There is a place for extravagance at Christmas but right now, with the cost of living beyond a joke, really useful presents are worth giving and receiving.
That includes things that can help us economise – pressure cookers are looking covetable – and investment pieces that last.
We can add fun to cooking and eating in small ways: delicious oils and condiments, colourful little bowls, time-saving pieces of gadgetry.
Functional items don’t have to be expensive, but they should cheer up a kitchen, so consider bright pans and beautiful wooden boards. And a cheese course is always a crowd-pleaser.
We’ve rounded up the best Christmas gifts for home cooks and hosts to help spread a little cheer this festive season.
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Our Place cast iron pan
Our Place, the cool US kitchenware brand, has attracted a cult following - and with good reason.
This pan, like its ceramic predecessor comes in a variety of pretty shades (pans for the Instagram generation) but it’s made of enamelled cast iron. It’s a generous size, fairly (but not entirely) non-stick, it can be used on the hob or in the oven and it has a useful glass cover. But it’s heavy, so not one to give a frail relative.
Buy now £135.00, Selfridges
Remoska Tria 3-in-1 Oven-to-Table Electric Cooker
This is possibly the most useful item in my kitchen, a cooker that looks like a pot, with an electric lid.
It cooks from above, heats quickly to a uniform temperature of 180 degrees and is enormously versatile: roasting, baking, heating up. Crucially, it costs about a third less than a conventional oven to run.
The basic version (£169.99) is brilliant for smaller quantities, but now there’s a new, larger three in one version that includes a pressure cooker component. It’s not cheap, and it takes up space but it could pay for itself.
Buy now £219.99, Lakeland
KitchenAid 4.8L Artisan Stand Mixer 5KSM175PSBIC
There’s no doubt that the KitchenAid stand mixer is iconic - and for good reason. This machine is built to last with a solid die-cast metal body, and has a range of options for useful additional attachments, such as the pasta cutters and rollers that slot into the front.
Using the machine is as easy as turning it on and pulling the lever up to the speed you want. The head tilts up smoothly to change the mixing tool to suit your needs. Although it’s only 300W, it is strong enough to work tough bread dough. But is it worth the hefty price tag? While this mixer is a must-have for professional chefs, it’s not for those who just want to take it out of the cupboard every couple of months because of how heavy it is - 10.4kg!
Buy now £449.00, AO
Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 SmartLid Multi-Cooker
It’s no exaggeration to say that Ninja appliances have changed our lives. We first tried its multi-cooker in lockdown; and if we were impressed with its capabilities then, it’s not a patch on what its successor can do now.
The brand spanking new 15-in-1 Ninja Foodi can practically replace your entire kitchen. It can do a range of cooking functions, from air frying and slow cooking to grill, steam and roast. It can even slow cook, using the same lid (saving you a ton of cupboard space).
Whether your mum loves whipping up family meals or could use something to make cooking easier, this Ninja is the sous chef she soon won’t be able to be without.
Buy now £299.99, Ninja
Embrace Handpainted Palestinian Dipping and Snack Bowl
These little bowls (9x4cm) are handpainted and lovely for serving snacky things like olives, nuts, oils and salts. There are larger colourful versions for dips and spreads. And they’re sold by Embrace the Middle East, a charity that works with the Palestinian community. Best hand-washed.
Buy now £7.99, Embrace
Goldfinger Grained upcycled sycamore-wood serving board 40cm
Yes, this is expensive, but it’s a thing of beauty, nicely grained, billed as being made from trees in London felled by storms, disease or urban development. It’s lovely to look at and to feel and nicely balanced. And it’s got a pleasing minimalist vibe. There are cheaper serving boards out there, but this is very classy.
Buy now £100.00, Selfridges
Nathalie Lete Apron
Protect clothing from flying flour, wet batter and egg spills in style. French designer Nathalie Lete’s illustrated apron is full of details so exquisite you’ll be hard pressed to take it off. The cotton one-size piece comes with a stitched belt which ties on the reverse and is machine washable.
Buy now £36.00, Anthropologie
Paxton and Whitfield Cheese for Port selection
A cheese course is a really thoughtful gift, and this excellent selection of cheeses from Britain’s oldest cheesemonger is designed to accompany port. There’s Stilchelton (unpasteurised Stilon), Lancashire, mature Gruyere and creamy Brillat Savarin. The port, alas, isn’t included, but the firm also does a very good tawny.
Buy now £45.00, Paxton and Whitfield
Georg Jensen Bernadotte Stainless Steel Coffee Press
Georg Jensen’s Bernadotte Stainless Steel Coffee Press is for the coffee aficionados who want to pour their daily mug(s) with the same level of stylish flair that continues through the rest of their day.
This sleek cafetière deserves a place of pride on your kitchen counter - partially because of how frequently you’ll be using it but also because of its classy look. Adding a touch of Art Deco to the table every time you’ve got guests around, this cafetière is crafted from mirror-polished stainless steel and is double-walled to keep your coffee warmer for longer.
Buy now £119.00, John Lewis
Waitrose No.1 Rich Cream Sherry
Did I by any chance see a curled lip at the mention of cream sherry? Well uncurl it right now, because this is delicious. It’s a mixture of oloroso and some raisiny Pedro Ximinez and it would be perfect in a sherry trifle, and with it or Christmas cake. But it’s also really good with cheese, especially blues. Yum.
Buy now £11.99, Waitrose
Ferm Living Ripple Smoked Grey Champagne Saucer Set of 2
Bring a sense of mystery to your next Champagne moment with Ferm Living’s rippled glass saucers, made with subtly smoked grey glass. The beautiful craftsmanship means they stand out as a wonderful gift for a special occasion.
Buy now £39.00, Heal’s
Cooking, by Jeremy Lee
This is the cookbook of the year by a wonderful chef: all of it animated by a wondrous respect for good ingredients and, that indispensable quality in a good cook or chef, greed.
I want to cook the lot.
Buy now £20.18, Amazon
Piper’s Farm, Sustainable Meat Cookbook
This is the ethical carnivore’s recipe book from an excellent meat provider, with delicious and varied recipes. It makes the case for buying good meat, for us, for animals, for the environment.
Buy now £24.45, Amazon
Best cheffy stockingfillers
Skeppshult Cast Iron Spice Mill with Walnut Wood Lid
Now, I can see where you’re coming from. Almost fifty quid for a spice crusher is steep - but hear me out.
This is genuinely useful kit if you use spices a lot. It’s cast iron so it’s heavy. It’s better than a simple pestle and mortar because of its indented base, and it has a container on the top with a walnut wood lid to keep salt or spices fresh. Plus it’s made by skeppshult, the admirable Swedish manufacturer to an excellent functional design. I go for manual devices rather than electronic/digital ones.
Buy now £49.00, John Lewis
Waitrose No. 1 Yucutan Mexican Honey
I can never have enough honey; the good stuff, I mean. And this dark, rich, runny stuff from Mexico’s Yucutan province, is delicious. So many uses, but I fancy this with thick Greek yoghurt.
Alternatively if you enjoy yours light and floral, this pot of Spanish lavender honey is sweet and fragrant. Fortnum’s does some excellent English honeys including a Shropshire honeycomb (£8.95); this is a very good, soft set variety - delicious on toast.
Buy now £3.25, Waitrose
It’s universally admitted that Microplane do the best graters and this is terrifically cool. A heavy, all black grater – a zester here, but there are coarser blades – handy for grating Parmesan as well as citrus. It’s available from Borough Kitchen from mid-October but there are plenty of Microplanes available now if you’re keen to get a head-start on your Christmas shopping list.
Buy now £49.95, John Lewis
Niwaki Mainichi Kitchen scissors
Niwaki, the Japanese manufacturer, does terrific kitchen knives, which are a pleasure to use, but check out too its kitchen scissors. Mainichi means “everyday” and these excellent functional scissors, with an inbuilt bottle opener and nutcracker, are made of very finely serrated steel and come apart for easy cleaning. Given how often we use a kitchen scissors it’s not as expensive as it seems.
Buy now £39.00, Trouva
Harvey Nichols Christmas Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine
Yes, I do know that cranberry sauce is a doddle to make (try it with port and orange juice) but sometimes it’s handy to have really good stuff in a bottle. This is an excellent sauce; good, obviously, with turkey, recommended with brie, and I’d eat it with ice cream too.
Buy now £4.95, Harvey Nichols
Tracklements Wholegrain Mustard
An excellent, tangy wholegrain mustard. There’s a nice honeyed version too. A useful stocking filler.
Buy now £2.69, Amazon
Waitrose Kirsch 20cl
This is very old fashioned present, but fabulous in cheese fondue and fruit salads and indispensable in Black Forest Gateau. I love it.
Buy now £8.50, John Lewis
- Deluxe Rapid Egg Cooker. $29.99. Amazon. ...
- Stovetop Popcorn Popper. $31.96. $39.95. ...
- Cold Brew Mason Jar. $34.99. Amazon.
- RIO Glass Infusion Water Pitcher and Sangria Maker Carafe. $34.99. ...
- Clear Ice Maker. $42.89. ...
- Stovetop Espresso Maker. $49.99. ...
- 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker. $99.95. ...
- Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker. $99.00.
- Shun and Wusthof Classic Chef's Knives. You can't do anything in a kitchen without a good knife. ...
- AccuSharp Knife and Tool Sharpener. ...
- 3. Box Grater. ...
- Staub Cast Iron Baking Dish. ...
- 12” Wooden Cooking Spoons. ...
- Professional Tongs. ...
- Salad Spinner. ...
- Cookbooks. How to Cook Everything. ...
- A Nice Pan (or Three) Lodge 10.25-Inch Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet. ...
- A Super-Sharp Knife. ...
- Boards That Make the Cut. ...
- A Couple of Sheet Pans. ...
- Nimble Tongs. ...
- A Fast-Draining Colander. ...
- A Quick, Accurate Digital Thermometer.
- Countertop Dishwasher. ...
- Breakfast Sandwich Maker. ...
- Microwave. ...
- Clear View Toaster. ...
- Rice Cooker/Food Steamer. ...
- Snoopy Grilled Cheese Maker. ...
- Slow Cooker. ...
If you want to go one step above, Janet recommends giving a piece of equipment with your cookbook gift, such as pairing a slowcooker, cast iron skillet, a zester, or another kitchen tool that would be needed to complete the recipes in the cookbook you're giving.What do you get a pastry chef for Christmas? ›
- Pastry Chef's Coat. Yes Chef! ...
- 4 Copper canneles molds. ...
- Ateco Multi Wheel Pastry Cutter. ...
- ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide Circulator. ...
- Shun Chef's Knife. ...
- Instant Thermometer. ...
- Airbrush and Compressor Kit. ...
- Butane Torch for Crème Bûlée.