Once again the Winter holidays are right around the corner, and my kitchen begs for some holiday food and cheer. I swear last winter just ended. With one blink I’ve aged an entire year, and my belt is one notch tighter. Too bad there’s no reversal for that whole age thing.
As the temperature drops and my kids start to bundle up in their cute little coats, I find myself drawn to the kitchen more than usual. It could be that I enjoy the warmth of the oven, or that the chilly months are filled to the brim with nostalgia. Only now do I fully understand and appreciate the time my mom spent in her kitchen canning cider, baking pies, frosting cookies, and heating chocolate for our frosted and red kid noses. I think I will have succeeded if my kids can remember their childhood the way I remember mine.
Each year I like to compile and distribute a gifts list for people who spend a decent amount of time in their kitchens. This is only the second time I’ve decided to distribute it via my site. Sometimes it’s crazy enormous, and other times it’s a small list of about 10 items or so that I mail out or hand deliver. This year’s list size is somewhere in the middle.
This list has taken me many hours to research and complete, and every item has been hand-picked. If you find it even slightly helpful in your shopping adventures, I would be honored if you shared it with your family and friends. It’s my wish to make your shopping as easy and enjoyable as possible.
As required by law and common decency, you should know that any Amazon, Craftsy, or food photography links are affiliates. I have not been given any items on this list for free nor have I been asked to include them by any manufacturer. Any purchases made through these links directly fund my efforts in recipe development, site maintenance, and giveaways. Thank you!
Table of Contents
There’s a reason that a knife stays with the cook and not the kitchen: a high-quality knife is a chef’s best friend. When you treat a knife properly, it can easily outlast the original owner and pass down through a generation, maybe two.
Most home cooks don’t need a $400-per-knife solution (though if you’re lucky enough to have that as an option, go for it!), so they jump for whatever knife block set looks and feels nice at Target or Wal-Mart for $60 to $100. These will dull quickly and most of the knives won’t even be put to good use. Instead, opt for 1-3 knives guaranteed to last. There’s a night-and-day quality difference, and they’re worth every penny.
Thousands of people love and use the following chef’s knives every day, including myself. They’re priced right, and are a great introduction to the world of professional cutlery. The links are for the 8″ sizes, but different sizes are available once there.
1. Miyabi Kaizen 8″ Chef Knife
Made in Japan the Miyabi Kaizen line uses VG-10 super steel at its core with a Damascus steel exterior. They’re a 60 Rockwell hardness. In other words, when used & maintained properly, this knife will keep its edge for long time. The blade’s heel extends slightly beyond the bolster. This could be either a pro or con, depending on how you pinch the blade.
2. Shun 8″ Classic Chef Knife
The Japanese make fantastic knives, Shun is no exception. The Classic line provides an excellent gateway to those looking to refine their craft without breaking the bank. Made with VG-10 super steel with a Damascus steel exterior, they’ll keep their edge for a long while. With a 16° blade it will cleanly slice through any food you throw at it. (Throwing food is not recommended, though it is better than throwing your knife.)
Shun makes some of my favorite knives, and as a bonus the handles are beautiful and comfortable to hold.
3. Wusthof 8″ Classic (or Ikon) Chef Knife
Wusthof is perhaps one of the most well-known, leading brands in cutlery. made in Germany, they have a few different lines. The Classic line is among their most popular in the kitchen. Made with high-carbon stainless steel, the edge will last for a long time. The classic line features a bolster that runs all the way to the heel. Some people love this, some don’t. If you don’t, try out the Ikon line (my preferred line of the two) which is only slightly more expensive. For me the handles are a bit more comfortable, and I don’t feel like the bolster is in my way.
For the record, I’ve actually used both knives and have a 6″ Classic that I use regularly. You can’t go wrong with either.
A chef should buy their knives individually. Instead of choosing a low quality knife block set from “Whatever Store, Inc.”, opt instead for fewer, higher quality knives that will last a lifetime. Every chef should have one or two pairing knives.
Paring knives do what chef’s knives do not: work wonders on small items and in small spaces. Without a paring knife, your kitchen is incomplete and your chef’s knife is lonely. Individually they’re strong; together they can tackle anything.
I love each one of the pairing knives below, pairing each their partner Chef’s knife above.
4. Miyabi Kaizen 3-1/2″ Paring Knife
Like its chef’s knife counterpart, Miyabi makes the Kaizen paring knife from VG-10 super steel. It’s a lightweight, heavy-duty knife that maintains its edge for a long time. It fits comfortably in your hand while making quick work of its tasks.
5. Shun 4″ Classic paring knife
From spine to heel, this knife is a tad taller than you might expect. With its sharp blade, it can easily cut through any food you bring to the table. It’s perfect for your smaller, more intricate tasks and fits comfortably in your hand. When you need to choke up on the blade for precision work, this knife excels.
6. Wusthof 3-1/2″ Classic (or Ikon) Paring Knife
These knives are some of my go-to in the kitchen. Made with the same skill and precision as their larger chef’s knife counterparts, these paring knives feel great in the hand while delivering a consistent experience. When deciding between the two, it’s more about visual preference than performance.
Keep your new knives happy with a trusty cutting board sidekick to back them up. A proper cutting board will maximize your knife’s life and make food work a breeze.
The following cutting boards are ones that I’ve either personally used or come with super-high ratings. I didn’t include any plastic or bendable boards for two reasons: 1) plastic is easy to wash, but wood boards are better at bacteria control; 2) thin, bendy cutting boards will dull your knives like nobody’s business.
7. Epicurean Non-Slip Board
Epicurean has been around since 2003 working with skateboards. In the past few years, they’ve made a splash into the cutting board market. I’ve used a few of their boards, and the non-slip series are among the best they offer.
Their boards are harder than the standard maple boards you’re used to, but that doesn’t mean they’ll dull your knives. With proper technique you’re still good to go.
Most Epicurean boards come with a slight odor left over from their treatment process, but that goes aways shortly after a few washes. Not only are these boards easy to clean, they’re also eco-friendly.
8. John Boos Maple Cutting Board
Professionals the world over swear by the Boos board (not the Boo Box). It’s a professionally made, sturdy cutting board. More accurately, it’s a large, heavy-set cutting block that can take a beating. With proper TLC, it will last a *really* long time.
9. Virginia Boys Kitchens Black Walnut Board
The Epicurean board is light, the Boos board is heavy, and this one is somewhere in the middle. Made from sturdy walnut and outlined with a drip groove, it’s a board that will last. At only 1″ thick, it doesn’t raise your cutting height to an unfamiliar level, and the color looks beautiful in any kitchen.
Now that you have a nice knife or two and an equally awesome cutting board, you’ll want to take care of them. The following items will help you give the required attention and care to the tools that feed you.
10. John Boos Food-Safe Wood Oil
Food-safe wood oil is often overlooked in the home kitchen. If you want your cutting boards and other wooden tools to last long into your golden years, it’s essential to treat them well. As their surfaces dry out, apply a thin coating of oil to keep them in top shape.
11. M.O.C. Woodworks Magnetic Knife Strip
I searched for months for the perfect knife strip, and this is it. While the strip itself is a little more on the pricey side, in my book it’s worth every penny. Each strip is handmade and adds elegance to your kitchen. The magnets are not exposed so it won’t scratch your knife blades, and you can order it in different woods. Nearly everyone who comes to my house comments on how beautiful it is.
12. Shun Honing Steel
Honing steels keep your knives sharper longer by straightening the little barbs along the edge that happen over time with use. This honing steel is my favorite because it comes with a built-in angle finder for my shun knives.
13. Smith’s Tri-Stone Sharpening System
There’s a difference between honing and sharpening. Honing straightens the barbs on a knife’s blade, and sharpening grinds a new edge. You can take your knives into a kitchen store to sharpen them ($5.00+ per blade), or be a superstar and do it yourself. This tri-stone sharpener comes with a beginner’s guide and three different stones: course (400), medium (600), and fine (1000+). In no time, you’ll be a knife sharpening master. The Arkansas stones need oil to keep the stone from clogging, so don’t forget to pick some of that up too.
Ingredients are at the heart of every recipe you create and prepare. A cup of this, a dash of that, and a gallon of… butter? WTF? (You know the kind.) Either way, be ready for any situation with liquid and dry measurements, thermometers, and scales.
I’ve personally used each of the items listed below and can vouch that they’re fantastic tools to have around.
14. Cuisipro Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons
I’m a bit anal when it comes to my measuring spoons, and these are my favorite. You can get them in the regular sizes or the odd-sizes for those recipes that ask for them.
The end of these spoons curve, keeping the spoon upright when set on the counter. The measurements are permanently etched on the handles, so they’ll never rub off. They’re high-quality and won’t easily bend, scratch, or rust. They’re my go-to.
15. Eat Smart Precision Elite Scale
In the United States, we’ve learned to cook using volume measurements instead of mass. Cooking this way can drastically change how a recipe turns out. For example, depending on who’s measuring, 1 cup of flour could weigh anywhere between 4 to 6 ounces. That’s a big difference and could adversely affect your dough.
Transform your cooking and fundamental understanding of the way food works with a kitchen scale. Eat Smart builds some my favorite ones. They don’t look as fancy as some of the flatter, glass-surfaced scales, but you can use large bowls and plates on them and still see the number. With just as good functionality, these are a win.
16. Kitchenmade Stainless Steel Measuring Cups
Have you ever looked for quality measuring cups? They’re a real beast to find. I’ve personally gone through at least 4 sets. For some reason it seems that nobody out there makes them well.
That’s where the Kitchenmade Stainless Steel set comes into play. Where many cups fail, these fit the bill. They feature a little pouring spout to guide your ingredients, and they’re compact when stacked. The only drawback for me are their stubby handles. I prefer longer ones, but it helps keep the cups from tipping over. I can handle (ba dum tink!) that.
17. Pyrex Liquid Measurer
I will never buy any other liquid measuring cup. Period. Although these a bit heavier than others on the market, their superior quality is well worth it. Pyrex liquid measurers have accurate measurement markings and hold both hot or cold liquids. Hands down, these are the best.
I keep multiple sizes in my kitchen, but use the 2-cup measurer the most.
18. ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4
Three years ago I purchased two different thermometers from ThermoWorks. I gulped as I finalized my order. Would the price be worth it for… for a thermometer? Turns out that yeah, it’s worth it. Completely.
Using the Thermapen thermometer in my kitchen has transformed my cooking. Instead of sitting there for what seems like an eternity waiting for other thermometers to figure out the temperature, this one gets in and gets the job done quickly and with pinpoint accuracy.
It’s easy to use and clean. Trust me on this one. You’ll love it.
Pots & Pans
19. Enameled Dutch Oven
Enameled dutch ovens are a delight to cook with. Not only can you get them in beautiful colors, you also don’t have to season them! A 6 quart dutch oven is perfect for baking, roasting, braising, marinating, and creating soups and stews. It’s truly a versatile pot that you will use over and over.
I’m a fan of two different brands: Lodge & Le Creuset. The Lodge brand is much less expensive than Le Creuset, but if you’ve got some spare change, it wouldn’t be hard to fall in love with the Le Creuset. Lodge is well-known and trusted in the United States, and Le Creuset is well-known and trusted in Europe and among many chefs. I can’t help but feel though, that in this case you are paying a bit extra for the French brand name.
P.S. You can also accessories with a stainless steel knob.
Take care of this pot, and it will outlast you and your kitchen.
20. Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet
If you haven’t cooked with a cast iron skillet, you’re missing out; there’s nothing like it. Chef’s love using cast iron skillets for their fast and even heat distribution. It’s perfect for searing meats, baking breads, threatening people, blackening fish, and more! It’s perhaps one of the most useful pans you can have around.
Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that when Lewis and Clark journeyed through the North American continent, the only items for which they never bartered or traded were their cast iron pots and pans?
Cast iron rusts easily, but with proper seasoning and care, you can avoid it. If your skillet does rust, you can restore it to full use. It’s one of those pans that your children’s children’s children will be arguing over who inherits it.
Another fun fact: I salvaged an old rusted 10″ cast-iron pan from my Great Grandma’s basement. After nursing it back to health, I continue to use it today.
21. Mauviel 5-Ply Stainless Steel Frying Pan
I love Mauviel brand pans. I first purchased this particular one two years ago, and I’ve used it twice a day since then. Being 5-ply it takes a little longer to heat up, but the heat distribution is even, and you don’t have any problems with the pan wobbling because it’s off-balance.
This pan deglazes nicely, transfers from the stove top to the oven with ease, and cleans up quickly. These pans are also much more comfortable to hold and work with than their main competitor, All-Clad. The All-Clad pans have a deeply concave handle that cuts into the palm of your hand. These Mauviel pans don’t do that.
Clean these after each use, and it will last you a really long time.
22. All-Clad Wok
I know, I just got done saying that I don’t really like the All-Clad pans because their handles are uncomfortable. Handles aside though, they’re a delight to cook with. This particular wok is one of best ones out there for the price. It’s thick enough that you won’t have the same heating issues that you get with the thinner generic woks you find in Wal-Mart, etc. The flat bottom fits on any type of stove top and the larger size will be beneficial when cooking larger portions!
I’ve discovered that having the right tool at the right time can make or break your cooking experience. When I have friends over who enjoy cooking, it’s fun to pull out a nifty tool and say, “check out how awesome this baby is!”
When you cook, if you feel like you’re working against your food, then perhaps what you need is a different tool or an upgrade. Throw away the old tool that’s cracked and falling apart, and invest in something that lasts. Make cooking enjoyable again. Having the right tools makes everything better. (I prefer tools that have multiple uses so that I don’t waste space with a one-trick pony.)
23. J.K. Adams Maple French Rolling Pin
This is my favorite rolling pin! It’s one solid piece of maple cut along the grain without handles, and the ends taper at just the right angle for rotating.
Over time as you use this pin, oils and flour will blend with the wood helping it develop non-stick properties. It’s never truly non-stick, but it gets better with time and care. When you’re done using it, instead of washing it off with soap and water, simply take a slightly damp paper towel or kitchen cloth and wipe it down. Use a scraper to remove any stuck or troublesome dough pieces. It’ll last for years.
24. Stainless Steel Scraper/Chopper
These stainless steel scrapers are a life saver. The measurements make for quick dough separation, and the stiffness make it awesome for scraping off your countertop. There’s not a baking day that goes by where this fine tool isn’t by my side. If Batman were a chef, this would be on his utility belt.
25. Jamie Oliver Mortar & Pestle
Confession time: I don’t own a mortar and pestle, but if I did, this would be the one. Both the mortar and pestle are cut from a thick, single granite block. I like that the pestle is longer, making it more comfortable to use. This set is solid and is just the right size for making sauces and grinding your herbs and spices.
26. Microplane Zester & Grater:
There’s a reason you always see professional chefs using these. They’re amazing. They come in different shapes, colors, and grating sizes. These longer, skinnier Microplanes are easier to use and navigate around smaller fruits and nuts. Start with this one and expand from there.
27. Chef’s Inspirations Mandoline Slicer
Before mandolins became a common household item, you’d have to pay an arm and a leg for a decent one. (They’re beyond sharp, so if you’re not careful you still might!) These days you can buy one for a third the price and still have outstanding results. No matter how many vegetables you’re preparing this will save you time.
One of the more popular, sturdy, and functional mandoline slicers on the market is this one made by Chef’s Inspirations which comes with 5 different blade inserts.
28. di Oro Living Silicone Spatula Set
I have two main complaints when it comes to spatulas: cleaning and bacteria growth. Any spatula that comes in two parts is susceptible to it. Over time, grime and mildew build up in the spatula’s head, causing it to mold or collect icky bits of slime. Pulling them apart to clean and dry them every time is also a pain.
Enter the di Oro spatulas. The head on each spatula has excellent curvature and give. Because they’re a single piece, you don’t have to worry about all that cruddy build up! Win!
29. Super Tofu Press
The Super Tofu Press is one of my few exceptions to the ‘one-trick pony’ rule. I used to stack cutting boards and paper towels together when I wanted to squeeze tofu. Not anymore. This gadget has saved me hours of time and frustration.
If you and tofu are tight, or if you wanna’ be tight, this is the tool for you.
30. Barmix Cheese Slicer
I’m in love with these cheese slicers. They’re great for your standard grocery market block cheeses and for the gourmet artisan cheeses that pair so well with crackers, breads, and wines.
I’m willing to bet that this will become your go-to for slicing cheese. In a pinch, they also make fantastic vegetable rounds! (I’m not sure if that voids any warranty… shh!)
Books & Classes
If you’re reading through this list, either you or someone you know loves to cook. And of course that means you’re always interested in improving your game. The following books and classes are some of my all-time favorites.
31. Thug Kitchen
Thug Kitchen… what can I say? It’s a cook book full of fantastic healthy recipes and crass humor. The recipes are easy to follow and taste delicious. If you’re easily offended by four-letter words, this one probably isn’t for you; if you’re not, pick it up—you’ll enjoy reading and cooking from its pages.
As an added testimony, my kids have loved every recipe that I’ve cooked out of this book.
32. The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
Peter Reinhart is a bread god. His passion and enthusiasm for baking seep out of every page while reading this book. The Bread Baker’s Apprentice is packed with advice and techniques guaranteed to make you a better baker.
Each recipe is carefully constructed and includes step-by-step instructions on how to bake artisan bread in your home oven. If you love the smell of fresh bread in your home, or are considering an all-carb diet, buy this book.
Perhaps no other cookbook has transformed the way I view cooking as much as this one. (Read my review here.) As you work your way through this book, you’ll learn how to manipulate ingredients in relation to each other.
If you’re ready to take your cooking to the next level and really geek out, start with Ratio. By the end you’ll be that much closer to mastering The Matrix.
34. Ruhlman’s Twenty
This book is another game changer. Ruhlman takes twenty cooking techniques and guides you through them with pictures and recipes. It will have you looking at food differently, more maturely, and with respect and appreciation.
Learning the fundamentals and advanced techniques in this book will up your cooking game big time.
35. Craftsy Courses
I love Craftsy classes. I discovered their website one day when I googled, “learn to draw people.” Little did I know that I had found one of the best online course sites on everything from sewing and drawing to photography, cooking, and cakes.
That day I ended up purchasing not only a drawing class, but some baking and cooking ones as well. Each course is masterfully edited and thought out to teach you professional skills and recipes. I’ve never regretted buying from Craftsy.
These are three of my favorite classes:
- French Cooking at Home: The Food of Provence with Georgeanne Brennan
- Mexican Street Food: Tacos & Salsas, with Deborah Schneider
- Homemade Italian Pasta with Giuliano Hazan
36. Food Photography Course
Link: Photographing Food
This list item doesn’t fit everyone reading this list, but I’ve decided to include it because it’s been beneficial to me. I also know that some of you want to improve your food photography. This series will guide you through various techniques and principles directly related to capturing the perfect food shot.
Coffee & Tea
Every morning during the colder months, I wake up bleary-eyed and stumble into the kitchen to make myself a warm cup of loose-leaf tea, usually green. My wife usually goes for coffee. Either way, I delight in this morning ritual. It’s a calming and pleasant way to wake up and start the day.
Each product below is well-known for its excellence. If you’re looking to up your coffee game or settle into a soothing cup of tea, these products will help you do just that.
37. Hario Gooseneck Kettle
A gooseneck kettle helps you evenly distribute water on your coffee grounds, creating a more even blossom. This one is a simple design that does exactly what you want it to: boil water and evenly pour it. We use this at our house and love it.
Gooseneck kettles are ideal for the recommended pour-over coffee products below.
The Chemex has been around for a long time and continues to have a faithful following to this day. (Does anybody remember seeing it on Monica Geller’s countertop in Friends?)
We use our 6-cup capacity (5 oz. cups) Chemex every day, and it continues to work like a charm. The filters help create a smooth cup of coffee, and it cleans up easily.
The AeroPress makes one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had. One reason why it’s so delicious is because all the grounds interact with the same temperature of water for the same amount of time from start to finish.
Unlike the Chemex, the AeroPress isn’t suited for making a lot of coffee at once, but rather specializes in small batches. If artisan, small-batch coffee is your thing, this is for you.
40. Capresso 565 Coffee Burr Grinder
This is the grinder we use in our home, and it’s superb. Not all grinders are created equal, nor do they grind equally. The purpose of an electric conical burr grinder is to make sure that the beans are all ground to the same size. This provides an even brew whilst maximizing a bean’s flavor.
Another upside of having a nice grinder is that your coffee stays fresher longer. After a bean is ground, it only lasts up to two weeks instead of a few months when left whole. This will likely pay for itself in time.
41. Perfect Tea Maker
I use this tea maker every morning. It’s quick and simple and the larger opening makes it easy to pour a pot of boiling water into it. The clear plastic lets you watch the tea leaves blossom and react to the water around it.
When your tea finishes steeping, place the tea maker on top of your mug or cup and it drains in seconds. So easy.
42. Teavana Contour Tumbler
This is my favorite tumbler! I’ve recommended it to my close friends, and now they too can vouch that it’s pretty awesome. On a normal day, I steep my tea at 6:30 a.m., and sometimes I don’t finish it until lunch around 1:00 p.m. This tumbler keeps it warm the entire time. I’ve never had a tumbler as good as this.
Although it’s made for tea, it works great for any hot drink. Remove the steeper and you’re good to go!
Stove & Countertop
I have only a little counter space, so every piece of equipment occupying territory is special. I would rather have an open counter where I can stretch and work uninhibited than have small, abandoned appliances and bowls take up space.
I use each one of the following tools multiple times each week, and it’s difficult to image cooking without them. (The blender is an exception; I’m waiting for my $30 crappo one to officially give up the ghost.)
43. Whirley-Pop Stove top Popcorn Maker
My wife and I are popcorn addicts, and we’ve cycled through half a dozen popcorn makers. Each of them fell short of expectations, and I was beginning to lose hope. That’s when the Whirley-Pop entered through our front door and into our lives. Since then, neither our lives or our popcorn have ever been the same.
As you use the Whirley-Pop, it will develop a wonderfully complex flavor profile, imbuing your popcorn with celestial powers. It’s okay to scrub the outside as needed, but unless you want Samson to lose his powers, never clean the inside with anything more than a slightly damp paper towel wipe.
44. Sunsella Stainless Steel Steamer Basket
This is a rather simple device, masquerading as a UFO. Don’t be fooled though, it doesn’t actually shoot lasers (but it could if it wanted to). It does, however, steam vegetables like a boss. The petal-like design allows it to fit in different pot sizes while still remaining effective.
You can steam more than just vegetables. Items such as fish, eggs, dumplings, shrimp, and little aliens are also popular. If you’re not using a steaming basket, give it a shot. You’ll love it.
45. Blendtec Designer Series Blender
There will forever be a debate raging as to which blender is best: Blendtec or Vitamix. After much research and review reading between the two, I decided that I lean more toward the Blendtec (though I doubt you’d be disappointed in either). It’s counter profile is smaller and it has enough guts to power a jet engine.
Super-powered blenders like these are transformational: forget not being able to make thick shakes and smoothies. This has you covered.
46. Kitchen Aid Professional Stand Mixer
My loyalties used to lie with Bosch, that is until they starting making some of their previously metal interior parts out of plastic. I found that they no longer worked as long or as hard, and despite my attempts at sending it back for repair, it continued to break. (I still cry tears of sadness.)
With a heavy and guilty conscience weighed down by betrayal, I found myself buying a Kitchen Aid. Turns out I love it, and my guilty feelings have vanished! It takes up less space on my counter and I can still rely on it to do everything I need when it comes to baking. For you color happy people out there, you can order it in all sorts of nifty colors coupled with awesome accesories.
47. Breville Immersion Blender
For weeks I researched immersion blenders before buying this one. There are some pretty good options out there. I decided on this one primarily because of its accessories and longer spout, plus it’s a brand that has a good reputation.
I’ve now been using it for over two years and haven’t looked back. I love, love, love it. It’s quick and is a breeze to clean. I don’t pay attention to the 15 speeds at the top, instead relying on the relative speed needed for what I’m blending. This works perfectly for soups, sauces, and more.
Yay! Baking and bread! There’s almost no better comforting and nostalgic aroma than that of freshly baked bread. It’s the one food that despite my best intentions, I can’t stop eating.
So while we are all coming to terms with and accepting our addiction, we might as well take a look at some of the best baking tools I’ve found. I use each of these at home, so I guess you could say that they’ve risen to the challenge and have been proven worthy.
48. NerdChef .25″ Thick Pizza Steel
You’ve heard of pizza stones and pizza tiles. Did you know though, that there’s a new contender in town? Though cooking on steel isn’t necessarily a new technique, it hasn’t been widely used in the home kitchen until now.
I first purchased a .25″ steel about three years ago and after using it only once, I said goodbye to my (pizza) stones. When I’m not baking on it, I keep it on the bottom rack to regulate my oven’s temperature.
49. Nordic Ware Baking Half Sheet
These baking sheets are the bomb. They’re heavy-duty and can take a beating. They don’t warp or rust, and the edges make a nice boundary for your dough as it bakes. The half sheet is the perfect size for your home oven.
My mom has used these baking sheets for as long as I can remember. I’ve been using my own set for 12 years, and they’re still as good as new. These are the baking sheets to end all baking sheets.
50. Silpat Mats
Oh, Silpat, let me count the ways I love thee. These sheets have saved me money and space in parchment paper. They’re easy to clean, and storage is simple enough: I keep one stored with each of my baking sheets. The cropped corners on the Silpat brand make lifting it from your baking sheet easy.
I use them for everything from baking breads to dipping chocolate and caramel. If you take care of them, they’ll be yours for years.
51. Butter Bell
This is one of those products where you end up asking where it’s been your entire life. It’s a simple design that keeps your butter soft and accessible. It takes very little counter space and has made for good conversation on more than one occasion. If you’re chronically plagued by stiff, refrigerated butter, this is the solution. It also comes in a beautiful red or blue.
Wine and Spirits
Whether you’re new to wine and alcohol or a seasoned veteran, chances are there are still unexplored territories waiting for you. New combinations and flavor profiles come out every season. It’s exciting and at times, overwhelming.
You may have already been introduced to some of the products below, in which case, I hope you’ve taken the opportunity to try them out. The following items are essential to anyone who enjoys wine or mixed drinks at home.
52. Vacu Vin Wine Saver
After air enters an uncorked wine bottle, it’s only a matter of time before the wine spoils. Most people will throw a stopper in the bottle, hoping to finish before it goes to waste. That’s where this device comes into play. It produces a vacuum in the bottle, sucking out the air and extending the life of your already-opened wine.
It has great reviews. If you’re someone who often has wine left over from whatever you’ve been up to, check it out.
53. Vinturi Red Wine Aerator
A friend recommended this product to me. I was skeptical at first, but eventually decided to order it and test it out. It didn’t take more than a couple of taste tests to know that it’s legit and works. Since then I’ve recommended and converted others to this aerator.
It’s more convenient than a decanter will ever be, so don’t waste another minute drinking red wine without aerating it first.
54. Vinturi White Wine Aerator
This is similar to the red-wine aerator, but for white wines! Sure, white wines are naturally less bitter than the reds, but that doesn’t mean this is a useless tool. Just like with the red, this will enhance your white wine drinking experience. (P.S. No, that is not urine in the picture. Yes, I went there.)
55. Premium SST Cocktail Shaker
Even though you can make cocktails without a shaker, they never turn out the same. This shaker is a best seller for a reason. Not only is it well made, it comes with a double-sided jigger and a recipe e-book. It’s easy to clean and will last for years (as long as you don’t fling it across the room).
Now that you’ve made it all the way down here, I hope that you have found something, or at least gathered a few ideas, to gift the cook in your life. If you are the cook in your life, don’t forget to give yourself a gift or two now and again.
Not everything in the kitchen has to do with preparing food. Sometimes it’s about comfort and convenience, and that’s exactly what these bonus items are for.
56. Master Magnets Magnetic Hook
It’s time to throw away all those useless magnets on your fridge because here comes the boss! These magnets can hold up to 60 pounds each. That’s right: one magnet, 60 pounds. It’s stronger than my 9-year-old.
Four of these bad boys hang on the side of my fridge. I actually bought them because I wanted the swiveling hooks, so they’re a bit overkill for what I use them for—hanging my aprons. The plus side is that my aprons are now always where I want them.
57. UE Boom 2
If you have yet to jump into the world of portable speakers, take the leap with this one. It hooks up to any bluetooth enabled mobile device to produce some of the best sound I’ve heard from a small speaker. I use mine constantly while cooking, the battery-life is amazing. Buy two and pair them for stereo sound.
Music is a constant in my home, and it adds to the cooking experience. So play your favorite tunes and knead your dough in time with the beat because the UE Boom has you covered. It’s water-resistant and easily moved from one area to the other.
58. Tablet Stand
As someone who uses their iPad all the time in the kitchen, having a way to hold it out of harms way seems like a no-brainer. You’d think so, anyway; I have yet to purchase one, but I’m considering one of these two tablet holders.
The Belkin stand holds your device high enough that it sits above where most accidents happen, but low enough that it remains within site. It also has a handy stylus for when flour is covering your hands and the screen won’t respond. A downside is that it takes counter space.
The CTA Digital stand mounts underneath the counter, naturally keeping it out of the way until you need it. It holds all standard tablet sizes. It could potentially be in your way as you work when fully extended.
Either way, both of these mounts are solid options. What’s your preference?
59. Amco Odor Rub Away Bar
It’s a mystery why stainless steel odor remover bars aren’t more popular. While prepping your meals, odors cling to yoru fingers, sometimes lingering for hours. Some of the worst offenders are onions, garlic, chicken, and fish. Not even a hearty soap wash can remove some odors.
This rub away bar is a wizard in odor removal. Shaped like standard bar soap, when you rub this on your hands under warm or cold water (not hot), all those strange odors on your hands magically disappear! (It also wouldn’t hurt to cast the Evanesco vanishing spell.)
60. Sky Mat Anti-Fatigue Kitchen Mat
Standing hours on your feet on a hard tile floor can wreak havoc on your feet and mood. When you know you’re in it for the long haul, there’s no reason to suffer through until the end. This mat will help ease the pain, thus keeping Mr. Grumpy Pants out of the kitchen longer.
Enter To Win!
This giveaway has ended. Thanks to all those who participated!
It’s a giveaway! Woop woop! I feel incredibly lucky to have some amazing readers, friends, and family. As part of this list, I want to share my appreciation by giving you a chance to win one of the following three packages.
What You Can Win
Please review the Terms & Conditions (link at bottom of entry form) before entering, and be aware of the following restrictions:
- There is only 1 winner. That person can pick any one of the package options as their prize.
- Must be 18+ years old to enter.
- You must have a valid home shipping address within the Continental United States. Entries whose addresses are in the U.S. territories, possessions, protectorates (other than Puerto Rico), commercial, or international will not be eligible to win.
- The contest ends on December 1, 2015. The winner will be notified and have 36 hours in which to respond and claim their prize, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.