7 Savory Food Gifts


December is a time for sweets. Heck, even December's most famous fairy is named after a sugarplum. But as much as I love candy, cookies, and other sugar-filled treats, I don’t like receiving them as gifts. Between rich chocolate cakes at potluck holiday parties, complimentary candy canes at the bank, and cookies served at stores enticing me to stay longer and shop, I’ve already had my fill of sugar by the time gift-giving comes around. (See also: 15 Delicious Gifts You Can Bake)

If you’re traditionally a sweet-giver but suspect that your giftees’ sugar cravings have already been sated, here are some alternative gifts to traditional holiday sweets.

Biscuit Mix 

If you usually give cookie mix in a jar, consider giving biscuit mix instead. You can use whole-wheat or white flour and customize the mix with dried herbs (try dill, basil, or chives). The mix is versatile, too, and can be used to create biscuits or dumplings.

Single-Serving Frozen Lasagna

Some people opt to freeze sliced cookie dough instead of giving cookie mix in a jar, allowing people to just cook one or two cookies at a time. Take the same concept by making your favorite lasagna recipe, then cutting it into individual portions and freezing it. This is especially great for busy friends who don't always have time to cook dinner for themselves but value a home-cooked meal.

Yeast Breads

Trade sugar-laden quick breads for yeast breads. Cooking with yeast takes more time and can be intimidating at first, but it allows you to make everything from sandwich bread to dinner rolls to airy braided challah. 

Tomato Sauce

If you're a canner, trade your traditional jam or jelly for a homemade tomato sauce. Pair it with a bag of pasta to round out the gift.


Okay, yes, fruit is sweet. But if you've been sending a family member or business associate a catalog-ordered tower of different types of chocolate for the past few years, a box of fresh fruit could be a welcome (and healthier) change.

Infused Spirits

I wrote about this recently. Instead of bothering with food, just go straight for the booze with spirits like lime-flavored gin and hot pepper vodka to mix in a bloody mary. (See also: 10 Homemade Liqueurs to Bottle for Tasty Gifts)

Brussels Sprouts

"What?" you may be asking. Here's my reasoning: I was trying to think of a savory food that is as stereotypically hated as the infamous fruitcake. (Although I do love roasted brussels sprouts, and I will gladly welcome them as a gift.)

Do you like receiving sweet or savory food gifts? Which do you prefer to give?

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Guest's picture

I agree that giving sweets as gifts is a bit over-doing it. Although I have been guilty of it in the past. I love to cook/bake, and am pretty well known for it among my friends and family. While I am often the pie-guy when it comes to bringing food to the party, I like to change it up a bit for gifts and make foods like salsa or guacamole, zucchini bread, or yes the occasional bottle of booze will do in a pinch.

Andrea Karim's picture

I love Brussels sprouts, especially shredded and roasted until they are nearly black, with Cajun spices.

Something I heard on the radio this morning that struck me as kind of fun was Nigella Lawson's recipe for peanut butter hummus. Peanut butter tends to be used mostly in sweets in the West, but peanuts are a savory treat and a good source of protein, and are used in lots of Asian cooking as such.


It'd be good for a party, but also a nice gift if you needed to give something to a foodie friend.

Will Chen's picture

"I love Brussels sprouts." We can no longer be friends.

Meg Favreau's picture

Oh my goodness, that hummus sounds amazing.