It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Between endless excuses to indulge in the very best food has to offer, and the chance to step up your kitchen game courtesy of friends and family who are eager to find you the perfect Christmas gift, the holidays are one season we wish would never end. If you’re anything like us, your kitchen wishlist is probably miles long—that’s why we rounded up the most essential kitchen gadgets, appliances, and culinary odds and ends that some of your favorite chef idols always keep on hand.
A Meat Thermometer
Overcooked or undercooked meat is not very chef-like. That’s why a quality thermometer is essential to ensure your steak, chicken, or turkey is heated to the ideal temp. “I love the Thermapen Mk4 thermometer,” says Alex Guarnaschelli, Food Network star and executive chef of Butter in New York City. “It might not be the cheapest but it’s reliable, folds up, is waterproof, and most importantly, it displays temperature clearly.” Find it online at thermoworks.com or Amazon.Buy Now
Fresh Herbs at Their Fingertips
The pros always have fresh herbs on hand, and one way to avoid a last minute grocery run is to grow your own. The AeroGarden is one of the easiest home gardening systems on the market, harnessing the power of hydroponics and grow lights to produce fresh basil, mint, thyme, and more with minimal effort from you. Simply feed and refill the water when prompted and watch your garden grow! Choose from a variety of sizes and seed selections at aerogarden.com, Macy’s, Kohl’s, or Amazon.Buy Now
An Air Fryer
Gift-giving season is the perfect time to join the air fryer craze. These gadgets allow you to produce crunchy, crispy foods without dealing with the messy, stinky, unhealthy process of deep frying. Cat Cora, Food Network Iron Chef and host of ABC’s “Family Food Fight,” likes the Gourmia GAF575. “It’s the perfect gift for making anybody feel like a chef because it’s large enough for a family but compact enough to store easily. Plus, it’s simple to use,” she says.Buy Now
Seasonal Dessert Gear
A professional chef is prepared for any special occasion, and one way is to keep themed items that are easily storable on hand. For holiday gear, cookie cutters and cake molds are a must. NY CAKE, the largest baking supply store in the world, has all your baking needs covered. Our favorites? Christmas tree cookie cutters, a snowflake-shaped silicone cake pan, and festive sprinkles.Buy Now
You don’t need to be a health nut to own a juicer. These days, juicers can squeeze out everything from fruit and veggie juices to smoothies, ice cream, nut milks, and even hummus! Check out HUROM for a variety of styles, sizes, and colors (hello, matte black and rose gold!) that are sure to make your countertop pop.Buy Now
A Wine Accessory
Wine is essential, for both cooking and entertaining. Impress your guests with restaurant-quality vino by investing in a wine purifier, which aerates and purifies (aka removes sulfites that are responsible for that next morning wine headache) to create a smoother, tastier sip. The Üllo Wine Purifier is one of the best and is widely available at Amazon, CrateandBarrel.com, Bloomingdales.com, and more.Buy Now
Whether you’re whipping up pesto, salad dressing, sauce, or a soup, you’ll need a blender to do so. Guy Vaknin, chef and founder of Beyond Sushi in New York City, opts for a Vitamix blender that’s 3-horsepower and up. “There’s no better tool that I have come across that will bind, combine, and force flavors and ingredients together to create a silky smooth texture for any of the dishes I create,” he says.Buy Now
If you don’t have room for a full-size unit, an immersion blender is the way to go. One great option is the Braun MultiQuick MQ9037 Hand Blender—not only does it get the job done and come with extra attachments like a whisk and a masher, it’s Quiet Mark certified, which means it meets the company’s standards for noiseless or noise-cancelling products. Translation: If you get a hankering for homemade hummus at 3 a.m., blend away!Buy Now
Give (or beg for) the gift of high-end cookware. Lagostina offers a variety of pots, pans, and any other cooking vessel you can imagine, made from materials likes stainless steel and copper (to really feel like a pro, we love the Lagostina Giada 4 Qt. Dutch Oven, a versatile product that’s part of a collaboration with chef and Food Network mainstay Giada De Laurentiis).Buy Now
Good Olive Oil
Any foodie will appreciate the gift of quality olive oil that they won’t find at Costco. Try Domenica Fiore, which offers high-end extra virgin olive oil from Italy, or Greek olive-oil brand Gaea.See It
Professional chefs love their knives, so shove those dull blades in the back of a drawer and replace them with shiny, sharp ones that make chopping and slicing easier, safer, and more satisfying. For a splurge gift, give The Trio of Material Kitchen’s precision design knives, or choose single knives like this all-purpose chef’s blade.Buy Now
Multicookers, Slow Cookers, and Pressure Cookers
These days, there’s a “cooker” for everything.
There’s also the Ninja Foodi. It lets you pressure cook or air fry, making it the ultimate all-in-one gadget (but if your giftee already has an Instant Pot or similar pressure cooker, consider the Mealthy CrispLid attachment that adds air fryer functionality).Buy Now
A professional kitchen isn’t complete without spices galore. Turn your loved ones’ kitchens (or your own!) into spice cabinet goals by stocking it with high quality spices you might not pick up on your regular grocery run. We love brands like Spice Island, Pereg, and Gustus Vitae for their unique variety and quality source ingredients (everything bagel spice or ground ancho chile, anyone?!). You can even give them fancy salts if they already have everything else.
See our best food and drink gift guide for even more ideas.
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.