2020 Home Cook's Holiday Gift Guide: Dreamy Ingredients

Sometimes it just takes one special ingredient to give your favorite cook a much-needed boost. A next-level soy sauce, delicious berry preserves, a fancy olive oil - they deserve to try out the good stuff!

Cam Dechert

When you're cooking all the time, it's easy to get into a rut: this meal, those ingredients, that grocery list.

The problem is ... it can get a little uninspiring and take some of the joy out of cooking.

That's when it's a good time to shake it up with a new ingredient, an elevated essential, a small-batch specialty something that probably doesn't have a regular spot in the pantry but is just the thing to ignite a bit of curiosity.

Here are 10 dreamy ingredients that'll hopefully inspire and excite your favorite cook!

  • Preserved Lemon Paste

    New York Shuk Preserved Lemon Paste

    New York Shuk

    New York Shuk's Preserved Lemon Paste will add "a rich umami note and a deep citrus attitude" to any dish. Use if on and in anything that could benefit from a hit of bright, fresh, salty goodness.

    Buy it: Preserved Lemon Paste, $15.95 from New York Shuk

  • Soom Chocolate Tahini

    Soom Chocolate Sweet Tahini

    Soom Foods

    Velvety smooth semi-sweet chocolate spread with a hint of nuttiness from nutrient-dense sesame seeds. Made with just three simple ingredients: Soom Tahini, premium cocoa powder, and powdered pure cane sugar.

    Use as a sweet dip for fruit, pretzels, or fingers. Perfect in baked goods, over pancakes, or as an ice cream topping. The possibilities are endless!

    Buy it: Soom Chocolate Sweet Tahini, 2-Pack, $19.99 from Soom

  • Saskatoon Berry Jam

    Regalis Wild Sasktaoon Berry Jam


    Although similar in appearance to the blueberry, wild Saskatoon berries are actually related to wild apples and are native to North America. Prized for their sweet almond flavor, Saskatoon jam does wonders for ice cream, cocktails, and breakfast delights.

    Buy it: Saskatoon Berry Jam, $12.90 from MyPanier

  • Smokehouse Spice Rubs

    Spices from The Spice House

    The Spice House

    Smokehouse masters across America use methods evolved over generations for infusing meats with the complex flavor of smoke. They experiment with woods, preparations, and length of smoking time, arriving at techniques that are both science and art.

    We have collected the essential spices to bring the best smokehouse seasonings from Milwaukee to Mexico to your steak, brisket, and pork.

    Buy it: Smokehouse Collection, $38 from The Spice House

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  • Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla

    Madagasgar bourbon vanilla

    King Arthur Baking Company

    Madagascar Bourbon is the world's most popular vanilla. A rich, creamy, sweet vanilla, mildly assertive, with old-fashioned vanilla flavor. An ideal all-purpose vanilla.

    For a tasty glaze on sweet breads, try mixing a tablespoon of sugar with a teaspoon each of water and vanilla extract. Brush over the bread before baking for a sweet, tasty shine.

    Buy it: Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract, 8-ounces, $49.95 from King Arthur Baking Company

  • Oracle Olive Oil

    Oracle Olive Oil

    Oracle Oil

    Oracle Olive Oil is a premium Greek extra virgin olive oil made from 100% organic Koroneiki olives, sourced from a collective of seaside olive farms in the Peloponnese — including one belonging to the family of Oracle’s founder. Koroneiki olives are unusually rich in polyphenol and oleocanthal, creating an oil with a very low acidity level of 0.27%.
    Oracle's flavor and unique characteristics make it especially well suited to everyday use, whether for cooking, dressing, or dipping.

    Buy it: Oracle Olive Oil, $40 from Oracle Oil

  • Kishibori Shoyu

    Kishibori Soy Sauce


    Kishibori is a Japanese premium soy sauce imported from Japan. It's fermented in 100-year old barrels on a small island in Japan's inland sea. Smooth and balanced taste, Kishibori Soy has a milder fuller flavor than most soy sauce.

    Buy it: Kishibori Shoyu (Pure Artisan Soy Sauce), $12.99 from Amazon

  • Pantry Vinegar Gift Box Set

    Pantry Vinegar Set from Keepwell


    York Imperial Apple Vinegar is the most appley cider vinegar you’ll ever taste, with a mellow sweetness drawn out by a yearlong stint in an oak barrel. Merlot Vinegar is like a red wine vinegar, but with a real faithfulness to its round, fruity wine origin. The Petit Manseng Vinegar is tart, but with a subtle and gentle honeyed balance that will make it your favorite white wine vinegar. The Stout Malt Vinegar is, likewise, a malt vinegar made from bourbon barrel-aged dark stout beer - deeper and darker than your average bear.

    Buy it: Pantry Vinegar Gift Box, $27 from Keepwell

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  • Sicilian Pistachio Spread

    Sicilian Pistachio Spread

    Milk Street

    Made from Sicilian pistachios and extra-virgin olive oil, Pistacchiosa is a creamy, aromatic spread you will want to put on all your desserts and, yes, eat straight out of the jar.

    Buy it: Il Colle Del Gusto Sicilian Pistachio Spread, $19.95 from Milk Street

  • Signature Harissa

    Signature harissa by new york shuk

    New York Shuk

    Our Signature Harissa is the secret ingredient to add richness, depth and subtle heat to your favorite family dishes. It’s destined to become the condiment your pantry can’t live without.

    This is also one of a One Simply Terrific Thing pick for us! Read why we love it here.

    Buy it: Signature Harissa,$12.95 from New York Shuk

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