Best gifts for cooks: Tech gadgets for kitchen nerds

If we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, good food is good for the soul. This holiday season, treat your inner foodie to some professional-grade kitchen gadgets and tools so that you can make restaurant-quality meals in your own home.

Ultra-fast and super accurate, built for pros

If James Bond carried a cooking thermometer, it would probably the Thermapen MK4. Made in England, it is accurate within ±0.7 degrees F (±0.4 degrees C) and provides readings within two to three seconds. It has a backlit, auto-rotating display, with a motion sensor for wake mode and IP67 waterproof rating so you can wash it under the faucet, and it has a 3,000-hour battery life. If you do a barbecue or want to get that perfect reading on your steak, this is the thermometer to get.

More affordable option:

$99 at Amazon

Accurate, wireless, for remote monitoring of your big meat cooks


The Meater Plus is designed for long-distance (up to 165 foot) monitoring of your BBQ and grilling projects, using Bluetooth Low Energy technology. Designed for Gas Grills, Kettle-style and vertical smokers, you’ll never have to worry about exceeding internal meat temperatures ever again, using their easy to use mobile app. In each probe, dual temperature sensors can monitor internal meat temps up 212 degrees F and ambient/external temperature up to 527 degrees F simultaneously. 

A Guided Cook System walks you through every step of the cooking process to guarantee perfect and consistent results. You can also set up custom alerts/notifications based on temperature and/or time.

Also see:

  • Meater Block ($269) for larger cooks such as rib racks, pork shoulders, and briskets and includes four Meater probes.

$99 at Amazon

Now in a smaller, less expensive, easier stowed device


Sous Vide immersion cooking is now more affordable than ever with the Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker Nano. The device, which attaches to any large pot or water-filled container, circulates liquid around your vacuum-sealed proteins and vegetables at the exact temperature required for perfectly cooked meals, no matter what’s on your menu. Use the Anova App to access thousands of free recipes and monitor your cook from your phone via Bluetooth.

Also see:

$109 at Amazon

Get that steakhouse crust on your home cooked sous vide proteins


The Booker and Dax Searzall is an attachment for handheld butane torches used to create the perfect sear on that sous vide steak or pork chop in seconds. Two lightweight, high-temperature metal screens convert the torch’s flame into radiant heat, evenly spreading the flame to provide a professional-quality finish.

Also see:

$67 at Amazon

Do it all in one device


If you haven’t jumped on the computerized pressure cooker bandwagon yet, well, what are you waiting for? The Instant Pot Duo 6 Quart with Air Fryer Lid combines the company’s most popular cooker with an air fryer lid attachment, so you can do it all in a single device.

$79 at Amazon

The ultimate kitchen workhorse for generations


The KitchenAid 5 Quart Stand Mixer ($289) is essential if you want to be serious about home baking. The unit comes with a 5 Quart Glass Bowl with a handle to mix up to 9 dozen cookies in a single batch. With over 14 different attachments available to make everything from extruding fresh pasta to grinding meat burgers, veggie noodles, and more, this will be one of the most valuable tools in our kitchen arsenal for decades to come.

$289 at Amazon

The 2500 year-old cooking technology that never goes out of style


You know that sourdough bread you’ve wanted to bake in quarantine? Well, with the Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven, you can get that bakery crust you’ve been dreaming of. The lid doubles as a cast iron skillet so you can make that bacon cornbread for Thanksgiving and BBQ season everyone loves. Use it to sear, sauté, simmer, bake, broil, braise, roast, fry, or grill, in your oven, on the stove, on the grill, or over a campfire. Everyone should have a cast iron set in their kitchen, no matter what kind of cooking they do.

$50 at Amazon

High-performance toaster oven broiler with digital brains


Breville BOV845BKS Smart Oven Pro is no mere toaster oven; it also integrates a convection oven so you can cook your food evenly. It has 10 pre-set cooking functions include: toast six slices, bagel, bake, roast, broil, pizza, cookies, reheat, warm, slow cook, with 1800 watts of countertop power that gets your meals on the table more quickly. The Element IQ digital controller transfers heat intelligently across five quartz elements for precise and stable heat just where and when you want it for perfect results, every time. 

Interesting, less expensive, and stowable alternative: 

$279 at Amazon

A combi oven for thousands of dollars less


Anova Precision Oven is a technological tour de force that allows for restaurant-grade, combi-oven cooking, right in your own home, for thousands of dollars less than the systems four-star restaurants use to produce the same results. The system uses a combination of steam from a water reservoir and a computer-controlled oven with a multi-stage cooking process (Preheat, Core Cook/Sous Vide, Crisp) to get even browning, perfectly cooked, and juicy meat for cooking sous vide without using a water bath and multiple pans.

$599 at Anova

Cook pizza just like a pro


If you want to make pizza like a pro, look no further than the Ooni Koda 16. Connect it to a gas propane cylinder to cook epic 16-inch pizzas and delicious flame-cooked steaks, fish, and veggies. Blending a showstopping design with the convenience of cooking with gas, Ooni Koda 16 boasts a wide opening, large cordierite stone baking board, and innovative L-shaped flame. Switch on the instant gas ignition, and you’ll be ready to cook in 20 minutes. Ooni Koda 16 reaches up to 932 degrees F (500 degrees C) — the blazing heat needed for cooking stone-baked, perfect Neapolitan-style pizza in 60 seconds.

For smaller pizzas, check out:

$499 at Williams Sonoma

For the ultimate margarita


Jason Perlow/ZDNet

The Elevated Craft Shaker is what you need if you want to make professional-style cocktails but want to keep your hands from freezing, your counter from gathering icky condensation, and rid yourself of old-fashioned, leaky shakers. With an integrated measuring cup and strainer, the large vessel allows you to make multiple drinks at once. With stainless steel, insulated construction, it will be the last shaker you ever buy.

View Now at Indiegogo

Daiquiris, crushing ice, smoothies and soups galore


The Vitamix 5200 is the ultimate in professional-grade blenders, with laser-cut, stainless-steel hammermill and cutting blades measuring 3-in diameter to ensure a consistent blend every time. The variable speed controlled 2 horsepower-peak electric motor will do quick work of and pulverize large batches of ice, fruit, vegetables, and anything that you toss into the 64-ounce fixing vessel, down to the tiniest seeds. The blades in the Vitamix container reach speeds fast enough to create friction heat, bringing cold ingredients to steaming hot in about six minutes. A radial cooling fan and thermal protection system will keep the motor from overheating. Made in the USA with a 7-year warranty.

$406 at Amazon

Need more gift ideas?

Check out our ZDNet Recommends directory or Holiday Gifts hub for some more inspiration. 

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