Our 2022 Holiday Gift Guides are here! Find our top recommendations for cookbooks, gifts for home cooks, stocking stuffers, and more - ALL from small and independent businesses!
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Our 2022 gift guide is here, and WE. ARE. PUMPED. to share it with you (*happy dance*)
Before we start, a gentle reminder: It's easy to get caught in a consumerism spiral of "more more more" during the holidays. And yes, these guides involve a bit of shopping.
But mostly? These gift guides are about celebrating the people you love.
And the holidays FOR SURE DO NOT have to be about spending money, racking up debt, or buying a bunch of junk that we don't really need.
So while we love each one of these products, please don't feel like you need to run out and buy the latest new, shiny thing. Thrifting, DIY, and nonprofit donations (see a full list of nonprofits we love on our responsibility page!) are also wonderful ways to give to the people you love.
- What to know about this food-focused gift guide:
- Our favorite cookbooks of 2022
- Our favorite baking & dessert cookbooks
- Best cookbooks for someone who's just starting to build their collection
- Cookbooks for the serious home cook
- Gifts for the person who loves cooking
- Stocking stuffers and gifts under $20
- Gifts you can eat (and that make the world better)
What to know about this food-focused gift guide:
We only include products we deem exceptionally useful.
To make it onto our gift guide, a product must be exceptionally useful, bring joy, and make the world better. We are VERY picky about which products make the cut here: for every product that made the list, there are 20 more that didn't.
Brands and authors can't pay to be on this list.
These are all things we personally use, LOVE, and (in most cases) paid our own hard-earned money for. (We're sometimes sent cookbook review copies from the author or a publisher - any books we received for free are marked with an * asterisk!)
There are NO Amazon links on this list.
Every link you'll find here leads to a small or independent business. And yes - that means you might have to pay shipping. But this year more than ever, small businesses need all the support we can give them - so if you're able, please buy directly from these creators and artisans!
Also: Please be patient with these small businesses. Independent companies (us included!) don't have the resources for things like lighting-fast shipping or 24/7 support. Allow extra time for shipping, and be kind if you have to email someone about your order (we're all just doing the best we can, right?). Every time you buy from a small business, a real-life person does a happy dance!
All of the books on this list can be purchased through Bookshop.
Bookshop is an online bookstore (and B corporation!) with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores.
A portion of every Bookshop purchase goes to an independent bookstore of your choice, or - if you prefer not to select a specific store - your order contributes to an earnings pool that is evenly distributed among bookstores. To date, Bookshop has raised more than $23.7 MILLION for local, independent bookstores.
Alright. LET'S GET GIFTING!
(If you have any questions about how products work, how they hold up, etc. - drop us a comment! We're here to help!)
Our favorite cookbooks of 2022
1. The Cook You Want To Be by Andy Baraghani // This is one of my favorite new cookbooks of the year. The recipes are fresh, innovative, packed with flavor, and easy to follow. It's a great balance of elevated, chef-driven recipes and accessible day-to-day ideas. *
2. Comfort Baking by Stephanie Wise // The debut cookbook from the founder of Girl Versus Dough is everything I hoped it would be (and more!) It has a TON of recipes - it's thicker than almost every other baking book I own. Full of desserts and plenty of savory baking recipes that have you covered for any occasion, with detailed recipes and notes to help you along. *
3. Arabiyya by Reem Assil // A beautiful tribute to Arab cuisine from an award-winning chef, this book covers both classic recipes and modern twists. It's very approachable, but still packed with info: Check out the spice charts in the first section or whip up some of the staple sauces and seasonings to use in your day-to-day cooking! *
4. The Woks of Life by Sarah, Bill, Kaitlin, and Judy Leung // I love this book from the team behind the popular Woks of Life blog. It does a great job of breaking down the technique and "why" behind significant techniques in Chinese cooking, and has a great balance of simple and more elaborate recipes. There are also scannable QR codes throughout the book that take you to additional resources online if you need them! *
5. Savory Baking by Erin Jeanne McDowell // Erin McDowell is a fabulous baker who specializes in making home baking easy and accessible. Her newest book is all about savory foods, and it's a perfect addition to any baker's kitchen. The recipes are well-tested, easy to follow, and sure to be a hit!
6. The Mediterranean Dish by Suzy Karadsheh // This cookbook is essential for anyone who is looking for easy, weeknight, veggie-driven meals. The recipes are simple and unfussy, but still pack a ton of flavor and feel very elegant. This is a great introduction to Mediterranean cuisine: there are plenty of traditional, authentic recipes (although there are also plenty of shortcuts for more involved dishes!), as well as familiar-feeling recipes that incorporate a Mediterranean twist (perfect for picky eaters). *
Our favorite baking & dessert cookbooks
1. New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford // This book goes beyond the typical, Amercian-ized sourdough boule to explore sourdough breads from around the world, with shapes, flavors, and techniques that will be new and exciting for new and veteran bakers alike.
2. Hot Bread Kitchen by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and Julia Turshen // This is one of my FAVORITE cookbooks, and easily in the top five I cook from most frequently. Delicious, well-written recipes and stories from the ladies of the incredible Hot Bread Kitchen - a social enterprise that helps immigrant women succeed in the culinary industry.
3. The Book on Pie by Erin Jeanne McDowell // This pie compendium from pro baker Erin McDowell will teach you everything you ever needed to know to bake the perfect pie! From pastry dough to pie fillings to troubleshooting and best practices, this book has you covered. Bottom line: If you like pie, you need this cookbook.
4. The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum // Anytime someone wants to bake better cakes, I send them this book. It's not photo-heavy, but it's incredibly detailed with plenty of notes about the why of a recipe in addition to the recipes themselves. A must-have for any serious baker.
5. Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish // If you like baking or want to level up your bread/pizza dough game, this is required reading. Beautiful photos and in-depth technique training for the home baker. Geared towards beginners and intermediate bakers.
6. Weeknight Baking by Michelle Lopez // My favorite cookbook for quick and easy desserts during the week! This book is built for people with busy lives who often decide to bake on a whim: there are easy-to-use baking timelines, time-saving shortcuts, and brand-new recipe ideas in addition to classic recipes that have been tested and tweaked to make them work for your schedule.
Best cookbooks for someone who's just starting to build their collection
1. Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat // I don't think it's overdramatic to call this book a triumph. Painstakingly detailed (but easy to read and understand!) with beautiful illustrations and plenty of recipes that focus on the WHY and HOW of cooking. (PS - Read this book, and then watch the show on Netflix! The show, like the book, is incredible).
2. The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma // Nik dives into the science of what makes food taste good - and he does an incredible job of breaking down big ideas into easy, accessible recipes. A follow-up to his popular debut cookbook Season, this book leans on Nik's exceptional photography as well as his talent for making readers feel like they can cook just about anything.
3. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman // This book isn't photo-driven, but DANG is it handy. Easily the most-used cookbook in our house, with an easy-to-navigate index and detailed recipes - and it does, in fact, teach you how to cook just about everything.
4. Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore and Amanda Hesser of Food52 // After three years in a row on our gift guide, we're moving this cookbook to "must-have" territory. The recipes are, in fact, genius – and the beautiful photos make it a great coffee table book when you’re not cooking from it.
5. The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt // This isn't just a cookbook: it's THE cookbook. Kenji focuses on the science - and the why - of our favorite classic recipes. An incredibly thoughtful and detailed cookbook that will quickly become your go-to reference in the kitchen. It's also won basically every cookbook award there is - with good reason.
6. Small Victories by Julia Turshen // This is the cookbook equivalent of a warm, cozy hug. The recipes WORK, and the notes are especially helpful - cooking from this book feels like you have a BFF in the kitchen, cheering you on. Includes a great mix of classic and out-of-the-box recipes with ideas for reusing leftovers, recipe substitutions, and "how-to-cook" lists at the back (like "Seven things to do with a Can of Chickpeas!")
Cookbooks for the serious home cook
These are niche, focused, often single-subject cookbooks that go deep into a particular cuisine. They're perfect for that friend or family member who loves to cook, but already has a cookbook collection with the newest or most mainstream titles.
1. The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman and Beth Dooley // This 2018 James Beard Award-Winning book is a fascinating (and important!) exploration of Indigenous American food. The recipes focus on seasonal ingredients, local and forage-able components, and wild game. This is a perfect gift for the friend who reads cookbooks like novels, loves experimenting and trying new recipes, and is passionate about equity and sustainability in food.
2. Italian American by Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli with Jamie Feldmar // One of my favorite cookbooks of the last few years! This book makes classic Italian cooking feel special and brand-new - it has a great mix of staple recipes with some awesome out-of-the-box ideas. It also has plenty of step-by-step photos for the more complicated recipes. I bookmarked almost every page. *
3. The Indian Cooking Course by Monisha Bharadwaj // By far one of my favorite single-subject cookbooks, and a perfect, robust introduction to classic Indian recipes. There are how-to photos for more complicated techniques, as well as a fascinating overview of the nuances of Indian cuisine - you'll learn which regions favor which flavors and spices, the history of classic (well, classic-to-Americans) recipes, and more.
4. In Bibi's Kitchen by Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen // This gorgeous book from Somali chef Hawa Hassan and veteran cookbook author Julia Turshen features stories and recipes from the eight African countries that touch the Indian Ocean. Stunning photography, recipes that WORK, and exceptionally well-organized so it's very easy to cook from. The recipes are rich, flavorful, and unfussy - even picky eaters or cooks who are new to African cuisine will find something to love. *
5. Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen by Gonzalo Guzman with Stacy Adimando // This book is a wonderful foray into regional Mexican cooking: It does a great job of breaking down traditional dishes and flavors and offers plenty of step-by-step photos. This is less of a "grab it and cook on a busy weeknight" book; it's perfect for someone who loves spending a lazy Saturday in the kitchen making tortillas and sauces from scratch. Also, it's jaw-droppingly beautiful - the photos alone are reason enough to buy this book (but we're recommending it for the stellar recipes, too!)
6. Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley // This book focuses on traditional Palestinian cuisine, and it's easily one of my favorite cookbooks. Beautiful enough to be a coffee table book (the photography is STUNNING) but unfussy enough that I'm not afraid to take notes in it, cover it in post-its, and use it while I'm in the kitchen. I'm someone who reads cookbooks like novels, so I really loved the stories and profiles woven throughout. But if you're more of a "get straight to the recipes" person, you can do that, too - the book is well-organized so you can kind of choose your own adventure as you work through it. Almost every recipe has a photo so you can see what it's all supposed to look like. *
Gifts for the person who loves cooking
Quick Guide: (1) Hedley & Bennett Crossback Apron in Bordeaux (2) Jacobsen Salt Sampler (3) Everyday Artisan Bread (4) Omsom Sauce Sampler (5) Finex Cast Iron Skillet (6) Challenger Bread Pan (7) East Fork Pottery Everyday Bowl (8) EXAU Olive Oil (9) Diaspora Co Spices (10) Wild for Salmon Sustainable Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon
1. Hedley & Bennett All Day Crossback Apron // Hedley & Bennett makes THE. BEST. APRONS. Full stop. No contest. My first H&B apron is 5-6 years old now, and it still looks almost new (even after daily wear plus hundreds of photo shoots, recipe tests, spills, and washes). This All-Day Crossback Apron is SO comfortable - of the several H&B aprons I have now, it's easily my favorite. Made in LA.
2. Jacobsen Sea Salt Gift Set // One of my FAVORITE artisan products, this sea salt is harvested in the Pacific Northwest and has the most beautiful texture and clean, pure flavor. Use it as finishing salt (texturally, I find it's somewhere between classic kosher salt and large-flaked Maldon salt). This gift set is a great introduction to their products: buy it with or without the wooden display base (when the salt is gone, it makes for beautiful countertop spice storage!) or, if flavored salts aren't your thing, buy a bag of their pure flake finishing salt.
3. Everyday Artisan Bread Online Course // Alright, SHAMELESS PLUG: We think our bread-baking online course, Everyday Artisan Bread, is pretty great. The perfect gift for a friend or family member who is ready to level up their homemade bread game! Includes exclusive recipes, video tutorials, and regular updates for excellent artisan bread at home. We also have printable gift cards available if you'd like something to wrap!
4. Omsom Sauce Sampler // These chef-crafted sauce starters are the perfect dinner shortcut on busy weeknights. Just pour a sauce packet into a quick stir fry, brush it over some fish or meat, or add it to a salad or noodle dish for an instantly more delicious dinner. Grab the Omsom Bundle (pictured above) for a taste of every sauce they make, or choose a smaller collection of their East Asian or Southeast Asian sauce lines. The samplers come in stunning, bright packaging that's perfect for gifting.
5. Finex Cast Iron Skillet // Finex makes some of my favorite cast iron skillets. Handcrafted at their Portland factory, this cookware is stunning and useful - and properly cared for, it will last forever. The handle is also designed to stay cool while the pan is on the stove, which is an amazing feature for a cast iron pan.
6. Challenger Bread Pan // If you're a serious home baker who is already baking frequent artisan, crusty, or sourdough loaves, you'll love this pan. It gets unbelievable oven spring and the thinnest, crispiest crust I've ever had outside a bakery with a professional steam oven. The shallow base means you can tip bread dough onto the hot surface without needing parchment paper (hip hooray for low-waste baking!) and with less risk of burning yourself. This heavy-duty bread pan is an investment, and it's a bit of a single-purpose item. It's also a GAMECHANGER.
7. East Fork Pottery Everyday Bowl // I'm in love with this company. Their hand-thrown pottery is made in North Carolina, and this Everyday Bowl is one of my favorite pieces. Everything is dishwasher and microwave safe and made for daily use; I've had some of my pieces for years and they still look brand new. The pieces are an investment, so we're building our collection a little at a time. East Fork is also a fabulous example of a company that uses its influence to pay people well, prioritize social justice, and leave the world better than they found it.
8. EXAU Olive Oil // I’ve been living my very best olive oil life lately thanks to the husband and wife team behind EXAU. Like wine, the olive oils are pressed in vintages (according to the year the olives were harvested) from their Italian olive groves for incredible flavor and terroir. I grab these olive oils for drizzling, salad dressings, sauces, pesto, and anything that needs a bit of depth and flavor. I'm a member of their olive oil subscription club (like I said: living my BEST. LIFE.) and their Lina and Turi varieties are my go-to housewarming and holiday gifts. EXAU was also kind enough to share a discount code for Life As A Strawberry readers: Enter the code 10FORLIFEASASTRAWBERRY22 at checkout to save 10% on your purchase.
9. Diaspora Co. Spices // Diaspora Co. is on a mission to decolonize the spice trade by sourcing the best, most flavorful spices on the market while building an equitable supply chain that pays their farmers fairly. The quality of their spices is incredible: The first time I smelled their ground ginger, I literally fell out of my chair. I know it sounds dramatic, but I promise you: You haven't had dried spices until you've had these dried spices. Grab their signature Pragati Turmeric, stock up on their flavor-packed black peppercorns, or save a few dollars when you build your own trio of their best spices (perfect for gifting!)
10. Wild For Salmon wild, sustainable Alaskan salmon // WFS is a dock-to-doorstep delivery service for Wild Alaskan Sockeye (and other delicious seafood!) Owned and operated by a family of fishermen, you can order wild, sustainable Alaskan Salmon caught aboard the Ava Jane. I personally know and love this team of fishermen - we even served their wild sockeye at our wedding! Their delivery area is limited; if you're outside their delivery zone, check out Sitka Salmon Shares (Midwest) or Vital Choice (Nationwide) for wild, sustainable salmon delivered in your area!
Stocking stuffers and gifts under $20
Quick Guide: (1) Jacobsen Pure Flake Finishing Sea Salt (2) Shaquanda Will Feed You Hot Sauces (3) Diaspora Co. Single Origin Cinnamon (4) East Fork Bitty Bowls (5) Stasher Bag (6) Hedley & Bennett Socks (7) "You Tried" Pin (8) Wool Dryer Balls photo credit: Package Free Shop (9) Steve Smith Lord Bergamot Tea
1. Jacobsen Finishing Sea Salt // One of my FAVORITE artisan products, this sea salt is harvested in the Pacific Northwest and has the most beautiful texture and clean, pure flavor. Use it as finishing salt (texturally, I find it's somewhere between classic kosher salt and large-flaked Maldon salt).
2. Shaquanda Will Feed You Hot Sauces // Alright. These hot sauces are SO. GOOD. My current favorites are the classic hot pepper sauce (it's perfect with scrambled eggs or mixed with some mayo on a sandwich!) and this green sauce (I've been mixing some into my mac and cheese lately, and OMG), but honestly, they're all excellent.
3. Diaspora Co. Single Origin Cinnamon // I'm hard pressed to pick a favorite among Diaspora Co's incredible spice lineup, but if I had to, it would probably be this cinnamon. It has the most beautiful, rich aroma and an incredible depth of flavor. But also, picking just one spice from this company is ridiculous, so you should also check out their Pahadi Pink Garlic Powder, Pragati Turmeric, Makhir Ground Ginger, and Aranya Black Peppercorns.
4. East Fork Pottery Bitty Bowls // I am an unabashed East Fork Pottery fangirl, and these bitty bowls are a great way to start your pottery collection on a budget. They're sturdy, come in gorgeous colors, and are dishwasher safe: I use mine almost every day to hold snacks, prep recipe ingredients, or store my wedding rings while I'm cooking.
5. Stasher Bag // A dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe, sous-vide-safe alternative to plastic zip-top bags. Airtight, freezer-safe, easy to store. I buy them for EVERYBODY and they're a great way to reduce plastic use (we haven't bought plastic zip-top bags in 6+ years since we switched to Stasher!) Start with their bestselling sandwich bag (I also love their stand-up bags and half-gallon sizes!)
6. Hedley & Bennett "Wake Up and Fight" Socks // THESE. SOCKS. Colorful? Yes. Fun? Absolutely. Inspiring hidden messages on the soles? Check. But most importantly: These are the most comfortable socks I've ever worn. EVER. They hold up great (I've had several pairs for years) and have incredible support. I've given these socks as a gift to every member of my immediate family (and then some).
7. "You Tried" Pin // This pin from artist @adamjk is one of my very favorite things (especially the past few years, THANKS 2020). It's small - pin it onto a purse, a jacket, or stick it in a cork board in your office - but sometimes, you just need a pick-me-up reminder that you tried your best (and that's awesome). As Adam says: "Here is a gold star. You deserve it."
8. Natural Wool Dryer Balls // We switched to wool dryer balls a few years ago, and I am IN LOVE. These wool balls replace disposable dryer sheets for a waste-free laundry routine, but I've also been impressed by how much they reduce wrinkles and actually help our laundry dry faster so we use less energy, too. I'm buying these for EVERYONE this year. Photo credit: Package Free Shop.
9. Steven Smith Tea // This artisan teamaker is based in Portland, OR, and makes some of the most flavorful, complex teas on the market. I start almost every day with a cup of their Lord Bergamot tea, and I'm also a huge fan of their Meadow Chamomile Blend. Buy their teas in sachets or in loose-leaf form, and check out their variety packs for your gifting needs.
Gifts you can eat (and that make the world better)
JENI'S ICE CREAM. Order the BEST ice cream online from Jeni's Ice Cream! Ships in a freezer box. Jeni's uses no synthetic flavors or dyes, buys ingredients directly from a community of partner-producers, and is a Certified B Corporation. Their Darkest Chocolate flavor is the only ice cream I've ever fought my family for (don't worry, I won).
SEEMORE SAUSAGES. We've been loving these new part-plant sausages from fourth-generation butcher Cara Nicoletti! These colorful sausages are here to help you eat less meat by mixing sausage staples like humanely-raised pork and chicken with bright vegetables. Meat-eaters won't even notice these sausages are part veggie - they taste GREAT and are shipped frozen to your door. Order a variety pack to sample each flavor, or snag their "sausage" sweatshirt to lounge in style.
SUSTAINABLE WILD ALASKAN SALMON. Caught by Captain Steve & the Wild For Salmon aboard the Ava Jane each summer in Alaska, flash frozen within hours of being caught, and shipped to your doorstep (we even served it at our wedding!) If you're in the midwest, check out Sitka Salmon Shares as well.
HEY! I HEART YOU.
Thank you so much for reading Life As A Strawberry – whether it’s your first time here or you’ve been following from the beginning. Wishing you health, safety, and the happiest of holidays.
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