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10 Luxe Gifts for the Cook Who Has Everything

Although we love a bargain, sometimes we want to go all out on a holiday gift. We’ve gathered some premium pieces of kitchen equipment that perform flawlessly and look good doing it.

For even more kitchen luxury, take a cue from Italy. Created in partnership with National Geographic, Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey brings more than 100 recipes from Italy’s distinct regions into your home kitchen. With stunning photographs and informative maps, this book is both beautiful and easy to use. This year, give gifts that that your friends will love and use for a lifetime.

A Culinary Journey

Tasting Italy

$29.99 $40.00

Easy to use, with a satisfyingly responsive control panel and app, this “smart” countertop oven cooked a wide variety of foods with very good results, whether we were making toast; roasting potatoes, bacon, or a whole chicken with vegetables; or baking cookies or cake. Its “Food ID” function recognized most foods we tried. The interior of the oven cleaned up with a wipe of a wet towel, and its sturdy nonstick baking sheet with rack could be hand-washed in seconds (they are not dishwasher-safe). The app and its recipes were well designed, and the subscription offered a good range of recipes. The oven is also compatible with Amazon Alexa, which can operate the oven by voice command. While it’s a bit expensive, the June Intelligent Oven works as promised.  More on this test

This compact, well-designed machine brews good coffee that our tasters enjoyed, and its app is fairly simple to use after a short learning curve. We enjoyed sampling different recipes for brewing from the app, changing the water temperature and preinfusion time, delaying brewing, and turning on the machine from a distance (as if we were in bed and wanted to get up to freshly brewed coffee). We also appreciated that you can work the machine without the app. One quibble: The ring-shaped light on the front of the machine, which doubles as the “start” button, constantly flashes different colors to indicate progress through the stages of brewing; at 6 a.m. we'd like a little less Las Vegas. The carafe retains heat fairly well (coffee dropped just below our ideal target after 2 hours), and both it and the brewer are overall simple to fill and clean. Because the water must fully heat before brewing commences, it takes nearly twice as long as our top-rated automatic drip brewer (an average of 13 minutes start to finish, compared with 6 to 7 minutes). On the plus side, like many Wi-Fi-enabled products, it allows you to download firmware updates, so the machine can improve over time.  More on this test

This slim, lightweight machine heated water almost as fast as the biggest circulators and was the most accurate in our lineup. Though it doesn’t have a display and requires a smartphone to work, its app was intuitive and simple, and its enclosed electronics meant we didn’t have to worry about getting any part of the circulator wet. Testers loved its magnetic bottom, which allowed it to stand stably in the center of metal pots. (We wished its included clip was a bit wider for nonmetal vessels, but the company now sells a “Big Clamp” attachment for $24.00 that addresses this issue.) It also had the largest distance between water lines, so we could forgo refilling even during longer cooking projects, and it was small enough to store away in a drawer when we were done. The company also makes an all white polycarbonate model with identical electronics and features for $179.  More on this test

The Vitamix 5200 will pulverize anything it touches—but its steep price will also do the same to your bank account. Still, thanks to an extra-large capacity, it’s ideal for big jobs in the kitchen. This blender performed perfectly to crush ice, blend hummus, and churn frozen fruit into smoothies, and its dial precisely controlled speed. Additional functions, like making ice cream and heating soup, were less successful: We wound up with tepid soup and runny ice cream. But we didn’t downgrade this powerful machine because it excelled at core tasks.  More on this test

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.  More on this test

With gently sloping sides and a generous opening, this pan made whisking and stirring a pleasure. It was also the most efficient at the evaporation test. Its lightweight frame and straight-angled handle make it very easy to lift. One criticism: The handle became hot over time, forcing us to use a potholder.  More on this test

Roomy, knife-friendly, and exceptionally durable, this teak slab was worth every penny. It resisted warping and cracking, showed only minor scratches, never seemed “thirsty,” and—despite its heft—was easy to lift and clean, thanks to handholds on each end.  More on this test

This compact, well-made machine consistently produced excellent espresso at the push of a button and readily let us adjust the flavor, temperature, and strength of a shot. The thoughtfully designed controls and a clear display that showed what was happening made it simple to brew espresso or froth milk without consulting the manual. A simple attached steam wand with a silicone grip was comfortable to use and popped off for cleaning.  More on this test