Lisa's 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

If Lisa recommends it, you know it’s worth it.

Lisa McManus knows about kitchen equipment. As an executive editor of our Reviews team and an America’s Test Kitchen cast member, she has dedicated herself to finding kitchen tools that are worth home cooks’ money. This week Lisa shares her carefully chosen, personal picks for the holiday season. From great stocking stuffers, such as our favorite serrated paring knife, to a splurge-worthy June Smart Oven (3rd Generation), each item featured here is a top performer in its category.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

"I love using the giant spheres of ice these molds make and how cold they make my beverages, but most of all I enjoy how simple they are to use: You pull the two halves apart and push the soft silicone to release the ice; to refill, you pop them back together, pour water in the hole at the top, and flip it once to get rid of overflow. That's it!" -LM

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"This press has been a favorite for a while, and it holds up. It's comfortable to squeeze even for a weakling like me; it’s easy to flip out the hopper for one-swipe cleaning; and most of all, it gives you uniform pieces of minced garlic that cook evenly for better garlic flavor throughout your dish. The heavy-duty, smooth stainless-steel device is well constructed and durable. It's the last garlic press you'll ever need and makes a great stocking stuffer." -LM

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"I've been enjoying lots of seltzer lately, and the cans and bottles add up; this is on my wish list for the holidays because it makes "running out of seltzer" a thing of the past. You can customize the carbonation, add flavored syrups and anything you like to zhuzh it up, or enjoy it plain. Hydration has never been so easy or stylish. We’ve chosen a few great options at different prices, but I like the glass bottles that come with the SodaStream Aqua Fizz." -LM

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"When I brought this home, my husband said, 'We don't need a rice cooker.' He changed his tune pretty fast, and now he even has cute nicknames for “his” rice cooker. We use it three or four times a week, and have done so for years. It makes perfect sushi rice, brown rice, and long-grain white rice with the push of a button; never, ever scorches; and holds the cooked rice at a steamy, food-safe temperature for hours until you're ready for it. And, if you need one more reason to get it: It's simple to clean." -LM

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"So I admit I was probably the last person to convert to air frying, but I appreciate how well this model does the job. It's also much roomier inside than most air fryers, without taking up more kitchen space. (We even cooked a whole 4-pound chicken in it.) I've been roasting vegetables, frying wings, and even baking cheesecake in about an hour (try it, it's amazing!)" -LM

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"I recently tested cast-iron skillets and came to appreciate the generous size and weight, terrific heat retention for browning and frying, and easy food release of our top-ranked favorites. The Smithey is a hand-crafted, artisan-made beauty, polished inside for nonstick slickness, while the very affordable Lodge became equally nonstick within a few uses. You could add a copy of Cook It in Cast Iron for creative inspiration and some terrific, unexpected ways to use these classic pans." -LM

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"When I was done testing the third-generation June oven, I didn't want to give it back. It's so easy to use, and the cooking results were perfect, whether we were making pizza, grilling chicken breasts, hard-cooking a whole egg, toasting a bagel, baking biscuits, air-frying cod and potatoes, or broiling shrimp and vegetables. I tested the Premium Package, which included useful accessories that expanded the oven's capabilities, including a cast-iron enameled grill pan that flips to become a pizza stone, with a sized-down baking peel, plus air-fry baskets and more." -LM

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"I didn't think I needed a serrated paring knife, but Deputy Editor Kate Shannon handed me one these, and said 'check it out.' And she was right. This little knife is superhandy for any number of tasks where the serrations help grip and cut slippery food precisely, such as taking the rind off a slice of melon, peeling a peach, cutting citrus into segments, or slicing cherry tomatoes. Nimble, sharp, and comfortable to hold, it's a bargain and a treasure. I got mine with a bright-red handle that makes it cheerful-looking as well as easy to spot in my knife drawer." -LM

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"If you know, you know: Using a good thermometer is a game changer, whether you're cooking indoors or on the grill. This instant-read thermometer gives you the temperature in just one second. Its design is intuitive and simple, and it's an accurate tool that will prevent over- or undercooking food. A bargain alternative that reads just a bit less quickly is the ThermoPop, also made by ThermoWorks." -LM

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