Back in March, many would-be chefs and bakers hopped on tons of cooking trends, from nurturing sourdough starters to making the perfect loaf of banana bread. Hey, there’s not a ton to do while sheltering in place! But now, even as more restaurants open up amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some of your buddies may still be donning the chef’s hat.
This is great for several reasons: 1) You might just get to be a go-to taste-tester, and 2) you now have tons of gift ideas — maybe too many, in fact. Stocking your kitchen with the right tools isn’t as easy as you might think; the sheer number of gadgets can be overwhelming. Don’t worry — we’ve cooked up a list of some of our favorite kitchen must-haves for all your favorite at-home cooks.
Cut Through the Cooking Prep with Ease
This might seem like an obvious item, but if your friend has just gotten into cooking, then they may not have a high-quality chef’s knife. Sure, it looks like just another knife, but you (and your buddy) won’t truly understand the difference until you hold something like the Victorinox Fibrox Pro Knife in your hand.
Keep Things Looking Sharp
Okay, you probably saw this one coming, right? Right. After all, if you’re investing in a high-quality knife, you’ll also want to make sure it stays sharp. For that, you’ll need a great tool like the Kitchellence Knife Sharpener. This easy-to-use device takes your knife through a three-stage process — straightening, sharpening and polishing, all of which keep your chef’s knife in top-notch condition.
Make Meal (and Drink) Prep a Cinch
At first glance, a juicer sounds like something pricey. In reality, a quality appliance, like the BLACK+DECKER Citrus Juicer, is actually a very affordable kitchen must-have. To be honest, any product that saves time and energy when it comes to food prep is worth it — the low price tag is just a bonus.
Put a New Spin on Salad Prep
Is there anything worse than a soggy salad? You have to rinse the ingredients, but too much water leaves the lettuce limp and the dressing runny. That's where the OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner comes in. Toss your rinsed lettuce inside, give the handle some spins and enjoy your fresh, crisp salad.
Let Your Gadgets Do Some of the Heavy Lifting
Even if your chef pal insists on being hands on, we promise that doing some prep and cooking with a Crock-Pot Slow Cooker isn’t cheating. In fact, there’s a reason this classic kitchen must-have is so loved, especially by folks who work long hours. While many of us are at home quite often these days, we can still find ourselves pulled in a number of different directions.
Don’t Get “Board” with Any Kitchen Task
Bet you expected to see this one earlier, right? Well, better late than never. Much like a chef’s knife (and a knife sharpener), a quality cutting board is a kitchen staple. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who can cook without one. Investing in a high-quality John Boos Maple Wood Edge Grain Reversible Cutting Board is a good way to level up anyone’s kitchen game.
Cook Up Cozy Treats in an Equally Cozy Pan
Hear the phrase "cast iron," and you’ll likely think of cooking in a cozy cabin nestled in the pines. You wouldn’t be wrong. There’s something delightfully rustic about making everything from cornbread to chicken in a Cast Iron Skillet. If you're not privy to the wonders of this device, prepare to discover the secret to better fried foods. First, these skillets are incredibly sturdy and virtually impossible to break.
Chicken Wings — But Make Them Healthy
Much like the early pandemic baking trends, food lovers have been spending 2020 looking for new, fun ways to make tasty, restaurant-quality meals. Getting an air fryer, like the OMORC Habor Air Fryer, is a great way to open up a world of new possibilities. From frying meat to fries and veggies, this 6-quart cooker does it all — in fact, you can fit a whole chicken in that basket!
Squash the Pasta Competition
If you want to give the gift of a kitchen tool that's as fun as it is useful, try the Spiralizer Ultimate Veggie Slicer. This product will cut apples, zucchini, onions, cucumbers and any other firm fruit or vegetable into long spirals. All you do is stick the veggie or fruit on the Spiralizer's prongs and crank away!
Keep the Basics on Hand, No Matter What Meal You’re Making
Last on our list is the ever-compact Dash Mini Rice Cooker, which is almost as cute as it is useful. If you’ve never used this item, it just might change your life. It cooks perfectly done rice with minimal effort. Just add the ingredients and press "cook." Much like an instant pot, we don’t consider this one a kitchen "cheat" — it’s just a great way for your aspiring chef friend to manage their time when cooking a full-on meal.
Honorable Mentions: Fun, Inexpensive and Silly Gadgets Worth Gifting
Looking for a stocking stuffer, small present or gag gift? Here are some of our favorite little gadgets that make things a bit simpler for wannabe chefs. Bonus: They’ve got a lot of personality.