20 Edible Gifts for the Person Who Takes Their Pantry Very Seriously
These stocking stuffers are ideal for anyone who cares deeply about what's on their kitchen shelves.
We’re all for baking up a batch of cookies for your thoughtful neighbor or gifting relatives with homemade granola, but sometimes what you really want this time of year is a break from the kitchen. Leave it to the pros this holiday season and give delicious gifts without breaking a sweat. From bacon to bitters to barbecue sauce, we’ve got gifts for all the food lovers in your life — plus a few options to treat yourself.
Ginger Frank has always appreciated that her adopted hometown of Asheville, NC supports small businesses, but she noticed that it didn’t have a popcorn shop like the one she grew up with. So she crated her own, and launched her line of handcrafted popcorn starting with salted caramel, before branching out to best-selling savory flavors like pimento and white cheddar. For the holidays, look for festive flavors like Reindeer Crunch, in which the fan-favorite salted caramel popcorn is tossed with caramelized walnuts, pecans and cashews, all drizzled with dark chocolate from Asheville craft chocolate producer French Broad Chocolate. Opt for the limited-edition holiday tins — the packaging is so pretty you can skip the gift wrap.
If you’re looking to up your hot sauce game or need a gift for a hot sauce aficionado, look south to Charleston, SC. For Red Clay’s line of hot sauces, co-founder and chef Geoff Rhyne cold-presses and ferments each sauce to yield a deeply complex and chef-approved flavor. The original sauce combines mild Fresno peppers and white wine vinegar, making it ideal for delicate dishes like oysters, shrimp, eggs or stir-fried vegetables. The verde, made with serrano peppers packs more heat, but is balanced by cilantro and fennel. Use it wherever you want zesty, bright heat: It's excellent dashed over tacos, scrambled eggs, steak or on avocado toast (co-founder Molly Fienning’s favorite way to enjoy it). The All-Stars box contains three fan-favorites, including the original and verde, plus a bottle of hot wildflower honey that’s infused with habanero pepper mash. It packs a sweet-heat and is as at home drizzled on pizza as it is homemade granola.
New York-based tahini company Seed + Mill has earned legions of fans for its silky small-batch tahini, ground from premium Ethiopian sesame seeds. Though tahini is often synonymous with hummus, co-founder Rachel Simons loves how it plays well with sweets too. For the holiday season, Seed + Mill teamed up with the chocolate makers at Raaka to create a sweet gift box, including two chocolate bars — one tahini-swirled and one gingersnap cookie — paired with a trio of Seed + Mill’s best-selling halva, a tahini based sweet with a flaky, fudge-like texture. The halva trio includes pistachio, studded with vibrant green Turkish pistachios; raspberry, speckled with freeze-dried raspberries; and a dreamy dark chocolate and sea salt. For an unexpected dessert, serve a halva board with fruits and nuts and linger around the table just a little longer.
If you ever doubted the power a spice has to totally transform a dish, Burlap & Barrel’s single-origin spices will convince you for good. Founders Ethan Frisch and Ori Zohar work directly with farmers to offer better versions of standards as well as one-of-a-kind spices. Baking with the Royal Cinnamon from Vietnam really showcases cinnamon’s potential for spicy sweetness. Even if you consider yourself an intrepid spice sprinkler, Burlap & Barrel offers little-known spices, such as ground black lime from Guatemala. Whole ripe limes are dried in the sun until they oxidize and turn black, concentrating its savory, mineral qualities. It’s a great way to add acidity to a dish without adding liquid (or if you’re short on citrus) or to punch up grilled meats and vegetables.
Barbecue can be contentious, with styles, techniques, rubs and sauces that vary by region or state. For a taste of South Carolina’s low country-style mustard barbecue sauce, Lillie’s of Charleston’s Mustard BBQ Sauce is tops. Long after the Rib Shack closed, customers of the King Street restaurant kept asking for the magic sauce that made the ribs, pulled pork and sausages really sing. Sisters Kellye Wicker and Tracey Tisdale-Richardson co-founded Lillie’s of Charleston to carry on their father’s tradition with a line of mustard barbecue sauce, plus hot sauces and spice mixes. The sisters named the sweet-smoky mustard barbecue sauce "Hab Mussy" after a Gullah phrase that translates to "have mercy." It’s apt; the sauce packs a flavor wallop up front followed by a creeping heat. It’s great on pulled pork and ribs, but also makes a mean marinade for chicken wings and adds a zesty lushness to dressings and dips.
Whether your mixers include spirits, seltzer or juice, a few dashes of El Guapo bitters or syrups makes you feel like a mixology whiz. What makes these craft bitters so special is that they’re created with house made extracts, yielding a concentrated flavor. And unlike many conventionally made bitters, they don’t contain any alcohol, so they’re zero-proof. For a taste of New Orleans, try the chicory pecan bitters crafted with local chicory coffee and pecans from CEO Christa Cotton’s uncle’s Georgia farm. Try a few dashes in eggnog, atop ice cream or, for the ultimate party trick, in homemade whipped cream (your slice of pie will never be the same). The syrups are just as thoughtfully made, boasting deep flavor without being cloying. Stock your bar with the rose cordial, which is just as good in a coupe of champagne as it is in a cup of grape juice. Build your own gift box and choose one bitters and one syrup; you can also opt to include a gift card with a hand-written note.
Since 2017, Preeti Waas has earned a reputation in her adopted hometown of Raleigh, NC for her whimsical jams. She perfected her recipe at home, modelling it after soft set French-style jams that allow her unique fruit and spice flavor combinations to shine. The Lucille, named for her American husband’s grandmother, highlights Waas’ creative flair while honoring both her Indian heritage. Here, the floral sweetness of tart Meyer lemons plays off floral Indian cardamom, all pulled together by a touch of North Carolina honey. The jams are of course excellent on toast, but they are a knockout on charcuterie and cheese platters, ice cream sundaes and in pan sauces and glazes. For a truly sweet gift duo, pair a jar of jam with a chocolate chip cookie from Waas’ sister company, Sugar & Spice. They hit the ultimate cookie trifecta: crisp edges, fudgy-cakey interior and loaded with chocolate.
Savannah Bee Company is synonymous with honey, but if you want to experience honey on another level entirely, their whipped honey is where it’s at. Whipping a blend of pure mountain wildflower and clover honeys yields a creamy, spreadable honey that’s 100% irresistible. You can purchase individual flavors — original, cinnamon, chocolate or lemon — or opt for a two-jar gift set. We’re particularly fond of the lemon and chocolate duo. Try a spoonful of tart-sweet lemon whipped honey in a cup of tea, drizzled over ice cream, slathered onto muffins or as a pound cake frosting. The whipped chocolate honey is excellent spooned into coffee and hot chocolate or onto toast sprinkled with flake sea salt.
Martha Bourlakas was first inspired to create a line of naturally flavor-infused sugar cubes as an homage to Champagne cocktails. The cubes’ touch of sweetness and flavor are a welcome addition to all kinds of cocktails, coffee and tea, and have earned a loyal following in Bourlakas’ adopted hometown of Roanoke, VA. The gift sampler includes all three flavors: rose petal, orange zest cherry and cinnamon vanilla. Try the rose petal in a Champagne-inspired cocktail by topping it with sparkling wine or sparkling grape juice. The orange zest cherry cube subs in nicely for a regular sugar cube in a classic old fashioned. Drop the clove-scented cinnamon vanilla cube into your weekend cup of Joe or muddle it with liqueur for an after-dinner nightcap. The sophisticated packaging needs little more than a bow or some ribbon; they make excellent gifts for hosts or if you just want to treat yourself. For effortless holiday entertaining, stock a DIY cocktail bar with the cubes; all guests have to do is to choose their favorite spirit or non-alcoholic mixer.
Sourced from Vietnam and roasted in Brooklyn, the beans behind Nguyen Coffee Supply produce a bold, super-smooth and flavorful cup of coffee. For an ultra- balanced sip, opt for the best-selling Loyalty — it’s also founder Sahra Nguyen’s daily go-to. If you like a sweeter, fruitier brew, try the Moxy — Nguyen says there is something about Da Lat’s famous red dirt that gives these beans their sweet profile. Truegrit features a 100% peaberry robusta, which has twice the caffeine as arabica beans and is just the thing to fuel your holiday baking spree. It is also exceptional when prepared with this gift set’s accompanying phin filter, which easily brews a strong cup that’s prime for mixing with sweetened condensed milk to make Vietnamese iced coffee.
Brian Noyes named his bakery after the red 1954 Ford truck he used to deliver his baked goods to local country stores in Virginia. These days, his cakes and creations ship nationwide, and he counts Oprah and President Barrack Obama as fans. The Lexington Bourbon Cake is Noyes’ tribute to Kentucky bourbon country and features a tender crumb redolent of bourbon and citrus. There’s a good hit of booze in there, plus pieces of fresh ginger, crystallized ginger, and lemon and orange zest. The cake is then twice-glazed in a bourbon-honey glaze infused with ghost peppers. Think of this cake as a gift, dessert and nightcap rolled into in one. It ships in an elegant platinum tin and its swirled shape begs to be displayed on a cake stand long before dessert time. Gild the lily and serve slices with a scoop of ice cream.
Seattle-based company Mustard & Co. lives up to its hashtag "Eat Boldly" by eschewing the grinding process that many mustard companies rely on to create a smooth consistency, often at the expense of the mustard seeds’ potent flavors. From the get-go, co-founders Bryan Mitchiner and Justin Hoffman employed traditional techniques and created a mustard-making process that preserves the seeds’ spicy oils, yielding a raw, boldly flavored mustard. Equal attention is paid to the other ingredients, like organic extra-virgin olive oil and flavorful balsamic vinegar. Fan-favorites from the mustard line-up include honey curry and truffle, but the original mustard is just the ticket for dunking soft pretzels into. For a dynamic duo in a fun DIY baking kit form, opt for the Zero Gravity Pretzel Baking Mix, complete with baking ingredients, finishing salt and an illustrated card for folding the perfect soft pretzel.
Following four generations of smoking and curing traditions, Edwards Virginia Smokehouse has garnered a reputation among chefs and foodies for their top-notch country hams, bacon and Surryano (a funky aged ham that gives Serrano a run for its money and is a charcuterie board upgrade worth splurging on). The smoked bacon sampler is a bacon-lover’s dream, starring a trio of hickory-smoked country bacon, smoked pepper bacon and sweet-savory dry-cured maple bacon. Beyond breakfast, the hickory bacon boasts an up-front savoriness that cure master Sam Edwards III describes as a "country twang," making it a fine match for seafood-based dishes like scallops or shrimp and grits.
Since the Ricchiuti family immigrated from Italy to California in 1914, patriarch Vincenzo had a vision of starting a farm and planted the seeds for their almond, fruit and olive orchards. Four generations later, the family is well-known for its top-notch almond butter, olive oil and vinegar. The balsamic vinegar, crafted from Lambrusco and Trebbiano grapes and aged in oak barrels for three years before slowing cooking down into a rich, aromatic balsamic, is exceptional. Upgrade your own pantry or treat your favorite home cook to the Enzo’s choice gift box. It comes with one bottle of aromatic organic extra virgin olive oil (choose from delicate, medium or bold) and one bottle of organic balsamic vinegar (choose from traditional, apple or fig).
What if tea were as conceptual and thrilling as a cocktail at Death and Co in New York or a dessert at Sadaharu Aoki in Paris? This is the question that intrepid food lovers Aaron Shinn and Gina Zupsich posed before founding their California-based company August Uncommon Teas. Since then, they’ve earned a loyal following among tea lovers (and tea converts!), restaurant chefs and bartenders for their flavor-forward and aromatic teas. Browse by flavor type the way you might order a cocktail: search boozy and you may discover a tea like Civil Disobedience, a smoky black tea with notes of cardamom and tobacco that calls to mind a crackling fireplace. Discover unique twists on the classics, like the chai-inspired Paint the Desert, a black tea bolstered with cacao shell, a hit of cinnamon and dash of red chili. Can’t decide? The top 10 sampler offers 10 resealable pouches of their top sellers (each makes four cups). For a perfect mug of tea every time, add on the one-cup infuser, a super-fine stainless-steel basket that fits inside your mug and allows plenty of room for the tea leaves to infuse your brew.
Yes, you’ll have to stir it, but that’s the beauty of Big Spoon Roasters’ exceptional nut butters. Durham, NC-based co-founders Mark and Megan Overbay are adamant about letting the flavor and nutrition of their small-batch nut butters shine without added stabilizers. Opt for the gift-ready winter nut butter variety pack, which includes four 3-ounce jars of cozy flavors like maple cinnamon peanut and pecan, chocolate sea salt almond, peanut pecan and the fan-favorite chai spice peanut and almond. (Reuse the jars; they’re perfect for storing sauces, dressings or jams.) Need a gift for Fido? Snag a jar of Wag Butter; it’s made especially for dogs using fresh-roasted peanuts, organic virgin coconut oil and organic chia seeds, adding up to a canine superfood that’ll seem like a special treat.
Need some holiday baking inspiration? Or maybe you’ve got an aspiring baker to shop for? Look to Guittard, a Bay Area chocolate company whose chips and bars are backed by 150 years of tradition. The baking kit features a branded tote bag with one bag of super cookie chips, one bag of extra dark baking Chips, a 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate bar and a can of its O.G. product, grand cacao drinking chocolate. It also includes a reprinted edition of their first-ever cookbook with a cute vintage cover and recipes made with grand cacao (we’ve bookmarked the brownies). The super cookie chips and extra dark baking chips are also certified nut- and gluten-free; we recommend trying them in Anne Burrell’s Super Yummy Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies.
Jenny Bonchak first made a name for herself as a national barista champ before founding her Raleigh, NC coffee company, Slingshot Coffee Co. The single-origin cold brew is a fan-favorite, but Bonchak’s got a knack for sweets, too. Unsatisfied with the coffee-flavored caramels on the market, she set about making her ideal version: a depth of coffee flavor to match the caramel (sans coffee grounds) and a super chewy texture. She’s more than succeeded. Slingshot’s coffee caramels are infused with just enough cold brew to keep 'em from being too sweet and the texture strikes an ideal buttery-chewy balance. The tin of caramels make excellent host gifts, stocking stuffers or a little something to treat yourself.
French Broad Chocolate, a bean-to-bar chocolate company in Asheville, has its own chocolate factory, lounge and shop — all that’s missing is the chocolate river — which makes owner Jael Rattigan a modern-day Willy Wonka. For the holiday season, she’s dreamed up a cozy and nostalgia-inducing collection of chocolate confections. To wit, the holiday bonbons collection includes festive flavors such as eggnog, peppermint, gingerbread, cranberry, chocolate orange and champagne, which gets its effervescent-like quality from prosecco and Petite Champagne Cognac. The peppermint bark is an elevated take on the classic, featuring creamy peppermint white chocolate layered atop dark chocolate, artfully swirled with naturally colored red cocoa butter and sprinkled with house made peppermint candy, and is packaged in a beautiful gift tin. If hot chocolate is more your thing, French Broad Chocolate’s sipping chocolate is like liquid velvet and a luxurious way to toast the season (vegan options available too).
Jeni Britton Bauer has earned a loyal following for her namesake ice cream company with signature scoops like gooey butter cake and brambleberry crisp, as well as one-of-a-kind collaboration creations. We can’t get enough of the limited-edition sparkling berry punch sorbet crafted with Chandon Brut, a California-made sparkling wine. The creamy texture is off-set by a slightly effervescent finish and the pronounced berry flavor yields a sweet-tart punch that’s far from cloying. The sorbet is perfect enjoyed as is, but also pairs nicely with fruit-based pies or pound cake. For a no-fuss yet elegant dessert, scoop the sorbet into coupe glasses and top with a sparkling wine such as Chandon Brut, whose green apple, pear and citrus notes are a berry nice complement.