Must-Have Cooking Tools for the Chef in Your Life

We all have a friend or family member who makes the most incredible meals. With a gift just for cooks, you have the chance to help them out in the kitchen and fuel their passion for food. Who knows — maybe they’ll even reward your generosity with one of those comforting meals you can't get enough of.

Vacuum Sealer
You can seal up pretty much any ingredient in an airtight bag with a vacuum sealer.

Pick one up atBest Buy

Food waste is an ever-increasing problem. Not only is this expensive in terms of the cost of producing the food, but it also contributes heavily to climate change. Vacuum-sealing food is one way to preserve it for longer, and cooks — often juggling many ingredients — can certainly use help in that department. A vacuum sealer will help your chef reduce their food waste, as well as generally helping them stay organized, and it may even help them save money on ingredients

Mortar and Pestle
This device may seem like it’s from another century, but it’s still massively useful in the modern kitchen.

Pick one up atBed Bath & Beyond

Mortar and pestles have been around since ancient times, and for good reason. Their main purpose is to grind down spices, but in the present day, this seemingly simple device is being used in more creative ways. You can actually make guacamole right in the bowl by throwing in avocado, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, and whatever else you wish, and grinding it all into a paste right then and there. Hummus, pesto, curry paste, salsa, and many others also become easy recipes with just this simple device.

Personalized Casserole Dish
A personalized casserole dish is a truly custom gift.

Order one on: Etsy

No longer will your chef forget their dishware at a friend’s house — and lose it forever. This casserole dish tells everyone loud and proud exactly who its owner is. You could get an intricate, ostentatious design like the one above, or you could go more subtle with a simple name engraved along in the corner. The name is engraved on the bottom, of course, so that the casserole dish will still provide that classic shape, and it’s all still dishwasher safe.

Cast Iron Skillets
They’re an indispensable cooking tool.

Pick one up atWilliams Sonoma

It’s probable that your recipient already has one of these but if they don’t, this will be a gift for which they will truly be grateful. Cast iron skillets are naturally non-stick, meaning that your chef can use less unhealthy oils in their cooking, and they’re very easy to clean, unlike other nonstick pans. But, they have to be careful not to scratch the nonstick surface off the pan entirely while cleaning it. If your loved one doesn’t already have a cast iron skillet, it would make a great gift.

Air Fryer
Air fryers make perfect fried food without the inconvenient splattering of hot oil.

Pick one up atWalmart

America may have a slight obsession with fried foods — especially in country cooking — and it’s not difficult to see why. They just taste fantastic. However, this slight obsession has very real consequences. The number 1 killer in America is heart disease, causing just about 1 in 4 deaths. But your chef doesn’t have to give up on fried food — air fryers can provide a low-fat alternative to traditional frying methods. It works by circulating hot air that contains tiny droplets of oil around the food, giving it that crispy texture that we all know and love while imbuing the food with only a fraction of the fat. 

Sous Vide Cooker
Once they get used to this new machine, they won’t be able to cook any other way.

Order one on: Amazon

This high-tech cooking method may seem too complex for a home cook, but modern-day technology makes it just as viable as any other method — and the beautifully cooked results make the effort well worth it. Sous vide machines cook vacuum-sealed food at a precisely controlled temperature to ensure the perfect level of doneness. Your recipient will be able to achieve restaurant-level steak, salmon, eggs, yogurt, custard, oysters, and all manner of other foods.

Tabletop Spiralizer
They can jump on the zoodles trend with this useful device.

Pick one up at: JCPenney

Since carbs have come to be seen as the ultimate evil, a spiralizer should help your chef replace their noodles with good, hearty veggies. And they don’t have to stop there. Cooking is all about being creative, and there are many innovative ways that your recipient will be able to use their spiralizer.

Instant Pot
A button-laden instant pot is the kitchen device of your chef’s dreams.

Pick one up atTarget

Home cooks don’t always have all the time in the world to luxuriate in their hobby — sometimes, they just need to throw a meal together quickly. Instant pots are perfect for this situation, but they also work for more chef-y days too. Even massive chunks of meat can cook relatively quickly in an instant pot, and it self-regulates to ensure that your recipient’s meal will never be overcooked. It cooks pretty much anything. Rice, yogurt, soup, even giant pancakes — you name it, the instant pot can cook it.

Onion Goggles
Keep those nasty onion vapors out of their eyes.

Pick one up atSur La Table

Onions are such a common ingredient that it’s impossible for any cook, no matter how amateur, to avoid crying over an onion or two. Stinging eyes can cause delays in the cooking process, and it’s just generally not fun to be in pain. Luckily, these goggles are specifically designed for onion-chopping, and they’re available at almost any department store, as well as online. Yes, they may look a little silly, but the foam seals and fogless lenses guarantee that your chef will be able to chop onions to their heart’s content while remaining completely tearless.

Odor Removing Bar
A soap look-a-like will remove any smells from your chef’s hands.

Order one on: Amazon

Speaking of onions, it’s not uncommon for cooks to work with some rather aromatic ingredients, some of which may leave your recipient’s hands with a tenaciously unpleasant odor. An odor-removing bar might be just the thing to subtly prompt your chef to do something about their smelly hands. These may look like bars of soap, but they’re actually made of stainless steel, which attracts the stinky sulfur molecules away from your recipient’s hands to bind with the metal. Your chef will no longer have to deal with the scent.

Herb Scissors
Chopping herbs just got five times faster!

Pick one up atMacy's

A large majority of the time invested in cooking usually goes toward chopping, so any device that can help in that area will make your chef’s life instantly easier. These herb scissors make a great gift, especially if your amateur cook is also an amateur gardener who often uses fresh herbs in their food. Every time they spend 5 minutes chopping their herbs instead of 15, they’ll have you to thank.

Fondue Set
Not sure if a fondue set is the right gift? Our advice is just fon-do it!

Pick one up atLowe's

Everyone loves melted cheese, but fondue pots are not only for making their cheesy namesake. Your recipient could warm up some hot oil, then fry meatballs, bits of steak, or potato cubes in it. Then, for dessert, they could dip marshmallows, fruits, or anything else their heart desires into a vat of melted chocolate. Yummmm!

Cooking is a fun hobby, but it’s also a way to gather loved ones and show them how much you truly care. This National Country Cooking Month, return the favor and show your favorite aspiring chef how much you appreciate their presence in your life (and their cooking) by giving them one of these gifts — or even one that we didn’t mention on this list. Whatever you decide to give, make sure it’s imbued with love, just like the comforting dishes of country cooking.