If your holidays look anything like ours, there are no new video game systems, bottles of perfume or Apple Watches unwrapped on Christmas morning. Instead, if you’re lucky, Santa delivered new kitchen gadgets and accessories. Stockings are stuffed with meat thermometers and artisanal spices, and there are new Dutch ovens, iced coffee makers and blenders beneath the tree.
Despite the excitement, sometimes present paralysis can strike, and those new goodies end up sitting in the box for days or even months. Are you not sure where to start with your new air fryer, Instant Pot or slow cooker? Don't know what the heck to serve on that good lookin' rustic charcuterie board? Here is a list of 15 of the top kitchen gadget gifts for the holiday season from old school to modern and the absolute best first things to make using them. Happy cooking!
If there’s one thing an air fryer does well, it’s cook bone-in, skin-on chicken. You’ll never want to deal with the mess of deep-frying again after you taste the crispy skin of air fryer wings. And, since all you have to do is season the chicken and stick it in the air fryer, it’s an ideal starter recipe. Eat them as is or toss them in your favorite wing sauce.
While it’s well-known that air fryers shine when it comes to reheating leftovers and crisping up frozen foods, they also make roasted veggies quickly and wonderfully. Brussels sprouts (which are most delicious when a little bit burnt) are an especially wonderful air fryer vegetable and get done much quicker than they do in the oven. Want to make them devilishly delicious? Pair with some air fryer bacon.
Though few people need a dedicated iced coffee maker, it sure is nice to have perfectly chilled coffee in minutes. Plus, once you have one, there’s no need to wait for Starbucks’ annual release of its iced pumpkin spice latte. Just pair your icy brew with this homemade pumpkin spice syrup and the milk of your choice.
Need a midday pick-me-up? Use your iced coffee maker’s ability to make cold coffee in a flash as the base for a sweet coffee milkshake. This recipe also adds bananas for a luxurious creaminess.
Slow cookers work best when you use recipes that give everyday spices and sauces plenty of time to meld together. Few recipes showcase this better than this one for a classic Cincinnati-style chili, which uses cinnamon, allspice, chili powder and cloves for a fragrant meal.
Hearty stews and soups are some of the best things you can make in a slow cooker, period. A rich beef stew made with stock and a pint of Guinness beer is the kind of comfort food you crave in the middle of winter.
The classic thing to make in any new stand mixer is a cake — any cake. Once you do that, you’ll never go back to boxed cake mix desserts again. This pound cake uses orange juice and bitters, giving it a great holiday flavor.
Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are a key tool for home cooks because you can do practically any kitchen task in them: slow cook, deep fry, braise, roast and brown. They can also go from stovetop to oven and are pretty enough for serving, making them great for one-pot meals. Let your Dutch oven shine by making stews and soups in them like this oxtail stew, which uses the Dutch oven for browning and slow cooking.
In addition to being great for stews and browning meat, Dutch ovens also serve as great bread pans. They lend themselves to crusty exteriors and pillowy interiors. Get in on the trend du jour by making this no-knead sourdough in your new Dutch oven.
The great part about having an espresso maker in your kitchen is that now you can make all sorts of coffee drinks at home from lattes to cappuccinos. Start things off by getting creative and making a refreshing coffee granita with your freshly brewed espresso.
The key to making an amazing charcuterie board is to have a variety of meats, cheeses and spreads. The cheese ball, a retro appetizer that needs to make a comeback, is way better than a block of cheddar or a hunk of brie as the star of your board.
A sweet and spicy apricot jalapeno jelly is one of the best edible gifts to give (and eat) during the holiday season. If you got a charcuterie board, whip up a batch of this jelly for yourself and share with a friend. It pairs perfectly with creamy cheeses and lightly salted crackers.
Ask anyone who already owns one, and they’ll tell you the best stocks in the world come via Instant Pot. This chicken stock recipe may seem basic, but the result is so flavorful, your everyday soups and stews will be taken from zero to 100.
Instant Pots are amazing for soups and stews, but they make good breakfasts and desserts too. Consider making some breads in your Instant Pot, such as this Instant Pot monkey bread, which is fluffy and perfect for sharing.
There are a lot of things you didn’t know you can make in a cast iron skillet, but to start off, go with a classic: steak. Basted in butter, garlic and rosemary, this steak gets a perfect sear thanks to your sturdy cast iron.
Whether or not you have a stand mixer to make your own pizza dough from scratch, making pizza in a cast iron skillet is a total game-changer. The crust gets perfectly golden and crispy, and the whole thing is ready in no time.
Kick off your New Year’s resolutions early and start “eating the rainbow” with this fruit- and veggie-packed smoothie, whipped together in your brand new blender. The best part? It isn’t just healthy — it’s tasty too.
Missing Disney World? Or just love pineapple? Break out that blender to make Dole Whip, a dairy-free fruit soft serve, at home. All you need is four ingredients for a treat that will please the kiddos and kids at heart.
Yes, you can make a basic waffle in your new waffle maker, and it will be fluffy, buttery and delicious. But it’s the holiday season. Make your post-presents brunch extra-special by making chocolate waffles using a batter made of boxed cake mix.
Making your own pesto at home results in the freshest, most herbaceous sauce you could possibly imagine. And a food processor makes blending together garlic, basil, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan so incredibly easy.
Panini presses make any old sandwich taste like a cafe-made meal. If your family roasted a turkey for Christmas Day dinner, take time on the 26th of December to make a stellar panini using leftover turkey, a cranberry-mayo spread and all the trimmings.
The bread is such an underrated part of any great sandwich recipe. For this recipe, marinate chicken in soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and hot pepper flakes, grill it to perfection, and then assemble your sandwich. Toss the whole thing on your panini press, and your whole concept of lunch will be reimagined.
A great mayonnaise can take any sandwich from zero to hero, and you don’t even have to go to the store to buy some if you have an immersion blender. You just need an egg, olive oil, lemon juice and salt for the best fresh mayo you could ever imagine.
If you’re in charge of making a big holiday feast this year and you don’t have one yet, hopefully there’s a high-quality meat thermometer for you underneath the tree. Cooking by temperature instead of texture, time or color is a game-changer, and a Christmastime prime rib is the best example of that.
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