When I was growing up, Mother’s Day celebrations always took place at my great uncle David’s house. We’d sit at a big round table, eating heavily buttered Lender's bagels. The conversation was often over my head, which didn't really matter because I’d escape as soon as possible to play my uncle's ancient Frogger, pretty much the only video game I've ever played in my life.
Over the past couple of years, with COVID-19, that time seemed black-and-white, so unattainable that I almost couldn't believe it ever happened. I would've loved to spend Mother’s Day sitting around the table with my family and eating wonderfully crappy bagels. But, I was quarantining. This year, though, I'm hopefully I'll be able to spend the day with her.
Which means I'm going to great my mom a great gift—one that, maybe, we can even use together. And, of course, it's gotta be kitchen-related (this is Serious Eats after all). So, I rounded up gift ideas for cooking, baking, and eating, including some of our top gear recommendations out of our equipment reviews.
For Cooking and Baking
A new piece of cooking equipment is a nice way to help Mom expand her repertoire. This beautiful tagine makes for an impressive cooking vessel and serving dish. Pair it with a printed-out (dare I say, laminated?) recipe for a flavorful North African stew for cozy nights in.
This particular tagine, which is handmade in Tunisia, comes in a few different colors, so you can select whichever one suits your mom's preferred color palette. Better yet, pick one to match her kitchen, and she can keep it on display all year long.
A Stainless Steel Skillet
A great stainless steel skillet is a cookware must-have. Which means if your mom doesn't own one, it's also a great gift. You can read more about stainless steel skillets here. Our favorite model from Made In is beautiful, easy to hold, and reasonably priced.
A Rice Cooker
Whether it's burned, gloopy, dry, or just plain glued to the pan, a bad batch of rice is a deeply disappointing experience. But a good rice cooker takes all guesswork out of the equation. The Cuckoo model shown here is our favorite for cooks who regularly purchase and eat lots of different rice varieties (you can see our other picks in our full rice cooker review). If that's your mom, she'll enjoy all of the custom presets the Cuckoo has to offer. What's more, this machine has a small footprint, which will be appreciated by apartment and house moms alike.
Pick one of these up for her, and save her from disappointing-rice hell for the true gift that keeps on giving.
Maybe Mom's a smoothie person, or maybe she's into milling her own flour (what with flour being out of stock these days, maybe we should all do this). For that, she'll need a kick-ass blender. Our exhaustive testing of high-powered blending lands on the Vitamix as a go-to for blasting through everything from wheat berries to fibrous kale.
A Quality Wooden Cutting Board
Like the Vitamix, a quality wooden cutting board is an investment piece. While the price may be high, if you take care of this board, it will take care of you—and your knives.
For a really nice board, we look to The BoardSmith, a small, family-run company that makes all its boards by hand. Its maple end-grain board is thick, solid, and long-lasting (Daniel's been using his for years!). It comes in a few different sizes and offers some customizations like a juice groove and feet.
If you're worried about your mom handling the upkeep, we've got her covered. Just print out our cheat sheet for cutting board maintenance, and she'll be good to go.
A Chef's Knife
Like my mom, maybe yours has been using the same knives for years. To remedy that dull situation, grab her a new chef’s knife. You can go Japanese or Western—Western blades tend to be heavier and more curved than their Japanese counterparts—but these two took home the top prizes in our chef's knife review—out of a whopping 27 candidates! They'll revitalize your mom's knife skills and make slicing and dicing much safer.
A Mortar and Pestle
If she's all set on knives, I'd recommend a mortar and pestle. There's a wide variety of styles and use cases. Sure, they're ideal for grinding up sauces and pestos, but no matter what style you opt for, they're guaranteed to help Mom work out some stress and anxiety, too.
There’s lots to get for your mom if she’s into baking. If she already has the essentials, treat her to some decorative tools like piping tips. These large ones are perfect for piping out creamy Oreo filling and dollops of chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream onto cakes. The set comes with several different shapes like swirls and stars, so she can get as creative as she'd like.
A Marble Pastry Slab
This marble pastry slab isn't just a pretty base. It's a smooth and cool surface for rolling out buttery pie crusts, laminating dough, and even tempering chocolate. It's also good-looking enough to act as a serving platter for all those baked goods. And what mom doesn't love a multitasker?
A Kitchen Scale
If your mom is just starting out on her baking adventures, she needs a good scale. We've said it time and again, but measuring cups aren't accurate enough on their own. Sure, she should have some, but a scale is indispensable if she's going to produce beautiful breads, pastries, and treats.
We especially love this pull-out scale from OXO because it'll show measurements even if there's a big bowl on top of it. And lord knows we're into batch-baking right now. The bigger the bowl, the better.
A Baking Dish
This Staub baking dish is another multitasker that Mom will love. The "splurge winner" for our baking and casserole dish review, it's nice and heavy, it's oven-safe at up to a whopping 575°F (300°C), and with excellent heat retention, it'll keep what she's made hot longer than the average baking dish. With a four-quart capacity, it's large enough to hold not just brownies but roasts and big, holiday-friendly casseroles.
Maybe instead of wrapping this one, make a huge Hasselback potato gratin, serve it, and tell her it's all for her.
A Baking Steel
Maybe now's the time to get Mom into pizza-making. (That’s what’s happening to us, anyway.) For better, faster pizza at home, pick her up a Baking Steel to get that crust extra-crispy. Upon trying his own, Kenji noticed that his New York–style pizza dough even got those traditional oven-charred spots and a super-crisp bottom that's hard to achieve, even with a pizza stone.
The Baking Steel will also prove useful if Mom is into baking bread, since it can measurably improve the performance of her oven by adding thermal mass. This means it'll keep her oven hotter, ensuring those loaves get a full rise.
In layman's terms, a Baking Steel is a piece of kitchen badassery that anyone would love. Plus, it's too heavy to return, so she'll keep it forever no matter what.
A KitchenAid Pasta Roller Set
For homemade pasta and ramen noodles as good (if not better) than what you'll find at restaurants, pick up a KitchenAid pasta roller that will attach right to her mixer. You can even print out our exhaustive walk-through of how to make fresh pasta from scratch. It’s more reliable than anyone else in the family.
A Supportive Floor Mat
It might not seem critical, but having a supportive mat on the kitchen floor can make cooking (and dish-washing) much more comfortable for cooks of any age. These mats are nice and squishy, providing good support for feet and knees. They also come in a lot of fun prints.
A Chic Apron
This linen apron from Etsy is as functional as it is good-looking. It has a big pocket for thermometers and tongs, and it doesn't have annoying ties, which is perhaps its greatest appeal. Mom can just slip it on and get cooking.
For the Home
A Robot Vacuum
It’s an indisputable fact that the worst part of cooking is cleaning. That’s why this year we’ve added a good vacuum to the list. And not just any vacuum, but one that requires almost zero energy from your mom. It’s an iRobot Roomba. Plug this baby in, turn it on, and let it go. It’ll pick up all of those stray crumbs in the kitchen and living room. And if your mom is anything like me, she’ll name her robot vacuum, start to talk to it, and have made a new, very helpful friend.
While mom is sitting back and relaxing, letting the Roomba do the work, make sure she has everything she needs for a nice self-care session. That should start with a nice glass of wine. (Yes, the wine should be nice, but the glass should be, too!) These reasonably priced (for crystal) glasses from Riedel did exceptionally well in our tests, impressing professional sommeliers (and yes, the casual wine-drinkers among us) with their ability to capture the aroma of red, white, and bubbly wines.
An Espresso Machine
If your mom is an espresso drinker, help her sip in style with a fancy espresso machine. This model came out on top of our extensive espresso machine review. It produces beautiful espresso, is easy to use, and can even whip up frothy milk! Sure, it costs a whole lot, but Mom's worth it.
So maybe you won't be splurging on that espresso machine, but you can still help her sip in style with these espresso cup. These beautiful little cups are all handmade. Plus, they're dishwasher-safe, which as far as I can tell, is the best gift anyone could ask for.
A Cold Brew Maker
If your mom's more of an iced coffee person, this cold brew maker from OXO is top-notch. It's easy to use, easy to store, and works incredibly well and its carafe won't take up a ton of room in the fridge. It's also about $30, making it budget-friendly.
A Coffee Subscription
You could also treat your coffee-loving mom to a subscription from Parlor Coffee and support a small business in the process. They source their beans from all over the world, offering single blends and origins, plus weekly and monthly shipping.
A Powerful Coffee Grinder
If you're going to treat Mom to good coffee, make sure she has a good grinder to match. Baratza's Virtuoso coffee grinder was a favorite in our review. The conical burr produces a wide range of grind sizes, the machine is solid (made from both metal and plastic), and the customer service is excellent, which is important when your caffeine intake is on the line.
For Eating: The Sweet Edition
These soft caramels come in rich flavors like raspberry, brown butter macadamia nut, sea salt, and salted peanut, and they're available in 10- and 20-piece gift packs. Each luscious little caramel is individually wrapped in cellophane paper for a delicious little treat far more elegant and elevated than any supermarket brand.
If you do want to go the chocolate route, pick up some Raaka chocolate bars. This trio pack comes with wild flavors like pink sea salt and bourbon cask–aged. What's more, the wrappers are a piece of art themselves. They'll make Mom's chocolate break all the more glorious and exciting.
Real-Deal Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
We've long championed this chocolate-hazelnut spread from our friends over at Gustiamo. It's rich, luscious, and might just ruin the original. Is that a bad thing? Perhaps. But once Mom's hooked, you can make sending her a jar of Gustiamo's concoction a regular thing. Birthdays, holidays—send a jar, and you'll be all set.
Our founder, Ed, is constantly praising Gustiamo’s pistachio spread (which we hope he shares with his wife when he has it!). While it’s a pricey everyday purchase, this pistachio spread makes for a very special gift, made with Italian pistachios and little else.
While you could obviously just dive in with a spoon, this rich treat would also taste excellent spread over your morning toast, smothered on a sticky bun, or drizzled over ice cream.
A Frog Hollow Citrus Box
I suppose citrus would fall under the sweet category as well. If Mom always has lemon in her water or is constantly digging into grapefruits, get her a gift box from Frog Hollow Citrus. This farm has been practicing regenerative agriculture since your mom was in her early days.
For Eating: The Savory Stuff
A Great Spice Mix
My love for this particular spice mix is undying. Filled with pink Himalayan sea salt, grains of paradise, shallots, garlic, and more, the World's Fair Barbecue Rub is versatile and delicious. It transforms everything it touches, from eggs to steak to tomato sauce. Whenever I feel like a dish is just a little bit bland, I add a few sprinkles, and it turns the whole thing right around. Starting at $6.99, a bag or glass jar of this mix from The Spice House is an excellent, affordable, and useful gift for Mom. (She's over tchotchkes and so are we.)
A Spice Set
I happen to know some moms whose pantry is full of old spices that have basically lost all of their flavor and are now just dust particles. If this is your mom, consider getting her a new set of spices to revitalize her collection. We're particularly enamored with this gift set from Burlap & Barrel, which has all of the essentials. As Daniel puts it, these spices are not just fresher than what you'll find elsewhere, but they're "er-er," which is his way of saying that they're "better in every way from the ho-hum stuff on supermarket shelves." If that isn't an endorsement, then I don't know what is.
Málà is that wonderful flavor you taste and feel when you're eating Sichuan cuisine. And that hot and numbing sensation comes from Sichuan peppercorns. If you want the good stuff, look to Mala Market, a small company that imports all of its ingredients straight from China. Their Sichuan peppercorns will give your chili crisp more buzz—and will be your mom's gateway into the wide world of Sichuan cooking.
Whether your mom has a green thumb or a black thumb, she'll revel in an AeroGarden. It's is not only satisfying, but useful. Without much effort at all, your mom could have all the herbs she could ever want growing just about anywhere in the house, regardless of her natural-light situation.
Lots of Pasta
We cannot get enough pasta here at Serious Eats. While we're perfectly happy eating pasta from supermarket brands, sometimes we like to splurge, and the splurge is almost always at Gustiamo, which imports Faella dried pasta from Italy. And is there anything better than a giant, 5.5-pound bag of pasta? Probably not.
Meat From D'Artagnan
Now it’s time to talk meat. Our culinary team has long looked to D’Artagnan for specialty meats, like porcelet collar and duck. And when shelves at grocery stores are bare and you want to fill your freezer, D'Artagnan is a great place to look. While the steaks and specialty meats can be pricey, I'd look to the ground beef as a gift. Sure, it's not sexy, but wait, what am I talking about? A good burger is definitely sexy.
This affordable pantry ingredient that can amp up all sorts of dishes, from casual beans and greens to mac and cheese and even eggs. Better still, ‘nduja lasts for ages in the fridge, so Mom can take a scoop whenever the mood strikes.