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You probably know a home-cooking food lover or two—aren’t we all food lovers?—and we know how hard it is to shop for them. They already have the mail-order-only heirloom-grain flour, milled once a year and stored in the freezer for freshness. Or they regularly replenish their Maldon Sea Salt supply by the tub, not the box.
Of course, you may be up to sending them your own baked goods. But if you're not up for spending more time in your own kitchen, the best thing to buy the foodies in your life is something they'd rarely splurge on for themselves. Whether that's a cheese board from one of the best cheesemakers in the world, a set of tinned fish for aperitivo hour, or a cooking kit to help teach their kids a few culinary skills, here are the best food gifts.
Soom Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Tahini
All the editors of Simply Recipes love a rich chocolatey spread, though a few of us have moved on from that famous hazelnut spread made with palm oil to this tahini-based one from Soom. Made with white sesame seeds sourced from Ethiopia, this dark chocolate spread can also take your treats to the next level with tahini blondies and peanut butter swirl brownies.
"This will forever ruin you for Nutella. Rich and creamy, this is the perfect spread for shortbread cookies, slices of fruit, or eating it straight off the spoon." — Emma Christensen, Editor in Chief
Zoe Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Really great olive oil has complex layers of flavor without being too spicy and is always a welcome gift in any kitchen. When we tested 10 olive oils, Zoe was the clear winner, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t treat your favorite home chef to a bottle of the best stuff! Made from olives grown in Spain and Portugal, our taste testers found it to be buttery, rich, and sunshiny. Zoe also adheres to the International Olive Council's purity and quality standards.
Bokksu Classic Box Subscription
If you're shopping for a snack-lover, surprise them with snacks they can't get every day. Bokksu will ship out a new box every month, chock full of snacks imported directly from family makers in Japan. Each box includes about two dozen snacks, candy, or tea, along with a tiny magazine.
"Bokksu has been a huge hit with our family. The snacks are beautifully curated, delicious, and whimsical. Most are made from small-batch crafters from all over Japan. A little booklet with details about each snack is included. I'm probably going to subscribe all the people I love for the holidays." —Myo Quinn, Editor
Russ and Daughters New York Brunch
Do you love a New York City fan? Do you need to feed a group of people? Look no further than the New York Brunch set from the century-old Russ & Daughters. The beloved New York City appetizing store will ship its iconic offerings for a full spread at home. It includes 1 pound of Gaspe Nova smoked salmon, 6 bagels, plain cream cheese, chocolate babka, and 1 pound of coffee.
The Spice House 12-Jar Kitchen Essentials Set
Fresh, high-quality spices always make a great gift, and this 12-jar set can work for anyone from the first-apartment dweller to the tried-and-true cook. This comes with all the classics: onion powder, garlic powder, cinnamon, thyme, oregano, black pepper, basil, sweet paprika, rosemary, thyme, chili powder, ginger, plus a butcher's rub. If you're shopping for someone who really experiments in the kitchen, The Spice House also sells a 24-jar version.
"I like the flat packs The Spice House sends. My spice drawer is full of spices, but the flat packs are great for all of the other spices that I want to have but don't use all the time. I can store a ton of them in my cupboard." — Summer Miller, Senior Editor
Jasper Hill Farm Cheese Tasting Box
The turophile in your life probably knows that Jasper Hill Farm, one of Vermont’s best creameries, has changed the American cheese scene forever. These cheesemakers coax the creamiest, most complex cheeses from high-quality milk, and have won award after award. Anyone who loves a good Brie will appreciate a sampling of cheeses (we suggest The Full Spread) with assorted accoutrements to round out their cheese board.
Related: The Best Charcuterie Boards
Scout Canning Sustainably Harvested Canned Seafood
Do you have a friend who always posts pics of their after-work apéritif while eating sardines out of the tin? Then they’ll love a set of tins from Scout. In addition to albacore tuna, the sustainably-minded company—a certified B-corp that works with 1% for the Planet—offers lobster, mussels in tomato sauce, and trout with dill. It’s delicious and different, and a memorable gift for a spectacular aperitivo hour.
Dylan’s Candy Bar Best of Dylan’s Candy Bar Bucket
Whether it's for kids, a professional snacker, or for your officemates, gifting a box of candy is truly sending your very best. Dylan’s Candy Bar is a classic for a reason: really, really, good candy. Giving them these beautifully bundled treats that include sour candies, malt balls, gummy bears, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and more will put a smile on their face.
Uncommon Goods Raindrop Cake
Exploring molecular gastronomy won't be overwhelming with this kit for the Insta-famous raindrop cake. Created by the dessert's originator, this teaches adults and kids how to make the very clear dessert that resembles, well, a raindrop. It looks cool and is a great way to learn about science in the kitchen.
Related: The Best Silicone Spatulas
Raddish Kids Cooking Club
The kid in your life doesn’t just want a one-and-done snack (okay, maybe they do), they want to have fun, too. Raddish Kids Cooking Club is popular with parents because it helps kids learn how to cook with fun age-appropriate recipes. And the food is delicious, too. Each monthly kit includes 3 recipes and 3 cooking lessons, plus a grocery list, a kitchen project, and a new kitchen tool.
Boonville Barn Collective Hot & Spicy Bundle
Northern California's Boonville Barn Collective grows its own chile peppers from saved seeds before drying them out and converting them into a potently delicious powder. This bundle is perfect for any home chef who wants to, well, spice things up a bit. It includes a jar of Boonville's piment d’ville (its version of the piment d’Espelette), powdered comapeño (similar to cayenne), and flaky comapeño salt.
Related: The Best Spice Racks
Jack Rudy Old Fashioned Kit
Old Fashioned are classic cocktails for a reason. Anyone starting or adding to their home bar would be well-suited to have this kit from Charleston-based Jack Rudy. It includes one jar of bourbon-soaked cherries, Demerara syrup, and aromatic bitters. It also includes a jigger for precise measuring.
In Good Taste Wine Tasting
It’s hard to choose a bottle of wine for somebody, and, truthfully, it can be kind of forgotten about, left on the shelf to collect dust. Why not gift something more memorable like a wine tasting experience? In Good Taste focuses on fun and makes it easy to sample a lot of wines at once. Make this a family or friend thing for six or more people so there’s no additional charge. Or simply send your wine enthusiast the wine advent calendar.
Mash & Grape Bourbon of the Month
For the spirits aficionado or the person who wants to be one, a subscription box is a great way to make them happy. Mash & Grape does a great job curating its bourbons (and whiskeys and Scotches) with other supplies available as add-on purchases to help round out the bar.
Petrossian Caviar Tasting At Home
No matter what the celebration is, caviar should almost always be the answer to help your loved one celebrate. It’s obviously ideal to get them this caviar gift set from one of the world's foremost caviar purveyors, Petrossian. There are three caviars included: Royal Ossetra, Alverta, and Baika, in 30-gram, 50-gram, and 125-gram tins. Don’t forget the vodka.
How should I choose a gift?
Elaine Swann, etiquette expert and founder of the Swann School of Protocol, says that when we choose a gift for someone it’s important to remember their likes and interests. "Too often, we give people a gift based upon what we think they should have, as opposed to trying to determine what might bring them delight and bring them joy," she says. "So really dive deep and do a little bit of research to figure out exactly what that person might enjoy most."
What should I keep in mind when gifting perishables?
As much as some people might love getting perishable items (and we certainly suggest a few!) it’s good to remember, too, that they can be an inconvenience. If someone lives in a place that’s hard to receive packages or might not be home when the package arrives, you’ll want to check with them first. Most perishables will be shipped overnight with multiple ice packs or dry ice, but they should be opened as soon as possible.
What should I bring as a host gift?
Skip the proverbial bottle of wine, says Swann. "Think about things that they would use. So serving dishes, serving bowls, tongs, platters. Things like that are really, really great gifts that typically, hosts will really, really appreciate," says Swann.
How much should a gift cost? Expensive is better, right?
Not so fast. As tempting as it is to sometimes go big, or go home, you don’t need to spend your life’s savings on a big gift!
"I really think that the thought that goes behind the gift can go a long way. Some sort of really cool bottle opener or a can opener or a twisty tie thing or something that costs less than $10, the value of it could mean the same as something that you spend $50 on," says Swann. "So I don't think cost necessarily has to go into your thought process. More so I think you should look at what would bring that individual joy."
What other suggestions for food lovers do you have?
When it comes to gifting food lovers, Swann says it doesn’t have to actually be food. "A food lover typically, in many instances, will also enjoy preparing foods. And so something along the lines of a gadget, a really fun kitchen gadget, might be a better choice," says Swann.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Lia Picard is a freelance writer with a passion for food writing and a penchant for meats and cheeses. She even wrote about barkuterie for the New York Times. She wouldn’t suggest a product that she wouldn't buy herself (and has done so since she started writing for Simply Recipes).
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