Do you have a lifelong pact with a friend or a family member to stay within a certain price range when buying gifts? Did you maybe forget someone’s birthday this year and promise to make it up to them around the holidays? Do you have a buddy who’s had a difficult couple months or year (2017, amirite?)? Is there a person out there who did you a huge favor and you’re still trying to figure out how to thank them?
Well, cash never hurts. Just send them some cash. Paper money, yes: cash.
But if you’d rather buy them a nice gift, one just pricey enough to make a palpable dent in your finances without breaking the bank, then we’ve got several recommendations for nice cooking gear that cost less than $100. (For items a little gentler on the wallet, check out our collection of presents under $50.) But if you’re ready to spend a little more, upping the ante gives you some great options.
A Powerful Multi-Cooker
Everyone loves the Instant Pot! Haven’t you heard? It’s the “it” cooking tool of the year, and with good reason: The Instant Pot is a very efficient multi-cooker at a very nice price point. In our review of multi-cookers and pressure cookers. It’s the perfect gift for someone looking to get into pressure cooking, or really anybody hoping to save space on appliances—think slow-cooker, steamer, pressure-cooker, hot pot, and rice-cooker all rolled into one.
Our Winning Immersion Blender
We just recently reviewed all the immersion blenders out there and our top pick will run you just a hair under $100. This blender is a great gift for pretty much anyone in your life—it’s useful for tasks ranging from making soups to zipping up two-minute mayo to creating silky-smooth sauces. Even if the recipient already has an immersion blender, if it isn’t this one, they’ll be getting a serious upgrade.
One Impressive Boning Knife
This stainless steel boning knife is one of my new recommendations for this year’s gift guide: I own it, I love it, I can’t stop talking about it to anyone who will listen, and—hurray!—you are my captive audience. This is a great gift for the budding knife geek in your life, but it’s also particularly good for anyone who butchers chicken regularly (and more people should: it’s easy and fun and very economical). For the knife nerd, this blade is a great introduction to the wide world of specialty Japanese blades, since it’s modeled on the honesuki, or poultry knife.
If that intimidates you, know that there are a couple key differences that make it more appropriate for a novice. It’s relatively easier to sharpen, and it isn’t just a single-use knife; it can be used as a petty knife in a pinch, and because of the way the blade is shaped, can even be used to chop stuff up using a rocking motion.
But where it shines is in cutting up poultry. If you have a cook friend who’s talked about experimenting with yakitori, butterflying chicken wings, or making a ballontine (or turducken!), this is the knife for her. If you’ve got a buddy who complains about the high price of deboned quail and squab, bring him this blade. The thin, sharp tip is ideal for maneuvering around wee little bird bones. In contrast to a traditional Western boning knife, I’ve found that it’s easier to use this blade to cut around the bones rather than to scrape them, although the wide, sturdy base excels at scraping, too, so it’s also good for Frenching chops, or when you really have to get some chicken legs deboned in a couple of minutes for some fajitas.