Best Holiday Gifts for Home Chefs
Instant Pot, Le Creuset, Calphalon, and KitchenAid are some of the stars in Consumer Reports' tests
Want to know the fastest way to a cook’s heart? Give a gift that makes food prep easier and serves up delicious results. Here are 10 gift ideas from Consumer Reports’ kitchen labs.
And if you’re the one cooking or baking, consider these for yourself. Or start dropping serious hints.
Need more holiday inspiration? Check out some of our other gift guides:
• Best White Elephant Gifts for Under $35
• Top Gifts Under $50
• Kitchen Gift Ideas for $50 and Under
• Top Home Gifts Under $100
Go to Consumer Reports’ 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.
CR’s take: Its relatively good price and solid performance make the Farberware HF-919B air fryer a CR Best Buy. It’s among the quietest of the air fryers we’ve tested, earning an Excellent rating in our noise tests. (You can actually hear the mechanical timer ticking over the fan noise.) The dials are fairly easy to read and use, but the nooks and crannies of the food basket make it tough to clean. The basket’s measured capacity is 3.2 quarts. The two-year warranty is longer than that of most of the models we tested.
For more options: Best Air Fryers of 2019
CR’s take: The 5.5-quart Le Creuset Signature tops our ratings for this category. It earns an Excellent rating in our browning tests, the only Dutch oven to do so, and is a cinch to clean. It weighs 12 pounds, less than most, and has an 8-inch cooking diameter. We found that the loop handles are nice and wide (not always a given on Dutch ovens).
For more options: Best Dutch Ovens From Consumer Reports’ Tests
CR’s take: The 10-inch All-Clad c4 Copper C4110 is lined with stainless steel, and the manufacturer claims it’s oven-safe up to 600° F. It earns a Very Good rating in our cooking-evenness test and a Good score, which is average, at sautéing (the same as the other copper pans we tested). We found that the handle was not as sturdy as the handles on other top performers, but it stays cool to the touch when you’re cooking. At 3 pounds, it’s the lightest of all the copper pans in our tests—and it’s one of the least expensive.
For more options: Best Copper Frying Pans From Consumer Reports’ Tests
CR’s take: The 12-piece Cuisinart Green Gourmet nonstick set aces all our key cooking tests. Pancakes brown evenly in the frying pan, and eggs slide out one after another without sticking. We were able to easily maintain sauce at a low simmer, and the 6-quart Dutch oven quickly brings water to a near-boil. This top-scoring set is made of anodized aluminum, a process that hardens the surface. One of the pieces is a steamer insert.
For more options: Best Cookware Sets of 2019
CR’s take: Short on storage space? Calphalon designed this set so that it stacks and nests, which frees up precious cabinet space. The Calphalon Premier Space-Saving eight-piece stainless set earns a Very Good rating in our evenness tests, like our other top performers in this category. The stainless handles are long and sturdy, and you can use these dishwasher-safe pots and pans on any type of range, including induction. You can also pop them in the oven up to 500° F.
For more options: Best Cookware Sets of 2019
CR’s take: The KitchenAid Classic K45SS excels at mixing, kneading, and whipping. It gets a middling score for noise, however. The 10-speed mixer comes with a 4.5-quart stainless steel bowl, flat beater, dough hook, and wire whisk. It’s compatible with all KitchenAid attachments, so you can branch out from baking into more savory foods, such as sausage and pasta. It weighs 23 pounds and comes in either white or black.
For more options: Best Stand Mixers From Consumer Reports’ Tests
CR’s take: The Duo 7-in-1 is Instant Pot’s oldest model that’s still on the market. Even though there are several newer versions out with more functions—the Max, for instance—this comparatively basic model is more than enough for most home cooks. It also usually retails for half the price of the Max and performs similarly in our tests. It earns an Excellent score for pressure cooking and a Very Good rating for rice cooking and sautéing. It does only a so-so job at slow cooking (it takes a really long time to get meats and beans tender).
For more options: Best Multi-Cookers of 2019
CR’s take: The Crock-Pot Cook & Carry has a ceramic pot, a hinged lid that locks, and a handle on the lid to help make carrying this 12-pound appliance easier. It’s 1 of 4 programmable models tested that garners an Excellent score in our low-setting tests, meaning it can serve up deliciously tender beef and veggies in 8 hours. It’s impressive on the high setting, too. You can also program the Crock-Pot for up to 20 hours. Once cooking time ends, this cooker moves into keep-warm mode for up to 4 hours. Wrap the cord around the notches on the back of the cooker for neater storage.
For more options: Best Slow Cookers of 2019
CR’s take: Cuisinart introduced the food processor to Americans in the early 1970s, and it has been a recognized brand in the category ever since. The Cuisinart Custom 14 DFP-14BCNY garners an Excellent rating in chopping, meaning it consistently chopped onions and nuts into medium-sized pieces. And it’s one of the quietest models we’ve tested. It operates on 720 watts, has a 14-cup capacity, and stands almost 16 inches high. Many of the food processors we’ve tested have touch buttons, but this one has levers—one for on, the other for pulsing and off. The warranty lasts three years; five for the motor. Available in brushed stainless, copper, and stainless mixed with black or white.
For more options: Best Food Processors of 2019
CR’s take: Vitamix earns an Excellent rating in predicted brand reliability, according our survey of CR members. That means this blender will continue to produce thirst-quenching icy drinks for years to come. It’s also terrific at blending soups and can even heat the soup using the friction created by the fast-whirring blades. In our test, raw ingredients went from cold chunks to steaming soup in 5 minutes.
For more options: Most and Least Reliable Blender Brands