Gift Edit 2023

The Best Gifts for Home Cooks According to a Restaurant Worker

updated Nov 17, 2023
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kitchen with blue pot on the stove
Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Prop Styling; Tom Hoerup

This feature is part of The Kitchn’s Gift Edit, our editor-curated collection of gift ideas. Need more inspiration? Check out all our guides here.

If you’ve ever seen The Bear, you know there are major differences between the rush of restaurant service and making weeknight meals at home. And yet, it doesn’t matter if you’re cooking in a high-end restaurant kitchen or whipping up dinner after a long day at work: Putting care and effort into what you cook and eat can turn any boring plate of food into an incredible culinary experience. That’s one of the reasons why I work in hospitality — and a big part of why I think you should buy a gift for the home cook in your life this holiday season. 

It doesn’t have to be something super expensive, either. Just treating them to a memorable meal — or better yet, a gift that helps them make one at home — is perfect for those friends or family members who love to cook. A gift for the home chef in your life, whether they’re learning how to scramble eggs or perfecting their bouillabaisse recipe, not only develops, but encourages the kitchen skills and culinary curiosity that leads to cooking great food by making time spent in the kitchen more engaging — and improving the final result.

1 / 11
Great Jones
was $120.00

In my opinion, the coziest meals are served directly out of a Dutch oven. (Think bolognese, roast chicken, Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon!) This 3.5-quart Dutch oven from Great Jones is the perfect size for a smaller household. Pro Tip: Peep their gorgeous autumnal glossy colorway, Butternut!

2 / 11
West Elm

If you were drinking out of a coffee mug last time you went to a friend’s for wine night this set of wine glasses makes a great upgrade. Don’t sweat about the perfect glass for this or that wine — for most of us, it’s more important how the glass feels in the hand. This set from West Elm promises affordable and dishwasher-safe elegance.

3 / 11
From our partner
Murray's Cheese

If you're a self-defined cheese connoisseur, you understand that cheese is an essential ingredient for any meal. However, it's always a good idea to broaden your palate, and that's exactly what this cheese subscription box accomplishes. Every month, Murray's cheese experts hand-select two 1/2-pound pieces of cheese from their cheese case, along with an exclusive item you won't find elsewhere. Each shipment is a treat for your taste buds and includes fun facts, expert tips, and a new monger lesson to elevate your cheese game.

4 / 11
Piquant Post

One of the biggest barriers to cooking outside of our comfort zone (or the cuisines we're used to) is getting ahold of hard-to-find ingredients. The solution? A spice subscription. This one from Piquant Post includes four spices and four recipes every month, plus access to their online catalog of hundreds of recipes, many of which are plant-based and gluten-free!

5 / 11
was $125.00

Every chef will tell you: A dull knife is one of the most dangerous items in any kitchen. Yet, so many home cooks use knives which are warped and blunt. I hear you, a new knife is an investment, but put a bow on this handcrafted Japanese blade and your friends will thank you in the future.

6 / 11
was $26.95

Walk into a restaurant prep kitchen and you won’t see many measuring cups, you’ll see scales. Most cooking is done by weight, and that’s because it just makes so much more sense. More precision, fewer dishes, and perhaps a fun pop of color — if you go with this timeless model from Escali that comes in nine different hues!

7 / 11
Crate & Barrel

Winter is here, which means it’s time for soups and stews, baby! The key to that professional, velvety texture? An immersion blender. This one from Cuisinart comes equipped with the attachments to become a food processor and electric mixer all-in-one. Just tell your friends to double the recipe so you can take some home as a thank you.

8 / 11
Williams Sonoma

My grill’s grates are made from cast iron, and I’ve cooked the best meals of the summer on those bad boys. Luckily I — and the grill master in your life — don’t have to give up grill marks for winter! For less than $30, this cast-iron grill pan from legacy producer Lodge will provide just enough sizzle to scratch the grilling itch while the temps are still frigid.

9 / 11
was $53.95

It's hard to deny that whether you're at home or at a restaurant, aesthetics matter in cooking. And, for the new chefs in your life, an Instagram-worthy plate is going to keep them coming back to the kitchen again and again. Make the prettiest plate imaginable with these 12-inch-long, high-quality tongs. Bonus points if you accompany this gift with a bushel of organic microgreens.

10 / 11
Cocktail Kingdom

Just because the summer sun has set, doesn’t mean summer vibes have to! Designed in collaboration with Shannon Mustipher, you can dash some cinnamon on your morning cappuccino or nutmeg on your whiskey sour in the shape of a leaf, pineapple, or palm tree!

11 / 11

Ok, I’ll say it: I prefer my stainless-steel pan over the cast iron alternative, despite how rugged and old-school the latter may be. And, looking at the beat-up handles on all of the stainless-steel skillets lined up in the restaurant’s kitchen, I’m inclined to think chef agrees — after all, they're lighter, easy to control, and much less difficult to clean. This one from Misen is an absolute steel.