Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Whenever Serious Eats staffers move, the room that gets immediate attention is (surprise!) the kitchen. How else are you gonna find the wine glasses for a celebratory toast? Or locate plates for takeout because who can handle cooking immediately after moving, anyway?

You also won’t be shocked to know then that we think the best housewarming gifts are kitchen-related. Below, we gathered a list of housewarming ideas that would delight anyone who loves being in the proverbial heart of the home: casual cooks, beginner bakers, and long-time gourmands. You’ll find a range of price points, too: from cheap (for the not-super-close friend who invited you to a housewarming party) to splurge-worthy (a family member, perhaps? Or maybe yourself?).

Eco-Friendly Dishcloths (that Virtually Replace Paper Towels)

This gift has it all. It’s practical (it can do everything a normal dishcloth can). It’s unique (too many people still haven’t been evangelized by the Swedish dishcloth craze). It’s environmentally friendly (just one dishcloth can replace hundreds of paper towel rolls). And it’s the cheapest option on this list. So if you’re looking for a frugal gift, or you just don’t know the host *that well*, it’s very low-risk. 

We tested eight sets, and the Swedish Wholesale Swedish Dishcloths were our favorites thanks to their absorbency, affordability, and quick air-drying time. But if you want colorful, patterned cloths that are more apropos of a gift, we also loved the models from Wettex and Now Designs.

Serious Eats / Eric King

The Spatula that Can Get Under Anything

Almost everything a normal spatula can do, a fish spatula can do better. They’re lighter, more flexible, and thin enough to slide under delicate slabs of tofu or gooey, freshly-baked cookies with gentle ease. And even if someone has one, they could use another. The Winco is one of our favorite fish spatulas, and it’s only $8.

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

An Oven Thermometer 

New home, new oven. And it’s going to take them months to figure out whether it’s running 25 degrees hot or 50 degrees cold. But not when you walk in with this gift! Especially when it comes to baking, even a 10- to 15-degree discrepancy can alter cookies, cakes, and bread dramatically. Most models are very affordable and work the same, but we recommend this one from Taylor.

Salt Cellar 

Having salt easily accessible on the counter will speed up anyone’s cooking. Whether you’re seasoning meat in the pan on the fly or precisely doling out three-fourths of a teaspoon for a baking recipe, a salt cellar will keep all of the salt you need within arm’s reach. They also keep excess moisture and debris out of your precious salt. This model from Zero Japan is a favorite amongst Serious Eats staffers (and you can also others we recommend here.)

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Stemless Wine Glasses 

Let’s say these recently moved friends have wine glasses. Okay! But do they have stemless wine glasses that are perfect for outdoor or more casual drinking occasions (or those with clumsy guests and mischievous pets)? Our favorite stemless glasses, the Schott Zwiesel tumblers, are sturdy, elegant and won’t totally break the bank at $10 a glass. But we also love the Rocco Bodega Mini tumblers because they’re super casual and could easily double as very chic dessert glasses.

Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

A Santoku Knife

Most kitchens have a regular chef’s knife, but an excellent complementary knife is its cousin the Santoku. While similar to the chef’s knife, these have shorter blades (around six or seven inches), are flatter, and are more nimble. It’s the type of knife Serious Eats culinary consultant J. Kenji López-Alt says he uses most, calling it a “workhorse” in his kitchen. 

In our review of 16 Santoku knives, the MAC Knife MSK-65 Professional Hollow Edge Santoku Knife won out, but for a more budget friendly version, you can confidently go with the Mercer Culinary Genesis Forged Santoku Knife.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Smaller Sheet Pans for Smaller Tasks

Most people have half-sheet pans, but we’re willing to bet many lack the smaller, less common size that pro chefs (and us!) love. Here are some tasks that are perfect for quarter-sheet pans: toasting nuts and seeds, heating up cold pizza slices, broiling a cheesy sandwich, baking just two chocolate chip cookies, rapidly cooling cooked grains for a salad. The point is, they’re smaller, faster, and less cumbersome to wash, and can easily fit in a toaster oven.

Nordic Ware makes Serious Eats’ favorite sheet pans. The lightweight aluminized steel makes them sturdy and their light color prevents overheating (thus, overcooking). The rolled rim is comfortable to hold and easy to grab, even with bulky oven mitts, and the pans are very resistant to warping.

A Digital Scale

They’re ubiquitous almost everywhere else, but the United States is just catching onto cooking (and especially baking) with a digital scale. You will save your hosts so much strife when tackling a finicky recipe—and time washing measuring cups!—with a tool that helps you measure ingredients accurately by weight, not volume. Our favorite scale comes from OXO. It’s slim, sturdy, and has a pull-out display so you can see the weight under even the widest of mixing bowls.

Serious Eats / Emily Dryden

A Home for All Their Ingredients

We love OXO’s pop top pantry storage containers. They come in a variety of sizes: ideal for flour, sugar, brown sugar, and baking soda and powder. However, anyone who has even one would gladly accept 10 more. Pasta, salt, dried beans, rice, cornmeal, cornstarch, they all need places to live, too, right?

A Dutch Oven to Last a Lifetime

A Le Creuset Dutch oven is one of the best housewarming gifts…ever. Of course this is contingent upon making sure that 1) they don’t have the same-sized Dutch oven and 2) it’s painted a color that’s either totally inoffensive or you know for certain they love. Because it should last practically forever!

In Serious Eats’ test of Dutch ovens, Le Creuset came out on top with Staub coming in a close second. We recommend the 5.5-quart model, which is a versatile size (though the 7 1/4-quart is nice, too!).

Serious Eats / Will Dickey

*The* Workhorse Appliance for Baking 

Do you want to be a hero? Get someone a stand mixer. For mixing lots of cake batter, kneading enriched bread doughs, or beating meringue with butter (sometimes for upwards of 10 minutes) to make Swiss meringue buttercream, no tool works as well. We tested 10 stand mixers and found that the most common brand, KitchenAid, was also the best. For casual bakers, we recommend the Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer.

And if you’re not sure that they need a big hulking stand mixer, maybe you can ease them into things with a smaller, less expensive hand mixer.

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Nice Chocolate or Nice Vanilla 

Even someone whose baking repertoire starts and ends with chocolate chip cookies is going to appreciate nice vanilla—and taste the difference! In the past, we have recommended Heilala, which makes a “double-fold” (aka twice as powerful) extract and a concentrated vanilla bean paste

And a foolproof gift, no matter what: chocolate. Get them a fancier chocolate that pros use for baking, such as Valrhona or Callebaut. Even if they don’t whisk it into a chocolate ganache tart, they’ll definitely serve it on a charcuterie board—or eat it on the couch while watching Love Island.

Serious Eats / Emily Dryden


What’s a nice housewarming gift?

A thoughtful housewarming gift doesn’t need to be expensive or hard to find. Your recipient will appreciate a gift chosen with a few considerations:

Where are they in life? Are they recently-married or first-time homeowners who are trying to outfit a larger kitchen? Or did they recently retire and downsize (aka they probably don’t need more picture frames or flatware)? Is this gift super practical; one that you know they’ll use? Or is it unique and aesthetic, so you know they don’t already have one, and they might not splurge on it for themself?Avoid gifts that have to be taken care of, like a plant or (AH!) an animal. 

Is wine a good housewarming gift?

This depends on the recipient. If you’re attending a housewarming party where you aren’t very close to the host, a *nice* bottle of wine is a safe gift. Unlike other gifts, you don’t have to worry about getting something that is a double of something they already have, will take up space, or that they just won’t use. Ensure this person isn’t sober or abstaining from drinking. 

On the other hand, If you do know the recipient well, and they’re not a wine connoisseur, maybe consider thinking outside the bottle. Most people will get plenty of wine as housewarming gifts, and an offering that takes their interests, personality, and season of life into account could be more thoughtful.

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