If your Valentine loves to cook, you’ve got it made in February. There are so many great gifts for a home cook that they’ll both love and actually use — groundbreaking, right? So if you’re currently Googling “giant teddy bear” or “heart-shaped _____” step away from the computer. Take a deep breath and then come back to have a look at our list of thoughtful Valentine’s Day gifts that are actually useful, especially for the experienced or aspiring chef in your life. (And if you’re that home cook in your life, treat yo’self for cryin’ out loud.)
These Valentine’s Day gift ideas are the kind of go-to tools all kitchens can benefit from and that your sig o will use often — not for that one time a year they’re craving a panini. Below, find what cooks really want on Valentine’s Day (that has nothing to do with chocolate or flowers).
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. 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.
This matte black fiber cutting board — available in the long style shown above, or in a round shape — can double as a cheese board but also beautifully display a sliced skirt steak. Prep and serve with one less thing to wash. (Did we mention it’s dishwasher-safe?)
The rule of thumb is generally no appliances for Valentine’s Day, unless it’s a really nice blender for someone who will appreciate it. The Blendtec Classic is just that and is a dream for making smoothies, sauces, soups and much more. It clocks in at a reasonable $210 and ships for free in time for V-day.
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.
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.
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, 2 pounds of dry-aged ground beef and 1 pound each of bacon, country sausage and chorizo. From there, the possibilities are endless.
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.).