The problem with giving your favorite food enthusiast actual food for the holidays is that pretty soon the gift will be gone. Cookies and brownies get devoured. Booze gets drunk. Your loved one is left staring at an empty plate or bottle, feeling bloated and sad. Instead, we like to give cooking gadgets, unique accessories that will keep people entertained year round.
KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment ($37, Best Buy)
Chances are your food-obsessed friend has a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. She might even have the ice cream or pasta attachment. But we bet she hasn't yet discovered the meat grinder, which is the most satisfying of the attachments. Tell her to throw in cubes of locally sourced beef and pork, milk-soaked bread, and veggies for the perfect homemade meatballs.
BonJour Crème Brûlée Chef's Professional Culinary Torch with Fuel Gauge ($22, Amazon )
It is impossible to not feel like a boss if you own a kitchen torch. Bakers, cooks, and pyromaniacs will make serious use of a torch, whether they want to brown a baked Alaska, caramelize sugar on a crème brûlée, or sear meats. This one includes an anti-flare flame, adjustable temperature control, and a safety lock so you can play with fire and cook without catastrophe.
Hamilton Beach Zebra 3-Quart Slow Cooker ($19.99, Best Buy)
It's hard to go anywhere anymore without people bragging about their slow-cooker creations. Now you can treat your food-loving friend to a slow cooker — with zebra print. This sassy pot can hold up to a three-pound chicken for holiday parties; a keep-warm setting ensures that guests get hot (not room temperature) food. Plus, it's dishwasher safe. The last thing anyone needs is another gift they need to hand wash.
Range Smart iPhone/iPad Thermometer ($60-$80, Food52)
Meat thermometers are essential for cooks, and this one from, Food52, is high tech. It uses a silicone cable to connect whatever you're cooking to your iPhone or iPad. Just download the app and it'll measure the temperature of everything from meat to cheese to caramel, all up to 450 degrees. You can even set up an alert to ping when your food is done, so you can socialize without worrying about the roast drying out.
Koolatron Kool Compact Refrigerator ($162.56, Best Buy)
The coolest thing about this mini fridge isn't its name. Just 2.5 cubic feet, this sleek little black number can fit under your desk as work (so you can hoard almond milk) or in your room (to hide your string-cheese stash from the roommate). Plus, with a custom cooling system, you can set fridge to a chilly 28 degrees. Hello, frosty beer.
Fox Run Black Marble Cheese Slicer ($19, Kohl’s)
Cheese knives are officially obsolete with this cheese board-slicer hybrid. Not only will this marble server look great at a party, but its stainless steel wire can slice through hard and soft cheeses like Excalibur. For both sleek presentation and functionality, this cheese board is perfect for the host or hostess in your life.
Nostalgia Electrics Automatic Mini Donut Factory ($179.99, Best Buy )
This adorable doughnut-maker will bring your best bud back to the days of the Easy Bake Oven — except that it actually works, and it will make his house smell amazing. The nostalgic gadget can whip up 30 mini donuts in just 90 seconds. Pair it with a mason jar of cinnamon sugar, and it'll please the glutton, the hipster, the DIY-fiend all at once.
Oak 10-in-1 Bar Tool ($40, Food52)
Overachievers delight in this awesome tool that has not one, not two, but 10 functions. Along with looking really cool on a bar cart, this Swiss Army Knife for mixologists sports a muddler, reamer, channel knife, jigger, zester, knife, stirrer, strainer, corkscrew, and bottle opener. Even if you're unsure what a reamer actually does, chances are your recipient will make you a fancy cocktail as a thank-you.
Nesco Square Dehydrator and Jerky Maker ($69.95, Best Buy)
For friends who love to experiment in the kitchen, we present this high-tech food dehydrator that can make everything from peppered lamb jerky to dried mango without any harmful preservatives like sodium nitrite. Put in slices of meat, fruits or veggies, and turn the thing on. The machine will efficiently and quietly dehydrate the food in just a few hours.