Becoming an amazing home chef takes a lot of practice and knowledge, but you also need the right tools. You don’t necessarily need high-end, professional equipment in your kitchen, but having a few high-quality items wouldn’t hurt.
If you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift for the aspiring chef in your life, we are here to help. Here are some items that your future Top Chef would love to have in their kitchen — and maybe some items they didn’t know they needed.
1. A Kitchen Scale
Weighing food is an important step in precise cooking, and the Ozeri Touch professional kitchen scale is perfect for a home chef. It has touch-sensitive buttons that make it easy to operate, and it displays weight in ounces, pounds, grams, and kilograms. At $13.98, this scale is an absolute steal.
2. The Perfect Knife
The most important tool in any kitchen is the chef’s knife. It is possible that your aspiring cook has already dropped some cash for a professional set of knives. But if they haven’t, you can’t go wrong with the gift of a quality chef’s knife.
There are a lot of options out there to choose from. But a great choice for beginners is the Wüsthof Classic eight-inch chef’s knife. It costs $150, but it will last a lifetime if cared for properly. It features a heavy blade of high-carbon stainless steel, making it superior for chopping.
Another quality choice is the Evercut Furtif kitchen knife. It has a steel blade with a laser-bonded titanium carbide surface that is nonstick and corrosion-resistant, and it costs $139.95.
3. A Kitchen Thermometer
A good thermometer is essential for cooking meat, and that makes the Polder digital in-oven thermometer a great gift. It costs $17.99 and has a programmable 24-hour countdown timer, a fliptop display, and a magnetic wall mount that makes it easy to read. The temperature range is 32 to 392 degrees Fahrenheit, but it also reads in Celsius.
4. A Fast Slow Cooker
Home cooks fell in love with Breville’s six-quart fast slow cooker when it came out a few years back. It is incredibly versatile: you can pressure cook meat in it, slow cook a delicious soup, or sauté and steam veggies. And now there is a pro version that monitors ingredients and adjusts the cook time, temperature, and pressure. It is the perfect all-in-one appliance. So, if you have $200 to spend on your aspiring cook’s gift, you can’t go wrong with this option.
5. A Kitchen Guide
The Professional Chef from the Culinary Institute of America is a classic kitchen guide that helps aspiring home chefs learn basic cooking techniques. This chef’s Bible includes step-by-step directions with pictures, basic formulas, tips from experts, and recipes that will allow your new cook to practice their skills and technique.
It is a pricey book that will set you back about $50. But if that amount fits in your gift budget, you will get a lot of bang for your buck, because this book is loaded with valuable information.
6. A Stainless Steel Fry Pan
An All-Clad stainless steel fry pan is a fixture in just about every professional kitchen. You can give your favorite home chef one of their own for $120. The 12-inch covered fry pan has a wide, flat base and a versatile shape, and it will cook food evenly thanks to its aluminum core.
It can tolerate extremely high temperatures, so you can even pop the pan into the oven. And, if you polish it often, it will never lose its shiny silver hue.
7. A Nice Set Of Measuring Cups and Spoons
A sturdy set of measuring cups and spoons is a must-have for a home chef. All-Clad sells a stainless steel set for $69.95 that is dishwasher-safe and comes with a lifetime warranty.
8. A Bamboo Spoon
When you are cooking with nonstick pans, you need to use wooden utensils so you don’t scratch the bottoms of your cookware. Sur La Table sells a bamboo stir-fry spatula that withstands high temperatures, has a flat edge for scraping, and is stronger than other wooden spatulas. The best part is that you can buy this nice gift for just $8.
9. A Zester
This is a handy tool that can be used to zest citrus and grate cheese, garlic, and even chocolate. The Microplane zester is just $12.99, and it is one of the sharpest on the market. Plus, it won’t rust and will maintain its sharpness for a long time.
10. Locking Tongs
One of the most frequently used utensils in the kitchen, tongs are essential for an aspiring cook. These 12-inch Rösle locking tongs cost $28.95, and they have a one-hand locking mechanism that makes lifting and releasing a breeze. They are also heat-resistant up to 500 degrees and dishwasher safe.
11. Baking Mats
If your aspiring chef loves to bake, then they need a set of baking mats. Pastry chefs swear by them, and they are a great alternative to traditional baking sheets. A set of three Silpat baking mats costs $16.95, and they are perfect for baking, kneading, and rolling any kind of pastry, cookie, candy, or bread your chef wants to make. Even better, they also work well for freezing anything from meatballs to veggies.
12. Dish Towels
Quality dish towels are nice to have in the kitchen because you can use them to clean up your workspace, dry your hands, or handle hot dishes. Medline’s herringbone cotton dish towels are designed to quickly absorb liquid without leaving behind fibers, and they will last a long time. You can buy a dozen of them for just $29.99.