Each year our staff and contributors round up their best gift ideas for cooks, eaters, and the kitchen-curious. Read on for the best food gifts that are sure to please even the pickiest eaters.
Gifting is a minefield. Oft have I given someone a book that they’ve already read or a piece of clothing that elicits a “…cute. Thanks.” But food gifts? No one will ever say, “Do you have a gift receipt? I simply have too much chocolate.” Read on for the best food gift ideas for everyone on your list.
If you live in Taiwan and can eat tropical fruit ripe and out of hand, lucky you. For the rest of us, the next best thing is this staff obsession—Yun Hai’s delectable bags of dried green and Irwin mango, guava, wax apple, and pineapple.
A foolproof gift-giving tactic: Give them something they like, but jumbo-sized. (See: 3 lb. Maldon sea salt tub, giant chocolate pig.) This XL tin of Spanish potato chips dwarfs a gallon paint bucket and can be used for storage—or to house a potted plant—once emptied of its salty, crunchy contents.
It’s a great year for large-format Spanish snacks. Presented on a ham stand and served with a magnum of cava, this whole leg of Serrano ham is the centerpiece of a holiday party that I would very much like to be invited to. Cradled in my lap and paired with sherry, a sharp Opinel, and Netflix, it’s the solo New Year’s Eve of my dreams.
Trade partners with 60 respected roasters around the country, from Sightglass in San Francisco to Joe Coffee in New York, which means every month they will send your lucky recipient a bag of beans that is customized to their specific wants and needs. They’ve got light roasts and dark roasts, single-origins and blends, coffee for Espresso Esmes and Pour-Over Panchos. Trade is like a diner where there are 300 things on the menu, but all of them are oddly good.
If Trade is the Greek diner of coffee subscriptions, Yes Plz is the Soup Nazi. Each week they release a new, limited-edition blend—and that’s what you get, whether you like it or not. But chances are you’ll like it. The founders’ resumes read like a Who’s Who of the West Coast craft coffee world, so you’re in good hands. Get this subscription box for the coffee lover who likes to be bullied a little.
These bright, juicy vinegars from Kosterina have shaken me out of my salad dressing rut (the crushed tangerine is especially good paired with a squirt of Dijon), but they’re so vibrant that you may find yourself using them to spike your seltzer. Get the three-bottle sampler, and pair it with some extra virgin olive oil for a just-add-salad gift set.
For the home cook who sometimes needs a shortcut (so…all of us), Omsom seasoning packets provide the foundational flavors for classic Asian dishes like Korean bulgogi and Thai larb. Give the gift of easy weeknight dinners with their best seller set, ideal for harried parents, tired college students, and anyone else who appreciates maximal flavors with minimal effort.
Gin and mayo is a terrific combo, if you think about it; name a better 11 pm dinner than a martini and fries with aioli. Even though this mayo from Amsterdam only contains 2% gin, it’s enough to add a noticeable tang. Like Zaanse mayo, a beloved Dutch brand, it comes in a fetching tube; keep it in your purse for mayo emergencies.
A Midwinter Night’s Dram is a holiday season release from Utah’s High West Distillery featuring their signature rye aged in port barrels. But if you’re not a whiskey head, all you need to know is that it tastes like plum pudding drizzled with caramel. A real treat.
Sibeiho co-founder Holly Ong told me her mom is slightly mortified by the name of her company, which roughly translates to “fucking good” in Hokkien. Holly’s mom, allow me to say that the name is accurate. Caramelized shallots, lime juice, and a touch of shrimp paste temper the heat in the Boomz Sambal, while the AF Chili Chunka Sambal leans more garlicky and tangy.
andSons, a second generation chocolate shop in California, did a very smart thing in hiring Sandy Tran, formerly the pastry chef at the French Laundry. Her flavors are dynamite; I tried the fall collection, which featured an apple cider-caramel bonbon and a pan de muerto-inspired milk chocolate truffle with orange blossom and fennel pollen. Their holiday gift boxes arrive in graphic packaging from BA favorite Dusen Dusen.
This jarred steak seasoning is like those striated sand art sculptures I made in second grade art class, except, you know, delicious. The evocatively named Hell’s Backbone Grill is situated amid the geological marvels of Southern Utah, and the earthy layers of chile, spices, and herbs mirror the landscape. When you’re ready to cook, mix them all together and apply liberally to the cut of your choice.
Brooklyn Delhi can do no wrong; we’re big fans of their garlic and tomato achaars. Their sweet mango chutney is terrific as well, but this year they upped the ante and released a fiery version incorporating Kashmiri chilis from beloved spice company Burlap & Barrel. Your cheese plates will never be the same.
In the face of a changing climate, Tess Bryant and Nic Coturri are making thrilling stuff using only local fruit from the San Juan Islands, including quince, blackberries, and plums. The photographic labels and bold hues remind me of the ‘90s-era Jones sodas I craved as a kid, but these complex ciders and wines are pure grown-up juice.