Finding a holiday gift for the serious foodie who uses only the snazziest cookware and knows where to find the most authentic late-night ramen can be intimidating. But a frugal shopper can delight an epicure for $25 or less. A dash of budget-savvy imagination can lead holiday shoppers to gourmet ingredients and practical kitchen gear.
Price: Starting at $10 | Buy it at Chef Salt
This useful holiday gift of small-batch artisan salts adds a brilliant pop of flavor to gourmet and everyday dishes. There's a $25 option of a decorative gift box of any two jars plus recipe cards. Volcanic and sea salts are blended with herbs and spices to create varieties such as Bamboo Curry and Holy Mole.
Price: $13.50 | Buy it on Amazon
What's salt without pepper? Tellicherry black peppercorns deliver a deep, complex flavor with a bite. A pound should last about a year. Alternatively, divide the haul into four stocking stuffers -- a little jar of peppercorns bedecked with a ribbon promises to spice up any meal.
Price: $13 | Buy it on Amazon
Unleash the barbecue beast within and give the gift of Cave Tools Meat Claws. Strong enough to shred slow-cooked, grilled, or smoked meat, the claws also can be used to pick up food and carve large pieces of meat without slippage. More than 1,000 reviewers award the claws an exceptional 4.7 stars.
Price: $5 to $26 | Buy it at Olio&Olive
Bacon now enhances foods from cupcakes to beer. Cooks often use pancetta, pork belly, or the standard smoked variety, but guanciale -- cured meat from the jowl of a pig -- makes a singular Christmas gift for a pork-loving foodie. Popular in central Italy but little known on this side of the pond, guanciale is leaner and boasts a more pronounced flavor than bacon.
Price: Starting at $20 | Buy it at Best Buy
Save loved ones from wrestling with stubborn wine corks. The Oster electric wine opener has won over thousands of consumers who have posted reviews on retail sites. The opener is cordless and comes with a charging base. One charge opens up to 30 bottles.
Price: $11 | Buy it at Kohl's
This two-in-one tool is a space saver and multitasker for cooks. The handheld device grates everything from cheese to citrus zest and also slices small fruits and veggies (similar to a mandoline but on a smaller scale). The flat design makes it easy to store or take along for gourmet picnics that call for freshly grated cheese.
Price: $24 | Buy it on Zazzle
Although most people keep their recipes in digital form, there's still something special about a handheld recipe book, such as a personalized binder with a rustic design. It can inspire culinary-minded loved ones to start a tangible collection to be passed on for generations.
Price: $20 | Buy it at Target
This gift is a surefire way to inspire a foodie to dream up an endless variety of thirst-quenching creations. In addition to inspiring creativity, a fruit infusion pitcher will encourage the recipient to drink plenty of water and save money (and the environment) by cutting down on plastic water bottles.
Price: $25 | Buy it at Stash
An inexpensive indulgence during the cold of winter, this tea gift set has a complete lineup of seasonal favorites such as pumpkin spice and holiday chai to last through the holidays. A tea lover will appreciate the variety of flavors and superior quality of the brand.
Price: $9 | Buy it at BevMo
Mostly known as a cocktail flavor enhancer in the United States, aromatic bitters are actually considered a food flavoring in most of the world. Recommended uses on the classic Angostura label include adding a few dashes to soups and sauces or morning coffee. A secret blend of botanicals gives it a unique flavor and it makes a low-cost option for foodies.
Price:$8 | Buy it at Bed Bath & Beyond
Some of the best kitchen tools come in small and inexpensive packages, including this multi tool that removes stems from leafy greens and herbs in one swipe. This cheap plastic tool will save time and frustration for those who love cooking with greens.
Price:$17 | Buy it at Sur La Table
Mandolins are usually one of the last kitchen tools to be acquired, but one of the easiest way to upgrade so many dishes. Mini versions take up less space and can be used for most of the classic items to be sliced thinly, including cucumber, chili peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
Price:$13 | Buy it at Amazon
Sprouts are one of the most nutritious foods, and elevate dishes such as salads and sandwiches instantly. Unfortunately, sprouts are often expensive and prone to spoiling easily when packed and sold in stores. This sprouter allows you to grow your own for just a few pennies per batch to enjoy at the peak of freshness.
Price:$25 | Buy it at Sur La Table
Every kitchen lover should have a spiralizer that turns vegetables into noodles of different shapes and sizes. While the larger versions cost closer to $35, handheld versions such as this OXO offer a high-quality handheld introduction to the world of spiralizing.
Price: Various | Buy them on Amazon
There’s something to having an actual book, complete with beautiful images and high-quality recipes, that is special, even in this age of Internet recipes galore. Go for something trendy, such as pressure cooking recipes, or alternative diet recipes, that will inspire new meals.
Price:$20 | Buy it on Etsy
Often handmade, these ceramic bowls are a beautiful piece to display on a countertop, and incredibly useful. They can be used to grate things such as garlic, ginger, and turmeric, making its use in recipes quick and easy. They are often sold at farmers markets as well as online.
Price:$10 | Buy it on Amazon
One of the oldest and most widely used culinary tools, this ancient form of grinding and combining ingredients taps into a primal sense. Most cooks love getting involved with their ingredients, and some even have multiple mortars and pestles for different applications. A basic one in dignified gray marble is a good place to start.
Price:$8 | Buy it at Bed Bath & Beyond
Good cooks know butter does not belong in the fridge, but on the counter. Encourage those just starting out their culinary journeys, or even longtime home cooks, with a modern butter dish. This chic example is contemporary and classic to fit any decor.
Price:$8 | Buy them on Amazon
Cheese lovers know that wrapping cheese for optimal freshness can be a challenge with the average store-bought options such as plastic and wax paper. Specialty cheese bags are created for just this purpose and will add extra shelf life to cheese, to the delight of cheese-loving friends.
Price:$5 | Buy it at Central Restaurant
A pizza peel is a simple and inexpensive piece of wood, but makes all the difference when trying to recreate a pizzeria-style pie at home. They are so inexpensive you could even include ingredients to make a few pies with the gift to make it a complete package.
Price:$21 | Buy it on Etsy
Those who love to cook often love to entertain and present their food beautifully. Rather than a specialized serving dish, a simple yet beautiful bread board can be used for so many different presentations. Opt for something with a little character from a local artisan or unique site.