Gifting is one of those things that can quickly turn from fun to stressful. If you’re anything like me, you want any gift you give to feel personal and intentional, while also being something the recipient wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves. After years of trying to find the right thing to give someone on their birthdays or holidays (and inevitably being worried that they already own it), I finally landed on the perfect gift category: food.
Whether the person you’re shopping for is always trying a new recipe in their kitchen, is known for having a stocked pantry, or is who you call when a new restaurant is opening, these edible gifts are bound to be a hit. From vanilla paste that supports farming communities in Tonga to a whey-cool subscription box from a New York City cheese institution, there’s plenty to devour.
1. a four-piece set for any tinned fish fan, $23.98–$39.99
It’s not lost on any of us that tinned fish has had quite a moment these past couple of years. What popped up as potentially just a summer trend in 2018 has stuck around and proven itself to be a go-to treat at cocktail hours and dinner parties, in picnic baskets, and on restaurant menus. This four-pack of gourmet Portuguese canned seafood is a foolproof gift for any established tinned-fish aficionado or that friend who has been waiting for their moment to try this staple of Spanish and Portuguese cuisines.
2. A Perfectly Paired Olive Oil Duo, $31.50
You can never have too much olive oil in your kitchen, especially when it’s Graza’s fresh (and never blended) extra-virgin olive oil duo. The “Drizzle” half of the duo is meant for exactly that: drizzling over anything you please (ice cream, toast, salad, you name it). Made from early in-the-season olives, its bold flavor and antioxidants make it an ideal finishing oil. If you want an oil to put over heat, grab the squeezable “Sizzle” bottle. Made from peak-season olives, it has a more mellow flavor and can withstand higher cooking temperatures. It’s a pair that rightfully claims its place on my kitchen counter and makes a fantastic gift for any home cook (or snacker).
3. A Box With Just Enough Crunch, $145
If you know someone who is always trying to snag the pickle off of someone’s plate at lunch or dinner, consider this curated box the ultimate gift. Featuring a collection of gourmet pickles from small-batch makers, along with other pickled vegetables, it’ll surely hit the spot for the pickle lover in your life.
4. A Best-Selling Vinegar Quartet, $48
This kit from Acid League features four of their best-selling vinegars (rotated based on stock and seasonality) to help bring an extra zip or zing to any meal. With flavors like Meyer Lemon Honey, Apple Cider Maple, and Cabernet Port, these bottles are just the thing for anyone looking to experiment in the kitchen.
5. A Limited-Edition Corn Collab, $50
Here's a gift for the snacker in your life. Giving a large tin of popcorn might not be a new concept, but our limited-edition holiday collaboration with the BjornQorn makes it a no-brainer. The recipient can choose from Classic, Maple, or Chile Crisp—evenly sectioned out within the filled-to-the-brim tin—and grab a handful (or many) of the sun-popped popcorn to munch on. They won’t be disappointed.
6. A Southern BBQ Staple, $50
If you have a friend who loves to complain about not being able to find good Southern barbecue where they live (it’s me, I am that friend), send them this Firebox Pack from Wright’s Barbecue in Arkansas. Including bottles of their Original, Bold, and Spicy sauces, along with their signature meat rub, it’s a kitchen essential for any barbecue lover or aspiring grill master.
7. A Gift That Packs A punch, $80
Chengdu-born chef Jing Gao has made her mark in people’s pantries with Fly By Jing’s collection of spices, sauces, and chili crisp. This Full Line Tasting Pack includes Sichuan Chili Crisp, Mala Spice Mix, Zhong Sauce, Tribute Pepper, and Erjingtiao Chili for a well-rounded selection that’ll spice up countless meals.
8. A premium baking staple, $14.49
Made from vine-ripened Tongan Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans, this Heilala Vanilla Paste is the concentrated dose of vanilla every baker dreams of. With one teaspoon of the paste providing the flavor and seed equivalent of one whole bean, the 2.29-ounce tub will last through several batches of cookies, bars, cakes, and pies, too.
9. A Monthly Cheese Pairing, $63
This curated cheese subscription box is ideal for the person in your life who is known for their cocktail hour charcuterie boards. Put together by cheesemongers at the famous Murray’s Cheese in New York City, your lucky giftee will receive a rotating collection of three to four hand-selected cheeses every month.
10. A taste of luxury, $185–$875
Searching for ideas for a fine-dining fan, or perhaps someone who participated in the “caviar bump” trend this year? We’ve got you covered. The Roe White Sturgeon Caviar Gift Set comes in four different sizes—the smallest including a 50-gram tin of caviar and the largest including a 250 gram tin of caviar—and is a gift that’s nothing short of impressive.
11. A famous cake, $74.95
The ultimate edible gift to give? A cake, of course. This famous carrot cake from Lloyd’s Bakery in the Bronx has been bringing a steady line to its doors since opening in 1985. The recipe was handed down by Lloyd’s mother and, while the formula may be a secret, it’s no secret that the cake is beloved by locals and visitors alike. You can order it plain or with nuts and raisins and ship anywhere in the United States.
12. A seasonal stand-by for sweet tooths, $49.95 - $599.40
If you’re looking to treat someone with a soft spot for candy, but fear sending a cake might be a little too much, opt for the Williams Sonoma seasonal favorite: Peppermint Bark. This three-tin sampler will give them the opportunity to enjoy the Original, Salted, and Dark Chocolate peppermint bark that fills the carts of chocolate enthusiasts every holiday season.