and program it to have dinner ready when you want it. It even keeps it warm until you’re ready to eat – a nice feature for people with unpredictable schedules.
- Versatility. Perhaps its best feature is that it cooks an amazing variety of dishes, including soups, polenta, steamed artichokes, eggs, stuffed peppers, pasta, and risotto. It braises meats to perfection and even turns out perfectly moist cheesecakes.
27. Air Fryer
The air fryer is a new invention that delivers the crispness of deep-fried foods without all the grease. It works by circulating hot air around the food, causing the surface to dry out and form a crunchy crust. French fries, egg rolls, breaded shrimp, and chicken tenders cook with up to 80% less fat than their fried counterparts. Plus, there’s no risk of burns from splattering grease.
Air fryers aren’t just for frying, either. They can also grill, roast, and even bake. That makes them perfect for cooks with tiny kitchens who have always wanted a second oven. Air fryers range in size from the compact, 1.6-quart Amagarm to the 6-quart OMorc.
28. Sous Vide Cooker
One of the hottest cooking trends today is sous vide cooking. This technique involves placing food in a sealed bag and long-cooking it in a water bath at below boiling temperature.
The great advantage of this method is that the food never gets hotter than the water, so it can’t overcook. It cooks to the perfect level of doneness and stays that way until serving time. And like pressure cooking, it keeps food moist and flavorful.
Sous vide cooking relies on precise control of the water temperature. The easiest way to attain this is to use a sous vide cooker set to the exact temperature needed. The earliest sous vide cookers were big, pricey, stand-alone machines only professionals could afford. However, the introduction of inexpensive sous vide sticks or wands, which clip to the side of a pot, has opened up this technique to home cooks.
One top-rated sous vide wand from Gramercy Kitchen Company upgrades the experience with a delay-start timer – set up a meal in the morning, and the sous vide machine comes on at the right time to cook it to perfection by dinnertime.
29. Herb Garden
Many cooks have a love-hate relationship with fresh herbs. They love the flavor they add to a recipe, but they hate the exorbitant prices supermarkets charge for them. Worse still, they often have to buy herbs like basil or dill by the bunch for a recipe that only calls for a small sprig. It’s difficult to keep herbs fresh in the fridge, so the rest of that pricey bunch often goes to waste.
Solve this problem by giving fresh herb lovers the tools to grow their own at home. The indoor-outdoor herb garden kit from Dryden Trading Company includes a wooden planter, soil, seeds, and markers, so all they have to supply is water and sunlight. Ideal for apartment dwellers, it fits easily on a balcony or a sunny window.
For those who don’t have enough sunlight to grow herbs at home, there’s a higher-tech solution: the AeroGarden. It grows herbs hydroponically – in water, not soil – under artificial light. The kit holds up to six plants in just over a square foot of space. It controls the light automatically and provides reminders when it’s time to add water or plant food.
30. Gourmet Cheeses
Another expensive ingredient gourmets crave is fancy cheese. They’re not satisfied with the basic grocery store selection, like American, pepper jack, and Swiss. They want brie, manchego, and Gruyère. Sadly, these high-end cheeses are so pricey many foodies only treat themselves to a small chunk once in a while.
If you really want to thrill a cheese lover, treat them to a selection of high-end cheeses from a top-notch cheese shop. For instance, the Greatest Hits sampler from Murray’s includes sharp English cheddar, mini brie, aged manchego, and aged Gruyère, all accompanied by fancy crackers, almonds, and cherry preserves.
As the old saying goes, the best gift is one you wouldn’t have bought for yourself. So when choosing gifts for food lovers, think about what they probably already have. For instance, if the gastronome on your gift list is the sort who runs out and buys every new kitchen gadget that comes on the market, tech-related kitchen gifts aren’t your best bet.
One can’t-miss gift option for any foodie is a gift of ingredients. Even if they already have aged balsamic vinegar or Hawaiian red sea salt in their kitchens, they can always use more. And food-centered catalogs like Harry and David feature lots more fancy treats to send, from exquisite fruits to smoked meats.
Giving to foodies has perks for you too. There’s always a chance they’ll share the bounty with you by inviting you over for an exquisite home-cooked meal. The one thing that makes a delicious meal even better is having a friend to share it with.
What do you plan to get the home cook on your gift list? If you’re a foodie, what’s the best food gift you’ve ever gotten?