11 Essential Kitchen Gifts for the Holidays 2020

Most of us have a person or two on our holiday gift giving list who wants and/or needs some great basics to round out their kitchen cache.

Here are 11 items that I have and love (in one version or another). These are the basics, and the good basics. Some of them are pricey, and some are less so, but if you are shopping for the person in your life who likes to hang out in the kitchen, these are 11 no-fail gifts that every cook would love in his or her kitchen.

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11 Essential Kitchen Gifts for the Holidays 2020

1. A Classic Chef’s Knife

Wusthof Classic Knife Set, 2 Pieces

The first thing any cook needs is a solid chef’s knife, an 8-inch workhorse for chopping, slicing, dicing, and mincing. You want one with nice balance and weight, so you have good control.

There is a lot of discussion between German and Japanese knives (and plenty of other countries, too, but those are the two big “knife countries” and it absolutely depends on the person and how the knife feels in their hand. This one is solid and very well priced. Some people prefer a 10-inch, but that size can be more intimidating. Like a lot of cooks, I like to have both.


2. A Go-To Skillet with a Lid

All-Clad Saute Pan, 3-Quart

Every mom needs a go-to skillet with a lid. This one is not too big, not too small. This multipurpose pan is shallow enough to make pancakes in, but deep enough to make a one-dish casserole. It’s completely oven safe, so you could bake or roast in it too, and the fact that it has a lid means you can poach or steam as well as sauté.


3. Big Enameled Cast Iron Pot

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven, Cerise (Cherry Red) / amazon.com

You need a big pot. This one is made of enameled cast iron, so there’s a slightly nonstick quality (and you could absolutely buy a stainless steel one as well, which will probably be less expensive, though not necessarily). This is the pot for pastas, soups, stews, and chilis. And it’s great in the oven, perfect for braising big cuts of meat.


4. Sturdy Sheet Pan That Won’t Warp

USA Pan Quarter Sheet Pan

Not only will this pan be used for baking cookies, it will be used for all kinds of baking and roasting. This is the go-to pan for myriad one-dish oven meals. I use a rimmed baking sheet in so many recipes, I can hardly think of a day where it’s not in play in my kitchen. Buy one that is very sturdy and won’t warp.


5. Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl with a Non-Slip Bottom

OXO Good Grips Mixing Bowl Set, 3 Pieces

These bowls have a stainless steel interior — which chill well when needed, and don’t retain odors — and also boast a non-slip bottom. The three sizes are very handy for everything from mixing up a marinade to making a pasta salad.


6. Sturdy Plastic Cutting Board with Grooves to Catch Juices

Gorilla Grip Original Oversized Cutting Board, Set of 3

I think I own about 10 cutting boards, and practically have my counter lined with them when I am in full swing. Sturdy plastic cutting boards with grooves to catch juices are a must. I have some that are wooden, which I love, and serve on, but also really use the ones like this that are dishwasher safe.


7. Colander for Draining Pasta and Washing Vegetables

Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel 5-quart Colander-Dishwasher Safe / amazon.com

A big stainless steel colander for draining pasta and washing vegetables is absolutely on the list.


8. Useful Tongs

OXO Good Grips Locking Tongs, 12-Inch

Tongs are extremely useful, for everything from stir frying to flipping chicken breasts, to removing baked potatoes from the oven, even stirring.


9. Metal Spatula for Flipping Burgers and Pancakes

OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Turner / amazon.com

Whether to get a metal or a silicone spatula first is up to you – both have their strong suits (answer: get both!). Necessary for flipping burgers and pancakes and sliding things out of pans.


10. Measuring Cups and Measuring Spoons

husMait Dry Measuring Cups Set, 5 Pieces

husMait Dry Measuring Cups Set, 5 Pieces

Even seasoned chefs need to measure, and beginner cooks rely on measuring cups to get their bearings when following a recipe. Make sure to get both cups and spoons.


11. My Favorite Cooking Utensil — The Spurtle

Mad Hungry Bamboo Spurtle Set, 5 Pieces

My new favorite cooking utensil is the Spurtle. I’m a little obsessed with these guys. They are like curved paddles, perfect for stirring everything, and the edges really get up against the edges and into the corners to pans and bowls.


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