There’s a prevailing idea that the best food gifts are limited to a nice pot or chef’s knife. And while those things are good — hell, they’re both on our list — the truth of the matter is that there’s a full range of options to consider for the cook in your family. From a popcorn bowl made by the grandchildren of Henri Matisse to a cast-iron skillet designed with pro-level omelets in mind, here are our picks for the best food gifts of 2018.
Row 7 Seeds
Cofounded by the one and only Dan Barber, the Chef’s Table-starring chef behind Blue Hill Farm, Row 7 Seeds is an extension of Barber’s ingredient-first ethos. The company is a collaborative effort between chefs, plant breeders and enthusiasts. Seeds start at $4, and they’re bred for a singular purpose: peak flavor.
Ganji Kankiri Can Opener
Sometimes the best gifts are the ones that come out of left field. This can opener is incredibly satisfying to use and comes recommended by pro chefs due to some clever design traits — for example, it’s all one piece, so no moving parts for moisture to creep in and corrode. And it’s less than $10.
Stasher Food Storage Bags
For the plastic-conscious, plastic bags and containers are a real bummer. Also for the plastic-conscious: Stasher reusable silicone food storage bags. Stasher’s bags act as sandwich bags, sous vide bags, leftover holders and whatever other job you use plastic for. They’re also dishwasher safe.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are among the most read and bought cookbooks of the decade. His newest, Ottolenghi Simple, takes what made his original book so successful and boils it down into vegetarian meals that can be made in 30 minutes or less.
Material Three Tool Set
Big-box stores will try to sell you a basket with 25 different tools for flipping, stirring and the task of pushing food around the pan. You don’t need them all, you just need these three from Material Kitchen — a new direct-to-consumer brand aimed at giving home cooks what they actually need, and nothing they don’t.
East Fork Popcorn Bowl
Based in Asheville, North Carolina, East Fork makes all its goods from materials it pulls form the earth right around town. Other than being plainly beautiful and made by human hands, the brand is notable for its founder, Alex Matisse, who shares a last name and lineage with another rather famous creative.
Brightland Olive Oils
Brightland’s olive oil expressions are more about the flavor of the oil than acting as a means to an end. Heirloom olives are picked and pressed in California with quality in mind. As a result, these oils sport tasting notes that read more like something you’d find on a wine label.
Made In Chef’s Knife
Made In’s new 8-inch chef’s knife is made of the kind of steel typically used in blades nearly twice the price. It is balanced, keeps its edge well and sports a handle that should satisfy both Western- and Japanese-style knife enthusiasts.
Milo Dutch Oven
Since the moment we tested the Milo Dutch oven we’ve been in love with its blend of performance, price and looks. For one-third what you’ll pay for a Le Creuset or Staub, you get a pot that cooks almost identifically and looks as elegant as either. You also get to support entrepreneurship instead of mega corporations.
Five Two Double-Side Cutting Board
Five Two is Food52’s brand new homegoods private label and its first product is this cutting board. It’s made of American maple and has extra-deep grooves around the edges to catch juice more effectively on one side and a slot to stand up your phone for recipe-following on the other. The cutting board isn’t a category that needed much innovation, but a few thoughtful new features are always nice.
Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Nano
Anova is one of two companies (the other being ChefSteps) making a serious effort to make sous vide cooking more accessible to people who aren’t professional cooks, and its Nano circulator encapsulates that perfectly. It’s the first legimately good circulator that retails below $100 and compact enough to be used in the pots home cooks have in stock.
Smithey Ironware 8-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet
Isaac Morton’s Smithey Ironware is a brand born out of and into nostalgia. His love of vintage iron led to his development of it in its modern form, and his most recent offering is a tiny, smooth skillet perfect for Sunday omelets.
Smart Garden 9
Smart Garden pitches its smart gardens as the Keurig of plant growing (except without the underlying quality issues). This little countertop garden accepts a capsule (tomato, basil, lettuce and many more) and begins the process of sunning and watering itself until the plants have reached ideal growth for picking. Having fresh green in the house does not get simpler.
Forge de Laguiole Table Knives
Did you know the ubiqitous Laguiole-style steak knives are almost all inauthentic? Only two forges in the world make legimate Laguiole knives, and Forge de Laguiole is one of them. Made in the traditional method and with traditional materials (the handle is made from a bull’s horn), this set of knives is as much a collector’s item as it is something to use at the dinner table.
Uuni 3 Wood-Fired Pizza Oven
There are few substitutes for pizza made by a large Italian man wearing a sweat-stained white shirt in a flour-covered diner, but this is one of them. Uuni’s compact, portable wood pellet oven reaches temperatures just under 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and cooks pizza start to finish in 60 seconds flat.
Don’t know what to get the people on your list? We’ve got you covered with our holiday gift guide.