Some dads are terribly hard to buy gifts for, but it's always easier when they have a clear, overriding interest in some one thing—fishing, perhaps, or golf—that can guide your shopping. That's especially true when Dad is a foodie, because you get two shots at it: You can step up with actual food and drink for your Father's Day gift, or browse the (almost infinite) range of handy kitchen tools and gadgets that are available. To help you make up your mind, and pick something that "Foodie Dad" is sure to love, check out this list of 12 chef-curated gift ideas.
1. A Sous Vide Circulator
Unless Dad is a vegan, a sous vide circulator is one of the finest gifts you can offer any foodie (it's the best way to cook meats, bar none). The concept is simple: You decide which temperature you want your food to be when it's done (whether you like rare, medium-rare and so on) and cook it at that temperature until it's heated all the way through.
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Depending on which is more convenient for you, you can either sear your meat before it's cooked or afterwards, though if it's the latter, you should under-cook it slightly to allow for those few minutes on a screaming-hot grill or skillet. Better yet, by tweaking the cooking time, you can take a tough-as-leather piece of chuck and make it as tender as a striploin.
You can even use sous vide for "perfect every time" poached eggs, or moist and juicy chicken breasts. Anova's the market leader in sous vide cookery, and the Precision Cooker 3.0 is the newest version of their popular workhorse circulator (an earlier version was our top pick when we reviewed sous vide cookers).
2. A Kitchen Torch
There's nothing like an open flame to bring out even the most laid-back dad's macho side, and a torch like this one is a surprisingly versatile kitchen tool. He can use it to caramelize the sugar on a crème brûlée or brown the meringues on a dessert, or to toast marshmallows if a late night s'mores craving should strike.
When he's tossing a stir-fry in the wok, playing the torch over the food with his other hand will give it that elusive restaurant-kitchen flavor (wok hei). It's also a great way to sear a piece of meat that's been cooked sous vide without over-cooking it, and in a pinch, Dad can even use it to light a campfire or charcoal grill. This one from Iwatani isn't the prettiest or most stylish, but it's the one professional chefs choose more often than not.
3. A Really Good Knife
A chef's knife may be the single most-used tool in the typical kitchen, so—if Dad's making do with a mediocre knife—it's also one of the best Father's Day gifts. The two main styles are the traditional European chef knife (think Wusthof and Henckel) and thinner, sharper Japanese models (Shun, Global). This one from Mac Knives strikes a middle ground, melding the classic shape of a European blade with the technology and look of a Japanese blade.
It's a superbly balanced knife that holds an edge beautifully and will last a lifetime. If you really want to be Dad's favorite, consider one of the Kramer by Zwilling chef's knives. Bob Kramer's knives are legendary, but so is his waiting list, so he partnered with German giants Henckels for a line of "Kramer by Zwilling" knives. They're striking to look at and beautiful to use, and the price—while stiff—is well below that of his hand-made knives.
An alternative to buying Dad a high-end knife is buying him a high-end knife sharpener instead. By making it easy for him to keep his blades finely ground, you'll be giving him—essentially—an upgrade for every knife he owns. That's not bad!
If you're going that route, you can't go wrong with a Chef's Choice 315 XV. It's the consumer-market version of their higher-end Trizor XV, and it effortlessly brings knives to the 20-degree bevel that's typical of European knives, or the 15-degree bevel you'd see with Japanese-style knives. Knife maintenance is a whole other hobby in its own right, and it might be just what your father—or father figure—is looking for.
If you coordinate gift ideas with your siblings, it’s relatively straightforward to select gifts that complement each other (knife, cutting board and knife sharpener; mandoline slicer and cutproof gloves; grill apron, grill thermometer and grilling cookbook; and so on). It makes gift-giving easy for everyone, and nobody’s stuck being that one person who can’t think of anything but gift cards.
5. A Really Nice Charcuterie Board/Cutting Board
The flip side of having good knives to cut with is having a good surface to cut on. Plastic cutting boards are inexpensive and practical, but buying a good-quality wooden cutting board is an underrated Father's Day gift idea. If you own your own woodworking tools, you can DIY it; otherwise, something like this beautiful handmade olive wood board is a perfect gift. Wooden boards are the gentlest on knives' edges (so Dad won't need that knife sharpener as often), they're naturally anti-microbial, and as a bonus, they'll double as a beautiful serving platter for a charcuterie board or cheese tray (especially handy if you know your siblings are bringing food gifts).
6. A Heavy-Duty BBQ Apron
Is Dad a grill master (or at least thinks of himself as one)? If so, he'll thoroughly appreciate this comfortable, heavy-duty leather apron. It's designed primarily for the use of tradespeople, like welders, carpenters and blacksmiths, but its durability, burn-resistance and—above all—wealth of pockets make it ideal for grilling as well. There are places for tongs, thermometers, seasonings, lighters and anything else a backyard chef's heart could desire, and it'll stand up to splashes just as well as it does to heat. It'll last a lifetime with a minimum of care, and everything about it says the guy wearing it is really serious about grilling.
7. A Good Grill Thermometer
Getting doneness just right is always a challenge (unless you're cooking sous vide), and the best way to know when your steak or holiday bird reaches the correct temperature is with a quality meat thermometer. This one from ThermoPro is a fine example, offering two probes (so you can track two steaks at once, or the breast and leg meat of your turkey) and a wireless receiver so Dad can monitor them from up to 500 feet away.
If you want to go all out, the "big gun" for an aspiring pit master is ThermoWorks' Signals BBQ Thermometer. It'll support up to four probes at a time (and there are six kinds available for different purposes), and Dad can monitor the signal locally via Bluetooth or even from the internet via Wi-fi (great for those long, slow cooks that might require a mid-day beer run). It will even control a barbecue fan accessory, so he can control his cooking temperature instead of just monitoring it.
8. A Self-Contained Culinary Herb Garden
Serious cooks are always keen to have fresh herbs on hand, but not everyone has the room for a full-scale herb garden. Even for those who do, it's a lot more convenient to have those herbs close at hand in the kitchen, where they'll get used. A few sprigs in a glass on the windowsill will do the job temporarily, but a self-contained herb garden like this one from AeroGarden is a way better option.
Because it uses hydroponics, there's no soil to maintain, no daily waterings, no fungus gnats and no dirt spilling onto the kitchen counter. Better yet, because it includes a built-in grow light, Dad doesn't need to have a sunny spot for it to sit. It can go anywhere a small appliance might, and create a small oasis of light and greenery. What could be better?
9. An Outdoor Pizza Oven
If your dad spends most of the summer cooking on the patio, you may find that fleshing out his outdoor kitchen is the way to his heart. If you're going that route, Ooni's award-winning Koda pizza oven is a great gift. This particular one is the deluxe offering, which can handle up to a 16-inch pie. It's ready to use right out of the box, with no setup required other than connecting a propane tank.
There are smaller offerings in the company's lineup, and other models that can burn wood or charcoal instead of gas (if Dad's a purist), but they all have the same sleek, minimalist design and all give outstanding results. Throw in a gift basket of premium pizza ingredients (and maybe a beer making kit), and he'll be happily occupied for months.
10. A Gourmet Food Gift Box Subscription
You'll find lots of Father's Day gift sets that center around food, but once that cheese gift or snack box is gone, it's gone. The best Father's Day food gifts come in the form of recurring subscriptions, which give him something to look forward to for months to come. You'll find gourmet gift baskets available for everything from cheese to dried fruit to condiments and hot sauces, and there's a case to be made for any of them. In this case, we've selected a charcuterie subscription that will give Dad a steady stream of the world's finest sausages, dry-cured hams, pâtés and all of their corresponding accompaniments. This is definitely not your basic pizza-joint salami!
11. A Gourmet Beverage Subscription
Part of the pleasure of good food is the beverage you choose to accompany it, which is why we so often refer to food and drink in the same sentence. If you want to switch things up by focusing on the "drink" side of things, there are excellent subscription boxes available for wines, cocktails and even mocktails.
We suggest this one from Cocktail Courier as a good entry point. You can buy them as a one-off gift box, or subscribe Dad for a monthly "care package" that includes everything you need for six to eight drinks, with or without the alcohol (it's a $20 price difference at the time of writing, so if Dad already keeps a well-stocked bar, "without" would be the smart option).
For a lower-commitment alternative (especially if your father or father figure is already an accomplished cook and mixologist), try something like a sampler of mixed bitters, which can lend sophistication to either cocktails or food.
12. A Really Good Cookbook (or Several)
Like a monthly subscription, a good cookbook offers long-term satisfaction that will last long after those fancy-looking Father's Day gift baskets are forgotten. Every year brings its own batch of best sellers, and any food lover can reel off a list of classics that are worth owning.
This one from Barbecue Hall of Fame member Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn brings a food science perspective to grilling and barbecue, and will definitely help Dad up his game. For a more recent offering, take a look at Turkey and the Wolf by irreverent New Orleans chef Mason Hereford ("elevated hangover food") and the other suggestions from our recent roundup of cookbooks for gifting.