15 of the Most Useful Kitchen Gifts Ever, From Fancy Olive Oil to a Premium Ice Cube Tray

updated Jun 21, 2021
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When it comes to gift-giving, there are few presents more useful than kitchen gadgets, tools, and treats. Take it from our Real Estate Editor, Madeline, who recently sang the praises of a mixing bowl she was gifted as part of a larger gift basket: “A nice mixing bowl is something folks don’t think to buy for themselves, and they certainly don’t expect to be gifted one,” she said of her favorite gift. “This, I think, is what makes giving a bowl as a present so great—an irresistible combination of unexpectedness, practicality, and delight.”

There are plenty of kitchen-ready gifts for friends and acquaintances of all kinds. If you don’t quite know what someone is into, you can send them a fancy version of an ingredient everyone uses—really good olive oil, or gourmet spices, for example. Alternatively, if you know they suddenly got into baking this year, why not send them a nesting bowl set complete with every size bowl they’ll ever need. Here, we’ve rounded up 15 extremely useful kitchen gifts, starting at just $10 per piece.

If you know someone who recently took a dive into the world of cast iron but is terrified they might ruin it somehow, this five-piece set from Lodge can help soothe their worries. It includes a silicone handle (because no one wants to accidentally grab hot iron!), a scrub brush, a pan scraper, seasoning spray, and a guidebook for fool-proof cast iron care.

In my experience, the best gift is something that your recipient wants, but would never actually buy themselves. A fancy version of a perfectly utilitarian food like olive oil is the perfect example of this. As writer Joel Golby pointed out on Twitter, it ticks multiple boxes: People “begrudge paying for it themselves but it can cost less than £25, the perfect gift price. it always gets used and they don’t have to permanently have something ugly in their house due to a misplaced sense of gift guilt.”

In addition to tasting fresh and slightly grassy, it doesn’t hurt that the 500ml tins that house Pineapple Collaborative’s signature product are the exact opposite of “something ugly”—and they’re available in an array of colors, to match any kitchen.

It’s no secret that most people have spent a lot of time cooking at home this year. Whether your loved one is stocking up their first apartment, or collects Dutch ovens in all their hues, you can’t go wrong with this pick from Artisanal Kitchen Supply. It’s made from cast iron so it’ll retain heat well, and the pretty seafoam color rivals the tones of brands that are 10 times as expensive.

You can never have too many kitchen towels, and this cheery set comes in an array of colors, so they’re sure to match something in your friend’s kitchen. Wrap them as a set, or tuck one around a bottle of wine for a DIY take on reusable—and completely useful—gift wrap.

There are two ways to treat this gift set of small-batch aperitifs from buzzy brand Haus. You can certainly present a loved one with the set of four different bottles, as is. Alternatively, gift each friend one bottle for the nicest $10 gift you’ll ever give. (Maybe wrap your present in the aforementioned kitchen towels?) Either way, you’re giving the gift of low-alcohol cheer—I’m a fan of the new Spiced Cherry blend, which I top with seltzer for a very easy cocktail.

You can’t go wrong with a gift set that Kitchn’s managing editor, Lauren, calls “highly giftable.” This duo from Material features a cutting board made from recycled plastic and renewable sugarcane, as well as a paring knife that will do everything from slice fruit to smear spreads on crackers. The board also comes in three Instagrammable colors, making it perfect for friends who want to serve and showcase their snacks on the same platter they used to prepare it.

Does your friend live in a walk-up apartment building and is tired of lugging cans of seltzer up their stairs? Do they miss the seltzer in their office cafeteria? Or are they looking to be more eco-conscious and cut down on single-use bottles of fancy imported mineral water? Whatever their need, this compact version of the popular SodaStream will help them stay hydrated and effervescent.

Every kitchen could benefit from a nice nesting bowl set—it’s a space-efficient way to do everything from cooking prep to serving snacks. This set from Bamboozle is made from eco-friendly bamboo and comes in three sets of complementary colors. (Just make sure your recipient knows that while these are dishwasher safe, you shouldn’t put them in the microwave.)

Sure, your loved one could use the spices they pick up from their local grocery store (and there’s a very good chance those are more than fine!). But these spices, by James Beard-nominated chef Meherwan Irani, will elevate any meal. The tins are also pretty enough to leave out on your counter, which is a good thing—one taste of the za’atar mix, and you’re going to want to sprinkle it on everything.

Think all ice is the same? Think again! This set of silicone ice cube trays will help anyone achieve the perfect square or round ice cubes of their dreams. Whether they’re sipping whiskey on the rocks, or simply want to jazz up their drinks with spheres of ice rather than standard cubes, this set is no-fuss and guaranteed to get plenty of use.

Sure, you could serve a cake on a standard plate, but if you had this cheery cake stand, wouldn’t you use it instead? This white cake stand by cult bakery Flour Shop features the brand’s signature rainbow motif contrasted against a crisp white pedestal. The most useful part about it? It doubles as decor and can be left out year-round as an elevated catch-all.

There are plenty of dos and don’ts when it comes to leaving butter out on the counter. If you want spreadable, room-temperature butter for your morning toast, be sure to only keep salted butter out and at arm’s reach. It also helps to invest in an opaque container, like this butter dish with an airtight seal.

Much fancier than giving someone a bag of mini-marshmallows (though I wouldn’t necessarily say no to that, either…), these hand-poured stirrers feature a mix of chocolate and marshmallows for a sweet experience. Gift them alongside your favorite hot chocolate recipe, or even a nice bag of coffee beans for a DIY mocha experience.

Sometimes the trick to good gifting is to find a slightly more luxe version of an everyday essential. This microplane is made from stainless steel and features a comfortable wood handle, resulting in an eco-friendly design that looks pretty and performs well.

While coffee shops in your area are probably offering curb-side and drive-through pickup, there’s a lot to be said about making your own latte or cappuccino at home. This milk frother and steamer warms milk to the perfect temperature for your dream beverage, and works with both hot and cold milk. Long story short: It’s never been easier to practice your latte art skills.

Because if you can share the gift of cheese with someone, why wouldn’t you? This selection from New York City cornerstone Murray’s Cheese features three pounds of cheese total, in delectable varieties like gouda, gruyere, and cheddar.