What are the best kitchen gifts for Christmas? I’ve tested all of these foodie gifts for Christmas that will please any cook you love.
I hate shopping.
If I need new jeans, I’ll put it off for as long as I can. Even a shopping trip without children, which should be pure, untouchable bliss, quickly turns sour after a few rejected piles in the fitting room.
Now tell me I have a half hour to kill wandering around a health food store, and I’ll gladly read ingredients and ogle fun-sounding treats, ooing and ahhing over the grassfed cheese and marveling at the prices.
To each her own!
So in this season where everyone has already started (finished) making lists and focusing on buy, buy, BUY – you may find that a gift guide at Kitchen Stewardship® is a bit different than the others.
This gift guide won’t just list some random toys and cooking utensils. When I buy gifts – and I wouldn’t recommend any different to you – the choices must fall into at least one of the following categories:
- practical and useful
I queried on Facebook a while back about asking for a compost bin system for either Christmas or Mother’s Day, and one gentle reader chastised me for even considering “celebrating the birth of our Lord or my motherhood with a compost bin!?”
Many agreed, but I think it’s the most wonderful gift in the world to have someone else shop for me for something I want/need anyway.
(See above under “I hate shopping.”)
My mother-in-law loves shopping, and I joke all the time that I’m going to hire her as my personal shopper whenever we need anything. (Come to think of it, she’s found great deals on boots for both kids this fall, so maybe she’s taking me for my word!)
The only thing better is if they did the research and presented me with pros/cons, had a little talk, and I didn’t have to look anything up online.
So yes, for me, a compost bin would be a wonderful Christmas gift.
So would a stainless steel stockpot, and upright freezer, a rechargeable battery kit and a few other very practical items. Ha!
Since the mission of Kitchen Stewardship® is to keep you healthy without going crazy, I’ll help you find items that will make real food easier or more fun, protect your family from environmental hazards, save you time or use your hard-earned dollars well – most of the time more than one of those!
Whether you use this list to tell other people what to buy for you or to get inspiration for those who appreciate the practical, I hope it’s a gem for you.
I truly believe these are the best basic kitchen tools & appliances that are actually worth the money.
Top Ten Foodie Gifts for Christmas: Kitchen Gadgets
It’s not that I’ve gotten worse at meal planning over the years, it’s just that I’m so much busier!
Total excuse. I’m SO much worse at meal planning than I used to be and it’s just that I’m not prioritizing it – but the Instant Pot saves me over and over again.
It’s a 7-in-1 electric multi-functional cooker best known for its pressure cooking functionality, but it’s also a slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer & it can even saute or warm food. Phew!
Besides saving me on slow cooker recipes that I think of at 3:00 (here’s how to adapt slow cooker recipes to the Instant Pot), my Instant Pot has done meats, gorgeous (and super duper fast rice, 3x as fast as my old rice cooker), and steamed veggies. I even leave rice in it overnight (off), pour in some milk in the morning and turn on a quick cycle and, ta da! Rice pudding, easy as could be.
In fact, it’s so easy you have to see this video of my 5yo son making dinner with it (and grab the GF mac and cheese recipe too!)
The best part perhaps is that the interior bowl is made of stainless steel, and if you’ve looked into materials for slow cookers or rice cookers lately, you know that there’s a lot of nonstick and ceramic (the question of leaching lead with ceramic is a big one). So for materials safety, functionality (did I mention it can even saute!), and pure efficiency, this baby quickly became a favorite thing of mine (see all my recipes here).
The world’s largest retailers now also carry Instant Pot, but YOU can get the best price today on Amazon.com.
Hint: Amazon usually puts the IP on “deal of the day” once during December as well as during Black Friday time and 1-2x during the year for Prime Day.
Make your Instant Pot work for you!
I won’t tell if your Instant Pot is still in its box, pinky swear. 😉
I left mine abandoned in the basement for almost a YEAR because I have a new-thing-instructions phobia, but now I have TWO Instant Pots and they’re both in constant use!
Turns out it’s so easy, a kid can do it — I’ll send you a quick video of my children unboxing and setting it up when you grab your FREE download mini eBook:
Get the Instant Pot Guidebook for FREE!
What’s in the Guidebook?
You’ll love the simplicity of your Instant Pot, and the free downloadable guidebook will help you:
- Adapt your own favorite recipes from the slow cooker
- Cook FROZEN ground beef
- Hard boil eggs perfectly
- Cook squash, steam veggies, and make applesauce in your IP
- Make dry beans in an hour and perfect rice without boiling over
- Steam veggies al dente and make Paleo cauli rice in minutes
- Cook a whole chicken and make FAST bone broth
Whether yours is still in the box or you’ve used it a little but want to know more about those techniques, or if you’re still pining for an IP on your wish list, I can’t wait to give you these simple baby steps to success!
Would you believe we received a big stockpot as a wedding gift and took it back? I had registered for it and everything but had second thoughts: “I’ll never make that much soup often enough for the size…”
Oh, how I wish I would have kept it!
I’d use it all the time for bone broth and soup. My husband had to fix my mistake 10 years later with a new gigantic pot for Christmas. It’s certainly not something I use every day, but I do love to make a huge pot of broth or a triple or quad batch of certain soups or chili.
In the winter I’ll just take the whole pot into the garage for storage, then put it back on the stove to heat up a day or two later! You can also make a load of corn on the cob for a crowd for a summer party – or let a toddler climb into it to play a game. 😉
Bethany, former contributing writer here at KS, loves her 10-quart Cuisinart stock pot (recommended by America’s Test Kitchen) which she uses for boiling noodles, making soup, and making large-scale mashed potatoes for holidays.
I am definitely not kidding when I say this is my favorite kitchen gadget with a plug – and it’s one of the least expensive ones I own!
I use it all. the. time.
To make homemade guacamole, blend refried beans, soups in the pot, homemade applesauce, puree pumpkin, make homemade mayo, whip up pancake batter (especially this grain free pumpkin pancake recipe, which I’ll make right after pureeing the orange vegetable)…I could probably use two!
It’s so easy to clean – just a quick rinse if you’re going from one food to another and then toss the business end in the dishwasher at the end of the night. Compared to a big blender with its many parts, this is child’s play.
Speaking of – my kids of course adore it as well.
Plus, I love that you can get a decent one for well under $50, and it doesn’t take up a ton of space.
If you can get one with a little mini food chopper, I guarantee you’ll find things to do with that too! (Chopping a small amount of nuts for a recipe, whizzing a bunch of garlic for homemade dressings, making a small batch of homemade dressing and more are some of my favs.)
When you’re talking frugality, something you could actually pass on to your children through generations takes the cake, no matter how much it costs at the outset.
We use our cast iron so much, they don’t even have an “away” place to go because they’re always out on the stove.
The skillet is where we saute everything and make recipes that can go from the stovetop to the oven, but the griddle is really the thing that gets used multiple times daily. On the stovetop, we cook:
- fried eggs
- egg scrambles
- fried potatoes
- sausage patties
- salmon patties
- chickpea wraps
- sauteed veggies
- strips of meat
- even reheating leftovers for lunch!
If you get one, be sure to get at least one metal spatula as well, because it’s not even worth using an old plastic spatula on this.
To clean it, we honestly just scrape off any remnants of food as we’re heating it up, and if it’s really messy, we pour a little water on it when it’s hot, use the metal spatula to scrape and an old dishrag to wipe up messes and then carry on with our cooking. The 5-minute preheat time will kill any bacteria sitting around, and you shouldn’t use soap on cast iron anyway. (Care and cleaning of cast iron)
Mine is nothing fancy and gets a lot of heavy jobs done – it is a Cuisinart like the one linked to on Amazon (image above), but I bet this larger 10-cup Hamilton Beach number can do a great job for less money.
I reviewed a massive 14-cup Magimix, and you know what? For 4-10x the cost of the other ones, the only thing it really has one them is size.
So whatever – get a basic one for making blended bean dips, cauli rice, date-and-nut bars and more! (I admit bigger is nice if you have a large family though…)
One tip: you MUST get one with a slicer and shredded blade, because that truly triples its functionality!
I would not survive some meals without my shredding and slicing being automated, and my kids LOVE to feed stuff in the top. Even a two-year-old can actually be helpful on that task instead of just feeling like he is while slowing me down…
After years of using it a few times a week, I really do like it. In fact, the display screen is starting to flicker and not glow, and when I think about this thing dying (usually in the middle of making that flatbread I mentioned above), I get the shakes.
I used to say it was equal to any old blender…But is it $500++ worth it? That’s where you have to ask questions.
Now I’m the one answering the questions!
Look for a deal, but get a high-powered blender if you have a big family, eat real food, love smoothies, or hate fighting with appliances that aren’t powerful enough.
I used to say I don’t think you necessarily need a high-powered blender for $500 and up, unless you feel you must make homemade nut butters, grind up lemon peels in your smoothies or grind flour.
But it’s become a “need” for me! 😉
In 2017 the most-mentioned kitchen tool as a FAVORITE of big food bloggers was a high-powered blender. Tip from The Blender Girl, who would know if anyone does – the KitchenAid Pro Line Series blender is now the most powerful blender on the market.
I have Pampered Chef brand stones and vouch for amazing quality. We hardly know how to make pizza or cookies or biscuits without them, and clean-up is so easy!
A few years ago I read up on Amazon’s offerings and wasn’t impressed, so I bought another PC brand stone.
Now there are a wider variety of options with better reviews and even some Pampered Chef options via Amazon, so they’re worth perusing.
Good Knife and Cutting Board
When I talked about how to clean wooden cutting boards, I mentioned how often I use these items.
Probably more than any other in my kitchen!
My knife is the ONE ITEM that I use every day, 50 times a day. I’m constantly chopping vegetables, and I’m never without my big chef’s knife (unless my son is snatching it to chop veggies; it’s his favorite too!).
I realize those don’t seem frugal, but when I consider how blissfully happy they make me and how darn much use they get, I can’t imagine not having either.
There is a much more economical option for knives though – the Victorinox brand is very highly rated by America’s Test Kitchen and also members of the staff at KS.
Members of our kids cooking ecourse, Kids Cook Real Food, have grabbed the Victorinox brand from our kids cooking tools resources page (including one 2nd grade teacher using the course with her whole class) and give rave reviews AND in the past year, our 5-inch Victorinox chef’s knife has become my kids’ fav as well!
BUY A WUSTHOF OR VICTORINOX KNIFE & BOOS CUTTING BOARD HERE
We’ve had two toaster ovens, and both are indispensable for what they do for me, but I have no love for either.
My first, a Cuisinart, had excellent features but was buggy and died too quickly for my liking. The new one, purchased quickly out of necessity when the former died an early death, is an Oster and has some features I absolutely dislike. For example, there’s metal on the door that conducts heat (ouch!) and dials that children aren’t strong enough to turn.
When purchasing a toaster oven, I’d recommend looking for:
- 6-slice capacity
- ability to bake a whole pie/8×8 casserole (at least)
- multiple heights for the tray
- auto-shutoff timer
- easy controls (ask yourself how many buttons or dials you’d have to touch just to make toast, for example)
- NO non-stick on the interior – this one is very hard to find. In fact, a few toaster ovens that I used to recommend have non-stick interiors, and to me, it’s just not worth the potential risk if it gets up to 500F.
This Hamilton Beach toaster oven checks all the boxes and has good reviews and a reasonable price, so I feel pretty confident in saying it would be a good choice!
Sometimes I’m not sure if the dehydrator is worth the space, but I do use it a lot. If you want to have a raw foods lifestyle, preserve a lot of seasonal produce, make crispy nuts, or beef jerky, it’s helpful and nearly necessary.
Although you can do a lot of the same things in an oven, many ovens don’t go below 170F and thus will kill enzymes (not “raw” foods), and sometimes you can’t tie up your oven for 12 hours and still survive the day!
They’re excellent for preparedness and stocking up for emergencies.
And if you do grab one, learn EVERYTHING one can possibly do with a dehydrator, even making shelf stable stock, from Wardee at Traditional Cooking School (a membership makes a sweet clutter-free gift!).
We use zoodles pretty often, so I have to recommend this spiralizer (our fav for sure of the two we’ve tried).
My husband has been trying to be more hydrated the past few years and struggling to drink enough.
He realized that drinking “fizzy water” as our kids call it really made a difference (he’s a former daily soda drinker), so for a while we were buying flavored carbonated beverages in cans.
But oh, so many cans!
Last year for Christmas, I got him a Sodastream, and we haven’t looked back!
We love that we start with our filtered water, put it in GLASS, and don’t need any sweetener. The kids can have a little bit and not worry about an open can.
Hubs even ran a test to see how many ounces came out of a full can of gas, and each 12-ounce can equivalent only costs about 12 cents, half as much as even the off-brand! We highly recommend to improve your own hydration and save the earth from all those cans!
BUY A SODASTREAM HERE (we have the Aquafizz)
Family/Baby Gifts for Christmas
These are a few of the gifts that I keep going back to over and over for young families, and I can’t leave them out of a gift guide!
- Advent Storybook: 24 Stories to Share Before Christmas :: We’ve had quite a few years enjoying this book now, and I don’t think our oldest will ever be too old to enter into the magic and joy of Benjamin Bear. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
- Happiest Baby on the Block book or DVD :: Saved our sanity having watched this DVD when we were expecting our first. We have an hour-long CD of a hair dryer that we use all. the. time.
- Aden & Anais swaddle blankets :: Also sanity savers, and so thin and nice for nursing covers in the summer. We still use these as sheets for our 1 and 4-year-olds.
- Moby Wrap (Also in organic) :: If I only had one baby item in the world, it would be this one. You’ll see how much I love it in my how to wear a Moby Wrap videos.
Foodie Christmas Gifts: Books, Books and More Books
In a world where hundreds of books are published every day (maybe thousands?) it can be overwhelming to find the simple ones.
A while back on Facebook I shared a reader question about great basic cookbooks to buy for college students and newbies to real food, and when I asked others’ advice I got such a great list of books and had to share with you, along with my personal favs!
Katie’s Favorite Cookbooks to Gift for Foodies
I hope this doesn’t sound crazy, but truly truly, my own print books are the ones I grab the most of all. I suppose it makes sense since they’re a compilation of almost all of my family’s favorite recipes, which we continue to love! You can get them in print on Amazon Prime:
- Healthy Snacks to Go (or eBook + Kindle for free)
- Better Than a Box (or eBook + Kindle for free)
- The Everything Beans Book (or eBook + Kindle for free)
When 5 kids come together to write a cookbook full of healthy foods, you know it’s going to be something special!
Be part of the movement to show that kids can achieve big dreams AND that they belong in the kitchen, learning life skills, prioritizing wellness with Chef Junior!
You’ve probably heard me reference a recipe from my well-worn copy of the Nourishing Meals cookbook if you’ve been around KS long enough, and now Alyssa has come out with a new edition: the Nourishing Meals Cookbook deserves to be a staple!
The Wellness Mama Cookbook from my friend Katie is an incredible value, so many family-friendly, 100% real food recipes that we use and share often.
New Favorites for New Cooks: This cookbook is written by a chef who is the founder of Charlie Carts, an amazing real food cooking program for kids – one of my team members has been lucky enough to experience them at her local library and was very impressed. I love that there are 50 recipes, all whole foods, and every one we have tried has been incredibly delicious!!
Anise Loves GREEN Food is a kids’ picture book about a little boy who loves to draw and his sister who loves to cook, a lovely story with interesting recipes too! Leah has made almost every recipe in the book, we love it so much!
And OH you have to check out this book by Stacy C. Bauer, Cami Kangaroo Has Too Many Sweets! It’s darn cute and my boys love reading it. 🙂
Simple Green Meals has been helping us get more vegetables in our diet, and these recipes are so unique and flavorful, plus gorgeous photos make us want to eat every one!
100 Days of Real Food on a Budget is a fun book, especially because Lisa’s girls have recipes in the book! She’s a big proponent of kids cooking and yours will be inspired by these photos and simple recipes (and you’ll be happy to save a few bucks per meal!).
KS Community’s Top Best “Basics” Cookbooks
These are listed in order of number of people recommending them! (Note: I haven’t read or used most of these, but I’ll include reader notes about how compatible they are with 100% real food when I have them.)
- Reader notes: “One of my personal favorites!”
- “Keeps things simple when they can be.”
- Katie note: Mark Bittman is great, has a blog, wrote for the NY Times and has tons of books. A newer book, VB6, is kind of intriguing. This book is also available on Kindle.
- From the KS team: One book on my Christmas list is a newer but similar title: How to Cook Everything Fast. Can’t beat using fresh ingredients to get a meal on the table quickly!
Reader note: “Not that it’s terribly real food based, but I bought myself “Where’s Mom Now that I Need Her” when I was in college. It had basic cooking info, how to do laundry, 1st aid info.”
Reader notes: “Recommended to find an older addition; didn’t rely on microwaves then.”
- Reader note: While not always entirely real-food, there are helpful substitution lists, conversions, etc.
- Katie note: Yep! I have this one, too, same old red plaid, although my version is older. It’s good to have a “basic” like this on hand…but I’m so curious to try the Mark Bittman book and the next one below…
More Recommendations (Honorable Mentions)
These below each had just a single recommendation from readers, but all had many and solid reviews…
- Note: Using just 20 organic, non-processed ingredients per week, home cooks can create 5 wholesome, delicious meals in just minutes. Includes shopping lists, prep tips and more.
- Katie note: I’ve had the pleasure of working with Melissa Lanz, the author, and you can be assured that this cookbook is 100% real food and doable. Gorgeous recipes and what a cool concept to help streamline shopping!
Reader Note: Even breaks down how to boil an egg!
Reader note: Important recipes/techniques that used to be handed down but aren’t any more. Pioneer Woman LOVES her books.
Reader Note: Geared toward beginners. Author of Moosewood Cookbook
Note: NYT Top Ten Best-Selling Cookbooks of All Time
Reader note: A great cookbook for people who are just starting out and want to make good food. It really helped me to gain confidence with my cooking. I always buy this as part of my wedding gift or bridal shower gift for someone. I really think it’s excellent!
Other Gift Guides:
- Top 10 Green / Eco-Friendly Gifts
- Non-Toy Gifts to Reduce Clutter
- The guide to children’s cooking tools that we keep updated for our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse members is a gem!
- Stocking Stuffers and Secret Santa Gifts People will Actually USE