So many of us are shopping for more practical gifts for the home cooks and foodies on our holiday lists this year. After all, we’ve all been forced to cook a lot more in 2021 — whether you’ve got a huge family needing 21 meals a week (plus snacks!) or you’re just taking on new pandemic hobbies in the kitchen.
If that sounds like someone you’re shopping for this year, then you’ll find some fantastic ideas among these practical holiday gifts for home cooks. The part I like best though, is that they all support small businesses this year, who need it more than ever.
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This post has been updated for 2021.
Gifts for the home cook: A fresh apron
If there’s one thing I really need in the kitchen this year, it’s a fresh apron. Because oof, so much cooking! So much mess! There are a lot of great brands out there, but I’m excited about these minimalist, modern aprons from Rendall Co. Not just because they look amazing, but the company sources all their materials from small businesses in the Los Angeles area. In other words, you’re really supporting lots of small businesses with one purchase. (If their bib apron is still sold out, check out their bistro style!). We also love the gorgeous, bold aprons at soulPhoodie, and they’re so affordable at $30.
Gifts for the home cook: A solid cutting board
When the Portland Saturday Market went on hiatus thanks to COVID, artisan Josh Aguiar started selling his gorgeous cutting boards on Etsy and wow. This simple maple cutting board is gorgeous, but if you’re looking for something fancy, he’s got those too. And free shipping, to boot, in case you were worried about how much it would cost to send a large slab of wood. Everything’s handmade, so order soon for the holidays.
Gifts for the home cook: A new cookbook
Support your local indie bookstore and your favorite cooks by giving a new cookbook as a practical gift for a home cook this holiday. This year, we launched our Cookbook of the Month club,featuring fantastic cookbooks, like this one from Vallery Lomas, that would make wonderful gifts.
Gifts for the home cook: Private cooking lessons
Give an adventurous home cook the gift of a private cooking session via the fantastic League of Kitchens. This idea is so cool: woman who have immigrated here each teach the culinary secrets of their countries of origin, right from their own New York City kitchens. I’ve been obsessed with this concept for so long, and since I’m outside the City have been out of luck — until now. Like so many experts during the quarantine, League of Kitchens has taken their lessons to Zoom to make those authentic Mexican tamales or Greek baklava accessible to anyone on your list.
Gifts for the home cook: Specialty ingredients they might not buy themselves
A serious home cook will really appreciate being able to use ingredients they can’t find on their regular grocery-store shelves — or might not think to splurge on for themselves. Indulge them with some handcrafted sauces from Chilau; high quality Brightland olive oil; authentic vanilla-bean sugar for bakers at Lola’s Cocina, or gorgeous, indigenous Diaspora spices (above) from India, which support the actual farmers at the source. A lucky friend or relative will think of you every time they reach for one of those bottles.
We also love the gift boxes at Penzeys, whether you’re shopping for a salad lover or a baker, or pretty much any spice lover in between.
Gifts for the home cook: Handmade oven mitts and dish towels
A refresh (and perhaps, an upgrade) on kitchen linens, like oven mitts and dish towels, are always a lovely gift. These gorgeous handmade Kantha oven mitts at Pipalily’s are so bright and cheery (and a little bit boho), and look like they were cut right out of an Anthropologie catalog. And these lovely linen dish towels at The High Fiber would make an excellent hostess gift, too.
Gifts for the home cook: Specialty cooking tools
Visit your local, indie cookware supply company — like Whisk in Brooklyn, Northwestern Cutlery in Chicago, or the high-end home store Hugh in Detroit — to pick out the perfect specialty cooking tool. There are many dishes you just can’t cook or bake without the proper tools, so the gift of a popover pan or a smoking gun or a tagine could actually inspire a home cook to discover a whole new cooking style, not just a new recipe.
Other ideas: Think about what someone is really into eating or cooking. If they have a sweet tooth, a digital candy thermometer is so cool and affordable. Got a vegetarian cook? Think about a hand-forged Korean vegetable knife that will be put to excellent use every time they cook.
Gifts for the home cook: An heirloom quality, handmade kitchen knife
Speaking of kitchen knives, they make fantastic gifts. As for me, I sheepishly admit I have just one really good all-purpose kitchen knife, and wow, would some new ones up my home-cooking game! I just discovered the heirloom quality kitchen knives from esteemed bladesmith Ben Nafzger and wow. A knife like this Santoku chef’s knife would be amazing — and while you’re at it, I’d like a good paring knife, a nice serrated knife for bread, and maybe a good cheese knife.
Gifts for the home cook: A cookbook holder
While so many of us have switched to online recipes over the years, I’m hearing more and more friends return to their trusty cookbook collection during the pandemic, for trusted, tested, family-pleasing ideas. In which case, a cookbook holder could be a terrific gift for the home cook. I know I’m often running back and forth across my kitchen, trying to remember where I set my cookbook between steps, and if you know a (ahem) disorganized home cook like me, they’ll appreciate this 100% recycled Italian lucite cookbook holder at Newly. It protects your pages while still letting you see them — which is more than I can say for the dish towel, or whatever else I may grab to keep my cookbook pages open.
More 2021 Holiday Gift Guides: 10 tasty gifts for fans of the Great British Baking Show