It's easy to find a luxurious cooking gift when you have $100 to spend, but how about when you have $20? Most cooks have a mental list of ingredients or tools they would love to have, but that are a little too expensive for everyday cooking. As dear as they may be to the recipient, these items usually make very reasonable gifts. Here are 15 small, indulgent gifts sure to be appreciated by the cooks on your shopping list — and they're all $30 and under.
• 1 Beurre d'Isigny Butter, $9 from Gourmet Food Store: When in doubt, give butter. Make it the best you can find, like this AOC-protected butter from the Isigny-sur-Mer region of France.
• 2 Rancho Gordo Desert Island Bean Sampler, $27.50 from Rancho Gordo: Rancho Gordo's heirloom beans are among the best we've ever had. This sampler includes one pound each of five favorite varieties.
• 3 Copper Measuring Cups, $19 from West Elm: Everyday baking becomes downright fancy with a set of these beautiful copper measuring cups.
• 4 Blue Bottle Coffee Beans, starting at $16/pound from Blue Bottle Coffee: Buy a bag of beans from coffee darlings Blue Bottle Coffee and have it shipped, or splurge on the best beans from your local roaster.
• 5 25-Year Barrel-Aged Balsamic Vinegar, $29.95 from Williams-Sonoma: Aged balsamic vinegar is thick, rich and complex, a special treat for dipping bread or drizzling over vegetables.
• 6 Fog Linen Kitchen Towel, $15 from Horne: Strong, absorbent linen kitchen towels are made to last, and these from Japanese company Fog Linen Work are simple, well-crafted, and beautiful.
• 7 Red Boat Fish Sauce 50°N, $20 from Red Boat Fish Sauce: If your recipient cooks a lot of Asian food, they don't need fancy butter or balsamic — they need great fish sauce! Made from just fresh anchovies and sea salt, Red Boat's fish sauce is a favorite among chefs, and the 50°N reserve bottling is the best they make.
• 8 Weck Jars, $6.50-$21 from Heath Ceramics: We LOVE Weck canning jars here at The Kitchn; we think they're practical, versatile, and oh-so-pretty. And using one to pack up homemade granola or pickles is a great way to make a DIY gift a little more special.
• 9 Organic Maple Syrup from Crown Maple Farm, $16.99 from iGourmet: There's nothing like real maple syrup, which is why your recipient will appreciate a bottle of the good stuff.
• 10 Opinel Carbon Folding Knife, $11.95 from Opinel USA: This carbon steel knife stays sharp, looks great and is easy to carry along on picnics and camping trips, when having a good knife definitely feels like an indulgence.
• 11 Italian Pine Nuts, $23.50 from Melissa's: Yes, pine nuts are expensive, but there is nothing quite like them in pesto, or toasted and sprinkled over salads.
• 12 Japanese Bar Tools like a gold jigger, $30 from Umami Mart: Japanese bartenders take their drinks seriously, and use serious bar tools to match. Bay Area-based Umami Mart carries a wide variety of unusual barware from Japan, like this gold-plated (!) jigger, perfect for the mixologist who has everything.
• 13 Holiday 4-Bar Chocolate Collection, $16 from Theo: Buy one bar as a stocking stuffer, or give a set of Theo's fair-trade, organic chocolate bars in seasonal flavors like Peppermint Stick and Gingerbread.
• 14 Beeswax Candle Tapers, $10/pair from Brook Farm General Store: The slow, smokeless flames of beeswax candles add a bit of natural beauty (and flattering light) to the dinner table.
• 15 Hand-Harvested Sea Salt, $10 from Jacobsen Salt Co.: Jacobsen Salt is hand-harvested off the coast of Oregon, and has a pure, clean taste and delicate texture.
What are your favorite small indulgences in the kitchen?