Luxurious Gifts for the Cook Who Has Everything
If your holiday gift list includes something special for someone who loves to cook, then you’ve come to the right place. In this week’s buying guide, we’ve collected the not-so-ordinary cooking tools that have won our stamp of approval over the years. There’s a carbon-steel chef’s knife that our editors have called “a gorgeous piece of craftsmanship,” a handsome knife block made from durable bamboo, and a stand mixer that any baking aficionado would love to have in their kitchen. These tools are guaranteed to add a little luxury to an already well-equipped kitchen.
High-quality kitchen tools call for high-quality recipes, which is exactly what you’ll find in our book Cook’s Science. This informative, illustrated tome takes a deep dive into 50 of our favorite ingredients. It explains the science behind these ingredients and puts that information to use in more than 400 foolproof recipes from the test kitchen. It’s a perfect pick for all the curious cooks in your life.
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.
This powerful, smartly designed machine made quick work of large and small volumes of food. The bent tines of its whisk fit the bowl’s shape perfectly, its Y-shaped paddle creamed quickly without allowing butter to bunch up in the crevices, and the model handled batches of stiff dough without flinching. Testers liked the bowl-lift design and large vertical bowl handle that aided pouring.
With this knife’s “precise” tip and “samurai-sharp,” ultrathin blade, parsley “jumped to pieces” and whole chickens seemed to butcher themselves. More impressively, it maintained that edge throughout testing. Its ultracomfortable handle was also a gorgeous piece of craftsmanship.
“Feels fantastic when you pick it up: comfortable, light, ready.” “A dream” for cutting up chicken and dicing onion, with its “very slim, sharp tip” and an acutely tapered blade that made it feel especially light as well as slightly flexible. With a blade more curved than most of the Japanese knives, it assisted a rocking motion that effortlessly “pulverized parsley into dust.”
This high-priced machine brews ideal tea, thanks to its fully customizable water temperature and steeping time. Plus, it’s fully automatic: It features an autostart timer, a mechanism that lowers and raises the brew basket unassisted, and a keep-warm function that maintains the tea at a level temperature (automatically determined by the type of tea) for up to 60 minutes. It was also the easiest to fill, and its accessories are dishwasher-safe. Our one quibble: The smallest tea leaves occasionally escaped the basket.
Certified by the SCAA, the updated version of our old favorite (the KBT 741, now also $299) meets time and temperature guidelines with utter consistency. As a result, it produces a “smooth,” “velvety” brew. It’s also intuitive to use. The carafe lost some heat after 2 hours but still kept the coffee above 150 degrees.
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.
This handsome machine is perfect if you want the convenience of built-in grinding and automatic weighing of coffee, as well as push-button brewing, but you don’t mind some hands-on work. You must learn to tamp properly and move the portafilter of grounds from the grinder to the brewing position. A simple gauge provides excellent feedback, quickly teaching you to dial in the best grind setting and tamping pressure (Pro tip: Tamp on a scale, aiming for 30 pounds of pressure). This process soon became intuitive and easy. We loved that the machine came with everything you need—tamper, milk frothing jug, and portafilters for single and double espresso—and had a hidden drawer to store it all.
This juicer extracted every last drop of juice smoothly and efficiently, but it's expensive.
This surprisingly quiet centrifugal juicer whipped through fruits and vegetables with ease on high and low speeds, and its 3-inch-wide feed chute accommodated large apple quarters or multiple carrots at a time. It was easy to assemble and its smooth surfaces (with fewer nooks and crannies than other models) proved easy to clean. Its stiff cleaning brush made a clean sweep of pulpy bits in the fine-mesh strainer basket. All parts except the food pusher are top-rack dishwasher-safe.
The "gold standard" of Dutch ovens put "gorgeous, golden crust" on meat and created great fond. Rice cooked up perfectly, though cleanup required long soaking. A kitchen workhorse that’s heavy but not excessively so.
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.
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.
All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.