9 Useful Kitchen Gifts

By Elizabeth Lang on 18 December 2009 (Updated 25 November 2013) 10 comments

It's that time of year when we start doing two things: 1) reflecting on the past year and 2) scrambling to find gifts.

If you're in the second category and are still scrambling to find gifts, I recommend that that you think back on your year and some of the best things you've purchased or received. Chances are that would make a great gift for someone else. (See also: 25 Awesome Useful Gifts)

For me, they are some kitchen items that have become part of my life in the past year that I now can't live without.

Leak Proof Travel Mug

Who knew that they could design a travel mug that absolutely positively does not leak?! Honestly, this Contigo travel mug has changed my life. Every day I fill my mug with hot tea and throw it in my laptop bag. (It took me some time to trust it enough not to leak.) If you don't have a entirely leak proof mug I highly recommend this one. And they come in stainless steel or BPA free plastic so you don't have to worry about absorbing toxic BPA chemicals.

Electric Tea Kettle

When my parents got me this tea kettle for Christmas last year I immediately thought about the three conventional tea kettles that already took up too much room in my cabinets. I protested and insisted they return it. But my mom insisted I give it a try. She claimed that "they use them all over Europe" and that it would save me a lot of time. Mom — you were right. It not only takes about 2 minutes to heat my water for tea in the morning. But, when I'm rushed for dinner, I boil water in the tea kettle, add the water to a pot on the stove, and cook spaghetti. It shaves 5 minutes off the time it would normally take to boil water on the stove. Plus, apparently it's more energy efficient than boiling water the conventional way. (See also: 20 Great Gifts for Home Cooks)

Wrap and Mat

Ok, so I actually didn't get my Wrap and Mat this year. But, it's still one of my most used kitchen items. I don't have to waste money on small plastic sandwich baggies because I just wrap sandwiches and pizza in the wrap and mat instead.

Stainless Steel Water Bottle(s)

I got a new Camelback Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle this year which is amazing. It actually keeps beverages from sweating on my desk and keeps them cool during the summer. An added benefit is that with the straw I don't drip down my shirt. This year I also got a forty ounce stainless steel water bottle. While I tend to spill on myself with this bottle, it holds a lot more liquid, reducing the number of trips to the water fountain.

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Fully Automatic Ice Cream Maker

I used to have an ice cream maker that required pre-freezing the canister for 24 hours. Needless to say, I didn't plan far enough in advance to make ice cream very often. Then, for a wedding present, we got a fully automatic ice cream/gelato maker — you don't have to pre-freeze the canister. Just pour in your cream mixture, turn it on, and 30 minutes later you have ice cream. I used it at least once a week this summer. (See also: The 5 Best Ice Cream Makers)

I asked around for some family input and also got these suggestions as great kitchen gifts:

Cheese Knife — "It cuts any cheese like butter!"

French rolling pin — "It has better control than a regular [rolling pin] and it's easier to “feel” when you have the dough at the right thickness."

Lefse Grill — You may have never heard of this Norwegian treat; but even if you don't make Lefse "it's a great device for making tortillas, pancakes, etc. Because it has better control of temp than the stove."

SideSwipe KitchenAid Mixer Blade — "This gizmo for KitchenAid mixers really works to clean sides of bowl so scraping isn’t needed"

What's the best (and most practical) thing you've purchased/received this year?

(Disclosure: I received the travel mug for free from Contigo but like it so much I have already purchased it for family and friends.)

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Guest's picture
babelfish81

I bought an electric kettle as a gift for an elderly family member this year. I have no idea why these things haven't caught on more in the states. This particular family member is very hard of hearing and didn't hear it when her traditional teakettle ran dry. The kettle caught on fire! I consider this purchase to be a major safety precaution :)
Also, electric kettles can be used to keep your cooking fluid of choice hot while making risotto. Thanks, Alton Brown, for that tip!

Guest's picture
Tyg

I know that a lot of people receive these and never use them, but the bread machine is probably the most used thing in my kitchen after the stove and the dishwasher. I bought it new (still sealed in the original package) at my local thrift store for $25, and I make 1-2 loaves a week in it to start with, but then it is also used for pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, sandwich buns, breadsticks, pita bread, ect... I buy the ingredients in bulk (just these ingredients alone pays for my CostCo membership) and it costs me an average of 45-60 cents a loaf/recipe (depending on what type of flour that I use). The best part is that it tastes so much better than store-bought bread, and I can control the ingredients that do (and don't) go into the recipe.

Guest's picture
A

I got a stainless one (Hamilton Beach) that does not have the odor problem mentioned in the online reviews at your link. Got one for work and one for home--they are awesome!

Guest's picture
GT0163C

I was introduced to electric tea kettles by British coworkers. They all seemed to get one to bring in to work so that they could make tea and other hot beverages. When they returned home, they bequeathed them to various members of our group and one now resides in my cube. It gets filled and used multiple times a day by the tea and hot chocolate drinkers and instant oatmeal eaters. It's faster than the microwave, doesn't taste like stale coffe (which is a problem is you just run hot water through a seldomly cleaned coffee maker) and passes all of the company fire regulations for small appliances.
Great invention and a great gift idea.

Guest's picture

Coffee makers and the like should be cleaned periodically with white vinegar. Also, you should use only filtered water.

Guest's picture
Carrie

i picked up a beater blade for my kitchenaid this year and it's one of my favorite new items

Guest's picture
Juliet

My sister has an electric kettle that I used many times when I stayed with her a couple of weeks ago. I love it, and I'm going to buy one in the after-Christmas sales.

Guest's picture
Kim

Oh I would love an ice cream maker!!

Guest's picture

What exactly is a "wrap and mat"?

Great ideas!

Guest's picture
lazygirl

I love the Trudeau Pot Clip Spoon Rest. It doesn't take up much room either so you can just throw it into the utensils drawer.