Kitchen Holiday Gift Guide

Disclaimer: this post is unsponsored (just sharing things I love); there are a few Amazon affiliate links scattered here and there. As always, feel free to shop around for the best deal!

The gift guide love continues! And today it’s all about gifts from the kitchen. Not the homemade kind (we’ll get to that in a few weeks!) but the all-wrapped-up-under-the-tree kind (some of these would make great stocking stuffers, too).

The gift ideas below range from practical to fun to essential, and each and everyone one of them I love and use often (as always, none of the items below are sponsored, although there are Amazon affiliate links scattered throughout – feel free to shop around for the best deal!). Some of them, I’m positively giddy to share with you and I’m kind of proud of myself for holding out so long. I’ve been wanting to talk about favorite kitchen stuff for a while now and if you know me well, you’ll understand patience isn’t my strong suit.

And as you know, I love hearing your favorites, too, so please share any kitchen recommendations in the comments! Here we go!

1) Almighty Baked Doughnut Pan. Over the last year, scattered throughout my posts, I’ve referenced my love for this doughnut pan. I’ve basically been using almost every muffin recipe on my site for this pan, which is magic because then my kids think they are eating donuts all.the.time; little do they know it’s actually a healthy applesauce oat muffin. My sister gave me two of these earlier this year and I’ve probably used them 50 times. Love. Super love.

2) Oh My Goodness Cookbook. I am super choosy about cookbooks. Super. In fact, I don’t really own that many. But I love this one. Not only is it packed with crazy good recipes (I’ve made the oatmeal cream pies, sweet Thai chili chicken, and a handful of others), it is filled with hand lettered art and the wittiest, most down to earth commentary ever (seriously, it had me laughing out loud). Written by two sisters, this is exactly what I would want a cookbook to be if I ever wrote one. P.S. If you go to the amazon link, you need to select the “more buying options” on the right to get to the Prime options.

3) Stackable Cooling Rack. I never knew I needed this so badly until I had it. Considering I sometimes have all my counters lined with baked goods, maximizing that space is critical (hello, holiday baking) and this stackable rack is fantastic. It’s a little unwieldy setting it up, but it breaks down into a flattish piece and I store it with my other cooling racks. It’s the largest of many of the stackable racks out there so I can get more cookies cooling. #priorities

4) Impressions Pitcher. From Crate and Barrel, this 2-quart pitcher is my favorite and it gets comments (nice ones) every time I pull it out for company thanks to it’s slightly imperfect indentations (which is what I love about it the most). We use it almost nightly for ice water at the dinner table and because it is so reasonably priced, I actually have two which has come in really handy for when we have friends and family over. Let me back up, I had two until my innocently helping 6-year old accidentally dropped and cracked one a few weeks ago. Looks like I know what’s back on my wish list.

5) French Bread Pans. Several of you recommended these pans to me when I posted homemade French bread on instagram months ago and I’m a huge convert. They are amazing; the French bread bakes crispy and golden on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. Plus, they work well with doughs that are slightly softer (so they rise up instead of rising out and flattening). A definitely must for those that enjoy bread making and bread eating.

6) Smart Weigh Kitchen Scale. With great sadness, I said goodbye to my old kitchen scale I had been using for years and years. It died (read: was submerged in hot, soapy water by my 3-year old dishwashing assistant). I decided to go with this Smart Weigh kitchen scale because as much as I liked the other, I couldn’t always read the display when using larger bowls or platters. Needless to say, I’m kind of wishing Cam had dunked the old kitchen scale earlier. I love this flat digital scale. It’s accurate and easy to use + my large mixing bowls work perfectly. The only downside is the display shuts off fairly quickly so I have to keep an eye on that and work a little faster. No biggie, though, for all it’s perks.

7) OXO Bench Scraper. I’d be lost without my bench scraper. This OXO model (my favorite of all the bench scrapers I’ve owned over the years) is heavy duty and durable and straight. Believe it or not, some bench scrapers are not and it irks me. I use this baby nearly daily. Slicing off pieces of dough for rolls, separating bread loaves, cutting brownies, caramels, scraping off my counter if it’s crusty with flour and who knows what else. The list goes on and on. Get your friend a bench scraper. He or she needs it even if they don’t know it yet.

8) Food Saver. A bigger ticket item, a food saver was something I resisted for a long time. But when I finally caved, I realized what I’d been missing. I don’t use it daily but when I do pull it out, I’m so happy it’s in my life. I’ve used it mostly for leftover meats and meals, freezing fresh meats, and the handy dandy attachment that sucks the air out of mason jars is brilliant (think: granola that can last a long, long time).

9) Small Santoku Knife. This is one of the most used knives in my kitchen. The smaller 5-inch blade is perfect for so many things and it is an essential tool for me (and my older kids can handle it pretty well, too).

10) 2-Cup Measure. Seriously, I love this measuring cup so much. Do you know how many stinking recipes there are out there that call for two cups this or two cups that? No more wasting precious time measuring cup after cup. Not only has it made me more efficient in the kitchen, it’s also made me realize that two cups chocolate chips is just not enough for a batch of cookies.

11) Zeal the Spoon. Ok, I’m going to sound like a freak. But I have never loved something as much as this spoon. Seriously. My brother-in-law, Brad, and his wife, Cass, gave me one of these last year and I was instantly smitten. It’s a heavy-duty metal spoon incased in silicone and this thing is amazing. I use it for everything. Everything! Cookies, soups, scrambled eggs, muffin batter. The list is endless. But here’s the problem, it’s not available on Amazon anymore. The best place to get these spoons is in local kitchen stores (unless you want to pay shipping from Australia or the United Kingdom). Why am I even mentioning it? Because, if you ever, ever find one of these spoons in a store anywhere, buy them out and give them as gifts for the rest of your life (incidentally, their vegetable peeler and smaller spoons and spatulas are pretty awesome, too). Also, if you happen to live in Orem, Utah, the Harmons in Orem has a huge selection of these (you don’t even want to know how many of them I bought when we drove through there last month).

12) Flour Sack Towels. My mom told me the other day that I’m getting quite old-fashioned in my kitchen favorites since flour sack towels used to be all the rage when she was a young mom. Of course, back then, they were probably embroidered with acorns and leaves. I love these towels. They are thin and durable and I use them for everything from drying dishes to covering my rolls and bread while they rise (so long greased plastic wrap). You can’t go wrong with these.


13) Rada Bread Knife. Another recommendation from some of you! I agree whole-heartedly that this Rada bread knife is rad. I’ve been using an old, old serrated knife from a Sam’s Club knife set we’ve had for 13 years and although it was fine, I didn’t realize how maybe un-fine it was until I got this Rada beauty. Economically priced, this thing is a beast. It cuts through nearly frozen bread loaves and has actually revolutionized my kids being able to slice their own pieces of homemade bread. I have the longer knife but there’s a shorter model and a bagel knife, too.

14) Penzey’s Spices. It’s no secret I love Penzey’s – I’m a loyal fan and their spices make great gifts. I’ve listed my recommendations many times in archived posts but for the record you can’t go wrong with these: sweet curry powder, sandwich sprinkle, their proprietary cinnamon blend, dutch-process cocoa, smoked or sweet paprika, chili powder, and many others.

15) Cookie Scoops. I’ve talked in length about how much I love my cookie scoops (and use them for many other things besides just scooping cookies!). All cookie scoops are not the same. I love the OXO brand because the spring doesn’t pop out causing me to say bad words. I use the medium #40 size the most but the other two sizes come in awfully handy. Here’s a link to the 3-pack.

16) Martha Stewart’s One Pot Cookbook. Again, I’m a choosy cookbook buyer. But this is another cookbook that has completely won me over. I’ve made probably six recipes (pressure cooker chili, coconut beef curry, and more) and let me tell you, it’s a winner of a cookbook. The recipes truly are one pot (using a variety of methods: slow cooker, skillet, casserole dish, etc.) and are from-scratch recipes that are simple and super delicious. It would make a fabulous gift. Great job on this one, Martha.

17) Calphalon Baking Pan. Seriously, waxing poetic about a 9X13-inch pan? Oh yes I am. And let me tell you why. It is very difficult to find a durable 9X13-inch pan that bakes evenly and has 90-degree straight edges. Do those curved edges on many 9X13-inch pans drive anyone else nuts? OCD’ers unite. This pan is for you and me. I have two and they are the only 9X13-inch pans I use for baking (plus they come with a lid which makes me love them even more).

18) Crate and Barrel Mini Spatulas. And finally. Mini spatulas for the win. Why on earth would one need a mini spatula? Don’t make me count the ways. I’ve been wordy enough in this post. Suffice to say, these handy little tools are used all the time. Perfect stocking stuffers!

And that’s a wrap! (haha) I’ll be sharing my last two little gift guides next week or so along with obviously some delicious eats and treats. If you are looking for more gift ideas, here are a few past gift guides I’ve put together.

69 Responses to Mel’s Mini Holiday Gift Guide: All Things Kitchen

  1. Katherine says:

    A while back I read this post and made a mental note to go to the Orem Maceys the next time I was in town for Zeal the spoon. And they definitely didn’t have it! I was so sad but found this post, went to Harmons and $50 later I have a nice little supply of those bad boys! Thanks for the tip!

  2. Heidi says:

    I just found the zeal spoons in Gilbert Arizona at Shar’s. It was a little pricey at $13, but if anybody in Arizona is looking for them, you can find them there!

  3. Becky says:

    Hi Mel, I recently purchased the flour sack towels for myself and had a quick question about their use when covering rising breads/rolls. Do they need to be dampened at all prior to covering the breads/rolls? Or, do you just throw the dry towels on top? I like the towel idea so much better than handling that greasy plastic wrap!! 😉 (and much better for the environment too!) – Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      I don’t dampen them at all but I will dust them lightly with flour (the side that will cover the bread/rolls) if the bread/roll dough I’m using is on the sticky side. Hope that helps!

  4. Julie says:

    Oh, you have just made me feel VERY validated!!! When my son and his new bride were opening wedding gifts, they opened a cake pan similar to the Calphalon Baking Pan with straight edges. With out thinking I let out, “Oh I want that pan!!” Everyone looked at me strangely, including her parents, as to why I would get so excited about a cake pan. I tried to explain to everyone about the straight edges. Everyone looked at me like a was a crazy lady. My son and his sweet new wife gave me the pan for a Christmas gift. They said they were sure I would appreciate it more than they would. Now I just need to show everyone your post. I KNEW I wasn’t a crazy lady!!!!!!

  5. Jessica L says:

    Hi Mel! First, a huge thank you – I rarely cook anything other than one of your recipes. No joke, every single thing (except the sparkling cider) on my Thanksgiving table came from one of your recipes, including things family members brought since I’ve converted them all to your ways over the last couple of years. One question – I got a pressure cooker for Christmas (yay!) and noticed there’s one on your favorites list, plus you mentioned making one from the Martha Stewart book. Any plans to share pressure cooker recipes next year?

    • Mel says:

      I’ve had a ton of requests for pressure cooker recipes, Jessica – so chances are I’ll be sharing some or at the very least doing a pressure cooker series or something like that.

  6. Jessica M says:

    I love the Oh My Goodness cookbook! I just got one and have been cracking up at all the commentary:) Thank you for this great list of kitchen goods – I will be getting some for Christmas gifts!

  7. Becky says:

    Hi Mel! I love your gift guides (even though I feel as though I HAVE to have everything you love) and am thankful for you and your time and willingness to share!
    I ordered the Martha Stewart cookbook but was unable to find the pressure cooker chili or the curry coconut beef recipes that you mentioned. Can you shed any light on those recipes? And where they are in the book? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Becky – it’s the Beef Stew on p. 14 and the Beef and Pineapple Curry on p. 60 (I subbed ground meat). I’ve also made the sheet pan dinner on p. 151 (subbing precooked sausage and adding potatoes). Does that help?

  8. Jill says:

    Harmons in St. George has the amazing spoons too! And that peeler…it’s a game changer! My 9 year old loves to peel but struggles to do it efficiently. I think he will LOVE this one. Thanks so much for the recommendations. Can’t wait to try out a few other things from your list. Harmons has got to be loving you right now 🙂

    How do you adapt baking time for your muffin recipes in the donut pan? I’d love to try that on my kids.

  9. Holly says:

    Penzeys recently opened a store in Salt Lake – Huzzah! It’s just off the 123rd Exit from I -15. Just go East a few blocks and it will be on the right (South) side of the street in a strip mall. 290 E 12300 S in Draper.

  10. Alice E says:

    Enjoyed your list and ideas. I think cookie scoops may be in my future. I have always loved the flour sack towels. Being older, I remember my mother’s which actually came with flour in them. My Grandmother baked all her bread and bought it in what I think were 25 pound bags. Yes, you’re right, we embroidered designs on them. Thanks for all your recipes and suggestions.

  11. Diane W says:

    I am so glad Marita steered me to your blog! Gonna love it… and yes, that cookbook is a hoot! I had to quit reading it late one night. Was laughing so hard. I LOVE their humor. And will be reading your blog now… I know Marita and she is a one sweet lady.

  12. sarah says:

    I’m so happy that oh my goodness sent me here for gifts!! Thank you for all you hard work to provide us with the best options out there!

  13. Sylvie Liv says:

    This list is perfect! I love gifts that are actually practical and useful. And affordable. Rada kitchen knives are my favorite knives. And flour sack towels are a must, we actually use them as bibs in our house! Just (loosely) tie them around toddler neck, and their whole shirt is covered! Then we wipe their face with the back when they’re done. Also… That oh my goodness cookbook… I pray someone is getting me one for Christmas!! 🙂 thank you for compiling this perfect list!

  14. melinda says:

    Thanks Mel:) from another Mel

  15. carriek says:

    I love the gift giving post!!

  16. Wendy says:

    I love my “oh my goodness” cookbook!! It really is a perfect gift but a small disclosure; if you order one for a favorite person you may as well order two. Here’s why…
    Me: with new cookbook intended for my sisters birthday
    Me: flipping it open laughing out loud
    Me: cooking something yummy and getting it all splatter covered before I can wrap it.
    Me: squinting over phone and ordering another non-splattered one for my sisters birthday
    End on scene
    So you see it’s actually that great!

  17. Camille says:

    Great ideas here – thank you! I’ve recently discovered that I can’t live without one-piece silicone spatulas. No more soaking and scrubbing to get them clean…these babies don’t have any little crevices or creases to catch food and are super-duper fast and easy to wash, plus they can go in the dishwasher if you don’t need them again immediately. There are lots of varieties out there and they’re probably not all the same quality, but I love the set linked below. It has a mini one, a regular size one, and one with a cupped shape that’s great for scooping and spooning things. Love mine!

  18. Lisa D says:

    This list is fabulous! Can’t wait to add a few of these to my kitchen!! As always you never disappoint! Thanks Mel!

  19. Rhonda says:

    The only thing missing on your list is a Mels Kitchen Café cookbook that would be a great gift idea …..

  20. Lori says:

    I love flour sack towels! Couldn’t survive without them. They are great for everything from covering rising bread to an emergency nursing cover. You can get a 12-pack of the nice big ones at Sam’s Club for $12-$14.

  21. Holly says:

    Mel, you are a darling human being. I love your lists and your enthusiastic explanations. And all the recipes you share. Not to be creepy, but you have no idea how much a part of my life you are (cooking and baking wise! Haha). Thanks for all you do and share!

  22. Katee says:

    I was waiting for this post. I was especially excited when I saw you gushing about a spoon that was only available in the UK and Australia. It so happens that I have got three more weeks here in the UK. I purchased two of the Zeal spoons–one for me and one for my sister! Thank you.

  23. Mary Sorensen says:

    I am forwarding this post to my husband for stocking stuffer ideas. Thank you!

  24. Paige says:

    We haven’t had cookie cooling racks the last 4 years of our marriage. I think this might be the year to finally buy new ones!


  25. Natalie says:

    My amazon shopping cart just got really big. I love these posts… Ok, I love all your posts! Question, do you have a favorite bread pan? I’m in the market for getting so more. Thanks!

  26. Karina says:

    What a lot of great ideas! I really like the cookie scoop idea! I think mini cake tins also make really fun gifts, they are great for making small cakes to give as presents, and also making mini cakes when there is leftover muffin batter!

  27. julie says:

    Mel – how much does the pitcher weigh? Just ordered a few of the items on your list.

  28. Carrie says:

    Just put a few more things on my Christmas list and bought the french bread pans for my mom! I also have been in love with Penzey’s for a long time…the best!

  29. Makita says:

    I love my mini spatulas! I have 3 and I feel like I need 10

  30. Ellen Renee says:

    I do a big Penzey order at least once a year ….just came in the mail this week in fact…my questions are which type of chili powder do you prefer…they have so many – I never have bought any. I am looking for a basic type – now I buy the Mexene brand of chili powder. Also…what do you do with the sandwich sprinkle. The very first time I ordered I purchased some but was never wowed by it…maybe I didn’t use it in a very interesting way.

    • Mel says:

      I use their basic chili powder blend and love it. And we aren’t too creative in the sandwich sprinkle. We just sprinkle it in our sandwiches. 🙂

  31. s says:

    Love the list!! I would add the scrub daddy as an awesome stocking stuffer – I absolutely love that thing!! I hope on your upcoming treats list, if home made food gifts, you include storage guidance ( how to store, how long) as I struggle with what I can make ahead but still have it taste good for the receiver.

  32. meg says:

    I have this irresistible urge to go spend a lot of money right this second!!! Love this awesome list!!

  33. Sheila says:

    Treasure these gift guides! Terrif — I too have Calphalon bread pans. They are great to bake with but I hate cleaning them too. I’ve went back to using my old pans. The batter gets baked in the corners and it is hard and time consuming to get it out. But it sounds like from Mels’ description, the 9 x 13 pan corners are different. My bread pans are probably 7 to 8 years old and the corners aren’t folded. So maybe the newer ones are constructed differently.

    Thanks so much for these gift guides. I’m intrigued by the Mel cookbook recommendations.

  34. Carrie says:

    I love your lists, and this is a great one! I’m adding several of your suggestions to my wish list. Keep them coming savvy chef & shopper!

  35. Jackie says:

    This has nothing to do with kitchen tools but is a gift recommendation nonetheless. Have your boys read the “You Wouldn’t Want to…” books? There’s like a 1000 of them on everything you can think of. You wouldn’t want to be an American pioneer, you wouldn’t want to sail with columbus, you wouldn’t want to be a civil war solider, you wouldn’t want to live without toilets, etc. Anyway, my boys love them because they give lots of gross facts about things little boys love. I think they are great too, fun way to learn so history.

  36. Angela says:

    Love these kinds of posts Mel! And I look forward to your cookbook – you are going to eventually have one, aren’t you? Maybe there’s some way to publish your entire blog into a book? I think that would be GREAT! Your commentary is just as interesting as your recipes! Happy Thanksgiving!

  37. Megan says:

    Harmons in Farmington has tons of darling zeal stuff!

  38. Becky says:

    You are hitting it out of the park with these gift guides! Thanks for another great one!

  39. Sarah says:

    Great suggestions (although most of them would be things to recommend people get for me!)

    I also had a giggle about your comments on the stackable rack–I received one (slightly different style) two years ago and had the exact same reaction, I wasn’t sure if I’d use but once I did I couldn’t imagine how I managed so long without it.

  40. Joyce says:

    I always look forward to your lists! Thank you! Can you do me a favor though? Remember when you raved about your butter crock? I can’t find that post anywhere. Can you drop me a link? Thanks Mel!

  41. Jill Hopkins says:

    This is a fantastic list, thank you! Flour sack towels are the absolute best. I use them to hold my bread when I’m cutting it and then plop it into the bread bowl under the bread!

  42. Laurel says:

    I love these posts. I want it all!!
    Thanks for the Harmons tip. I’ve been looking for a good neighbor gift. Im betting they’ll all be sold out by the time I get down there. We always make a pit stop there when down visiting nana. They have an amazing verity of martinelli flavors right now, I need to grab a bunch for thanksgiving. That’s not until next week, which gives all the locals a long time to go snatch them all up. Hmm cross your fingers for me to find some! Maybe I’ll make the trek down to Park City instead, they have a fantastic kitchen collection store. Bound be be something fantastic for the neighbors there. I’ll be sure to let you know if I find anything you have to try! I love kitchen shopping! Happy day!

  43. Jenny says:

    I would love a quick list of your family’s favorite KIDS cookbooks. That is something on my son’s list and I would love to hear which ones your kids enjoy the most. Thanks in advance!!

  44. Amy says:

    They have the zeal the spoons at the Harmons in West Jordan, Utah as well!

  45. Jeni says:

    Mel! I’ve been hunting for a glass pitcher for so long.. I’ve had to return some because After I pour from them the liquid drips down the outside of the pitcher onto my table 🙁 please tell me this one doesn’t drip..?

  46. Ellen says:

    oh Mel, thank you! And oh, Mel, I need these things! The 2 cup measure, Zeal the Spoon, the 9×13…(I must be on your OCD team). Thanks again, you are simply the best:)

  47. terrif says:

    mel, i’m curious about your life with #17. i have 2 calphalon bread pans of the same weight/heft/nonstick surface, and they bake great, but they’re a BEAR to clean no matter how carefully i grease and flour. the goo gets stuck in the corners and it takes a lot of time with a skewer and hot water to get it out. i’ve tried the paleo way and just thrown it in the dishwasher in a heavy-duty setting, but no dice. do you have a secret?

    • Mel says:

      Good question – I don’t have the bread pans so maybe their construction is a bit different. The corners of these are folded, if that makes sense, meaning there’s a little seam in there, but for whatever reason, it seems to clean up well (I have a stiffer brush I keep in my sink and I get in the corners with it). What kinds of “goo” are you talking about? Like batter from quick breads?

  48. Karaline says:

    Thanks for the list! I have quite a few of them–the doughnut pan, kitchen scale, bench scraper, santoku knife, cookie scoop, and 2 cup measure– although some are different brands than your recommendations. I love and don’t know what I would do without all of them. Now I want the other things, especially the Oh My Goodness Cookbook and 9X13 pan. Aargh! I’m so happy (because I know your recommendations are great) and sad (because I can’t have everything)! Maybe I can buy them for others as gifts and then borrow them! Yes! Because of course that’s why you should give a gift 😉 Thanks Mel!

  49. Ruchita says:

    Great gift guide! I may have 4-5 mini spatulas in various colors hanging out in my drawer. They are so fun! I’m going to check out that Martha Stewart cookbook. I love one pot recipes! I cook for just me and my husband and I really like the Cooking for Two cookbooks from America’s Test Kitchen.

  50. I love your list, Mel! I had to pitch my old 9×13 pan, so I’m thrilled to have your recommendation. Those straight sides are calling my name!

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