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  • Writer's pictureNina Dudko

Ten Gift Ideas for New Cooks

Updated: May 7, 2020

I love the holiday season from Christmas lights on houses or in apartment windows to all the Christmas and holiday themed food. Everyone is so cheery and in a great mood and I feel jubilated when this time of year rolls around. Especially if it snows—that’s just wintry perfection.

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Even though I am Jewish and Hanukkah is over (Chag Same’ach everyone) I love Christmas. I have a little Hanukkah bush in my apartment to sub in for a Christmas tree—it adds a little spark in my apartment, which is currently a mess (sorry, mom!). One caveat to the holiday season though is the endless supply of Christmas music. Call me a Grinch, but it gets pretty tiresome pretty fast though it does do a good job lifting the holiday spirit.

However, one of the best things about Christmas and Hanukkah is gift-giving. We all look forward to getting presents during the holidays. I mean—who doesn’t like receiving a thoughtful gift from a loved one. I certainly love giving gifts to people. I consider it my top love-language to my close friends and family members as a way to show how much I appreciate them and love them.

Christmas is right around the corner and it’s probably pretty overwhelming to decide what exactly to get someone. Sales and promotions everywhere and so many things to choose, but how do you pick the perfect gift? Do you have a friend or family member who is just starting to experiment in the kitchen or is looking to make their cooking experience phenomenally easier? Here’s my list of the top 10 perfect gifts for the aspiring chef in your life.

Honestly, this appliance is an absolute lifesaver and it’s the best I ever received (thanks, mom!) It saves so much time on prep since you can multitask. I love how versatile and easy to clean it is. It also comes in tons of different colors so you can match with your recipient’s favorite color or personality. With all the various attachments, you can make so much while reducing your storage space that would be occupied by individual appliances. I only have one—the ice cream maker attachment, but I love it. I’m thinking about getting the pasta roller attachment so I can attempt my own fresh pasta—stay tuned.

Get it for $259.99

I’m new to the cast iron skillet life, but what I’ve used it for so far has already changed my life. It is essential for every cook to have regardless if you’re a newbie or a veteran. It is resistant to high temperatures and is oven safe (though not the easiest to clean—please don’t throw one of these in the dishwasher, it ruins the coating). There are so many different recipes you can cook using a cast iron skillet. Want to roast a whole chicken? Use a cast iron skillet. Want to make a pizza? Use a cast iron skillet. Want to make a giant chocolate chip cookie for yourself-er I mean your friends? Use a cast iron skillet. Cast iron skillets aren’t expensive at all either. If you’re lucky you can find a well-seasoned one at an antique sale or garage sale, but you can also find a good one online. Just be careful when grabbing the handle—I’ve burnt myself at least once or twice by accident grabbing it. Occupational hazard :).

Get it for $14.99

I love to bake, but parchment paper gets expensive and sometimes the overhang burns into a fine crumbly ashy mess (does this happen to anyone else or is this a me problem?). This non-stick baking mat or Silpat® mat is a lifesaver though. It is such a breeze to clean (FYI not dishwasher safe) and it is a worthy investment. It comes in all sorts of sizes that will most any baking sheet and it doesn’t affect the flavor of the cookies at all. It’s a great investment. Get it for $23.99

A food processor is honestly a must-have in any kitchen. It saves tons of time chopping/slicing/shredding you name it. You don’t need a large one either. An 8-cup food processor is easy to store and gets the job done. It’s super helpful if you want to make cole slaw, pesto, or potato latkes. Heck, I even use it to make smoothies and milkshakes and proceed to make a huge mess after that. Just need to secure a paper towel or something, but it does the trick. Get it for $69.99

What if I told you that making homemade potato chips is super easy? Crazy, right? Well if you have a handy dandy mandolin, making potato chips is so much easier. And not only potato chips—you can use it to thinly slice carrots, garlic, onions, or peppers, perfect for your veggie platter. Just be careful when slicing your veggies with this. The blade is very sharp.Luckily, the manufacturer took that into account and gives you a safety handle to slide your veggies without worry of slicing your fingers too. The great thing about a mandolin is the adjustability so you can manage how thick you want your veggies sliced. Get it for $14.99

Okay so I’ve shared a lot of ideas for gifts that save the hassle of chopping things by hand, but every cook needs a reliable chef’s knife to be able to cut food by hand. Knife skills are just as important as the appliances we use and having a good sturdy chef’s knife is not only going to make the chef in your life happy, but also make their lives easier. Poor quality chef’s knives can be dangerous when cooking.Chef’s knives don’t need to be expensive though.You can find a quality chef’s knife at Ikea or online. You want something that is heavy enough so you have control of the blade and sharp enough that you’re not applying tons of pressure to slice through a tomato. No need to pay $100 for a knife, you can get a good quality one for much less. Get one for $29.97

If you eat salad, apple pie, or love mashed potatoes, then you need a good peeler. I recommend these Y shaped peelers for a few reasons. First, they are so much easier to hold and use than the straight-shaped ones.You have significant control with the peeler and the food you’re peeling—less likely to hurt yourself.Second, they’re easy to clean. The single blade and angle makes washing it a breeze. Especially when you throw it in the dishwasher. Third, they come in fun colors that are bright enough so you won’t throw them out by accident. Get a set for $5.97

J Get the skillet for $54.99ust like a good chef’s knife, every cook needs a good stainless steel skillet. You could technically only use a cast iron, but cast iron skillets take a significant time to heat up. If you want to quickly sauté something then you need a good stainless steel skillet. This skillet IS dishwasher safe, so dishwasher users rejoice!I do not recommend non-stick skillets. They’re a pain to clean and the coating comes off after extended use. And getting a lid with your skillet will keep your stove-top splatter free since oil has a tendency to go everywhere. At least when I cook it does.

It is winter now officially—happy winter solstice friends!And you know what winter means, right? No it does not mean time to start counting down until summer.Let me enjoy my weird snowy blistering cold bliss. Winter means comfort food weather!Soups, stews, bisques—you name it. And the best thing to make those delicious dishes in is a sturdy Dutch oven. You can buy a knockoff brand, but I highly recommend splurging a bit on Le Creuset®. The quality is so much better and the color is so vivid that they’ll make what you make in them pop even more.

Get it for $139.95

Working a 9-5 job and going to school full time is exhausting. I come home and barely have the energy. But, my slow cooker has been so helpful in making sure I not only have food ready for me to consume when I get home, but plenty leftovers to feed me throughout the week. This slow cooker in particular has a setting that once the cooking time is done, it will automatically switch to warm so you can have a fresh helping once you get home. As far as I know it doesn’t consume that much electricity to keep warm so your utilities bill shouldn’t go up to much using this great gadget. The lid also has a locking mechanism so your food isn’t going anywhere as you bring it to your next potluck or tailgate. I’m also a huge fan of the meat thermometer for those big roasts—that way you’ll know when it’s done thanks to science! Get it for $39.99

I hope you enjoyed this list and it’s given you some inspiration for your last-minute Christmas shopping! All of these items are available on Amazon Prime, so should get to you just in time for the holidays.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year!

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