This story is part of, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.
Holiday gift shopping for your favorite foodie can be challenging, especially if you don’t quite share the obsession. They’re usually on top of the latest trends and novelties, and they tend to snap up what they like before you can buy it for them.
Ah, but they can’t know everything. Below you’ll find the best gifts for foodies. These cutting-edge gadgets, like a handy, and high-quality analog culinary tools, such as this or the oh-so-trendy and oh-so-often-sold-out , will satisfy the needs of even the most discerning home chef. Plus, these cooking gifts are more creative than wine charms or a bottle of Scotch (not that we don’t love Scotch).
Toaster ovens have long gotten a bad rap as impersonal gifts with little to no cachet but I’m here to prove this platitude false. An air fryer lets you cook food with far less oil (olive oil or otherwise) while mimicking the effects of deep-frying — which is scientifically proven to be the most delicious form of cooking. For me, the one big drawback with traditional air fryers is that the baskets have physical limits for what you can make in them. Not so with this chic combo air fryer and convection from Calphalon which you can use for toasting, broiling, baking, warming and air frying. it heats up fast, cooks with precision, lets you watch your food’s progress through a glass door and the steely black finish won’t stain or tarnish as quickly as silver.
Best air fryer for 2020.
Earlier this year I put the cookware sensation that’s sweeping the nation to the test. Is it over-hyped? Maybe a smidge, but what isn’t these days? That doesn’t change the fact that the Always Pan is an exceedingly well designed, multipurpose ceramic skillet that makes for a thoughtful gift. This foodie gift idea is a great size, as easy to clean as any pan I’ve ever used and has a built-in spoon rest — which I can’t believe isn’t a standard feature on more frying pans. The Always Pan is often sold out but is currently in stock and available in any one of five very pleasing colors. The maker of the Always Pan also just recently released a steamer basket insert made especially for it: Perfect for dumplings, fish and vegetables.
Read our Always Pan review.
If the foodie you’re buying for has decent knives but keeps them clanging around in a drawer — the No. 1 knife storage sin — it’s time to put an end to that abuse. This handsome Schmidt Brothers knife block is made of rich acacia and acrylic, and magnetized on both sides to store and display up to eight blades.
Fulton Fish Market
Unless you live close to the docks, the easiest way to get quality seafood may be via one of these great online fish purveyors. Fulton Fish Market has one of the best selections anywhere — web or otherwise — with loads of wild salmon, trout, scallops, shellfish, caviar and more for unique edible gifts. Snatch a bundle and have this unique gift delivered directly to your giftee’s home. They’ll certainly appreciate making one less trip to the market.
Catch the best seafood delivery services of 2020.
You may need types of cookware depending on what you’re making and the results you’re after. For searing steaks, burgers, pork chops and other meats, it’s hard to beat carbon steel. For one, it holds heat well, getting and staying hotter than Hades, but it’s also lighter than cast iron so you can maneuver it over the stovetop easily. Pair this sleek pan with a box of quality cuts of meat from one of our favorite online butchers.
As the name suggests, multicookers do a lot. No foodie gift guide would be complete without one. But this nifty, space-saving extension makes them even more capable when it comes to cooking. Attach the CrispLid to the top of a Mealthy MultiPot — or any other 6- or 8-quart electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot — and boom, you’re a chef using less oil with an air fryer. Set the time and temperature, then watch the magic happen through the transparent tempered glass lid. This package also comes with a raised trivet, fryer basket, stainless steel tongs and heat-resistant silicone mat — all of which are dishwasher safe.
Read Chowhound’s Mealthy CrispLid review.
It is likely that the chef on your list has knives and just as likely that many of them are dull. Sharpening knives at home by hand is a bit of a tricky business, so I say leave it to the experts. The startup Knife Aid sends a package out to safely pack and ship knives back to them to be sharpened by pros. I had this done and the results were impeccable; the blades came back in just over a week.
You can send a gift card so they can decide when the time is right or go ahead and order a sharpening and the initial box will just show up in the mail. It’s $59 for four knives (less than $15 per knife) but if you consider one only really needs this kind of treatment once a year or so, it’s absolutely worth it. It’s also a perfect gift to give someone you may not be seeing in person.
If their knives are long past saving, consider outfitting your foodie friend or family member with one good chef’s knife. Knives are an important kitchen tool home chefs often overlook or don’t realize needs an upgrade. Hook them up with Made In’s super sharp 8-inch chef’s knife and they’ll sing your praises every time it slides through a carrot or turnip with the greatest of ease. It’s perfectly balanced, forged for strength and available in cherry red, black or gray.
This is one of those luxury gifts that fits squarely in the splurge category, to be sure, and is for true bean heads. I’ve used the Ode and it grinds faster, more consistently and quietly than others and aims to please even the most finicky coffee drinker with 31 (yes, 31) grind settings. Let’s also call a spade a spade: The Ode looks damn cool, which is never a bad reason to pay a few more bucks for something as long as it works well.
Important to note that the Ode is engineered specifically for drip coffee and not espresso. The claim is that too many grinders attempt to do both and fail to do either well. It’s also not meant to grind large amounts of beans at once, making it ideal for Chemex and pour-over systems.
Instant Pot via Amazon
On the off chance, your foodie doesn’t already have one, the Instant Pot Duo makes a great Christmas gift and is a slam dunk for a quick and easy meal. It’s seven devices in one: A pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute pan, yogurt maker and warmer. If that’s not enough, a number of models feature additional modes for preparing a treat like rice, cake or yogurt — or even sterilizing food. You can buy it in three sizes: 3-, 6- and 8-quart, and you can practically go through your whole recipe journal with this one item. Note that the 6-quart version currently sells for about $80 on Amazon; look for that price to drop down closer to $50 or $60 as Black Friday approaches.
Best Instant Pots of 2020.
Vitamix has set the bar for blenders — and the E310 Explorian is worth its lofty price. Sure, it makes unparalleled smoothies, but it’s also great for making all sorts of food — soups, nut butters, salsas and even baked goods. Unlike other blenders, the Explorian’s aircraft-grade stainless steel blades are tough enough to tackle bread dough for baking. And though most blenders can be a pain to clean, a drop of dish soap and warm water will make your Vitamix good as new.
Vitamix also just released one of their best blender accessories ever, in my opinion: a 12-cup food processor attachment. (Though worth noting it’s currently only compatible with the Ascent series). It ain’t exactly cheap, but if you were to spring for a standalone food processor with as much power and precision as a Vitamix, I promise you’d pay a whole lot more than that.
Not everyone needs all the power that comes with a Vitamix. For a more wallet-friendly blender that still whips the dickens out of dense or frozen fruits and more, the Ninja Pro won’t let you down. The patented Auto IQ helps technology senses when ingredients need a quick pulse or a faster speed to get the exact consistency you want.
It is more than likely that a true foodie may already have a Dutch oven, so do some digging before you buy but I’ve personally been surprised to learn how many of my friends and family don’t own an enameled cast iron pot. For me, it’s an absolute must-have for stews, braises, soups and Sunday meatballs in sauce. Dutch ovens simply don’t get much better (or better looking) than Staub’s cocotte. I dig the 4-quart size, which is plenty big for most recipes but won’t require crossfit muscles to move around. It comes in three colors and is on deep discount right now, marked down 75% to $100.
There are certainly more budget-friendly Dutch ovens too, like this Lodge 6-quart number, but there is just something undeniable about a Staub.
Read our list of the best Dutch ovens of 2020.
Versatility is the hallmark of Ninja’s all-in-one Hot and Cold Brew System. It can handle both tea and coffee — and comes with separate filters to prevent cross-contamination — with five different brew styles and six different sizes. You can also boil water for hot chocolate. This great gift idea turns around hot coffee or tea (tea for us, please) in an instant and cold brew in about 10 minutes and if you like your drinks frothy, it comes with an extension for that too.
Read our Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System review.
You don’t need a degree in mixology when you have the Perfect Drink Pro. The scale and app will help you whip up more than 400 high-quality cocktails. Set down a glass or shaker, pour and stop when you hear the ding. It’s so simple, you should be able to use it even after downing a couple of stiff ones. Mortar and pestle not included, just in case you wanted to get really fancy.
Yes, this is a splurge and should be reserved for the foodie or kitchen gadget nerd who has everything. Having said that, this space-aged toaster is fairly magical. It toasts bread, bagels and the like just about exactly how you want it — down to the Pantone shade — and does it in literal seconds, not minutes. It can only handle two slices at a time, but that’s more than enough when you consider the light-speed at which it does it.
Even the snobbiest wine lover will be impressed by this hyper-speed decanter. Featured on HBO’s Succession, this model receives high marks from oenophiles for its speed: A minute in the Sommelier is equivalent to a full hour in a traditional glass decanter. Its unique design allows oxygen to reach every drop of wine — not just the surface area — which improves the flavor. And the Sommelier app provides decanting times based on country, region, varietal and vintage. Bottle after bottle will disappear before you know it, making it great for a post-pandemic dinner party (or board meeting). The Roy family would definitely approve.
Read our list of the best wine delivery services of 2020.
Store-bought pints of delicious ice cream and gelato are expensive to buy, but the Cuisinart ICE-100 empowers you to take the DIY route to more affordable delights. Consult the included recipe book (if you make chocolate, share some with us), pour your ingredients into the commercial quality compressor, set it and forget it. It comes with a pair of paddles for ice cream and gelato.
Keto and paleo foodies take note. The Dehydro produces meat, poultry and seafood jerky for a fraction of the cost of store-bought equivalents — and without the chemicals and other additives. For those more inclined toward plant-based eating, it can also be used to make healthy and delicious snacks (such as fruit rolls) and dehydrate herbs and spices in order to extend their shelf life.
Sous vide is nothing new but the sleek ChefSteps Joule takes the technique to another level. Not only is it cooking gourmet food with it faster and more efficient than with others, but it’s also half the size of the typical setup. It’s a must-buy for the home chef with limited space.
The Staub Perfect Pan is the one you want if you’re ever banished to a desert island. This French-made cast iron, enamel-bottomed beauty features a classic design that looks great in any food lover’s kitchen. And it’s incredibly versatile, capable of handling food in a delicate saute or a high temperature fry. This pan is worthy of its name.
These professional-grade knives will last a lifetime. They’re an ideal gift idea for anyone who needs a blade upgrade. Made in Japan using high carbon steel, Dalstrong’s Phantom blades cut food and maneuver with ease. This set of six covers all the slicing and dicing bases and the stylish magnetic block has six additional slots for when it’s time to expand the collection.
Read our list of the best direct-to-consumer kitchen knives in 2020.
More gifts for foodies
This article was written in 2019 by David Klein and updated by David Watsky.