Look, as always we’ve scoured the Internet reading all of the articles on the ‘Best Stocking Stuffers for Cooks’ so we can save you folks the trouble. As cooking enthusiasts ourselves, we can give you some simple tips when it comes to stuffing a stocking with gifts for your culinary-minded foodie friends and loved ones. We can also show you some rad items.
Some Standard Ground Rules for Giving Gifts to Foodies
First off, gimmicky food gadgets are exactly that – gimmicky. Few people want to be gifted a Melon Baller. Even fewer want to unwrap a Jalapeno Corer. Now we sound like jerks – the point is be thoughtful. We are the best culinary buyers guide on the Internet so expect a critical view when it comes to things we value. No Melon Ballers for us, we know where to find those. The general key to giving gifts to a foodie is buying something multi-functional, something that will get used, and something of quality. If you find yourself at a loss for ideas let us tell you, EDIBLE beats Melon Baller! Every. Single. Time.
Secondly, most foodies are very picky about their mainstay items. Unless you know a person and their preferences or have a list in hand, it is best to steer away from purchases such as kitchen knives, cookware, and countertop appliances as most folks have a firm bias in this regard. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but most of these items won’t fit in a stocking anyway so we will shelve it for another piece.
Give the Gift of Time
Time is something we take for granted. Ok, let’s not get too deep. The ability to measure time is something we take for granted. We have timers on our stoves, on our microwaves, on our cell phones, and sometimes a standalone timer for the kitchen. A good device for monitoring time is indispensable in the kitchen and one that can move along with you during a dinner party or when grilling on the patio is even better.
The ThermoWorks TimeStick is at the top of the heap when it comes to handy portable time monitoring. The case is magnetic so it can be easily affixed to the fridge or the BBQ grill stand for convenience and, it is splash proof so a minor spill, some light rain, or a dose of beer isn’t going to hurt anything. A lanyard provides for additional flexibility and the backlit display helps you out as the sun sets. It is offered in two models. The standard TimeStick offers a single count-up, count-down timer with clock. The TimeStick Trio offers a three-channel timer with separate displays for each. Both models come in 9 rad colors.
The Taylor Anywhere Timer is a budget portable timing solution with a novel silicon case that can be wrapped around a wrist, grill handle, etc. Like the ThermoWorks this device is also magnetic so it can be affixed to any ferrous metal surface such as a fridge or BBQ stand.
Make it Measurably Hot
As much as we appreciate time as a general benchmark, a common theme is cooking to temperature, not to time. You need both tools to do a proper job. A recommendation of two hours in the oven is subjective and does not help us if we do not have a reliable way to measure the internal temperature of our product. Whether taking the temperature of freshly made dough, grilling steak, or roasting a bird, we have you covered.
Is that a thermometer in your pocket? The ThermoWorks ThermoPop is the undisputed champion of budget pocket probe thermometers. Splash proof, rotating backlit LCD display, and ambidextrous. The great thing about the ThermoPop from a gifting perspective is it never hurts to have another.
The ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4 is the best single probe thermometer you can buy. Period. In addition to offering one of the fastest and most accurate readings on the market, it is waterproof and offers a motion sensing back-light with rotating display. Optional accessories such as a protective silicon sleeve with embedded magnets allow you to easily affix this to the fridge or grill stand. It often comes in limited edition colors.
A Fully Wireless Option that Fits in a Stocking!
The MEATER+ is a bit of a hybrid temperature monitor. Although it appears as a single probe unit the probe itself actually has two separate sensors. One is near the tip of the probe and monitors the temperature of your product. The second is near the based of the probe and monitors the ambient temperature of the grill. In essence you are getting two probes in one with no wires which is ideal for applications such as rotisseries that would cause traditional temperature monitors to become tangled.
Want to know more about thermometers? Check out our comprehensive guide here!
Gift a Versatile Blade
A versatile and compact knife is a great ancillary player. We aren’t talking about a paring or boning knife that has its home in the kitchen. We are talking about the little guy who might try to sneak out on the patio for cheese and crackers, jump into the picnic basket and hide next to the baguette, or stow away in the bicycle bag for some road snacks. Hell, it might even try a high-end steakhouse.
The Opinel No. 8 is an iconic blade at a ridiculously affordable price. These French-made knives have remained effectively unchanged since 1890 and are absolutely timeless. In 1955 they added their unique Virobloc safety ring allowing the knife to be locked in both the open and closed position. The classic, of course, is the No. 8 Carbone with beechwood handle. This carbon steel knife takes some maintenance as the blade is susceptible to corrosion if not properly maintained. Those who appreciate such things will find pride in caring for this knife as part of ownership. For folks who appreciate less maintenance, the Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Pocket Knife offers a multitude of blade and handle options. Check it out in this plum shade. For the gentleman who might enjoy a fine Steakhouse Companion, the Opinel Stainless Steel Folding Slim Line Pocket Knife fits the bill perfectly. Lastly, for the Wine & Cheese lover, this model has a corkscrew fit nicely into the handle.
The Case Hobo is an icon in its own right. Offering a knife, spoon, and fork in one compact utensil that comes with a nice leather carrying case. The standout feature here is that this knife easily separates so that each utensil can be utilized separately. Perfect for the traveler or lunchbox crown this is also the one that makes it into our own bike bag for an impromptu picnic or roadside snack. It would be equally at home on the deck for some cheese and charcuterie. One more thing – that handle is real bone and not fake plastic.
The Shun Higo Nokami Gentleman’s knife is the black-tie affair of this group. This is the one that slips easily into a jacket pocket to make its appearance at Peter Luger or any other fine House of Steak. Then again, we wouldn’t be ashamed to pull this one out at a picnic either. The blade is handcrafted in Japan out of VG-10 steel. The handle is PakkaWood with a resin infusion for moisture resistance. This is some James Bond stuff that is just as comfortable in your home as it is dining out or slicing fruit on the trail.
Let There Be Light
A good portable light is indispensable for outdoor cooking when time just isn’t on your side or when the season transitions into Fall/Winter. The Petzl Zipka is a super versatile headlamp that can be worn traditionally or attached to the wrist or other suitable surface.
There do exist some general small items that rock. Behold.Tovolo Tumble Trivets are super versatile and make a great simple gift. These cool silicon ‘jacks’ can be scattered and arranged on nearly any surface to form an ad-hoc trivet. We use them on the counter, on the kitchen table, and out on the grill work area for a variety of purposes. A couple of these in the drawer are a welcome addition to any kitchen!
Lodge Pan Scrapers are like guitar picks for cooks. You can never have too many of these guys around. They work perfectly for cleaning cast iron, griddles, flat tops, pizza stones, or any surface were some stray food might get stuck. They also fit perfectly in stocking toes.
Many people have a pair of scissors. Few people have an awesome set of Shun Kitchen Shears. There are many nice brands out there but on the high end they hover around the same price range so you might as well buy the best ones. Don’t need the best? You can’t go wrong with Victorinox products and their Swiss Classic Kitchen Shear.
The Ringer is a dishwasher-safe chainmail cloth that cleans cast iron like a boss. It also leaves seasoning fully intact. Anyone who likes cast iron will love this one!
Grill Pinz has an improved approach to wrapping bacon on anything grillable. Their motto is ‘Wrap It & Tack It’ and they aspire to ensure that nobody swallows a toothpick at your next shindig. These clever pins are large enough to see, large enough to remove with tongs, and feature a unique pin that grips your food so they do not fall out during cooking.
The Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker lets you rock out with your clove out. Unlike traditional garlic press assemblies that are tough to clean the Garlic Rocker presses garlic directly on your cutting surface and allows for you to easily scoop out crushed garlic. When finished the single surface is much easier to clean and is dishwasher safe!
Give some Edibles
Edibles make fun gifts and are a great way to share new experiences with people that you love. For the individual who has everything, edibles enter their life, are consumed, enjoyed, and then they go away. It’s a win-win.
To spice things up you can give the gift of the hottest Ramen on the Planet! Seriously. They taste great, are ridiculously (seriously not-kidding) hot, and can be bought in a variety of quantities if you want to gift ’em around a bit. Great for friends and coworkers who like it super hot!
Koji Powder is trending pretty hard these days as a popular method of quickly ‘dry aging’ steaks and other proteins. We went over this process and it worked surprisingly well. For the foodie in your life who is just getting going with their Sous Vide machine or is always looking for a new challenge, there are a lot of super fun things to do with Koji! Check some out here.
For the aspiring Pitmaster or BBQ Grill Aficionado, Meat Church products are widely regarding as some of the best rubs and spices out there. Even for those picky folks, nobody is going to be disappointed by an assortment of Meat Church products in their stocking!
Give Them Duck Fat Spray
Cornhusker Kitchen’s Duck Fat Spray gets rave reviews. It is killer on any kind of potatoes and their website offers a variety of recipes!
Give Them Coal
Did somebody make the naughty list this year? Maybe you just want to give some coal for laughs? Hard Core Carnivore Black Seasoning has no Gluten or MSG and is delicious on a heck of a lot more than just steak. It is made in Texas so you know the flavor will be Big. Bonus, this seasoning contains food-grade charcoal, so yeah, stuff that stocking with coal!
Like this article? Check out our guide to the best multitasking culinary accessories!
As part of our State of the Great™ series this post will be updated as products emerge, become discontinued, or shift their position in the marketplace due to competition. We strive to identify the absolute best products available that we would be proud to own and utilize ourselves. As always, nobody is perfect, product defects and quality control issues do occur, and customer service teams sometimes drops the ball. We appreciate your feedback in regard to products we recommend. We also appreciate your feedback if something sucked. That is how we get better collectively. Have a fantastic Holiday!
Did you like this article? Check out other articles in our State of the Great series!