Christmas Gifts for the Cook in Your Life - Most under $20!

Do you have people in your life who love to cook?  Are you wondering what to give them for Christmas? I thought I might help by sharing with you some of my most used items in my kitchen.  Most I have been using for several years; only two were purchased within the last year, but I use them almost daily so they made the list.

This is Nina Hendrick's kitchen. Not mine, sadly. 

I have taken the time to provide links so you can buy them online.  This is an entirely unsponsored post; I'll receive no compensation if you purchase any of these items.  This is 100% my opinion.  I've listed the gifts in ascending order by price on December 4, 2020. 

Demitasse Spoons - $4.99 for 6

I'll be honest, I have no idea how many of these I have—somewhere between 18 and 547.  I keep most of them in a tiny ceramic crock that used to have moutarde (that's mustard for you Americans) next to my stove. I find that when I have lots of these handy, I'm more likely to taste as I'm cooking. Honestly, I'm new to tasting while I cook; I've only been doing it for 3 or 4 years.  I used to just follow the recipe and then hope it tasted good.  But with these little spoons at the ready, I'm more likely to taste and adjust while I'm cooking. 

Here are my tasting tips: 
  • To keep your sauce or soup free from your germs, pour a little into your spoon from your whisk or stirring spoon.  Don't dip the tasting spoon in your mixture. 
  • If you feel like the recipe needs more salt, wait! If it's not done cooking, it will get saltier as it reduces. Better to check to make sure the other layers of flavor are coming through first. Once learning this trick, I find I add way less salt to my soups. 
  • The exception to the above rule is when you are boiling pasta or vegetables.  You want to taste how salty your boiling water is before you add your ingredients.  The less time it takes to cook, the saltier you want your water to taste.  For a parboil or when flash cooking, you want the water to taste like the ocean.  
These spoons are also great for adding more salt or pepper to your dish.  

Mini Whisks - $6.99 for 4 

I use these things mainly for two tasks.  Stirring hot chocolate in my mug and making slurries to thicken sauces.  They are the perfect size for whisking something in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring glass cup

Strawberry Huller $7.95 

Such a little thing, but man, I love it.  I've seen all sorts of tricks and tips to hull strawberries, but this works best for me.  A certain Englishman doesn't like using it, though.  He just hulls strawberries with a paring knife.  

Microwave Egg Poacher - $8.11

I bought mine for $3 at Smith's Marketplace this past January, but I'd spend $9 bucks for it.  The only reason why I bought it is because it was so cheap; I figured I had nothing to lose if it didn't work.  Boy, does it work!  I have tried to figure out an easy way to poach eggs for years, and nothing beats this method.  My advice is to follow the directions exactly, spray with a non-stick spray (I use pure avocado oil), add just a little bit of water, and poke the yolk with a fork.  I microwave mine for 45 seconds, and it comes out perfect.  

Tomato and Grape Half-cut Slicer - $13.99 

Despite the grammatically incorrect directions, this thing works great.  I love it so much that I bought a second one for my NYC apartment.  I love having cherry tomatoes and grapes in my salad, but I find them awkward to eat if they aren't sliced.  This is the easiest way for me to do this.  Bonus, I just wash the tomatoes or grapes while in the tube since it has a slit at the bottom.  So easy! 

Coffee Grinder - $15.99 

I know what you are thinking. Wait a minute! Aren't your Mormon? Yes, it's true; as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I keep our Word of Wisdom, which means I refrain from coffee and black, white, and green teas. I do love me some chamomile, though! But I still love my coffee grinder.  I use it mainly to grind flax seeds, spices, and dried herbs.  

Pouring Shield for KitchenAid - $17.27

If your cook owns a Kitchenaid and doesn't have a pouring shield, this is the gift to give this year.  It says, "I know you are messy, but I want you to keep doing what you do."  Since getting my pouring shield, I use my Kitchenaid way more.  Before, I just didn't like cleaning up the big mess I made.  

Cooling Rack - $17.95

When I got married, Janelle Wood and Lynda Allred bought me some sheet pans and cooling racks that I still use today.  I'm confident that if they hadn't bought me cooling racks, I never would have bought some for myself.  Then a few years ago, I found this cooling rack that fits perfectly in my sheet pans.  Holy Hannah! A whole new world of cooking.  

Here's a list of things I do with my cooling rack when in my baking tray. For easy cleanup, line your baking sheet with parchment paper

  • roast potato wedges using my convection setting, they come out crispy on all sides 
  • dry fresh cilantro, basil, lavender, or mint and then chop in my coffee grinder or Nutri bullet 
  • bake chicken wings 
  • place my turkey on it to dry out in the fridge for two days before I roast it. To see why I do this, watch this video.  
I also use it as a typical cooling rack, of course.  It's best to cool something on a rack like this because when something comes out of the oven, it is still cooking.  If the bottom of your cookies or bread is on your counter or the pan, the heat will generate steam and make the bottom soggy. 

Rice Cooker - $19.99 

I have been making rice with various rice cookers for years.  I've never been happy with how my rice turns out, so each rice cooker is more expensive than before.  One day, I watched a Japanese woman's video making a recipe and saw that she had a simple rice cooker.  I decided to follow her lead and bought a super cheap one.  Game changer! 

This seriously is probably used more than any other plugin appliance in my home.  One of my favorite meals is to cook short-grain rice and put some frozen veggies (like a Normandy blend) in the steamer tray. A complete meal in less than 20 minutes.  I also have lined the steamer tray with cabbage leaves and steamed dim sum along with the rice.  

Nutribullet Personal Blender - up to $60 

Definitely shop around, especially this time of year with Black Friday sales.  It retails for $60 on the manufacturer's website, but you should be able to get it cheaper.  

I would say the #1 use for my Nutribullet is to make salsa.  Here's my recipe: 

  • 1 can of unsalted petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 Tbl. lime juice 
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro or 2 Tbl. of dried cilantro 
  • Roasted, chopped, green chiles to taste (I use about 1/4 c.) 
  • Salt, to taste 
  • fresh cherry tomatoes, if you have some on hand 
  • 1/2 tsp. Taco seasoning or onion and garlic powder.
  • If it tastes a little too spicy or acidic after you make it, just add a pinch of sugar to mellow out the flavors.  

I throw everything into my container and blend it for about 3 to 4 seconds or so.  I don't like mine too chunky, so I sometimes let it go as long as 15 seconds.  

I also use my Nutribullet to make spinach smoothies (frozen spinach, 1 banana, almond milk, honey). If I need just a bit of whipped cream for a dessert (whipping cream, vanilla, powdered sugar).  

I hope you found something on this list that the cook in your life will enjoy. Merry Christmas! 

Disclaimer: These gifts are for those who LOVE to cook.  They are not necessarily for the person in your life who does the cooking.  Some see cooking as a hobby, and others see it as a chore.  If your loved one falls in the second category, I don't recommend any of these gifts.  I recommend gift cards to your favorite restaurant instead.  


Kels H. M. said…
Such great suggestions! We inherited some of your demitasse spoons, and I love them! Perfect for a little bowl of ice cream. This is a great list, but the disclaimer might be my favorite part.
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