Whether it’s the friend who makes you wait in two-hour brunch lines or the uncle who starts planning Thanksgiving in August, you likely have at least one foodie in your life. This holiday season, indulge their gastronomic side with one of these delectable gifts.
Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!
Entering the kitchen can be daunting, even with a well-written book of recipes at your side. The Short Stack series of cookbooks keeps things simple. Each slim volume focuses on a single ingredient and contains 20 to 25 relevant recipes written by a different culinary professional. Butter, avocados, chocolate, and tahini are just a few of the featured themes. And when the books are not being used to whip up recipes, the colorful, textured paper covers make them lovely to look at.
Find It: Amazon for $14 and up and at these other retailers:
Horseshoe Brand sells 11 varieties of small-batch hot sauce and barbecue sauce. If you can’t pick just one bottle for the condiment-lover in your life, the Hudson Valley, New York-based company offers a six-pack. Mix and match to create the perfect set of sauces from their line, which includes roasted garlic, kiwi jalapeño, and hot barbecue sauce.
Find It: Horseshoe Brand for $30
Forget specialized kitchen gadgets and artisanal ingredients. The key to most good meals, cookbook author Samin Nosrat claims, comes down to just four components: salt, fat, acid, and heat. In the author's beloved book (which even inspired a Netflix series), she reduces over 100 basic recipes to these elements. With Nosrat’s sharp insights and Wendy MacNaughton’s playful illustrations as a guide, the readers of this book will develop essential cooking instincts.
Find It: Amazon for $21
Save your vegetarian loved one the labor of finding the perfect spices to pair with their meat-free dishes. This set includes seven sweet-and-savory blends—Manchego & roasted garlic, chipotle parmesan, chili lime, Asian curry and honey, balsamic and roasted onion, and parmesan mediterranean—which have been slow-dried and then quickly ground and jarred to preserve flavor. One taste of the seasonings will ruin the supermarket stuff for good.
Find It: Uncommon Goods for $26
Molecular gastronomy isn’t limited to Michelin-starred chefs working out of space-aged kitchens. With this kit, anyone can create futuristic dishes from their kitchen at home. The package contains pipettes, food additives, tubes, a mold, spoons, and a syringe. A DVD walks home chefs through 50 impressive recipes, making dishes like mint caviar beads, chocolate spaghetti, and tzatziki spheres as approachable as they are tasty.
Find It: Amazon for $43 and at these other retailers:
It’s easy enough to find basic balsamic vinegar at your local supermarket, but if you want to find something that goes beyond the basic stuff, you’ll have to search harder. All bottles of this product come from a real vinegar house in Modena, Italy, a.k.a. the balsamic vinegar capital of the world. Its authenticity comes through in the flavor. With no additives or caramels muddying the taste, every drop is pure, concentrated balsamic.
Flavorful fish and perfectly-cooked steaks are just a quick sous-vide away from the dining room table. If you know someone who would geek out over an immersion circulator, this is the one to get them. It stands less than a foot tall and weighs 1.3 pounds, making it half the size of similar products. And unlike traditional sous vide tools, this one connects to smart devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The app relays updates on the food as it cooks. Dinner has never been so hard to screw up.
Find It: Amazon for $199 and at these other retailers:
In a perfect world, every slice of pizza would leave you wanting more. But unfortunately, there’s no shortage of mediocre pies out there. That’s why a group of New York pizza aficionados created the Pizza Rescue Kit. The three vials contain black truffle salt, aleppo pepper, and an Italian herb blend. Pizza lovers can sprinkle the seasonings on frozen pizza or $1 parlor slices to elevate them to gourmet status.
Find It: Uncommon Goods for $15
9. Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box; 1 Month For $25
This gift is for the person in your life who treats food like a cultural experience. Each monthly box of this subscription contains two parts: a recipe and curated music to complement it. Home cooks can drop the 7-inch vinyl onto their turntable and listen to new music from artists like Basecamp and Cathedrals while they cook. Once that track is over, they can transition to the digital mix tape that comes with the subscription. The food portion of the gift includes three seasonal recipes, one or two premium ingredients, and tasting notes.
Find It: Turntable Kitchen
Ice cream cakes are usually reserved for special occasions; this six-pack of ice cream cake sandwiches from Sherry B Dessert Studio makes it easy to enjoy the treat anytime and anywhere. Choose six flavors from options like birthday cake, purple velvet, Fluffernutter, and Blackout ice cream. The treats weigh nearly half a pound, so hopefully you can convince the giftee to share.
Find It: Goldbelly for $99
These gourmet chocolate bars are flavored with exotic ingredients like cardamom, mango, and cayenne. But in each variety, the cocoa takes the starring role. Antidote chocolate is made with Arriba Nacional beans from Ecuador that have been slow-roasted to create a rich depth of flavor. Little to no sugar is added: Instead the chocolate is mixed with real spices and chunks of fruit.
Find It: Antidote Chocolate for $43