Whether you’re shopping for a newbie cook who needs the basics or a longtime kitchen pro who could use an upgrade on core equipment, here are some of our most important pieces of gear.
11 of Our Most Giftable Kitchen Equipment All-Stars
Everything on this list has beat out competitors year over year to earn a top spot in our ratings.
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Lodge 12” Cast Iron Skillet (left) and Instant Vortex Plus 6-Quart Air Fryer (right)
For the Cook Who Loves a Classic
Our Favorite Cast-Iron Skillet: Lodge 12” Cast Iron Skillet
Whether we're searing steaks, frying chicken, or baking bread, cast-iron pans are an essential part of our kitchen. They’re incredibly sturdy and naturally nonstick. Our winning skillet comes preseasoned with a gently nubbly surface that will gain more seasoning during use. By the end of our testing it released food perfectly and cleaning up was a breeze.
At about 8 pounds, it’s heavy, but that weight helps with heat retention and browning. Its roomy surface and high sides make it a versatile performer—all at a great price for a pan that will last forever. (And contrary to popular belief, they're actually really easy to take care of.)
For the Cook Who Wants in on the Trend
Our Favorite Air Fryer: Instant Vortex Plus 6-Quart Air Fryer
Air fryers are still all the rage—and for good reason. They make deliciously crispy food and are exceptionally easy to use (if you choose the right model, like our winner).
Though it’s only a foot tall, this drawer-style model has a notably large capacity. We were even able to cook a whole 4-pound chicken in it. The wide drawer-style basket was easy to remove and insert and our hands were safeguarded from the heating element. A sturdy drawer handle allowed us to shake contents for easy redistribution. Intuitive digital controls were brightly lit and easy to operate.
Microplane Premium Classic Zester/Grater (left) and Cuisinart Custom 14 Cup Food Processor (right)
For the Person who Never “Says When” with the Parm
Our Favorite Rasp-Style Grater: Microplane Premium Classic Zester/Grater
A rasp-style grater is always in our utensil crock. This Microplane has won our testings again and again thanks to great performance and a comfortable handle with a soft rubbery grip. It came sharp, stayed sharp, and looked as good as new after testing.
And it's good for more than just a shower of Parmesan over spaghetti and meatballs—our razor-sharp winner handily tackles hard cheeses, citrus, chocolate, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, and more.
For the Person Who Needs a Mini Sous Chef
Our Favorite Food Processor: Cuisinart Custom 14 Cup Food Processor
If you know someone who is consistently chopping by hand and could use a little help, a food processor is a perfect gift for them. Pizza dough, pie dough, mirepoix, grated cheese, hummus, pesto—the list of what you can do in a good food processor goes on and on.
Our longtime favorite consistently beats the competition. It’s powerful, precise, and easy to use. It has a compact, streamlined design that takes up less space than most food processors, despite having one of the largest capacities. Its smooth, simple bowl and blade design are easy to handle, monitor during use, and clean. An unusual feed tube placement allows for increased bowl visibility.
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Instant Pot Pro 8Qt (left) and Nordic Ware Baker’s Half Sheet (right)
For the Absent-Minded Meal Prepper
Our Winning Multicooker: Instant Pot Pro 8Qt
A good pressure cooker can give you hands-off cooking with perfect results. Throw in one of our best-selling cookbooks and really get them started.
Our winner from Instant Pot is a great, easy-to-use appliance that aced all of our tests. Its flat-bottomed interior pot allows for even searing. Stay-cool handles mean you can easily move the pot, even when it’s hot. The streamlined interface is easy to navigate. A “favorites'' feature lets you save go-to recipes. It has a pressure-release switch that keeps your hand away from the hot steam when you vent the machine, and a diffuser on the vent makes the steam disperse slightly more gently. These small, smart innovations have kept this model at the top of our rankings.
For the Cook with Wonky Sheet Pans
Our Favorite Rimmed Baking Sheet: Nordic Ware Baker’s Half Sheet
Say goodbye to the “boing!” and hello to one of the most versatile kitchen pans. This sturdy, commercial baking sheet pan has wowed our testers for years. With reinforced, rolled edges this pan is notably warp-resistant. It cooks food beautifully and evenly and is perfect for weeknight sheet-pan dinners.
The cooking surface is the right size for a wire rack to fit snugly, and the straighter, taller sides contained food nicely and offered us a good place to grip, even when wearing bulky oven mitts.
OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro 12" Open Frypan (left) and Chef'sChoice Trizor 15XV Knife Sharpener (right)
For the Person Who Despises Cleaning Up
Our Favorite Nonstick Skillet: OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro 12" Open Frypan
If you know someone who hates scrubbing their pots and pans, get them a nonstick skillet (or better yet, replace their old one). Food never sticks to this slick, nonstick pan. It released 50 eggs with no fat in the pan at the beginning and end of our testing—an impressive feat.
It’s nice and light, so it was easy to lift and maneuver, but it was also sturdy and resisted denting (even when we smashed it on a concrete block). All of our testers liked its wide, comfortable handle. It’s oven-safe to 430F, which covers most recipes and makes it even more versatile. To keep it in tip-top shape, be sure to season it (yes, really!).
For Your Friend with Reeeally Dull Knives
Our Favorite Electric Knife Sharpener: Chef'sChoice Trizor 15XV Knife Sharpener
Chances are, if someone owns a chef's knife, it needs a good sharpening. (An easy way to tell? Use an onion.) There are many ways to sharpen a knife, but our longtime winning electric knife sharpener produces truly exceptional and consistent results quickly, neatly, and efficiently.
The manual clearly outlined a few specific steps that must be followed each time, and it took about 2 minutes from start to finish to get a polished, razor-sharp edge. Narrow, spring-loaded slots made it easy and unambiguous to maintain a consistent angle as we moved the knife through the three slots. It rapidly removed a notch we cut in the blade and easily sharpened both our everyday chef’s knife and pricey carbon-steel chef’s knife.
For the Cook Who Wants to Get it Exactly Right
Our Favorite Digital Kitchen Scale: OXO Good Grips 11 lb Food Scale with Pull Out Display
Astoundingly accurate, this scale measures in ounces and pounds or in grams. With sturdy construction, responsive buttons, and a removable platform for easy cleaning, this model has only gotten better over time as OXO updates the design. The screen can still be pulled out nearly 4 inches when weighing oversize items. The readout is highly visible with brightly lit digits on a dark background. The scale now uses decimals rather than fractions, so it’s even more precise and easier to read.
For the Person Who Requires Precision—and Fast
Our Favorite Instant-Read Thermometer: Thermoworks ONE
Baked potatoes? You need a thermometer. Frying chicken? You definitely need a thermometer. You’ll even need one for baking a perfect loaf of bread. Our favorite instant-read thermometer provides accurate temperatures more quickly than any we’ve ever tested—in just one second. It’s the easiest to use to boot.
Some of its great features include: a large, grippy handle; a rotating screen with large, highly legible numbers; and a backlight that goes on when viewing conditions are dim. It’s waterproof to a water depth of 39 inches for 30 minutes, it goes to sleep when not in use, and the display wakes up automatically when you pick it up.
For the Person Who’s Always Burning Things
Our Favorite Kitchen Timer: OXO Good Grips Triple Timer
Know someone who always has a lot of dishes to keep track of? This repeat-winning compact triple-event timer will keep them organized. The screen displays all three events at once (no scrolling required). It’s easy to set and adjust the individual events because each one has its own button, and a pair of horizontal bars on the screen brackets the event being modified.
We like that each event makes a unique sound—one beep for the first event, two beeps for the second event, and three beeps for the third event—and that the volume is adjustable.