The Best Valentine’s Day Gifts for Cooks and Food Lovers

Overhead of spooning duck jus over sliced soy-maltose roast duck breast.

Like most celebrations in the past year, Valentine’s Day 2021 is going to look a bit different. That means you’ll likely be enjoying time with your special someone at home…like you’ve been doing for almost a year now. So how can you make it special?

Forget the giant teddy bear, the long-stemmed roses, and that sad supermarket box of mystery chocolates. This Valentine’s Day, get your loved one something they really want, like great food and beautiful cookware that will make time at home more bearable and perhaps even enjoyable.

Below you’ll find our gift recommendations that will hopefully do just that. We have ideas for everyone, whether you’re looking to splurge on your longtime honey or snap up something cheap and sweet.

(Of course, the best gift of all would probably be alone time, but these recs will make for a happy second.)

Attractive Organizational Tools

If you’ve been living in a tight space with your partner, the clutter is probably starting to feel like little piles of chaos all over your house. That’s why this Valentine’s Day, no gift is sexier than organization solutions. This colorful tupperware set by Mepal is perfect for storing leftovers and nests nicely for when they’re not in use. They’re also microwave- and dishwasher-safe, so you can spend less time at the sink and more time on the couch where you belong.

For something that will de-clutter your coffee corner and look nice out on the counter, try these stoneware canisters from Le Creuset. As always, they come in a number of colors and sizes. As always, they are beautiful.

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A Waffle Iron

[Photo: Vicky Wasik]

No giftee will ever turn their nose up at a nice waffle maker (and perhaps a heaping stack of waffles to go along with it). We tested a whole bunch of waffle irons, both Belgian-style and American, and our winners will not disappoint. Pick up either of our winning picks for perfectly crisp waffles with fluffy insides and plenty of divots for maple syrup and melted butter. Should you be needing a great recipe, we can help you there, too. I’m partial to these buttermilk vanilla ones, but we have plenty of options to choose from.

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Really, Really Nice Copper Cookware

Last year, Daniel did a deep dive into copper cookware: how copper pans are made, the pros and cons of owning one, and how to clean and care for it if you do. Here are some things we learned: Copper cookware is expensive; it requires a fair amount of maintenance; and it’s absolutely gorgeous. If you have the capital and are looking for a truly special gift for someone who’s devoted to having the very finest cookware (and who will delight in the maintenance process), a copper saucepan is the ultimate choice.

Daniel’s recommendations for quality copper cookware brands—ones so reliable, they may even outlive your relationship (sorry)—include Mauviel, de Buyer, and Duparquet. They’re so pretty that gift wrap should be optional.

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An Affordable Pasta Pot

[Photo: Vicky Wasik]

That being said, you shouldn’t have to shell out big for a useful piece of cookware. Take Daniel’s favorite pasta pan, for example. It’s under $40 and the perfect vessel for achieving superbly sauced pasta (you know, glossy from all that starchy pasta water) right at home.

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Gift Boxes Made By Us

[Photo: Vicky Wasik]

Being at home for all of these months may have introduced a bit of cooking monotony into your life, but that can often be remedied with a fun, new ingredient to try. If you want to spice up your giftee’s pantry, try out these two gift boxes customized especially for our readers. How can you be bored if you’re whipping up spaghetti con la colatura with colatura straight from Italy, spooning pistachio paste straight from the jar, sprinkling golden sesame oil over some rice, or togarashi onto popcorn?

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Meat

[Photo: Vicky Wasik]

Another way to beef up your cooking repertoire? (Heh!) More meat. Start with some ‘nduja, our favorite spreadable salami. Spoon it into mac and cheese, spludge some onto your cheese plate, whizz it into your mayo. (Can you think of anything more romantic?)

Actually, yes. I can. The only thing more romantic is our duck project. For less of an extended time commitment, pick up a whole duck and either roast it whole or pan-sear the breasts and confit the legs. It’s a labor of love for your love…that you will also love.

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A New Salt Box

A good gift shouldn’t have to be expensive. Take this salt box, for example. It’s pink (so it fits our theme), it’s functional, and it’s an under-$50 gift that your special someone will reach for every day. Of course, if you’re not into pink, there are plenty of other colors available.

Need more convincing? Daniel made the case for why every house needs a salt crock, and this lidded version in particular will serve you well. It’ll keep unwanted moisture or dust from making its way into your salt. And since you might care, it’ll look really nice sitting by your stove.

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For the Kids: Kenji’s New Book

[Illustration: Gianna Ruggiero]

While I don’t myself have children, I am reminded that kids like to receive Valentine’s Day gifts, too. If you want to skip the chocolates (do they really need so much sugar every day?), pick up Kenji’s new book, Every Night Is Pizza Night. I read pretty often for my four-year-old niece and this book is a welcome reprieve from Disney. Plus, the illustrations and story are fun enough for any adult to enjoy.

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For the Adults: Better Cocktails

Like they always say, the couple that drink together…drink together. So why not make your happy hours a bit more sophisticated with a set of new glassware? There’s a colorful set by MAMO perfect for at-home cocktail tastings and the occasional shot. We also love these shapely whiskey glasses by Schott Zwiesel. Sure they call for whiskey, but you can use them for any type of cocktail you want to mix up.

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Something Hot

[Photo: Vicky Wasik]

Should your giftee be a hot sauce lover, we have quite a few suggestions. There’s Shaquanda’s Hot Pepper Sauce, a Brooklyn-born brand founded by Andre Singer (Shaquanda Coco Mulatta). There’s also Mama Lam’s, a Malaysian hot sauce with a dried chile kick. Of course, you could also heat things up yourself by making a batch of chili crisp. Just prepare for the inevitable fight when there’s only a spoonful left.

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Something Sweet

Sweet gifts are always acceptable on Valentine’s Day, but make sure they’re the right ones. Skip the grocery store boxes and pick up chocolate that is actually good, like these deep, dark Pralus chocolates that Stella likes to gift. Or try something a little different like this grape jelly from Gustiamo. (I’ve used it as jelly on toast but also as a sweetener in tea.) It’s the little things that’ll make your partner’s day a bit better. With these, you really can’t go wrong.

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