Lifting a steak from a cast iron pan using kitchen tweezers

Our Favorite Culinary Gifts Under $50 2019

Lifting a steak from a cast iron pan using kitchen tweezers

‘Tis the season for giving gifts. ‘Tis also the season for running up credit card debt. But if your wallet’s feeling pinched, worry not: There are plenty of high-quality kitchen tools, tableware, and cookware out there—not to mention some pretty delicious specialty foods—that will cost you less than $50. We’ve added a whole bunch of new picks to our holiday gift guide that will please even the most discerning recipients without breaking the bank. Here’s a peek at what we’re recommending this year.

Beautiful Serveware

At Serious Eats, we’re all about finding and sharing the most reliable cooking techniques and the best kitchen equipment. But when you pour so much energy into making your food, you want it to look as good as it tastes. That’s why we’re upgrading our recommendations for the dining room, starting with an assortment of serving platters.

We like to complement neutral serving dishes with some color and maybe even some mood lighting. Throw in a perfectly packaged candle in a scent like saffron or Champagne for that extra ambiance.

A Cast Iron Pan

The Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

Every home should have at least one cast iron pan. They’re affordable, durable, and great for a wide range of applications, whether you’re searing steaks or baking and serving dessert. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation about cast iron pans out there to scare people away. If your giftee is feeling stressed about caring for their new piece of equipment, send them right here to quell all their fears.

A reminder that you can bake this unbelievably rich chocolate skillet cake in the pan will probably make them feel better, too.

A Wok

Overhead view of dumplings in a parchment-lined bamboo steamer set in a wok

This carbon steel wok, which features a flat bottom designed to accommodate Western stoves, isn’t just a gateway to the stir-fry recipes for which woks are best known. It’s also a great vessel for steaming, deep-frying, and indoor smoking, too. You might even say that it’s a gift that keeps on giving. We wouldn’t say something that cliché, though.

Like a cast iron pan, woks require a little extra love, but it’s no trouble with our easy guide.

A Great Chef’s Knife

Slicing blanched green beans into thin rounds.

We’ve spent a lot of time testing an assortment of knives, including chef’s knives and santoku knives. And lucky for you, we discovered that not all good knives need to be super expensive. There are plenty that will help you slice and dice like a pro that are also extremely affordable, like this Western-style chef’s knife from Mercer Culinary. Pair the knife with a handsome magnetic rack to help your giftee display their new gift for all to see.

Killer Condiments

Closeup of a bottle of colatura.

While we often prefer to make our own condiments —like XO sauce and chili crisp—we wouldn’t turn our noses up at purchasing good-quality ones that’ll save us time and energy. Take colatura, for example, Italy’s answer to fish sauce. It’ll serve you well for Sasha’s spaghetti con la colatura di alici and any other recipe needing a salty, savory bite.

We also are loving this tomato concentrate from Gustiamo. It’ll amp up any pasta dish with rich, punchy umami flavor. A little bit goes a long way to making every meal just a little more special.

For heat seekers, try Blank Slate Chili Oil (a quicker, no-fuss chili crisp) or Shaquanda’s hot sauce (which you can learn all about here).

All of these condiments will add vibrancy to anything you’re making—and they make an excellent and affordable gift. Pick up a few, wrap them in a bow, and toss them (carefully) in a little gift bag. They’ll last a lifetime in the fridge, though we doubt they’ll actually last that long.

Fragrant Oils and Extracts

creamy chocolate hazelnut spread

If you know a budding baker, Stella wrote a whole post about oils, extracts, and waters that can give a little extra life to classic desserts. Beyond those, a few drops of hazelnut oil will bring an extra-rich, nutty flavor to homemade Nutella and this bergamot extract will add brightness and depth of flavor to Stella’s ricotta cheesecake.


Every time I use my tweezers, which is quite often, I think to myself, Wow, I am so glad I have these. Not only do they make me feel like a scientist/aesthetician, but also they’re incredibly useful, whether I’m twirling pasta, flipping meat, or even getting a bit of eggshell out of a bowl of batter. Tweezers, both large and fine-tipped, are also super affordable. Pick up a pair for under $13 and slide them right into stockings for a gift that is as nerdy as it is functional.

We have loads more gift ideas! Head on over to our gift guide to see the rest »

All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.

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Post Author: Chef Martin

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