If your Valentine shows love by making tasty food on the regular, send some back in the form of flashy new kitchen gear or refined ingredients for cooking. But don’t snatch up just any old skillet: Your special person deserves something equally special with which to slice, dice, simmer and sauté.
The best Valentine’s Day gift for a home chef will be one they use, but you don’t have to go full-tilt utilitarian with your picks. Perhaps they own a chef’s knife they love but might appreciate a specialty blade to add to the collection. And a chef who is flush with gear will always appreciate fine ingredients like fresh pasta or good cuts of meat to turn out their next recipe.
The best thing about buying for a person who loves to cook is the sheer volume of gift options you have, from the highly practical to the truly grand. We spend much of the year testing the latest kitchen tools, cookware releases and ingredients along with those time-tested staples that every chef should own.
For Valentine’s Day, these are our top picks to gift someone who loves to cook.
This might be the most attractive smart garden we’ve come across and it’s impossibly easy to use. Microgreens are best known in their role as entree garnish but these baby vegetable greens are positively packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
Ingarden has LED grow lights and a reservoir for water that is wicked up into the soulless seed pads. In about seven days, you’ll have bushy microgreens to use for salads, sandwiches and a host of other applications. The sleek, simple and clean indoor grower is made from ceramic and steel and fits on basically any windowsill or bookshelf for a welcomed pop of green.
See our full review of the Ingarden here.
My dad actually bought me and my three siblings cast-iron skillets for the holidays last year. While I’m grateful, I wish it was this one, which is lighter than the average cast-iron skillet (ours were quite the addition to our suitcases coming back home). This one is nonstick and makes for an excellent serving dish for something like a large chocolate chip cookie. And it’s just so darn lovely to look at.
If you want something even lighter but equally equipped to handle high heat for cooking steak and other meats, try our favorite Made In blue carbon steel frying pan ($89).
Sur La Table
This is a smaller board perfect for serving cheese and charcuterie on date night at home. The olivewood’s natural grain patterns are undeniably beautiful and so is the price; just $17 for the Italian-made statement board.
Ten Speed Press
If there is one chef whose cookbooks we can’t stop thumbing through these past few years, it’s Yotam Ottolenghi. The Israeli-born British chef and restaurateur is a master of flavor with a focus on plant-based cooking.
In his latest release, Flavor, Ottolenghi and author Ixta Belfrage hone in on the process and technique for unimaginably flavorful recipes like coconut dal, eggplant dumplings and chickpea pancakes with mango-pickle yogurt.
I don’t know who Melinda is but she makes some mighty fine sauces. Many of these dippers and condiments have good heat, although not tear-inducing, but they are also built with complex flavors that make them hot sauces fit for a true chef or food fan. I’ve been crushing hard on the habanero honey mustard and spicy garlic parmesan all year. You can haul in a sampling of six sauces for $40.
Who said oven mitts can’t be stylish? These smarter mitts have built-in magnets(!) to plunk them on the fridge or grill to keep them together when not in use.
The June isn’t cheap, but it’s the smartest oven in existence. It preheats fast as lightning, has a built-in meat thermometer to track internal temps of meats and fish and has hundreds of recipe and cooking programs that nail everything from whole-roasted chicken and vegetables to bacon and eggs. (Yes, there’s an actual setting for eggs.)
Still not smart enough? The June has internal cameras that recognize foods like bread, bagels and broccoli to suggest cooking times and temps the moment they go in from the interactive control panel. This oven cuts tons of corners for a regular home chef, leaving them more time for nailing a pan sauce or having a second glass of wine.
There are plenty of quality Dutch ovens to choose from — Le Creuset, Staub, Vermicular — but Milo’s enameled pot has a very distinct minimalist look. It also clocks in at a palatable $135 for the 5.5-quart and $110 for the 3.5-quart size. Compare that with those French and Japanese luxury brands that’ll likely cost you three times as much.
The Milo comes in 10 great colors and makes the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for a chef who is short an enameled cast-iron pot.
I’m fortunate enough to have an Italian market one block away that sells fresh pasta. My snobby self just can’t go back to the dried boxed stuff. You can send any pasta-loving Valentine 4 pounds of freshly made pasta from Raffetto’s in New York (via Goldbelly) for $25.
Choose from five different cuts including linguini and pappardelle and seven different recipes like classic egg or add= more adventurous varieties such as lemon red pepper or rosemary. Whatever they don’t use in the first few days can be frozen and thawed for later.
Blue Apron Market
You may not use a petty knife every time you crack a recipe, but having a good precise utility blade for small and intricate cuts is huge, especially when slicing fish, tomatoes and other soft foods exactly how you want them. Shun is a world-class purveyor of Japanese steel, and its elegant 6-inch Sora utility blade would be a welcome addition to any chef’s block.
Step 1 is to make sure they like truffles before you go buying them — because they ain’t cheap. Most of us normal folk don’t cook with or eat truffles on a regular basis, so scoring a few ounces for your Valentine to shave over pasta or risotto will be a major treat.
Bonus: You might get to enjoy them too.
Does a box of meat strike you as a strange Valentine’s Day gift? Well, it shouldn’t — unless your partner is a vegan, I suppose. Porter Road’s best of box is a treasure trove of quality cuts including two dry-aged ribeye steaks, two pork chops, 2 pounds of dry-aged ground beef and 1 pound each of bacon, country sausage and chorizo. From there, the possibilities are endless.
Sur La Table
Staub is beloved enough to not have to be modest, and Chowhounds are among the many fans of its “Perfect Pan.” It can be used for stir frying, pan frying, braising, sautéing and more, on the stove or in the oven. And the included rack lets you steam, keep food warm or drain fat. The glass lid is oven-safe as well. Definitely seems to live up to its promise.