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Gifts for Cooks for Under $50

by Liam Williams
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‘It’s the thought that counts’ is tossed around often enough in the realm of gift-giving. While I disagree with it to a degree it’s not that far off. But this is nearly there no here, maybe you’d rather spend the extra cash on a new tool for your kitchen, maybe you don’t know the recipient well, or maybe they just don’t deserve the splurge. Regardless these 10 gifts for under $50 will brighten up any cook’s kitchen life no matter how much or little.

Wooden Chopping Board

Wood or plastic amirite? While plastic is light and more convenient nothing beats a smooth, polished, thick, wooden chopping board. While they can easily run into the high hundreds, you’ll find that any under $50 will do a phenomenal job. Maple is one of the best woods for a chopping board because of how hard and dense it is; that’s why the first I’d recommend is this Hard Maple Reversible Butcher Block Chopping Board. If that doesn’t fit your (or the recipients) fancy, bamboo is a great eco-friendly, strong, yet lightweight wood for which I’d recommend this Set of 3 Bamboo Cutting & Serving Boards.

Cast-Iron Skillet

Cast-iron is one of the few pieces of cookware I’d trust to buy under $50. They’re all straightforward, made from the same material, and have the same thickness. The biggest difference is the smoothness of the finish, but I’ve found it doesn’t make a difference when you’re treating food with extreme heat anyway. Lodge Cast-Iron Pans are a really safe bet as they’re high quality yet incredibly affordable. That being said if you’re looking for something with a little more curb appeal, look into this Backcountry 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet.

Amber (or Regular) Jars

Never heard of them? That’s ok they’re mostly used for things like candle making. Amber jars block out harmful UV radiation which is especially useful when you’re fermenting foods. UV rays damage microbes that cause lactic acid fermentation although the effects aren’t exactly on the extreme. Check out these Ball Amber Canning Jars they’re a unique gift that your recipient may not have heard of. If you’re one for the classic though there’s nothing faulty about regular old 32 Oz Glass Mason Jars.

Chef’s Press

A chef’s press can be used to smash a burger, sear a steak, toast a panini, and for many other things. They come in a wide range of materials like stainless steel or cast iron, a variety of shapes, and a lot of different char patterns. This round Bacon Press is made of 100% cast iron (with a wooden handle) and does an excellent job at most pressing tasks (da dum tssss). If you or they aren’t fond of the ideas of cast-iron maintenance, try this Stainless Steel Burger Iron that does the same job, with slightly less hassle.  

Probe Thermometer

If whoever you’re buying for is a fan of aliens, try these probes. There are two kinds you can get: a simple, hand-held, F/C thermometer like this Saferell Instant Read Meat Thermometer, or you can get these weird probes that come with a remote display for extra convenience. See this ThermoPro TP-17 Dual Probe Digital Cooking Meat Thermometer.

Fondue Pot

Fondue takes me back to the swiss alps where I first got to enjoy the serene pleasure of dipping stale bread into a pot of melted gruyere and swiss cheese. As most of us know hopefully fondue is hardly just for cheese. Chocolate fondue has reached insane popularity across the US as well as oil (or meat) fondue. This Oster Ceramic Fondue Pot is both stylish and practical. If you’re a fan of the more modern devices, this Deluxe Stainless Steel Fondue Maker is bound to do something for you, other than melt cheese.  

Chicken stand

Hate is a strong word so let me say that I detest novelty cooking items that don’t seem to do anything except make the job stupidly simple and convenient (that’s why microwave meals exist). That being said, when I saw this American Motorcycle Chicken Stand I couldn’t resist. But if you’re a cube this Roaster Rack always does the job for me.

Roasting Pan

Roasting pans are equipped with a dipped grate on which your meat sits for even, hot airflow. They have this great habit of leaving those sweet, sweet dippings at the bottom of the pan for amazing gravies or vegetable toppings. This 14×12 Inch Stainless Roasting Pan has an ideal interior for heat deflection so more of it stays in the pan. This Non-Stick Roaster Pan is a cool second with its handy baster and wolverine-like claws. 

Killer Condiments

Killer as in heart-stopping as in extra delicious. The older I get the more I realize that condiments (or in terms of actual food sauces) are what bring a dish together and make it memorable. The first time I had a breakfast taco without homemade salsa or hot sauce it felt empty and soulless. Hot sauce is the South’s favorite condiment so naturally, it’s the first way to go. If you know someone who’s a stickler for Asian BBQ, take a look at this Bachan’s Japanese BBQ Sauce.

Oils or Extracts

Oils and extracts are the basis of many cooking methods. Unfortunately, it’s a lucrative market for fraudsters who like to advertise their fresh-pressed olive oil as a virgin when it is in fact not. This Extra Virgin Olive Oil is guaranteed pure and made by cold pressing greek olives. It’s got a pretty cool container too. The same goes for many extracts (especially vanilla). Neilsen-Massey makes a wide variety of pastes and extracts that are the real deal (just look at the price).

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