The Best Actually Useful High End Kitchen Gifts for 2018
Most of the time, when the holidays roll around, you're looking for reasonably priced gifts to give to family and loved ones, but sometimes you just want to splurge, to let someone know how much they mean to you. That's when you want pull out all the stops and get a big-ticket gift—but something that they'll actually use. Here are some of our favorite higher-end gifts to help you do just that.
The Best Actually Useful High End Kitchen Gifts for 2018
Breville Convection Toaster Oven
You already know that one of the best ways to make crispy, delicious food without frying it, is to use an air-fryer. But what you may not know is that a convection oven achieves the same effect—using heat and air flow to make things crispy and crunchy—while being versatile enough to do a lot of other kinds of cooking as well. This sleek device from Breville looks nice enough to leave out on your counter, and is flexible enough to handle a range of dishes, from simple toast, to avocado fries to—yes—donuts.
Hestan 11" Nanobond Stainless Steel Skillet
For true durability and versatility, nothing beats a solid stainless-steel skillet. It can go from the stove top to the oven (and back again), won't lose its seasoning from acids the way cast-iron does, and won't scratch or flake the way nonstick can. And this skillet has something called "nano-bonded" stainless steel! What that means is that it's extremely durable, resistant to any kind of scratching, and is so glass-smooth it even has some mild non-stick properties!
Vermicular Japanese Cast Iron Pot
If you're looking to give someone a cast-iron pot that stands out a little from the classic Le Creuset, consider these Japanese-crafted beauties. The distinctive double set of handles (on the pot and on the lid) makes it easy to hold and to keep secure, and the exceptional craftsmanship means that the lid will fit perfectly with the pot, reducing water loss as you cook, and preserving nutrients.
Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine
This is for the coffee aficionado whose regular need for barista-quality concoctions knows no bounds. If you know someone who is so dissatisfied with the poor quality of homemade cappuccinos that they've been considering flying to Italy and hunting around for a professional-grade La Marzocco, save them some time (and a considerable amount of money) and give them one of these. One of our editors tried it and it changed his life.
Shun Hikari 8" Chef's Knife
If there's one tool a person uses nearly every single time they cook, it's a chef's knife. Which is why a high-quality knife is an investment well worth making. And this knife by Shun is one of the only ones we've seen that folds several varieties of metal together all the way down the blade. The result? An edge that consists of hundreds of micro-serrations, meaning that it glides through tomatoes, cleanly cuts through breads and cheeses, and stays sharp enough to still cleanly bisect a vegetable or shave slices off a piece of meat.
Instant Pot Ultra
Though the much-ballyhooed Instant Pot Max has suffered from delays and poor reviews, the Instant Pot Ultra still enjoys plenty of customer loyalty—and for good reason. It's a versatile tool that cuts cooking project times down and has even won over culinary skeptics. If you still know someone that, for some reason, doesn't actually have one of these staples in their kitchen, now is the time to fix that.
Vitamix Professional-Grade, Self-Cleaning Blender
Yes, you can buy a blender that's less than ten percent of the cost, but what you get from the hefty price tag is a machine that is powerful enough to blend practically anything, and nearly perfectly designed. The motor is strong enough that it will not only puree, but actually heat soup within just a few minutes of high-powered blending, the container is built to angle foods back toward the blades, so you don't end up with lumps, and their much-vaunted "self-cleaning" function—which just involves blending soapy water—works like a charm, due to the power of the machine.
The Perfectionist's Coffee Set
There are two kinds of people who love coffee: Those who want their caffeine fix to be as easy and uncomplicated as possible (in which case the right gift is easy to get), and those who enjoy the ritual process of crafting their morning cup. This second group will want to talk endlessly about the merits of natural versus washed beans, and compare the terroir of Ethiopia to that of Costa Rica. And for them, a coffee set must be equally fussy. But you don't need to nerd out about coffee temperatures in order to help upgrade their equipment! Here are a few items sure to make anyone coffee fanatic happy, and all available at Williams-Sonoma, so you can order them together if you like.
First, a Chemex 8-cup pour-over coffee maker ($44) and a set of pre-folded square filters ($10). The elegantly-designed minimalist pot and simple paper filters yield a clean, superior cup of coffee without imparting any flavors from plastic or bleached paper. Next, a Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Pour-Over Kettle ($169) This fast-heating gooseneck kettle lets you choose the exact perfect temperature for brewing coffee, and allows you to get the water onto the grounds with extreme precision. Finally, the OXO On Conical Burr Grinder With Intelligent Scale ($200) will let you grind your beans to the exact right consistency, and the scale lets you grind no more or less than exactly what you need. Buy everything together and it comes to $423.
Mauviel Copper Double Boiler
This handsome double boiler from Mauviel is a fantastic gift, in the true sense of the word—it's something few would purchase for themselves. But the cook in your life will thank you heartily for it—with even heat applied to the thick ceramic top, this little pan will completely change your sauce game. Dishes that would otherwise be intimidating —like sabayon—can be made with ease. If the cook in your life is always complaining about scorched chocolate or broken sauces, put one of these under the tree.
Champion Heavy Duty Commercial Juicer
Whether you know someone trying to up their vegetable intake, get more fresh cocktails in their life, or even just DIY nut milk, a juicer can be a must-have piece of kitchen equipment. Unfortunately, all too many of them are hard to clean, or end up burning out after a few years of regular use. Not so the Champion. This company has been making their juicers since 1955, and the product is basically unchanged. It's not uncommon for people to use them for 30 years or more. It's also simple, with just a few, easy-to-disassemble parts that can be quickly cleaned with a brush, and few crevices that tend, on other blenders, to hide bits of food pulp. Give someone special this juicer, and after a lifetime of use, they'll be bequeathing it to their grandkids.
Fuego Professional Gas Grill
Gas grills can be super efficient—especially for weeknight grilling, when you may not necessarily have the time or energy to drag out charcoal, paper, a chimney starter, etc, all just to cook a bit of chicken or some veggies. But a good grill can be expensive, and, well, they don't always look that great. They're boxy, and big, and covered in knobs.
The Fuego solves a number of problems. Its sleek design means it looks nice almost anywhere, and its small footprint gives you plenty of space. And yet it's got a lot of space for grilling—525 square inches—and the dual-burner system means you can crank it to 500 degrees in a matter of minutes. We also found it incredibly easy to assemble and a pure joy to cook on.