The Best Splurge Gifts for Cooks

Big ticket items that are actually worth it.

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a photo collage of splurge gift ideas
Photo collage: Vicky Wasik

It's officially holiday shopping season! We've got lots of recommendations, from tasty stocking stuffers to big appliances for all the food lovers and cooks in your life. While many of our gifts are recommended with your wallets in mind—good cookery shouldn't put you in debt—we also know that sometimes you want to give someone a real showstopper. Below you'll find a great assortment of splurge-worthy gifts to make everyday cooking feel just a bit more luxurious. Whether you're in the doghouse for skimping on dish duty or you just got a bonus (well done!), we have something for everyone on your list.

  • Custom Serious Eats Cutting Board

    serious eats boardsmith cutting board

    For the cooks out there who also happen to be Serious Eats fans, consider our custom cutting board, which we designed with The BoardSmith. This board is our preferred size for everyday use (22 by 16 inches)���and it doesn't have any feet, so you can use both sides without any issue. We also added some finger grooves, which make picking up the heavy board a bit easier.

    Our final little design flourish is an unobtrusive 12-inch ruler that's laser-etched onto one corner of the board, so that you or your giftee can practice extra precise dicing and slicing any time you want.

  • Easy-to-Grow Herbs at Home

    AeroGarden garden

    The hydroponics system in an Aerogarden makes growing fresh herbs at home absolutely foolproof. Plop in the seed pods, add some water, and follow the notifications for when you need to add more water or nutrients. The lights go on and off automatically to keep your basil, mint, thyme, parsley, and the like thriving. In just a few weeks, your giftee will have fresh, aromatic herbs. And while the machine itself is pricey, it'll pay for itself in yield over the coming months and years.

  • A Versatile Toaster Oven


    Okay, there's pretty much nothing sexy about a toaster oven. But what it lacks in flash, it makes up for in versatility. It can toast your English muffins and up to six slices(!) of toast at a time. But it can also cook salmon, reheat pizza, and make a pretty nice batch of cookies. It's especially useful around the holidays when oven space is scarce or during the summer when you don't want to heat up your whole house. Pick one up for someone special and they'll enjoy year-round toaster time.

  • A Better Caffeine Boost

    There are many things you can do to improve your morning joe. You could buy a better coffee maker or learn the ins and outs of brewing coffee. But one common piece of advice is to upgrade your burr grinder. In his review of the best coffee grinders, Daniel had several recommendations, each designed with a certain kind of coffee drinker in mind.

     Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

    For any coffee drinker who wants more control, a chance to experiment with grind sizes, or wants to explore some of the more detailed coffee-brewing concepts without a huge cost of entry, he recommends the OXO model below. However, this post is all about splurging, so if you really want to go for it for someone in your life who is all about the TDS (total dissolved solids), pick up the Breville Smart Grinder Pro.

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  • Really Good Pantry Ingredients

    We wrote a whole story about our favorite pantry ingredients that are worth the splurge. And if your giftee is passionate about good ingredients, this is absolutely the place to start. No one would ever turn their nose up at Faella pasta (especially in a five-pound bag) or fancy cheese from Gustiamo.

    You could also pick out some spices from Burlap & Barrel. All of these pantry goods are items that really do keep on giving. Pick up a few and wrap them in a box for the ultimate splurge (and it may even benefit you, if your giftee likes to share).

    If you don't feel like putting together your own package of goodies, we did the work for you with our custom (and very tasty) gift box from Gustiamo. Every item in this box has been hand-picked by our team, and it'll make for excellent gifts for home cooks who truly appreciate a good ingredient.

  • No-Fuss Homemade Ice Cream

    Breville BCI600XL Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker

    When we started doing research for our ice cream machine review, we tested two different models. One is a canister model; the other is a compressor. Where canister models take a bit of work—you need to freeze all the components way beforehand in order to get your ice cream cold enough to become ice cream—compressor models do literally all the work for you in a super sleek machine. Just pour in your base, press the button, and without any prior freezing or chilling, your ice cream will whip up in no time.

    Our favorite ice cream maker, made by Breville, also comes fully loaded with 12 hardness settings and precool and keep-cool options, as well as classic ice cream truck tunes that alert you when your ice cream is done churning. If that isn't a blessed gift for an ice cream fanatic, we don't know what is.

  • An Outdoor Pizza Oven

    Ooni pizza oven

    Outdoor pizza ovens were so popular last year, they were backordered for months during the summer. Which means, thinking ahead, the holidays are a great time to give your favorite pizza person an Ooni. This oven heats up to 932°F, cooking pizza in just 60 seconds.

  • A Crumb-Free Kitchen

    We spend a lot of time talking about what goes into a great meal at Serious Eats, from selecting the right ingredients and using the best techniques to choosing the perfect cooking vessel. Unfortunately, we spend much less time talking about the best way to clean it all up. One thing we can all agree on is that having a Dyson in your clean-up arsenal makes all the difference in the world. Use this handheld one to gather up pesky crumbs between your stove and dishwasher or dropped nibbles after dinner. It's so powerful that it makes cleaning—gasp!—actually fun.

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  • Crispy and Fluffy Belgian Waffles

    All-Clad Belgian-Style Waffle Maker

    Few experiences compare to waking up to the sweet, buttery aroma of freshly made waffles, whether they're yeasted or made with buttermilk; Belgian-style with deep, square pockets for syrup, or the thinner and circular American-style variety. We tested over a dozen waffle makers and this super-swanky number from All-Clad was a clear winner. If your giftee swears by crisp-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside, Belgian-style waffles with deep divots for luscious toppings, this is the machine to make them smile.

  • The Only Stand Mixer We Recommend

    KitchenAid Pro 600 Series 6-Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer KP26M1X

    The KitchenAid Pro stand mixer is an iconic kitchen splurge. With it, your giftee will be able to tackle a whole new realm of recipes. Think Stella's one bowl cinnamon buns (ideal for a holiday breakfast), effortless angel food cake, and, with the right attachments, armloads of fresh pasta.

  • The Cadillac of Blenders

    Vitamix 5300 Blender

    A Vitamix is a kitchen tool that will never go out of style. It's certainly a splurge, but our culinary team swears by it for just about anything you can imagine, like milling grains, making smoothies, and blasting through ice. If you're not sure if it's worth the pricetag, you can see how it performed against more affordable blenders in our equipment review.

  • More Space on the Stovetop

    Breville Breville|PolyScience the Control Freak Temperature Co

    It's hard to describe just how powerful this induction cooktop is; it can boil a pot of water in seconds. It's also easy to move and to clean, so your giftee can take it out, wipe it off, and store it whenever the time calls. We have two of these babies in the Serious Eats test kitchen and they've always proven useful when the stovetop is packed.

    We know, we know; that price is absolutely insane. But you asked for splurges, and this one takes the cake.

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  • Chic Steak Knives

    Jean Dubost Laguiole Steak Knives with Olive Wood Handles, Set of 6

    Behold, a convincing quote from our very own Sho Spaeth: "As a person who has never owned a nice set of steak knives in his life, and probably never will, this is a very personal pick. Nice steak knives make me think of nice restaurants, nice houses, nice dining room tables—well, dining rooms, period—basically, all the stuff I have very little experience with and have no hope for in my future, which is bleak because I work in media."

  • A Space-Saving Hand Mixer

    Breville BHM800SIL Handy Mix Scraper Hand Mixer, Silver

    There’s no denying that stand mixers shine at a variety of tasks, but they’re quite the investment. For simple tasks like mixing cake batter or whipping egg whites, a hand mixer can be just as good—not to mention they’re light, easy to store, and much more affordable. Our top picks are sturdy and reliable—great for those who like to cook and bake but don’t have the storage or counter space for a stand mixer.

    KitchenAid 9-Speed Digital Hand Mixer
  • A High-Quality Juicer

    We all know that person who consistently prefers their produce in liquid form, or is partial to using homemade mixers in their favorite cocktails. Shelling out for a  high-quality juicer makes all the difference—the better the quality, the better the performance, which usually results in maximum juice extraction.