2020 Home Cook’s Holiday Gift Guide: For the Well-Equipped Kitchen

Ten cooking tools and products for the cook who loves to learn and wants a well-equipped kitchen to help expand their culinary horizons!

Photography Credit: Cam Dechert

We all know a cook who loves exploring new cuisines, ingredients, dishes, and techniques. They are eager to learn, dip deep, and try recipes and cooking methods new to them.

This is the guide for the home cook who wants a well-equipped kitchen to support that, whether taking a shot at preserving or exploring a cuisine more in depth!

Wire Skimmer or Spider

Deep frying can be a fraught affair for the uninitiated. There’s the overall scariness of bubbling oil combined with the fear of cooked items being soggy with grease. A good wire skimmer is the answer. It allows you to gently set items in the oil and quickly retrieve them, while leaving excess oil behind and helping to ensure a successful fry-day.

Wire Skimmer or Spider, $5.99 from Amazon

Carbon Steel Cleaver

Unlike European-style kitchen knives, where there’s a chef’s knife, a paring knife, a fish knife and so on, many Asian kitchens just use a cleaver for all tasks. These knives are affordable, long lasting with proper care, and can take on any task from finely mincing garlic to chopping through chicken bone. Ideal for the home chef who thinks they’ve mastered knife skills.

Carbon Steel Cleaver, $9.95 from The Wok Shop

Vietnamese Coffee Press

If you know someone who enjoys the pursuit of a delicious cup of coffee, but has already tried French press and pour over, this will be right in their wheelhouse! A Vietnamese coffee press delivers a potent dose of caffeine to the system. Serve the coffee with sweetened condensed milk for a Southeast Asian treat.

Vietnamese Coffee Filter Set, $9.95 from Amazon

Bar-Style Professional Citrus Juicer

This lives on my counter year-round, as it allows me to crank out citrus juice at a record pace. It’s faster and quieter than an electric model, requires less physical strength due to leverage-based motion as opposed to push-based, and is far more efficient. Plus, most electric citrus juicers die after a few years, whereas your grandkids can inherit this one. A must for the home bartender or avid pastry chef.

Bar-Style Professional Citrus Juicer, $79.99 from Amazon

Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds - Set of 2

Speaking of cocktails, let’s talk about ice. A sphere ice mold simply takes your cocktails to another level visually. Plus, the large ice melts less quickly and keeps the drink colder longer. A novel addition to the bar for the aspiring mixologist. Use in a Negroni or Margarita.

Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds, set of two, $9.99 from Amazon

Moroccan Tagine

While a tagine does the same task that most braising pots do, these canonical ceramics possess a certain aesthetic. Essential to Moroccan cuisine, the tagine is both the cookware and a style of cooking where the food is coddled in its own aroma and flavors. Most tagines are made from unglazed clay and look plain, but you can purchase fancy, high-end ones from various stores and distributors.

Moroccan Tagine, $56 from Amazon

Bamboo Steamer

Dim sum is the popular Cantonese feast of sweet and savory small plates. Most popular dim sum such as char siu bao and siu mai require steaming, which is done in bamboo baskets. These baskets are also phenomenal cooking vessels for steaming winter squash, whole fish, and any number of succulent delicacies. (I’m a fan of sea bass stuffed with ginger and scallions.) Best used in tandem with a first-class wok.

Bamboo Steamer, 3-piece set, $13 from Amazon

Norpro Canning Essentials Set

Jamming and canning is either a phase or a lifelong obsession. You’ll spend a year canning all of the things and grow so tired of it you’ll never do it again, or you’ll be canning until the day you die. Whichever it is, a good canning set is a must to help you pull off water baths, prevent water burns, and set perfect seals.

Norpro Canning Essentials Set, $23 from Amazon

Hardwood Tortilla Press

You might not guess it, but one of our most searched posts on Simply Recipes during 2020 was how to make corn tortillas by hand, a wonderful skill to perfect on your own or with kids. Available in both wood and metal and at a variety of price points, trust us when we say you’ve never had a better taco than one made with a homemade tortilla.

Hardwood Tortilla Press, $85 from Amazon

Bamboo Sushi Rolling Mat

Bamboo sushi rolling mats are designed to help the sushi master (called an “itamae”) craft a perfect hand roll each and every time. Now may be the time to gift one to a sushi lover. Irasshaimase!

Bamboo Sushi Rolling Mat, $5.50 from Amazon

Check Out All Our Holiday Gift Guides!

If there was ever a year to gift a cookbook to the home cook in your life, this is the year! Here are 10 wonderful options, from celebrated new releases to classic favorites.

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!

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Simply Recipes. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

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