Shopping for new cooks is a real pleasure. There's so much excitement and optimism to work with! You could probably rattle off a list of must-haves in the kitchen (our Essentials posts do just that) but gifts for new cooks require a little more finesse. They should be practical, yet inspirational, something to not only outfit them for successful cooking, but also get them excited about doing it! In this gift guide we offer suggestions for essential and long-lasting tools that'll make cooking that much easier (a good chef's knife, a cast-iron skillet), as well as a few amped up basics (a jaw-dropping butcher block, a hand-carved wooden spoon) and specialty ingredients to entice them (high-quality olive oil and finishing salts).
• 1 Starter Salt Set, $38 from The Meadow: the best way to explore finishing salts, and something a new cook could get exited about!
• 2 End Grain Butcher Block, $175 from End Grain Butcher Blocks: Ok, this is the butcher block to end all butcher blocks, and a bit of a splurge. The end grain is better for knives and more sanitary than edge grain or plastic. And, with proper care, it'll last forever.
• 3 Victorinox 40520 Fibrox 8-Inch Chef's Knife, $24.95 from Amazon: A good-quality chef's knife is essential. The Victorinox knives are budget-friendly, sharp, and super durable.
• 4 Lodge Pre-Seasoned 8-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, $11 from Amazon: If you have one pan in your kitchen, make it a cast-iron skillet. You can do almost anything with it, and it easily goes from the stovetop to the oven.
• 5 How To Cook Everything: The Basics, by Mark Bittman, $20 from Amazon: Bittman's How To Cook Everything is a classic. But for absolute cooking novices, it'd be better to start with Bittman's Basics book, which has pictures accompanying every technique and recipe - unlike the original, which has no photos.
• 6 Kitchen Conversion Poster, $28 from Sweet Fine Day: an easily accessible conversion chart is immensely helpful for new cooks. We love this version because it doubles as kitchen artwork!
• 7 Occhipinti "Gheta" Olive Oil, $28 from BKLYN Larder: teach your new cook to elevate olive oil beyond its everyday cooking qualities. A smaller, more expensive bottle with robust, peppery, or grassy elements feels like a special treat, and it's perfect for finishing dishes and salads.
• 8 Hand-Carved Cherry or Maple Wooden Spoon, $50 from Live Wire Farm: Dana wrote about the beauty and value of a hand-carved wooden spoon, which she called a "once in a lifetime" purchase. Hand-carved spoons are usually expensive because of the time and labor involved, but this makes them a treasure, and a unique gift for a new cook. Need something a little more budget? Go for a basic wooden spoon set ($9.99 from Target).
• 9 Unicorn Magnum Pepper Mill, $31 from Unicorn: A high-quality pepper mill is so useful, and a definite cooking essential. Our readers love this Unicorn Magnum mill. If you're willing to spend a little more, the Perfex Pepper Mill ($80 from Amazon) is almost perfect.
• 10 Labeled Kitchen Mixing Bowl Set, $59 from West Elm: these labeled multi-purpose ceramic mixing bowls have small spouts for less messy food prep. A heavy-duty stainless steel mixing bowl set is another keeper ($34 from Amazon).
Other Great Gift Buying Resources for New Cooks
• Where to Buy Artisanal and Specialty Foods Online: 9 Great Marketplaces: Get them excited about food and cooking with a few special ingredients!
• The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Prep Tools and Utensils
• The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Cooking Tools and Utensils
• The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Cookware
• The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Baking Pans
• The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Small Electric Appliances
• The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Cleaning Tools and Products
What are your favorite gifts to give new cooks?
(Images: as linked)