Filling the stocking of a home cook who doesn’t mind kitchen tools as gifts isn’t difficult. You can pile an entire shopping basket with items from the home section of any major store. But, if you want to stuff your loved one's stocking with super useful kitchen tools, that takes more thought.
Here are some practical items that I find very useful. I hope you find an idea or two in here to make your gift giving a little easier.
Rabbit Wine and Beverage Bottle Stoppers - These bottle stoppers work great in wine, but I love that they are good for stopping all sorts of bottles. They work well for sparkling water or sodas, which can lose their fizz quickly if the lid is not screwed on tightly. (I don't recommend them for sparkling wine, though, because the pressure will build up and push stoppers like these out.)
Reusable Single K-Cup Filters - The waste that one-time use K-Cups create can circle the world many times over each year, but there is something to be said for the convenience of a Keurig machine. Let your stocking recipient keep the convenience but ditch the waste with these reusable filters that can be filled with any coffee they choose.
Pairing Knife with Sheaf - My pairing knife with a sheath is my go-to knife on the go. I throw it in my picnic cooler, and I take it camping. The sheath protects the blade, and it protects your hands when you're reaching into your gear to find it. Knives like this come in various sizes and there are many manufacturers. They're often colorful, which I think is nicer in a stocking than a black-handled knife.
Pan Scrapers - These inexpensive, small gadgets make scraping stuck on food from cookware easier, and they won't scratch most surfaces. They're also good for kitchen countertops when pancake batter spills and dries on them.
Metal Ramekins - These 2.5-ounce cups are so versatile. I use them on my cheese trays to hold honey and jams. They're great for giving everyone a small dish of melted butter for crab or lobster. They're also great for dipping sauces and holding pre-measuring spices if you like to have everything measured out before you begin to cook.
5-ounce measuring cup – I grab this compact measuring cup all the time since I bought one for myself. I use it when cooking and making cocktails, and I love how it takes up so little room in my dishwasher. No matter how many measuring cups your home cook has, if he doesn’t have this one, he'll appreciate it.
The Common Cook’s How-Many Guide to Kitchen Conversions wall cling. When a cook wants to know how to cut a one-third cup measurement in half, this is the place to turn. This super-useful graphic clings to walls, glass, cabinet doors, refrigerators — just about anywhere. It’s easily removed, leaves no residue behind, and is re-clingable.
Tortoise Onion Goggles – I’ve put onion goggles on gift lists before because I can’t live without mine. I’m putting them on this list again because they’ve improved the look of the goggles that are incredibly effective at keeping you from tearing up when you’re cutting onions but they do make you look silly. They now come in a more fashionable tortoise shell frame to make the wearer look slightly less silly.
Frozen Herb Starters – This silicone herb freezing tray has many more uses than just freezing fresh herbs. When I made my limoncello for the holidays, I froze the lemon juice in perfect amounts for making hummus. I now have enough lemon juice cubes to last for a couple of months. They’d also be great for freezing tomato paste.
Silicone Cookie Spatula – This small, 2.5-inch square spatula is the BEST thing for lifting cookies off a tray. It’s also perfect for getting brownies out of the pan and running along the edge of cake molds to help loosen them up. It’s also great for flipping eggs.
This story was originally published in December 2014 and has been updated with more recent information.