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5 Kitchen Gifts That Are Actually Useful

Our holiday gift guide for the casual or serious home cook.

Though Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table would have you believe that you need to buy Star Wars waffle irons and 3-D turkey pans for your loved ones, the fact is that a great cooking-related gift is rarely flashy or expensive. There are plenty of basic, dependable, labor-saving kitchen devices that also manage to be cute, festive, and joy-inducing, all without an eye-roll-worthy price tag.

What follows are recommendations for great kitchen gifts, curated by The Takeout staff. Hopefully this gift guide saves you some holiday shopping grief as you peruse Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this year.

Prep Bowls

You can buy a four-piece prep bowl set (like these) for nearly any type of person and it'll be a perfectly fitting gift. The term "prep bowl" implies that these tiny bowls will be used for some cheffy purpose, such as mise en place for your sofrito or egg wash for your pastry crusts. But non-cooks will find plenty of uses for these bowls, too—it's the versatile kitchen tool they might not have thought to buy themselves. Prep bowls are the perfect vessel for holding snacks, portioning a hefty-but-not-nap-inducing quantity of ice cream, serving burger sauce on the side, and more. Ceramic ones are great, but melamine bowls avoid chipping and are equally dishwasher safe. Go for a set with lids for added utility (like these).

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Stainless Steel Barware

Is there a special someone on your gift list who doesn't respect wood? If so, consider buying them stainless steel barware that will protect the integrity of their furniture while letting them keep a coaster-free home. Not only does stainless steel prevent the "sweat" that comes with condensation on normal glassware, but it also keeps its contents at the perfect temperature longer than glass can, meaning you can safely serve cocktails on the rocks without worrying about watering them down with rapidly melting ice.

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Quality Knives

When you pay for quality, you're also paying for longevity. A good knife may be costly, but it's also a knife that, with the proper care, will keep on chopping for years to come. This year we've been using knives from Made In in The Takeout's test kitchen, and even though a single chef knife costs nearly $100, we still think it's a bargain.

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If you're working with a smaller gifting budget, check out the carbon steel knives from Cutluxe, which feel (and act) a lot more expensive than their price point (under $50).

A newcomer in the American knife market from Canada is Kilne, which also focuses on affordable prices for whole sets and is made of heavy durable steel. The essential three-knife set is $165, including a magnetic wall mount.

Air fryers

We still firmly love our air fryers. We never use them as a replacement for deep frying anything (how often is anyone really deep frying at home, really?), but as small powerful convection ovens, they are capable of cooking some really great dishes in a fast amount of time. The Takeout is a big fan of using air fryers to do anything from roasting entire chickens, to beautiful and fast air-fried frozen corn (yes, frozen) with scallions and miso butter. You probably know someone in your life who has been wondering aloud for months whether they should pick up an air fryer, and with so many models on the market now, you can surprise them with one at the holidays no matter your budget.

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Cloth Napkins

Cloth napkins are sort of like socks: you can never have too many, because you're always minutes away from destroying the ones you've got. Reusable cotton napkins wear thin after a few dozen washes, and greasy foods can leave stains behind—so if you show up to this winter's gatherings with a fresh new set for your party host, you'll be hailed as a holiday hero. These Crate & Barrel napkins have a nice thickness and come in a range of neutral colors if you're looking to coordinate with your giftee's decor. Alternatively, for a slight markup, you can go with a seasonal pattern.

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