There hasn’t been much cause to celebrate during this past year, but maybe the holidays can bring with it a little retail therapy.
If you’re looking to give (or get) the best kitchen gear, than look no further than this list that we’ve put together for you!
My colleagues can attest to the fact that I won’t shut up about the Bonbowl, so it’s only fitting it lands somewhere in this gift guide. As food tech gadgets go, the device is ridiculously simple: it’s an induction cooktop the size of a stove burner and an accompanying bowl you can both cook in and eat from. But you can get a lot of uses out of this simple setup. Since purchasing mine a few months ago, I’ve made single-serving soups and pastas, scrambled eggs, reheated countless leftovers, and made rice krispie treats. Sometimes I use it as a fifth burner for heating sauces when cooking a big meal. Obvious recipients of this device would be a college student (if they ever get to go back to the dorms). That said, I’d buy it for just about anyone who regularly needs to throw a quick meal for one together and hates washing dishes.
Imperfect Foods Gift Box ($24.99)
Fight food waste through holiday gifting. That’s the credo behind online grocer Imperfect Foods’ new holiday snack box. Each box contains a mix of snacks made from “rescued” food — that is, foods that would have otherwise gotten chucked out of the grocery store because of cosmetic imperfections. Some of the included snacks are dried mango considered too “sunburnt” to sell, peppermint- and dark chocolate-covered pretzels that broke into pieces during production, and surplus seasonings. Imperfect Foods says each box saves about nine pounds of food from going to waste. It’s also just a fun way to get your loved ones alert to the world’s 1.3 billion-ton food waste problem. Finally and most importantly, proceeds from the boxes go to Feeding America.
The Personal Rise Garden ($279)
While we’re on the subject of kitchen tech for small spaces, The Personal Rise Garden, a countertop version of Rise Garden’s automated smart farm, just launched and will ship in time for the holidays. Like Rise’s other indoor farms, this one is meant to be used in the average person’s home and doesn’t require agricultural experience or even tech savviness. The accompanying app does most of the work: it calculates temperature, manages the nutrient levels of plants and alerts the user when it’s time to water the garden. The price point is a little high for the average holiday gift, but if you have a loved one who’s a leafy greens devotee and is tired of having to haul ass to the grocery store every other day in the midst of a pandemic, this might be a good investment.
I have a full review of the BEERMKR system coming out soon, but here’s all you need to know. I have never attempted to brew beer before. With the BEERMKR, though, I was able to make what is, according to everyone I’ve shared it with, a delicious stout on my first try. BEERMKR’s unique system is simple enough that a N00b like me can use it, but open ended enough that a pro can customize their brew however they like. What’s nice is that it doesn’t require buckets and hoses and bottles, and it doesn’t take a bunch of your time and attention. It just works and is perfect for the BEERLVR in your life.
CrowdCow Gift Certificate ($25 – $250)
When the pandemic first hit and we weren’t sure how safe it was to go to grocery stores, I immediately started buying meats through CrowdCow’s online marketplace. It’s been eight months and I’m still buying fish and chicken from CrowdCow’s small farms and fisheries. The service is fast and the quality is top-notch. I highly recommend the halibut!
Philips 3200 LatteGo Superautomatic Espresso Machine ($799)
Look. I’m sorry that I’ve put two very pricey items on my gift guide here. Really. But if you are able to swing it, this superautomatic coffee machine is worth every penny. I saved up and got one for my wife for her birthday+mother’s day towards the beginning of the pandemic. My reasoning? If we’re going to be stuck on lockdown, she may as well start each (Groundhog) day with a delicious cup of coffee. This machine grinds and brews (excellent!) espressos, cappuccinos and straight-up coffee. Plus, the LatteGo system is a super-easy, hose-free way of steaming your choice of milk. And yes, it’s expensive, but given how often it gets used in our house, the cost comes out to about $3.60 a day, which is less than getting a Starbucks latte everyday. And given that this pandemic won’t be over anytime soon, that cost per day will continue to drop.
Misen Carbon Steel Pans ($55)
Like many, In recent years I’ve started to move away from chemical heavy non-stick surfaces and rely more heavily on things like my Lodge cast iron skillet. The only problem is the thing weighs more than Thor’s hammer and requires an oven mitt to move around once hot. Enter carbon steel. Carbon steel has been one of those pro kitchen secrets that has started to make its way into the consumer kitchen, and now it’s one of the fastest growing categories for consumer cookware. The growing popularity is due in part because carbon steel offers most of the same benefits of cast iron (durability, high heat tolerance) without its downsides. So when Misen, which got its start as an Instagram purveyor of knives, recently launched their line of carbon steel and I picked up the 10 and 12” bundle. They work great. You still need to season them, but if you or your loved one is looking for a new set of go-to pans, I’d try them out.
The PantryChic Smart Storage System ($350)
Do you have a hyper organized type on your gift list who wears out their label maker organizing everything into little containers and bins? You might want to consider buying them the PantryChic smart storage system. Sure, the system allows you to store food into interchangeable bins and then dispense using exact measurements with the built-in scale, the container system is BPA-free and airtight, and it all works with the Chefling smart kitchen app to manage food inventory. But you can also feel good buying the product from a founder who has worked long and hard to get the product to market: PantryChic was invented by Nicole Lee who, together with her husband, showed off a prototype at the first Smart Kitchen Summit back in 2015. After half a decade of persistence, they finally started shipping the product last month. You can find the on PantryChic’s website or on Amazon.
Like everyone else, I’m cooking more at home during the pandemic, and that has meant firing up my sous vide circulator at least once or twice a week. While many are still using plastic bags – either in the form of Ziploc or vacuum seal bags – a couple years ago I started using reusable silicon bags for all of my sous vide. The category got its start when Kat Nouri launched Stasher bags back in 2016 and a couple years later got an investment by Mark Cuban on Shark Tank. The bags aren’t cheap – the half gallon bag (which I use) costs $20 – but you won’t have to keep buying Ziplocs or a vacuum sealer and don’t have to feel bad about putting more plastic into the waste stream. If you’re just getting started or buying for a sous vide fanatic in your family, start at least with a half-gallon or go up to the stand up mega bag, which holds almost up to a gallon.