Mother's Day Gift Ideas From Our Resident Gadget Expert

Who better to give gift advice than the Executive Editor of our Tasting and Testing team?

Published Apr. 24, 2018.

Lisa McManus, the Executive Editor of America's Test Kitchen's Tasting and Testing team and resident gadget expert on America's Test Kitchen TV, reviews equipment for a living. She gave us her Mother's Day picks last year, but with a whole year of cooking and testing since then, she's got a new list to offer for this year's holiday, coming up on May 13th. For a mom who loves to cook, here are her gift suggestions.

Cuisinart Custom 14 Food Processor

Cuisinart Custom 14 Food ProcessorMy favorite food processor has a simple design, which makes it very easy to use, clean, and dry, so it’s quickly ready for the next task. The pulse button is short and responsive, giving you the ultimate control over food’s texture. And its motor is tough enough to withstand big batches of dense dough. It has a neat, compact footprint, so it’s not a space hog in your kitchen. And it comes with a pared-down selection of actually useful blades, not a giant box of extras that you’ll never use, and perpetually have to store. (But if you want to add other blades, they’re available separately.) This is a workhorse, with enough capacity to do large batches, or whip up small things, like a cup of surprisingly fantastic fresh mayonnaise. [Buy on Amazon]

Gaggia Anima Automatic Coffee Machine

Gaggia Anima Automatic Coffee MachineThis sleek, compact, fully automatic espresso machine grinds and brews fresh, rich, complex espresso inside of a minute, at the touch of a button. It’s simple to customize for your perfect cup, and thank goodness, it’s also easy to operate even before you’re caffeinated in the morning. A great way to pamper yourself, and when you consider the cost of espresso drinks outside the house, it pays for itself pretty quickly. [Buy on Amazon]

The Joule Sous Vide Circulator, by ChefSteps

The Joule Sous Vide Circulator, by ChefStepsTiny and sleek, this sous vide machine fits in a variety of vessels, and even has a magnetic base so it can stand alone in a pot. You need to use an app to operate it, but it’s quick and simple to link up and use, and the enclosed electronics meant that you don’t have to worry about dropping it in the water—unlike other brands we tested. If your mom hasn’t tried sous vide, this is a fun and useful gift to explore. And it stores neatly in a drawer. [Buy on Amazon]

Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Paella Pan

Matfer Bourgeat Black Steel Paella PanOK, we know you wonder if you really need a “paella pan,” but this is a handsome, sturdy, carbon-steel pan that can double as a skillet or griddle. It cooks beautifully on the stove or in the oven, because it’s heavy and thick, with easy-to-grab vertical handles—and then comes right to the table as a serving piece. And isn’t it time you tried making our paella recipe anyway? [Buy on Amazon]

Bialetti Moka Pot or Bodum Columbia French Press

Bialetti Moka Pot or Bodum Columbia French PressIf your mom is anything like me, she loves strong, fierce coffee. If you’re not ready for a full-on automatic espresso machine, here are some great alternatives. I especially love using my little Bialetti Moka Pot for times when I’m wishing I were on vacation in Rome (that would be almost every day). It’s inexpensive, fast, delicious, and easy—once you learn a few tricks of how to use it (fill the water chamber to just below the safety valve, which looks like a bolt. Fill the middle with coffee, and put it on the heat. Leave the lid up and watch till the coffee starts coming up the stem into the upper chamber, then close it and stay there so you can take it off the heat as soon as it finishes filling the top chamber. All this takes mere minutes.) I also love French-press coffee for its full, intense flavor, and our testing showed that the Bodum steel pot won’t break like a glass press, and the steel walls keep coffee hotter longer. [Buy Bialetti Moka Pot on Amazon | Buy Bodum Columbia French Press on Amazon]

Finum Brewing Basket

Finum Brewing BasketIf your mom is more the tea type, this tea strainer is the way to go—it holds a generous amount of looseleaf tea and—here’s the key part—gives the leaves room to spread out and release their full flavor. The fine mesh holds back the small particles of leaves from your cup, and the whole thing cleans up in seconds. The lid doubles as a drip tray, too. Buy some nice tea and wrap them together for a lovely gift. [Buy on Amazon]

Kershaw Taskmaster Shears/Shun Multi-Purpose Shears

Kershaw Taskmaster Shears/Shun Multi-Purpose ShearsThese are the best shears, ever. They are so sharp and so strong and so durable that you can snip right through a chicken to remove the backbone without undue hand strain—all the better for roasting a juicy spatchcocked chicken in a cast iron pan or on the grill. They also sweep through delicate tasks like cutting herbs or kitchen twine without sawing. They come apart for easy cleaning, and they fit most people’s hands very comfortably. It’s hard to tell by looking at them, I know, but trust me on this. They are a great tool. [Buy on Amazon]

Marcato Atlas 150 Wellness Pasta Machine

Marcato Atlas 150 Wellness Pasta MachineIf you’re hoping for bowls of beautiful, fresh pasta at home, better make it easy to create. That’s where the Marcato Atlas comes in. (Somebody, nudge my family.) We tested several models of manual pasta machines, and this one was the best. We didn’t have to manipulate the dough too much before it could go right in this machine, unlike others. It was very easy to adjust thickness, down to the thinnest sheets, and its noodle attachment produced perfect fettuccine and angel hair. [Buy on Amazon]

Winco Revolving Cake Decorating Stand

Winco Revolving Cake Decorating StandA real cake stand is a wonderfully functional tool for a professional or home baker, providing great visibility, control and comfort as you frost and decorate your creations. This sturdy, tall stand rotated quickly and smoothly, then stopped precisely. Pair this with our tested favorite offset spatula for perfect icing finesse, and maybe throw in a copy of The Perfect Cake, then cross your fingers that mom will decide to try Rainbow Cake. [Buy on Amazon]

Bob Kramer 8 Inch Carbon Steel Chef’s Knife by Zwilling J.A. Henckels

Bob Kramer 8" Carbon Steel Chef’s Knife by Zwilling J.A. HenckelsA great cook deserves a great knife, and this 8-inch carbon steel beauty is the kind of well-crafted blade that makes food prep enjoyable, with a wickedly sharp edge and point for precision cutting. It stayed sharp throughout testing, too. [Buy on Amazon]

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