Kitchen Gift Guide

Since I’ve been an avid cook for more than a decade my kitchen is pretty well stocked, so I thought I’d share the tools and appliances I use—and love—the most! Hopefully the this gift guide will be good for all those holiday shoppers (and list makers) and also for those who are lucky enough to be registering for gifts for an upcoming wedding. If I left any of your favorite kitchen tools off the list please share them in the comments below.

Top Kitchen Gifts

Cuisinart Food Processor

This appliance is at the top of the list for a reason…I use it all of the time! I have the Cuisinart Food Processor, and this is definitely an appliance where “you get what you pay for.” We got ours as a wedding gift over 11 years ago and aside from replacing the bowl twice (one time was user error…apparently you aren’t supposed to grate mozzarella in it!) our machine is still going strong. I use our food processor for all sorts of things like making dough (for pizza, pasta, and tortillas), pesto, powerballs, and for shredding cheeses…other than mozzarella of course.

food processor on 100 Days of Real Food

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Cuisinart Food Processor

Black & Decker Mini Chopper

A miniature food processor is a very affordable appliance for shredding small items like fresh ginger, garlic, or a few carrots (to go in your meatballs) and also to make small batches of pesto. The last thing I want to do is clean my big food processor and all its parts if I just need to grind up one quick thing. This certainly won’t replace the need for a big one, but if you are on a budget it would certainly be a good place to start.

Back & Decker Mini Chopper

All-Clad Stainless Steel Pots & Pans

This is another area where “you get what you pay for” as far as durability goes. If you buy high quality (a.k.a. expensive) pots and pans they will honestly last you a lifetime. We use All-Clad pans, although there are several other comparable brands out there that would hold up just as well. The prices can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to get them all at once. Ask for a new one each year for your birthday and for your holiday gift and within a few years you will have a collection!

All-Clad Stainless Steel Pots & Pans

Duralex Nested Mixing Bowls

This is yet another purchase that can last a lifetime if you buy a high quality product. We have a set of both glass and porcelain mixing bowls that we got in 2000 and other than one broken bowl over the last decade they are showing very little wear and tear. And this is one of the few kitchen tools we use almost daily.

Duralex Nested Mixing Bowls

6-Quart Rival Crock Pot

I make everything from refried beans to chicken stock in my crock pot and what you’ve heard about this appliance is true…it is the best way to make inexpensive cuts of meat taste great! My slow cooker is pretty basic, and I use it several times a month so it was definitely worth the small investment.

6-Quart Rival Crock Pot

Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Immersion Blender

Now I don’t use this tool quite as much as the others mentioned, but what this appliance does for me is just short of magical. In the old days when I would make big double batches of soup (like butternut squash or split pea) and it came time to puree the soup I would make a HUGE mess transferring it in batches to my countertop blender, pureeing each batch, then trying to figure out where to put the soup that was pureed since more “un-pureed” soup still remained in the original pot. Trust me – it was a big pain. Now for a small investment of $39 when it comes time to puree a soup I simply break out my immersion blender, take the soup pot off the heat, put the blender stick in and voila…my soup is done! I also use our immersion blender to make homemade berry sauce as well.

Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Immersion Blender

Blendtec Blender

Just because I have a hand immersion blender doesn’t mean I don’t need a countertop blender as well. I love how effective my Blendtec is and how easy it is to use (and clean)! It’s definitely my top choice—even over Vitamix. I use it to make smoothies (which we make quite frequently), banana ice cream, and even batter for some recipes like crepes.

Blendtec blender

Blendtec Blender

Countertop Blender

If you can’t spring for a commercial style blender (they are an investment, for sure), this one from Hamilton Beach will do the trick.

hamilton beach blender

Hamilton Beach Blender

OXO Salad Spinner

We actually didn’t need one of these before our switch to real food because we rarely ate salads or greens (gasp!). Now that we’ve come to our senses, and also started buying organic and local greens, a good bath is actually quite necessary before we take our first bite. And that spinning action really does work when it comes to drying out the lettuce…not to mention how much our girls love to push the button and watch it go!

OXO Salad Spinner


Good Quality Measuring Spoons/Cups

I have 4 sets of stainless steel measuring spoons (3 sets of cups), and I use all of them frequently! If you plan to make/bake a lot of “real food” recipes from scratch these items are just a necessary evil and once again – if you invest a little money they will last you a lifetime. Tip: The elongated measuring spoons fit in little spice jars more easily.

measuring spoons and cups set

Measuring Spoon & Cup Set

Soup Ladle

For some reason I went through years of soup making before I owned a ladle so I thought I’d throw this on the list just in case anyone else has overlooked the need for this handy little item. I also use my ladle to spoon pancake batter onto the griddle and waffle batter into the waffle iron.

OXO soup ladle

OXO Soup Ladle


From making a roux to scrambling eggs and mixing sauces…another necessity.

wire whisk set

Wire Whisk Set

Quality Bread Knife

I actually got this advice from some blog readers after I got my bread machine…and they were right. A really good bread knife, which doesn’t have to be very expensive, can make or break your loaf of bread after it comes out of the machine/oven.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Bread Knife

Mesh Colander

If you plan to make homemade stock (which is light-years beyond the canned stuff) then a colander is necessary to strain out the bones, herbs, etc.

OXO Mesh Colander

Splatter Guard

If you need to pan fry something greasy on a high temperate this tool does exactly what it says…guards the splatter from making a mess of your entire stove.

splatter guard

Cuisipro 13″ Splatter Guard

Ice Cube Trays with Lid

I use these to freeze items in small batches for school lunches like applesauce and tomato sauce (for pizza). I also use them to freeze small quantities of chicken stock and homemade pesto.

ice cube tray with lid

Cuisipro 13″ Splatter Guard

Freezer-Safe Glass Jars

This is the first year I’ve used jars and I am finding that the small jelly size jars are great for freezing individual portions of soup for school and work lunches.

freezer safe glass jars

Ball Mason Jars

Olive Oil Sprayer

Since we’re now more careful about the oils we use I love to have an “approved” unrefined oil in spray form.

Olive oil sprayere

Ball Mason Jars

Good Cutting Boards

I’ve tried the inexpensive white plastic cutting boards from Target and all they do is warp and stain. It’s worth it to invest in some higher quality boards in the beginning because you’ll end up wanting to replace the cheap ones anyway.

wood cutting board set

Bamboo Cutting Board Set

Kitchen Shears

We use these food-safe scissors for all sorts of things like cutting up raw bacon, slicing spinach/lettuce, shredding cooked meat, and opening packages.

kitchen sheers

HENCKELS Kitchen Shears

Extras: Some nice to have, but not need to have items…

Panini Grill

We’ve had our panini grill for almost a decade, and I’ve gone through many different phases of being obsessed with it and forgetting about it. I am currently in a very long obsession phase, therefore I’ve been making paninis almost weekly. If you have one of those “George Foreman” grills I believe they’ll work just the same. There’s nothing like a hot grilled sandwich for lunch and in case you need some ideas of what to make check out the list on this post: Sandwich Inspiration

Krups Panini Grill

Ice Cream Maker

I don’t use this appliance as much as the others, but oh how I love it. And the reasons I love homemade ice cream are plenty…

  • You can control how much sweetener (and what type) you put in, and I usually use less than half as much sweetener than what a traditional ice cream recipe calls for.
  • My machine is very quick and easy
  • No salt or hand churning required!
  • The outcome tastes nothing like an ice cream box.
  • Watching the ice cream come to life is fun for both little and big ones!

We’ve made everything from maple pecan vanilla ice cream to fresh strawberry ice cream to peach sorbet. And the first time I offered up strawberry ice cream to my husband he said he didn’t like strawberry ice cream, but come to find out he’d only had the store-bought artificially flavored stuff and absolutely loved the fresh “real” version…yum!

Shop 84

Cuisinart Automatic Ice Cream Maker

Tortilla Making Supplies

  • Tortilla Press – A press, in my opinion, is necessary for making homemade whole-grain corn tortillas. And I make these quite frequently because it is a fairly quick process once you get the hang of it.
  • Rolling Pin – I think a rolling pin is the best tool for making whole-wheat tortillas. These are a little more involved than the corn tortillas since the work of thinning out the dough has to be done by hand, which is when that rolling pin comes in handy.
  • Cast Iron Skillet – I make both corn and flour tortillas on fairly high heat in our cast iron skillet.
  • Tortilla Warmer/Holder – Since it takes me a good 20 to 30 minutes to make a batch of a dozen tortillas I need a way to keep them warm, and this little holder works perfectly.
cast iron tortilla press

Cast Iron Tortilla Press

Waffle Maker

I could probably live without this one, but I can pretty much guarantee that my daughters would not feel the same way. Especially since I started freezing whole-wheat waffles to make their beloved “waffle sandwiches” for lunch this year, they would sorely miss our waffle maker if we didn’t have one!

Shop 80

Cuisineart Classic Round Waffle Maker

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76 thoughts on “Kitchen Gift Guide”

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  1. I have a waffle maker, but it makes HUGE waffles and will not fit in the toaster to heat! I like the waffles sticks in your first book…do you make and like the waffle sticks and what kind did you use for the picture? I am trying to do waffles to freeze, since the waffles freeze better than pancakes.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Kate. I know you can find ceramic irons that are teflon free. Oster makes one that is priced well but we’ve not tried it.

  2. Any ideas on where I can find a non-non-stick (yes you read that correctly) waffle maker? I don’t use anything with non-stick coating.

  3. While you’re buying those high-quality measuring spoons and cups, here’s a tip I heard a while back and thought it was brilliant. Buy 3-4 sets of the full range of spoons/cups. Then get some of those silverware drawer dividers (only short ones, because these aren’t as long as cutlery). Put all the tablespoons in one divider, teaspoons in another, half teaspoons in another, and so on. This way you don’t have to fish through a mess to find that particular one you need, and you can even delegate a set for wet ingredients and dry. When you’re cooking up a storm (holiday baking, dinner parties, etc.), you wouldn’t believe how much faster it makes the process go!

  4. I have to echo Lisa’s comments about the Cuisinart brand of food processor. Believe it or not, mine has lasted a whopping 33 years, having purchased it shortly after getting married. They had just come out and it seemed like such an extravagance at the time — $150 was a shocking amount of money to spend on a small appliance in 1980. But I still am using the original bowl and original accessories. In fact I use it so much that I sold my blender years ago at a garage sale!

  5. A Microplane zester! One of the most useful kitchen gadgets ever. I grate ginger, garlic (for garlic bread), and parmesan. Occasionally I even use it to zest lemons :)

  6. I have found that my local Dollar Tree has a bunch of the items on the favorites list..such as measuring cups, and spoons, whisks, ladles, spatter guards and mesh strainers. I buy mine there. They may not be the “very best” quality, however I use my things carefully and store them properly. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get your toolbox started.They also stock Rubbermaid containers in all sizes. Hope this helps anyone starting out on a budget.

  7. Great ideas, I don’t know how I ever lived without my food processor now either! Another fun gift is a nice french oven (those heavy enamel pots)…you can easily drop $300 on a Le Crueset but the Costco brand is just as nice and about 1/3 of the crazy cost. Good for roasts and stews / one pot meals, any cook in your life will be thrilled about it :)

  8. Thanks for all the suggestions. We do have many of these items. I am patiently waiting for my kitchen aid ice cream maker attachment. Okay maybe not so patiently.

    Anyhow, I was just telling my boyfriend the other day that I think we should get an immersion blender and a panini grill. I didn’t realize how inexpensive an immersion blender is. Every fall I like to buy a pumpkin, cook it, puree it and then portion out 1-2 cups and put them in the freezer to use for the year. I haven’t bought canned pumpkin puree in years. But this year I realize that having an immersion blender would really make my life easier.

  9. If you can’t afford a panini maker or don’t have space, a waffle iron can make great grilled sandwiches as well as just waffles! Plus, the kids like the waffle pattern on the bread.

  10. I would definitely add a good, high-quality set of sharp knives to this list. My husband gave me a small Cutco set for my birthday and I use them ALL. THE. TIME. My very favorites from the set are the petite chef’s knife (I have smaller hands and rarely need the bigger one, so this fits my hands and uses well), the paring knife, and the long serrated knife (it’s not their bread knife but what came in the set and we use it for our bread).