We at The Spoon write about food tech and food gadgets all year long. So when it comes time for the holidays, we want you to spend your money wisely, which is why we’ve put together our 2018 Food Tech Holiday Gift Guide. These are our staff recommendations for food tech products worth buying that people will love.
This year, we tried to break the list out in a realistic, real world manner. We’ve categorized our picks based on what you’d get for a co-worker (think: Secret Santa), a friend, a family member and finally, what you’d splurge on for a significant other/spouse/partner or even yourself.
If you wind up getting one of these items, drop us a line and let us know what you think!
Happy holidays (and holiday shopping) from all of us at The Spoon!
Everyone needs a little inspiration for meal planning, which makes Foodie Dice ($24) a good all-around gift most people will appreciate. The set comes with five wooden “primary” dice that have protein, grain, herb and cooking-method options, as well as a mysterious “bonus” option, engraved on their surfaces. Four more dice feature veggies. According to the product description, there are 186,000 possible combinations which, if nothing else, will give cooking dinner a little shot of excitement. -Jenn
Do you have one co-worker who’s never without his/her steaming cup of tea? This adorable manatea (get it?) tea infuser ($8) will brighten up their day and add a little spirit to their mug. In addition to being really cute and reasonably priced (especially compared to some of the high-tech tea contraptions out there), the infuser is also reusable, which means no more throwing out tea bags on the daily. Pair with a box of high-quality loose leaf tea for a coworker gift that you’ll actually see them use around the office. -Catherine
TRUFF Hot Sauce
OK. Yes. Fine. This isn’t any “tech” in this food. But try this once and you’ll swear it was invented by alien scientists from the future who wanted to craft the perfect hot sauce. Even Oprah named it one of her favorite things (which is too bad because that will probably make it harder to get). Truff is “a curated blend of ripe chili peppers, organic agave nectar, black truffle, and savory spices” that I’ve been slathering all over my pizza, mac-n-cheese, and just about everything else I’m eating. At $15, it’s a little pricey for hot sauce, but a steal when it comes to flavor. -Chris
While alternameats get all the press, there’s no question that bugs are going to be a big part of our protein future. You can help your burger-loving coworker make the bugs go down a little easier by adding a little chocolate and coffee flavor. Pick up a snack bag of these crunchy insects for $17.95, or splurge on a full pound for the bug-lover for $39.95. -Mike
Sudden Coffee Subscription Pack
Think of Sudden Coffee as an instant version of pour-over craft coffee. The company uses ethically sourced, top 1 percent beans, a special freeze-drying process, and a “secret method” to place the kind of coffee you’d get in a cafe into single-serve packs with a six-month shelf life. While there are multiple product options from which to choose, an eight-pack starter kit ($20 for a one-time purchase; $16 for a subscription) is pretty much a guaranteed win for coffee-drinking friends. Even the coffee snobs can get into this one. -Jenn
Bee’s Wrap Cheese Saver
It’s no secret that cheese can cost some serious cheddar. What you might not know is that cheese breathes like a living thing, and storing it in plastic wrap not only suffocates it, it also makes it taste like, well, plastic. Ideally, cheese should be stored wrapped in breathable paper like Bee’s Wrap ($18). Made from organic cotton and beeswax, Bee’s Wrap can be used to store a lot more than just cheese, but that’s my favorite way to use it. It’s also washable, reusable and compostable, so it cuts down on both food and plastic waste. Pair a pack of Bee’s Wrap with a few local cheeses and any cheese-loving friend will be happy. -Catherine
Dash Egg Cooker
Outside of the microwave, there is no kitchen device we use in our house more than this cute li’l egg cooker ($30). It’s not smart, it’s not connected, but it is a dead simple way to make half a dozen perfect hard boiled eggs, every time. No pots of water to boil. No timing to get just right. Just fill the included cup to the right level with water and pour it into the machine. Pierce your eggs, cover and 15 minutes later, voila! -Chris
“MiCURA” Craft Sake brewing kit
You know that mildly annoying (but still much-loved) friend who shows off their knowledge of sake every time you’re out for sushi? Time to show how much you appreciate them with a home sake brew kit. The “MiCURA” Craft Sake brewing kit is shipped from Japan with all the necessary ingredients to make real sake at home, including rice, yeast, and dried koji, the mold that powers the fermentation for this magical elixir. It’s a bit on the pricey side (remember, you love this friend) at $188, but this will make the industrious sake-lover in your life very happy. -Mike
Ember Coffee Mug
Ember had us all buzzing (literally and figuratively) around this time last year for their high-tech coffee mug that lets you regulate your drink’s temperature using an app. Yes, $80 and up is a lot of money to spend on a drinking vessel. But if you know someone in the habit of microwaving their drink multiple times a day to keep it warm, Ember might just be the gift for them. Plus, the company recently moved into the Apple store with an update to its app that lets users track their caffeine intake. -Jenn
Great Jones Cookware
Cookware may seem like a gift more practical than thoughtful, but I’m here to say that it can be both. If you have a family member that’s stocking a new kitchen (maybe their first?) or wants to get better at cooking, turn to Great Jones ($395). The company has been making waves lately by disrupting the cookware industry like Warby Parker disrupted glasses. Their pots and pans use high-quality materials and typically cost less than half of the cookware “royalty,” like Le Creuset. Plus they look really cool. -Catherine
If you haven’t introduced your carnivorous friends to the magic of sous vide cooking — shame on you! But, all can be forgiven with the gift of the Anova Nano sous vide wand. This small but powerful device turns just about any pot of water into an elegant way to cook steaks (or almost anything, really) to a precise temperature. It talks to your phone so you can go about your business and get an alert when your food’s done. If you are cooking steak, after you’re done with the sous vide, give it a quick sear on ripping hot pan or grill, and you have tender, juicy meat that will be the star of any meal. It’s also just $75, so it won’t break the bank. -Chris
Tovala Gen 2
One of the questions asked this year at SKS was whether, in a world where great food can be ordered with a click of a button, kitchens will even be necessary in the future? While some may see this choice between a kitchen/non-kitchen future as divergent, smart kitchen startup Tovala asks why we can’t live in a world where both food delivery and good home cooking coexists? We’ve tried the Tovala Gen 2, and found that for $349 (or $249 when you order 100 meals in advance), you get both an auto-piloted cooking appliance and a powerful steam oven for aspiring chefs in one tidy little package. -Mike
NutriMill Harvest Grain Mill
Baking bread may be a known stress reliever, but those of us who do it often come up against a couple frustrations: store-bought flour sucks, but versatile grain machines are expensive and hard to find. Enter the NutriMill Harvest Grain Mill, a countertop device that will grind soft or hard wheat, oats, rice, and just about any other grains, as well ad dry beans and lentils. So you can make bread to your heart’s content but also cereals and soup ingredients. Each machine is made from sustainably sourced bamboo, which makes it a nice-looking addition to the countertop, too. And at $229, it’s relatively affordable, depending on how avid you are about baking. Sure, bread has a lousy reputation nowadays, but a device that makes it easier to get your hands on fresh flour and other grains might just help change that. -Jenn
Joule + JouleReady bags
At $179, ChefStep’s Joule is not the cheapest sous vide on the market (that honor goes to the Anova Nano). However, it recently launched Joule Ready, a line of sous vide-ready bags filled with sauces like Thai Green Curry and Salsa Chamoy. Just scan the bag with your Joule app, fill with your choice of protein and cook for a pretty-finished meal, just add starch. Together, the Joule + Joule Ready combo would enable anyone — confident home cook or no — to make top-notch meals in under an hour. -Catherine
Listen. The June Oven is big and it is not cheap ($600). But it’s actually seven appliances in one (oven, toaster oven, dehydrator, air fryer, etc.). To be honest, I don’t even use most of the functions because it’s become my primary oven. From salmon to chicken to leftover pizza, the June’s camera recognizes what you put in it and pre-set cook programs do the work for you (with no pre-heating!). It has changed my relationship to cooking, and by that I mean I actually cook now instead of ordering in. Plus, as the June becomes more of a platform (see: Whole Foods integration), it will only get smarter and more useful. -Chris
The Pizzaiolo Smart Pizza Oven
Ok, so it’s expensive ($800!). But if you really love that pizza lover (or yourself), you might want to sell that tanking Apple stock or Bitcoin and buy your loved one a Breville Pizzaiolo pizza oven. The new Breville Pizzaiolo can not only cook a pizza in as fast as 90 seconds using its three-element heating technology that can reach up to 750 degrees, but it can also emulate all your favorite pizza styles (wood-fired, Chicago style, pan and more). -Mike