If you’re shopping for a Valentine’s Day gift for your beloved and you’re Googling “giant teddy bear” or “heart-shaped _____”, step away from the screen. Traditional Valentine’s Day gifts are ok, we guess, but if you’re looking for the perfect gift, you have to personalize!
Ready to start shopping? Pour yourself a glass of wine and keep reading for a look at our Valentine’s Day gift guide, full of gadgets, cookware and other kitchen essentials that are actually useful for both experienced and aspiring chefs. And if you’re that home cook in your life, treat yo’self for cryin’ out loud! After all, you’ll be the one cooking that romantic dinner on February 14.
Baking with love is easy, but baking with loved ones sometimes isn’t. If you have well-meaning helpers in the kitchen, these copper-plated cooling racks will come in handy. They’re nonstick and perfect for icing, sugaring and cooling cookies or other treats. Also? We love the color, which is no small thing. And they’re versatile, too; use them to drain fried chicken and other savory goodies between sweets.
Click and Grow
There’s a whole new lineup of indoor smart gardens and most of them work well. We personally tested a few of the most popular models. The Click & Grow Smart Garden 3 is a nice giftable size and will certainly grow fresh herbs and lettuce, which is a joy for any home chef to have on hand. It self-waters and has LED grow lights so there’s not a whole lot for you to do other than enjoy fresh basil, mint and cilantro whenever you want it.
Read more: The best indoor gardens in 2021
My dad actually bought me and my three siblings cast-iron skillets for the holidays last year. While I’m grateful, I wish it was this one, which is lighter than the average cast-iron skillet (ours were quite the addition to our suitcases coming back home). This one is nonstick and makes for an excellent serving dish for something like a large chocolate chip cookie and it’s just so nice to look at.
If you want something even lighter but equally equipped to handle cooking steak and other meats, try Made In’s blue carbon steel frying pan ($89).
These perfectly treated West African ebony cutting boards are so pretty it takes some working up to actually run a blade over them. Fear not, it can withstand the wear and tear of daily cooking and still make a stunning vessel on which to serve cheese and charcuterie. The gorgeous, dark boards are handmade from the same Cameroonian ebony wood used to make Taylor guitars. In the spirit of leaving the Earth better than they found it, founder Bob Taylor and his team have planted over 15,000 ebony trees in West Africa since 2016 — many more than they’ve used to make guitars and cutting boards.
The rule of thumb is generally no appliances for Valentine’s Day, unless it’s a really, really good blender for someone who will totally appreciate it. The Blendtec Classic is just that and is a total dream for making smoothies, sauces, soups and so much more. It clocks in at a reasonable $210 and ships for free in time for V-day.
Blue Apron Market
A well-made knife is life-changing for a cook who puts his or her equipment through the wringer. Blue Apron worked closely with Togiharu, a world-class purveyor of Japanese steel, to create this handcrafted, chef-approved knife. Adding this to a home cook’s repertoire is an easy way to make them feel like a pro.
Step one is to make sure they like truffle before you go buying them up because they ain’t cheap. Most of us normal folk don’t get to cook with or eat truffles on a regular basis so scoring a few ounces for your Valentine to shave over pasta or risotto will be a total treat. Bonus: You might get to enjoy them too.
Does a box of meat strike you as a strange Valentine’s Day gift? Well, it shouldn’t — unless your partner is a vegan, I suppose. Porter Road’s best of box is a treasure trove of quality cuts including two dry-aged ribeye steaks, two pork chops, two pounds of dry-aged ground beef and one pound each of bacon, country sausage and chorizo. From there, the possibilities are endless.
If your babe is working with dull blades on the regular, they’re likely to really appreciate a good chef’s knife for V-Day. If you’re not well versed in cutlery, a chef’s knife the one a cook uses most and it’s really so important to have one that is both sharp and designed for comfort. I love Made In’s chef knife for its relative light weight, incredibly sharp forged steel blade and slick, modern design with a comfortable handle. The price is also right: I’ve seen plenty of worse chef’s knives that sell for a whole lot more than this.
Sur La Table
A Dutch oven is an essential for any cook; it does everything from soups and stews to frying, braising and even baking. And when it’s Staub, it looks gorgeous too. I personally love the 4-quart size but you can go bigger or smaller if you like. The classic enameled cast-iron cookware comes in cherry red is currently at a sweet price on Amazon. It’s also available in white for just $9 more and ships for free.
Spreadable butter is a godsend. This keeper holds up to 7 ounces and keeps butter fresh for 30 days. Plus, it’s the perfect addition to a dinner or brunch table that’ll make entertaining all the more classy.
Sur La Table
Staub is beloved enough not to have to be modest, and Chowhounds are among the many fans of its so-called Perfect Pan. It can be used for stir frying, pan frying, braising, sautéing and more, on the stove or in the oven, and the included rack lets you steam, keep food warm or drain fat. The glass lid is oven-safe as well. Definitely seems to live up to its promise.
Those who are great bakers and not-so-great bakers can both agree that precision is key when flouring up. This cupcake scoop is made for the baker who strives for even cooking and uniform cupcakes (and muffins and cookies, etc.).
This gadget is a lifesaver. It makes sense that it’s one of Oprah’s favorite things — it keeps herbs fresh for up to three weeks (seriously!). A similar option approved by America’s Test Kitchen is this Cole & Mason Fresh Herb Keeper.