December 3, 2020
Best gifts for foodies in 2020

Best gifts for foodies in 2020


This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.

Foodie, (ˈfuːdi): a person with an ardent or refined interest in food, eating not only out of hunger but out of interest, hobby or pleasure. 

Finding the perfect gift for your favorite foodie friend or loved one can be a serious challenge. It’s easy to fall back on edible gifts like good olive oil, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, sea salt or maple syrup, but not everyone wants to gift gourmet food and people’s tastes can be variable. So that leaves technology! But again, that can be tricky, as these gourmands demand high-quality appliances and tools for their kitchen and always seem to be just one step ahead in the gadget game. Admit it, your foodie friend probably had an Instant Pot long before you even heard about it. 

Ah, but they can’t know everything. Below you’ll find our picks for the best gifts for foodies. These cutting-edge gadgets, like a handy air fryer and convection combo oven, and high-quality analog culinary tools, such as a set of high carbon steel knives or the oh-so-trendy and oh-so-often-sold-out Always Pan, will satisfy the food and drink needs of even the most discerning home chef. Plus, these cooking gifts are more creative than wine charms or a bottle of Scotch (not that we don’t love Scotch).

Read moreOur favorite cookware sets of 2020

Cuisinart

Toaster ovens have long gotten a bad rap as impersonal gifts with little to no cachet but I’m here to prove this platitude false. An air fryer lets you cook food with far less oil (olive oil or otherwise) while mimicking the effects of deep-frying — which is scientifically proven to be the most delicious form of cooking. For me, the one big drawback with traditional air fryers is that the baskets have physical limits for what you can make in them. Not so with this chic combo air fryer and convection from KitchenAid which you can use for toasting, broiling, baking, warming and air frying. it heats up fast, cooks with precision, lets you watch your food’s progress through a glass door and the matte black finish won’t stain or tarnish as quickly as silver.

Best air fryer for 2020.

Instant Pot via Amazon

On the off chance, your foodie doesn’t already have one, the Instant Pot Duo is a slam dunk for a quick and easy meal. It’s seven devices in one: A pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute pan, yogurt maker and warmer. If that’s not enough, a number of models feature additional modes for preparing a treat like rice, cake or yogurt — or even sterilizing food. You can buy it in three sizes: 3-quart, 6-quart and 8-quart, and you can practically go through your whole recipe journal with this one item. Note that the 6-quart version currently sells for about $80 on Amazon; look for that price to drop down closer to $50 or $60 as Black Friday approaches.

Best Instant Pots of 2020.

Mealthy

As the name suggests, multicookers do a lot. No foodie gift guide would be complete without one. But this nifty, space-saving extension makes them even more capable when it comes to cooking. Attach the CrispLid to the top of a Mealthy MultiPot — or any other 6- or 8-quart electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot — and boom, you’re a chef using less oil with an air fryer. Set the time and temperature, then watch the magic happen through the transparent tempered glass lid. This package also comes with a raised trivet, fryer basket, stainless steel tongs and heat-resistant silicone mat — all of which are dishwasher safe. 

Read Chowhound’s Mealthy CrispLid review.

Earlier this year I put the cookware sensation that’s sweeping the nation to the test. Is it over-hyped? Maybe a smidge, but what isn’t these days? That doesn’t change the fact that the Always Pan is an exceedingly well-designed, multi-purpose ceramic skillet. It’s a great size, as easy to clean as any pan I’ve ever used and has a built-in spoon rest — which I can’t believe isn’t a standard feature on more frying pans. The Always Pan is often sold out but is currently in stock and available in any one of five very pleasing colors. The maker of the Always Pan also just recently released a steamer basket insert made especially for it: Perfect for dumplings, fish and vegetables.

Read our Always Pan review.

Ninja

Versatility is the hallmark of Ninja’s all-in-one Hot and Cold Brew System. It can handle both tea and coffee — and comes with separate filters to prevent cross-contamination — with five different brew styles and six different sizes. You can also boil water for hot chocolate! This thing turns around hot coffee or tea (tea for us, please) in an instant and cold brew in about 10 minutes. And if you like your drinks frothy, it comes with an extension for that too.

Read our Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System review.

Fulton Fish Market

Unless you live close to the docks, the easiest way to get quality seafood may be via one of these great online fish purveyors. Fulton Fish Market has one of the best selections anywhere — web or otherwise — with loads of wild salmon, trout, scallops, shellfish, caviar and more. Snatch a bundle and have it delivered directly to your giftee’s home. They’ll certainly appreciate making one less trip to the market.  

Catch the best seafood delivery services of 2020.

Made In

You may need types of cookware depending on what you’re making and the results you’re after. For searing steaks, burgers, pork chops and other meats, it’s hard to beat carbon steel. For one, it holds heat well, getting and staying hotter than Hades, but it’s also lighter than cast iron so you can maneuver it over the stovetop easily. Carbon steel requires more meticulous cleaning and care, but for a carnivorous foodie, it’s worth the effort. I absolutely love this blue carbon steel frying pan from direct-to-consumer cookware brand Made In, and chances are the meat-eater on your list will too. Pair it with a box of high-quality steaks from one of our favorite online butchers and you will win the day.

Vitamix

Vitamix has set the bar for blenders — and the E310 Explorian is worth its lofty price. Sure, it makes unparalleled smoothies, but it’s also great for making all sorts of food — soups, nut butters, salsas and even baked goods. Unlike other blenders, the Explorian’s aircraft-grade stainless steel blades are tough enough to tackle bread dough for baking.  And though most blenders can be a pain to clean, a drop of dish soap and warm water will make your Vitamix good as new. 

Vitamix also just released one of their best blender accessories ever, in my opinion: a 12-cup food processor attachment. (Though worth noting it’s currently only compatible with the Ascent series). At $350 it ain’t exactly cheap, but if you were to spring for a standalone food processor with as much power and precision as a Vitamix, I promise you’d pay a whole lot more than that.

Le Creuset

It is more than likely that a true foodie may already have a Dutch oven, so do some digging before you buy, but I’ve personally been surprised to learn how many of my friends and family don’t own an enameled cast iron pot. For me, it’s an absolute must-have for stews, braises, soups and Sunday meatballs in sauce. And a Dutch simply doesn’t get any better (or better looking) than Le Creuset’s essential oven. I dig the 3.5-quart size, which is plenty big for most recipes but won’t require cross-fit muscles to move around. And it comes in a rainbow of pretty Le Creuset colors. 

There are certainly more budget-friendly Dutch ovens too, like this Lodge 6-quart number, but there is just something undeniable about a Le Creuset.

The best Dutch oven of 2020.

Amazon

You don’t need a degree in mixology when you have the Perfect Drink Pro. The scale and app will help you whip up more than 400 high-quality cocktails. Set down a glass or shaker, pour and stop when you hear the ding. It’s so simple, you should be able to use it even after downing a couple of stiff ones. Mortar and pestle not included, just in case you wanted to get really fancy.

Revolution Cooking

Yes, this is a splurge and should be reserved for the foodie or kitchen gadget nerd who has everything. Having said that, this space-aged toaster is fairly magical. It toasts bread, bagels and the like just about exactly how you want it — down to the Pantone shade — and does it in literal seconds, not minutes. It can only handle two slices at a time, but that’s more than enough when you consider the light-speed at which it does it. 

Breville

Even the snobbiest wine drinker will be impressed by this hyper-speed decanter. Featured on HBO’s Succession, this model receives high marks from oenophiles for its speed: A minute in the Sommelier is equivalent to a full hour in a traditional glass decanter. Its unique design allows oxygen to reach every drop of wine — not just the surface area — which improves the flavor. And the Sommelier app provides decanting times based on country, region, varietal and vintage. Bottle after bottle will disappear before you know it, making it great for a post-pandemic dinner party (or board meeting). The Roy family would definitely approve.

Best wine delivery service of 2020.

Amazon

Store-bought pints of delicious ice cream and gelato are expensive to buy. But the Cuisinart ICE-100 empowers you to take the DIY route to more affordable delights. Consult the included recipe book (if you make chocolate, share some with us), pour your ingredients into the commercial quality compressor, set it and forget it. It comes with a pair of paddles for ice cream and gelato. And if you’re lactose intolerant, you can seek comfort from the machine’s delicious sorbet capabilities. 

Amazon

Keto and paleo foodies take note. The Dehydro produces meat, poultry and seafood jerky for a fraction of the cost of store-bought equivalents — and without the chemicals and other additives. For those more inclined toward plant-based eating, it can also be used to make healthy and delicious snacks (such as fruit rolls) and dehydrate herbs and spices in order to extend their shelf life.

Amazon

Sous vide is nothing new but the sleek ChefSteps Joule takes the technique to another level. Not only is it cooking with it faster and more efficient than with others, but it’s also half the size of the typical setup. It’s a must-buy for the home chef with limited space. 

Amazon

The Staub Perfect Pan is the one you want if you’re ever banished to a desert island. This French-made cast iron, enamel-bottomed beauty features a classic design that looks great in any kitchen. And it’s incredibly versatile, capable of handling food in a delicate saute or a high temperature fry. This pan is worthy of its name.

Amazon

These professional-grade knives will last a lifetime. They’re an ideal gift idea for anyone who needs a blade upgrade. Made in Japan using high carbon steel, Dalstrong’s Phantom blades cut food and maneuver with ease. This set of six covers all the slicing and dicing bases and the stylish magnetic block has six additional slots for when it’s time to expand the collection.

The best direct-to-consumer kitchen knives in 2020: Made In, Material, Brigade, Aura and more.

Made In

If $400 seems like too much to drop on a gift, consider outfitting your foodie friend or family member with a good chef’s knife. Knives are one of the kitchen tools home chefs can often overlook or don’t realize need an upgrade. Hook ’em up with one that’s well-crafted, sharp and comfortable in the hand, like Made In’s 8-incher, and they’ll sing your praises every time it slides through an onion, carrot or turnip. It’s perfectly balanced, forged for strength and available in cherry red, black or gray.

More gifts for foodies

This article was written in 2019 by David Klein and updated by David Watsky. 



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