If you’re on the hunt for a gift you know will get used, make it one that’s edible. We’re massive proponents of the edible present because the reality is that many of us simply don’t need more stuff, nor do we have the room to store it. Consumable presents solve that problem entirely and, most importantly, everybody loves them!
Here are a few of our favorite gourmet gifts to give the foodie, chef or baker on your list.
- An Italian Cookie Gift Basket — When you think of Italian food gifts, your mind probably automatically goes to the panettone. The perfectly wrapped gift cake makes an awesome presentation, but it’s not the only way to give the gift of Italian sweets. Italian cookies are another mouthwatering, gift-worthy mainstay, especially when you include a variety. Go big with biscotti, amaretti, pizzelle, lady fingers and more Italian faves. You could even complete your biscotti gift with some Italian espresso beans to tie it all together.
Tip: Many Italian cookies are made with almond flour, including most amaretti and pignoli, so these are great gluten-free gifts for anyone on your list. Just make sure they’re labeled gluten-free and don’t contain wheat flour.
- A Nice Bottle of Olive Oil — If your giftee loves to cook, gourmet olive oil most definitely won’t sit on a shelf unused. But when the idea is to knock the socks off your recipient, don’t just grab any old bottle off the grocery store shelf. Make sure you’re sticking to the high-quality stuff — extra-virgin only, of course, and preferably one from Italy, Greece, France or Spain. Small-batch California olive oil has also become widely respected among serious chefs, so don’t discount American-grown. This is in part because California has some of the strictest labeling requirements so you know exactly what you’re getting.
- Some Fancy Balsamic Vinegar — In the same vein as olive oil, vinegar is a pantry staple that you know will get devoured. High-quality vinegars are perfect for drizzling onto dishes or using as a base for special dressings, sauces and glazes. The obvious choice when it comes to gourmet vinegar is a premium balsamic from Modena, Italy, but there are thousands of unique varieties and respectable regions that produce high-quality stuff worthy of your big gift-giving mission. Bonus: While special vinegars can get super expensive — one Modena balsamic retails for over $400 a bottle, for example — this is one edible gift that can fit every budget.
- An Assortment of Truffle–Infused Foods — Got a giftee who’s all about the gourmet goodness? There’s nothing better than the pungent, decadent flavor of truffles. Due to the rise in popularity of this flavorful fungal delicacy, manufacturers from around the world — especially in Italy and Spain, two of the world’s largest producers — have begun to create many unique truffle-infused foodstuffs. Give the gift of a truffle gift basket featuring pastas, sauces, snacks and spreads made with white and black truffles.
- A Bag of Gourmet Coffee Beans — Coffee-loving recipients will always enjoy a bag of premium beans, especially if you have an idea of their brewing style. The most important thing to know is whether they prefer drip coffee or espresso. If they’re home espresso pros, they’ll love a bag of Italian espresso beans (Lavazza, Illy and Kimbo are great choices). Fans of drip and pour-over coffee will love any whole or ground beans from premium makers. Just make sure they’re sourced ethically (preferably fair trade) from Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica or another reputable growing region. The great thing about this gift is that you can always bundle it with a cute coffee cup or to-go mug.
Tip: If you want to go for coffee as a gift, try to get an idea of your recipient’s bean roast preferences. Lovers of dark roast will enjoy French roast, the darkest of them all, as well as Vienna roast or Italian roast. Those who love light roasts, which have the most caffeine, will appreciate anything labeled light, half city or New England roast.
- Chocolate from Around the World — Take a tour around the world with some globally sourced chocolate! You can mix and match with regions you want to try or go for a pre-bundled chocolate gift basket. Just make sure to pick an array of treats to suit their palate. If they’re a fan of unique flavors and fun packaging, Korean and Japanese chocolates are always a big hit. The sheer variety of flavors of Kit Kat and Pocky will blow your mind! Who doesn’t want to try a cheesecake- or matcha-flavored Kit Kat? If they’re more of a gourmet taster, try rich, decadent chocolate from Switzerland, Belgium or Italy.
- An Array of Fiery Hot Sauces — Anyone who loves their food spicy will appreciate an assortment of the hottest hot sauces you can find, all topped with a bow of course. While many brands sell their own sampler packs, you can put together your own spicy gift basket by bundling sauces that rank the highest on the Scoville scale. Coming in at nine million Scoville hotness units, the world’s hottest is Mad Dog 357 No. 9 Plutonium, but it’s absolutely not for the faint of heart. If you want your recipient to enjoy the sauce, go for a variety that’s much more approachable. You could also bundle them with some spicy chocolate or chips for a fun twist.
- A Bonne Maman Preserves Tasting Set — Bonne Maman is a popular producer of French preserves, jellies and fruit spreads. You probably know it for its iconic jar featuring a red and white checkered lid. Hailing from a small village in Southwest France, this maker has amassed quite the global following. Its fans love the massive variety of flavors, including classics like black cherry, apricot and rhubarb. Many flavors of Bonne Maman come in adorable mini jar sizes, so you can put together a preserve tasting kit that pleases all palates. Pair it with some brioche or bakery-fresh croissants.
The great thing about giving food gifts is that they can be perfectly tailored to your loved one’s tastes and preferences. The key is to avoid the obvious — no old-fashioned fruit baskets, please — and to think outside the grocery store aisle. Find food gifts that are not easily found in your area and you’re sure to win big gift-giving points.