Shopping for kitchen gadgets can be tricky, but when done properly, is super rewarding. After all, nailing the perfect personalized appliance means you know your recipient pretty well—if you know what they like to eat, you know the way to their heart.
Before you shop, you’ll want to consider their skill level. Are you helping a recent grad furnish their first apartment, or are you shopping for the designated chef of the family? Secondly, estimate how much space the gift will take up. Folks who live in small apartments, for example, are always in need space-saving solutions—not bulky equipment that’ll take over precious square-footage. And finally, if you can, do some investigating to see what they’ve already got in their kitchen to make sure you don’t get something too similar.
Ready to get started? We’ve got recommendations for kitchen gifts that are meaningful, whimsical, and functional. From an air fryer to a beginner-level sous vide, here are ten awesome, underrated kitchen gadgets to give this holiday season.
Yes, air fryers were the culinary gift of 2018. But they’ve since become common staples of American kitchens, offering perfectly cooked meats, vegetables, and even pastries in minutes with the twist of a knob. For your friends who may be behind on the trends, an air fryer is a fantastic gift that’ll bring their kitchen into 2020 with style. Amazon’s best-selling option, from COSORI, offers a 5.8-quart basket that can fit a six-pound whole chicken. Its 11 oil-free cooking options include: steak, seafood, French fries, vegetables, bread, and even desserts.
COSORI Air Fryer, $120 at amazon.com
Sure, it’s a little low-tech, but the Chinese bamboo steamer is a versatile and effective, not to mention environmentally friendly, tool for preparing Asian foods like dumplings and buns. Comprising round, stackable bamboo trays with slits, the steamer is typically placed on top of a skillet that’s been filled with an inch or so of water. Steaming is, of course, a likewise healthier alternative to cooking with oil.
Helen’s Asian Kitchen Food Steamer, $23 at amazon.com
Darth Vader Toaster
We all know a special someone who’d appreciate this Darth Vader-shaped toaster. Made for avid fans of the Star Wars series (and bread), this two-slice toaster prints the films’ logo on each side of your toast. It also makes waffles and English muffins. And not to mention: it’s a great conversation starter perched atop a kitchen counter.
Uncanny Brands Star Wars Darth Vader Elite 2-Slice Toaster, $50 at amazon.com
Unlike the common hard-boiled egg, the perfect soft-boiled egg is far more elusive. It’s surprisingly tough to halve the eggs with just the right amount of force to remove the shell without creating a mess of runny yolk. For the very particular morning eater who loves a soft-boiled egg, this 20-buck gadget that uses a spring mechanism to slice the shell right off is a godsend. Say goodbye to egg shells sticking to your breakfast.
Rösle Stainless Steel Egg Topper, $20 at amazon.com
An electric kettle is hardly a sexy gift—unless it looks like this. For the design fiend in your life, check out SMEG, an Italian company known for ‘50s-inspired interpretations of home appliances. Designed in collaboration with leading architects, this tea kettle bridges mid-century style with modern features. Choose from a range of colors including chrome, pastel blue, and rose gold.
Heated Ice Cream Scoop
Never wait to scoop ice cream again. This thermo-ring heated scoop allows you to dig right into a pint, rather than chisel off small slivers of ice cream. A special coating in the scooping bowl prevents your perfectly rounded scoop from melting too quickly. No batteries or electricity required.
THAT! Scoop That II Warming Ice Cream Scoop, $20 at amazon.com
Sometimes you’re just too busy to prepare(and clean up a massive feast. To that end, Tupperware produces this microwave-friendly, nonstick stainless steel “grill.” It disperses heat to hot plates on either side of your food to achieve a complete sear on meats or a golden-brown crust on casseroles. A proprietary technology quickly heats food to 425°F, ensuring it’s cooked evenly throughout.
Not all rice is created equally. Thankfully, this versatile appliance can handle a wide variety of grains and styles of rice and quinoa. A “syncro-cook” function allows you to cook rice and a main dish at the same time, like steamed eggs or vegetables over rice. Rice is cooked in an inner pot, with another cooking plate sitting above. For a crowded kitchen, this is the perfect rice cooker, slow cooker, and food steamer all in one.
Tiger Corporation Micom Rice Cooker, $70 at amazon.com
Salt and Pepper Mill Set
Your friend who loves fancy Himalayan salt and black peppercorns deserves a fancy mill set, too. This battery-operated, stainless steel grinder set allows you to season your food with ease—just adjust the coarseness before operating. It’s also got a nice stand that prevents your kitchen table from getting covered in residue.
Flafster Kitchen Battery-Operated Salt and Pepper Grinder, $32 at amazon.com
Sous vide cooking is more popular than ever, thanks to many new user-friendly gadgets designed specifically for home cooks. The bluetooth-controlled Anova Nano has emerged as the most functional and precise whether you’re working with meat, eggs, fruits, or vegetables. Simply attach the Anova to any pot, add water, and add your food in a sealed bag or glass jar. Control the temperature and set at timer all from your phone, so you don’t have to hover over the pot waiting for water to boil.
Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano, $99 at amazon.com