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Published Nov 16, 2022 5:00 PM

A good home cook will already have the basic tools they need—so use the holiday season to buy them the best kitchen gifts they might not even know they need. It could be a big fancy gadget, but it could also be a small upgrade to a simple, classic one. Either way, they can put these accessories to good use cooking delicious food all year long … and maybe sharing some with you. Win-win!

Best multicooker: Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1

Instant Pot

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Look, we know this is an obvious choice for a kitchen gift. Instant Pots are just the new sous-vide machines in terms of go-to gadgets. But here’s the thing: They’re popular for a reason. Want to make slow-cooked stews on a weeknight? Or perfectly cooked hard-boiled eggs every time? Who doesn’t? The basic version is affordable, even for the largest size. If you want to upgrade to the 10 in 1, go for it, but rest assured this one will get all of the jobs done.

Best smart oven: Brava smart oven

Brava

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Brava’s smart oven seeks to answer two questions home cooks face at least once a day: What should I cook, and how long will it take? The 10-in-1 countertop appliance provides you with answers to both by presenting you with an ever-growing list of recipes that cater to any diet or dietary restrictions. In our tests, we cooked everything from s’mores to fried eggs, and the results were both fast and tasty. You can control the oven using an app, or by navigating through its controls via a touch screen on top; either way, you’ll be guided through recipes from conception to execution. Part of this appliance’s appeal is its size: The Brava Oven will heat up a lot faster than a full-sized one, which allowed us to cook s’mores in just three minutes. By cutting down on the cook time, we were encouraged to cook more often rather than opting for takeout. This is an ultra-luxe gift, but well worth it if you know someone who loves to cook but struggles to come up with new meals for their rotation.

Best water purifier: AquaTru Connect

AquaTru

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All of us should be drinking at least 2.7 liters of water per day according to the Mayo clinic, but that’s difficult if you’re uneasy about what’s coming out of your tap. If you know someone in that situation, AquaTru’s Connect makes for an excellent gift. The appliance uses a three-stage filtration system and reverse osmosis to purify water and remove everything from rocket fuel and radium to pesticides and herbicides. Naturally, it’ll also filter out unwanted tastes and odors. We could easily pick up on those last two factors during our tests but felt good about the other nasty stuff getting filtered out, too. Using the AquaTru connect is equally simple. All you have to do is fill up its tank, and press a button. AquaTru’s app lets you know the status of all three filters, so you know when they need to be replaced, along with stats on how much water it’s filtered.

Best pepper grinder: MÄNNKITCHEN Pepper Cannon

MÄNNKITCHEN

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Giving a pepper grinder as a gift may seem odd, but Mäankitchen’s is the exception that proves the rule. We were impressed not only by its ultra-solid build quality but by the level of control it gave us over our grind. The company says its grinder is 10 times faster than a typical one, and you should believe the hype. A simple knob on the bottom of the pepper grinder allows you to switch from coarser to finer settings, so you can find the perfect one for your salad and steak and switch between them very quickly. Yes, the Mäankitchen Pepper Cannon is overkill, but that’s exactly why it’s such a great gift.

Best toaster: Tineco Toasty One

Tineco

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If you know someone who can’t start their day without toast, a bagel, or an English muffin, Tineco’s Toasty One will blow their minds. The smart toaster allows you to select your preferred level of doneness using a visual indicator, which is far more useful than figuring out whether you like setting number two or three on a traditional toaster. There’s no app required to use this toaster, as its main feature is the 4-inch touch screen. We were impressed by the performance of this toaster, especially the ability to select individual settings for the left and right slots. It also helps that the toaster actually looks cool on a countertop, with just the right mix of futurism and minimalism.

Best sheet pans: Great Jones Little Sheet

Great Jones

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Sheet pans are essential for the home cook who bakes or roasts food often, and this eye-catching pair of quarter-sheet trays from Great Jones will liven up every kitchen. They’re dishwasher safe, and the perfect size for a personal pizza, small sheet of cookies, or cornbread. We’re especially fond of their raised lips, which makes it possible to use them for small sheet cakes. Most home cooks have half-sized sheet pans but may be sleeping on smaller ones. Great Jones also offers a bundle that includes these two trays and a larger one.

Best microwavable cookware: Anyday Everyday Set

Anyday

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There’s “microwave-safe” cookware and then there’s the Everyday Set from Anyday. The frosted glass cookware is dishwasher safe, freezer safe, non-toxic, and comes in multiple sizes, which is why we’re inclined to jump in with both feet and gift the Everyday set. We’ve been pleased not only by how well this cookware performs—our from-scratch and reheated microwaved foods have never been cooked so consistently—but by how each size is perfect for different applications. The home cook with this set will be able to make everything from a full pot of rice to a small chicken completely in the microwave. The company’s website offers a bevy of new recipes for the microwave skeptic, too, in case you’re shopping for a skeptic.

Best bread maker: Panasonic Automatic Bread Machine

Panasonic

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Aspiring bakers can tripped up in bread baking because there’re so many things that can go wrong, from taking a loaf out too soon, or accidentally overworking or under-proofing the dough. Panasonic’s Automatic Bread Maker lives up to its name, allowing you to make everything from brioche to sourdough with a few button presses. It even has a slot where you can pour in mix-ins like seeds or dried garlic and other spices to ensure they’re incorporated evenly. We’re typically skeptical about single-use kitchen gadgets since counter space is such a premium resource (especially in apartments), but the Automatic Bread Maker more than earns its spot. If they make bread often enough, the person you gift it to may never put it away.

Best indoor smoker: Weston 2-in-1 Slow Cooker & Electric Indoor Smoker

Weston

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Nothing bums out a pit master quite like winter, when the smoker has to go away until springtime, which is why they’ll love Weston Brands’ slow cooker. The appliance doubles as a smoker, with a small canister for wood chips and settings for hot, cold, or combo smoking. A temperature probe will prevent them from overcooking their meat, which is particularly helpful during long cooks. The countertop-friendly appliance can cook a 6-pound chicken or 4-pound roast, which is more than enough to feed a group, especially when you factor in side dishes. There’s nothing quite like this indoor smoker (most home cooks rely on liquid smoke during colder months), so whoever you gift it to will be very pleasantly surprised.

Best kitchen scale: OXO 11-Pound Food Scale

OXO

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Everybody knows a home baker who uses measuring cups instead of weighing ingredients, and you can help them seriously up their game by gifting them a kitchen scale. Their bakes will turn out consistently, and the scale can be used in savory applications to portion meat and vegetables before cooking them. We like OXO’s scale because of its magnetic slide-out screen, which makes it possible to use the scale when weighing food in a large container. These containers would block the display of a lesser scale, which defeats the purpose of using it. OXO is one of our go-to cookware companies, and we can recommend its salad spinner as another great gift idea for picky chefs.

Best juicer: Hurom H310A

Hurom

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Hurom’s H310A is so good it may well convert your favorite home chef from someone who orders overpriced juice at a specialty shop into someone who makes them at home. The juicer’s self-feeding hopper will continually ingest chunks of fruits and vegetables, while its blade mimics the amount of force used for manual juicing. Hurom says the H310A wrings as much juice as possible from fruits and vegetables, and that’s been true in our tests. The H310A consistently made tasty juice from whatever we threw at it, and cleaning it by hand was a quick affair. The best part about this juicer is its small size. This juicer offers the same level of performance as a bulkier one in a far more svelte package. Fresh, organic juice is very expensive if you order it out, so gifting this juicer will actually save the person you’re shopping for money without using a lot of time.

Best knife: MadeIn Engraved 8-Inch Chef Knife

MadeIn

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A chef knife is the most versatile piece of cutlery in a home cook’s arsenal and an investment that with care can last decades, with many of them costing upwards of $200-$400. MadeIn offers its professional-grade 8-inch chef knife for just $99 and allows you to personalize its blade for an extra $30. This is a really nice touch that a home cook would appreciate every time they chop, dice, or chiffonade their favorite produce. This French-made knife, which combines the approach of German and Japanese blades, is made from a single piece of stainless steel hardened with nitrogen. It’ll make quick work of tomatoes, potatoes, pineapples, avocado, or anything else that’s thrown at it. If it’s taken care of properly, the chef who gets this knife will be able to use it for the rest of their life.

The best mandoline: Benriner Mandoline Slicer

Amazon

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It’s not generally good practice to give people products they could hurt themselves with—but if you’ve got a friend or family member who loves cooking up elaborate meals, this mandoline will be a godsend. It lets you quickly shave thin slices off even the hardiest veggies, making everything from salad prepping to gratin layering much faster and easier. Plus it comes with a little gripper so your loved ones don’t accidentally slice their fingertips off.

Best grater: Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Grater

Kyocera

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Yes, you could use a microplane to grate your ginger. But that’s assuming you want to clog up the tiny blades with fibers and spend twice as long doing it. Instead, you could just get this little Japanese device designed to perfectly mash up your ginger root (or garlic or fresh turmeric) without the hassle. It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s ceramic. And it’s got a silicone ring on the bottom to keep it from slipping.

Best spice grinder: KRUPS Precision Grinder

Amazon

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This is really just a coffee grinder. But, the thing is, you don’t need a specialized item for your spices. Krups has been selling java-making devices of all kinds for decades, and they still have the best, cheap, does-all-the-things-you-need-and-nothing-you-don’t appliances on the market. Toasting and grinding your own spices is perhaps the easiest way to take your cooking to a whole new level, but it’s one of those things that your beloved giftee will probably never bother to get for themselves. Buy them this simple upgrade to a mortar and pestle and reap the rewards for years in the form of well-seasoned potlucks. And maybe some freshly ground coffee afterward, to help digest.

Best sous vide: Anova Culinary Nano Sous Vide

Amazon

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OK, sure … we did start this whole list saying that Instant Pots are the new sous-vide machines. But that doesn’t mean the real things went away. If anything, they’re just hitting their stride. With more options coming to the market, recipes and uses for sous-vide cookers are exploding. Did you know you can use one to make perfectly safe-to-eat cookie dough? You can also cook a steak to any level of doneness, poach eggs at the perfect temperature, or even take your custards to the next level (get fancy!).