The Best Gifts for the Aspiring & Lazy Home Cooks in Your Life
It's easy to laugh and judge the sad home bakers on Nailed It, but they deserve a lot of credit. Baking and cooking at home isn't easy. It’s not. It’s really not. Have you ever tried frosting cupcakes with slightly too-warm icing? Or whip up dinner party apps while juggling a dozen other duties? Until you’ve mastered an Ina Garten-caliber skillset, there's no room to judge your pals who that, at the very least, give it a go.
Fortunately, there are hordes of handy gadgets that can pick up the slack for those of us who are just trying our best to get better in the kitchen. And for the aspiring (or downright lazy) home cook on your list, these gifts might just make the difference between them turning out a flawless Pinterest-worthy dish and something that leaves Nicole Byer cackling.
Perfect Egg Timer
Boiling eggs may seem stupid-simple skill to learn, yet mastering it is tougher than you'd think. Did they cook too long? Are they yolky on the inside? Hard boiled or soft-boiled? So many questions! This egg timer takes the guesswork out of it all and it goes right into the pot to let you know when they're perfect.
Utensil Pot Clips
Hats off to whatever genius invented the simple pot clip. These invaluable devices clip right onto the rim of any pot to hold utensils in place, keeping the stove top clean and mess-free. And for every lazy cook, dealing with the mess is at least half the struggle of it all.
5-Blade Herb Scissors
Sprinkling fresh herbs onto a dish makes even the most amateur home cook appear like they actually know their way around the kitchen. Herb scissors cut herbs (obviously) into fancy thin strips called chiffonades, which will undoubtedly impress dinner party guests. Sprinkling the word chiffonade into conversation might actually impress your dining companions, too.
Hand Held Spiralizer
You’ve probably heard your plant-based friends rave about zoodles -- those noodles made from zucchini, squash, or cucumbers. And it’s true, plants make great noodle alternatives, whether you’re a diehard vegan or just looking to cut back on the carbs. You just need the right tool to turn veggies into the proper stringy shape -- like this nifty hand held spiralizer.
Watermelon Slice and Server
Sure, you could certainly skin a watermelon for your next cookout if you want to get weird. Or, you could employ this adorably useful melon tool to slice it up in seconds. Without any super-sharp edges, it smoothly cuts a halved watermelon into uniform, rind-less slices every time.
What’s the secret to consistent, picture-perfect cookies? Beyond a solid recipe, it may just be the cookie scoop. Of course, who cares if a cookie is ugly if it's freaking delicious, but if you're looking to whip up a batch worthy of the 'gram, this scoop will be your saving grace.
2-in-1 Citrus Squeezer
You can try and fake it with the bottled stuff, but nothing beats fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice in dressings, marinades, sauces, and cocktails. This handy tool makes it easy to get the most juice out of any citrus, and spares you the trouble of fishing out pesky seeds that might pop out when doing it with your bare hands.
Any kitchen pro will tell you that food choppers save time. Frankly, they can cut meal prep time in half, since slicing, dicing, chopping, and the like by hand with a knife is a tedious chore, especially when you're trying to multi-task several dishes at once. Instead, toss your ingredients in this convenient vessel, pound a few times on top, and voila.
Instant Read Meat Thermometer
A meat thermometer that doubles as a magnet? It may not be your decor of choice, but it’s nonetheless practical, and always at the ready when needed. It’s also highly rated for its exceptionally accurate and lickety-split readings.
This food-grade stainless-steel potato ricer is the secret tool for mastering a number of fan-favorite dishes. It can transform basic spuds into glorious, fluffy mashed potatoes and comes with three interchangeable discs that can be used to whip up gnocchi or make avocados super-smooth for guacamole. You can even enlist it to remove excess water from greens like spinach.
Drop Colander/Salad Spinner
There's nothing sadder than a heap of cooked pasta spilling out while you're draining it, which is where this smartly designed device comes in handy. Part salad spinner, part colander, this thing is engineered with a perforated twist-over lid that allows you to drain excess liquid from whatever’s in it without anything accidentally falling out.
2-Speed Hand Blender
Though a traditional blender is one of the most underrated kitchen appliances, a hand blender is the true VIP when it comes to perfecting soups, sauces, dressings and even dips. It's a champ at delicately pureeing ingredients while they're cooking on the stovetop (without making a mess), and is our go-to tool for whipping up homemade hummus and lots, lots more.
Home cooks looking to add an extra oomph of flavor to their dishes need look no further than the humble garlic press. This classic tool breaks down cloves more evenly and finely than a knife, and it can be used to mash similarly flavorful ingredients like olives, capers, anchovies, and ginger, too.
Instant Pots have become wildly popular in the past couple years, and for good reason. Even your friends who subsist nearly entirely on take-out have figured out you can put an Instant Pot to work to make a roast or a hearty stew in a matter of minutes. They can do everything from sauté to slow cook, too, and can even be used to make deep dish pizza, cornbread, risotto, and desserts like creme brulee and brownies.
This style of cooking -- which involves vacuum sealing food in a bag and cooking it a very precise temperature -- was developed in the ‘70s by professional French chefs. Today’s sous vide machines, however, are equipped with the latest and greatest technology (including Wifi) that make it easy for amateurs to pull off. Seal meat in a plastic bag and submerge it in a pot of water, affix this device to the side of the pot, and it’ll monitor the slow and controlled cooking process to ensure you turn out perfectly tender proteins. Sous vide cooking takes a little bit longer that traditional methods, but the outcome is worth the wait (and will impress everyone at your table).
KitchenAid Stand Mixer
The classic KitchenAid stand mixer is the holy grail of home baking tools, especially during the holiday season (aka cookie season). The sturdy appliance uniformly mixes and beats ingredients in the perfect manner, and while it’s notably great for doughs and batters, it’s equally handy for turning out things like homemade pasta, making ground beef or sausage, and can even be used to churn homemade ice cream.
Air Fryer & Indoor Grill
Busy schedules and an overall lack of enthusiasm for putting meals together are no match for this hyper-convenient multi-function air fryer. With the ability to sizzle, sear, or crisp ingredients from fresh or frozen in a matter of minutes, it's an indispensable machine can help even the laziest home cooks get a meal on the table. Plus, it features a built-in “smart probe” that can automatically detect the internal temperature of whatever you’re cooking, and when used in air fry mode, turns out crispy food with 75% less fat than their deep-fried versions.