28 Genius Edible Holiday Gifts (with Semi-Handy Wrapping Tips)

November 30, 2016

Things an edible gift will always do: warm hearts, fill bellies, fuel holiday travel, get shared, spark conversation, inspire your loved ones to start making their own granola (or hot sauce or challah or macaroons), and disappear, leaving only happy memories.

Here are 28 Genius Recipes—along with mostly handy gifting ideas and intel—that have been passed from cook to cook for years and, in some cases, decades. Yes, three of them are chocolate cakes, but each one is perfect for a different sort of gifting experience. I've provided color commentary.

Molly Yeh’s Dark Chocolate Marzipan Scone Loaf

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Molly Yeh's Dark Chocolate Marzipan Scone Loaf

Nik Sharma’s Spicy Chocolate Chip-Hazelnut Cookies

Nik Sharma's Spicy Chocolate Chip-Hazelnut Cookies

David Lebovitz' Dulce de Leche

David Lebovitz' Dulce de Leche

Maida Heatter's Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Maida Heatter's Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Shauna Sever's Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle

Charlotte Druckman's Olive (Oil) Cake

Charlotte Druckman's Olive (Oil) Cake

Violet Bakery's Cinnamon Buns

Violet Bakery's Cinnamon Buns

Nekisia Davis' Olive Oil and Maple Granola


Make an XXL batch, package it in cute jars for all your coworkers or cousins, and include the recipe—there will be rabid freak fans converts.



Flo Braker's Pains D'Amande

These French almond cookies defy all the perils of cross-country shipping, and seem to only get better a few days out.


Dan Leader's 4 Hour Baguette


No professional equipment required to be total inspiration to those around you—extra thoughtful points for wrapping in a reusable Bee's Wrap (a.k.a. bread fresher-keeper).



Margaret Fox's Amazon Chocolate Cake

The chocolate cake you make for vegans (they'll be so happy!) or when there is truly nothing in your fridge (you'll be so happy!).


Shirley Corriher's Touch of Grace Biscuits

Give with a side jar of jam (or honey!), or wrap in a suggestive tea towel.



Nigella Lawson's Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

This cake will collapse variously in the middle or to one side or another, but that is just because it is so unremittingly squidgy. Make this one for the people who will appreciate its charms.


Nigel Slater's Extremely Moist Chocolate Beet Cake

This has beets in it! And crème fraîche on top! It's the chocolate cake for the cool kids.


Cook's Illustrated Blondies

The vanilla is the key—our former Managing Editor Brette Warshaw skips measuring and just upends the bottle. She would also recommend you underbake and freeze these. p.s. Can you imagine unwrapping these lidded, nesting mixing bowls to find blondies hidden in the innermost bowl?



Anne Willan's Ypocras (Spiced Red Wine)

Look out, this one's feisty (but it keeps for up to a month, so tell them to drink it in small doses).


Teddie's Apple Cake

Because you can't gift a hug.


Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta)

Yes, that lovely peekaboo pie pan is in our Shop and will be loved long after the tart is gone.



Judy Rodger's Roasted Applesauce

Be sure to tell them to keep it in the fridge, but eat it warm, so the butter stays loose—because that's how Judy Rodgers wanted it.


Pierre Hermé and Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies

The tipping point between chewy chocolate chip and crisp chocolate shortbread, and a soothing name, too.


Bryant Terry's Mustard Green Harissa

Bryant Terry's Mustard Green Harissa

Give this harissa in tiny jars to all your friends, and tell them all the ways they can use it up in a week-ish: eggs, pasta, soup, grilled cheese, beans, chicken, roasted squash, grain salads, ___, ___, ___. 


River Cottage's Vegetable Bouillon (a.k.a. Souper Mix)

Give the gift of more flavorful soups, stews, risottos, grains... (and of not having to scrutinize the ingredients on a box of broth for a looong time).


Jeffrey Morgenthaler's DIY Grenadine

Shirley Temples all around! Pack up the grenadine (or the vegetable bouillon or green harissa above) in reusable mason jars. They will not be returned.



Alice Medrich's Best Cocoa Brownies

When in doubt.


Vera Obia's Cheddar and Black Pepper Cornbread

Because sometimes people get tired of cookies and candy and nog and would really prefer salt and pepper and cheese.


Alice Medrich's New Classic Coconut Macaroons

Oh, you like these studly gluten-free macaroons? How about Alice Medrich's genius book on baking with alternative grains to go with them?



My New Roots' Life Changing Loaf of Bread

Gluten-free for those who want it, and a hearty, chewy, craggly, delicious slice of toast to the rest of us.


Paul Virant's Pumpkin Butter

Double-roasted, for topping toast and filling hand-pies and eating with spoons.


Andrea Nguyen's Cashew and Cardamom Fudge (Kaju Barfi)

There is a secret ingredient and I'm not telling you what it is!


Carey Nershi's Angostura Sugar Cubes for Champagne Cocktails

The only gift that can make a bottle of Champagne look even more thoughtful (stowing them in cork canisters doesn't hurt, either).



Nancy Silverton's Bran Muffins

Flawless bran muffins might not sound holiday-appropriate, but everyone who can't run on sugar and caffeine will appreciate them.


King Arthur Flour's Never Fail Biscuits

Comes with the fun "2 ingredients—guess what they are!" game.


Ovenly's Secretly Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Secretly vegan, not secretly the best chocolate chip cookie I've tried.


Torrisi's Spicy Sauce

Hot sauce with one step (blend) that you don't need to source fresh chiles for—it comes straight out of the pantry.


Jessica Fechtor's Five Fold Challah

More festive than anything with a bow.

Every week, Food52's Creative Director Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius. Got one for her—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it her way (and tell her what's so smart about it) at [email protected]

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The Genius Desserts cookbook is here! With more than 100 of the most beloved and talked-about desserts of our time (and the hidden gems soon to join their ranks) this book will make you a local legend, and a smarter baker to boot.

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  • purljamr
  • KellyBcooks
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  • Suzanne Truong Hoyer
    Suzanne Truong Hoyer
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


purljamr December 18, 2016
I have made Cindy Mushet's tart often, and always am asked for the recipe! It is so good.
KellyBcooks September 1, 2016
I've gifted the Torrisi Spicy sauce for a few years and it is a hit! I continue to receive requests for it throughout the year. Thanks again!
Suzanne T. October 19, 2016
How do you package the sauce when you gift them?
sheila December 2, 2015
Are these recipes in the cook book you guys are selling?
Author Comment
Kristen M. December 2, 2015
Thanks for asking! Some are, some aren't—the cookbook is a compilation of half greatest hits from the Genius Recipes column, half ideas and recipes that are new to the series. (Also, some of the recipes listed here were published after the book came out, so maybe we'll save them for volume 2, if there is a volume 2!)