Gifts for Mexican Cuisine Lovers and Home Chefs

by sockii

Know someone who loves Mexican food? Then check out this gift guide, featuring Mexican cookbooks, utensils, dinnerware and more.

Do you love Mexican food? It's certainly an increasingly popular cuisine around the world as more people enjoy the bright colors, fresh flavors, and vibrant spices that enliven Mexican cuisine.

Mexican food is also quite fun and easy to cook at home, and indeed you can prepare it yourself without too many fancy ingredients or pieces of equipment. Making it at home can also ensure the freshness of your food and that your Mexican creations are light, flavorful and not overly greasy (trust me, going to Taco Bell or Don Pablo's is not quite an authentic Mexican experience.)

If you know someone who is a lover of Mexican cuisine and enjoys cooking at home, perhaps you are trying to find a unique gift for them - in which case, I'm here to help! I've spotlighted 10 great gift ideas for Mexican food lovers who want to expand or enhance their home cooking adventures and try something a little "South of the Border". From terrific cookbooks to unique cookware, there's enough here to get anyone started with a great Mexican kitchen!

beef taco

Beef tacos...are you getting hungry yet?

1. Cookbooks by Rick Bayless

One of the best authors today writing about Mexican cuisine

Chef Rick Bayless has delighted many with his wonderful television program on Mexican food and cooking, "Mexico: One Plate at a Time". The Top Chef Masters winner has written numerous cookbooks focusing on his modern interpretations of Mexican classics, and I personally consider them some of the best, most useful cookbooks in my own collection. They are perfect for anyone who wants to not just cook Mexican food but really learn about the ingredients, their presentation, tips for selection and ways to turn one single recipe into numerous variations throughout the year. No lover of this type of cuisine should be without at least one of his cookbooks, but why not get someone a set of at least 2 or 3 titles? It would make a perfect gift for any occasion.

Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine

This is my personal favorite of Rick's cookbooks and I believe one of the best starting points for anyone looking to really start cooking authentic Mexican food at home. There are lengthy explanations of different techniques - everything from how to roast dried chili peppers to preparing cactus. Some recipes are quite detailed and time-consuming to make, but working on them produces amazing results that everyone should love. You'll have a deep understanding for the complexities of Mexican cuisine after spending time studying this cookbook.

Mexican Everyday

This book is a great one to go as a companion to the first cookbook above. It presents some easier recipes, including simplified versions of the recipes in "Mexican Kitchen", so you can produce great meals in less time at home. It is best to read this book after the first, but then work with them together, whether you are in the mood for flavorful homemade tacos, great refreshing salads, satisfying soups or a celebratory "fiesta" feast.

Salsas That Cook : Using Classic Salsas To Enliven Our Favorite Dishes

This is a fun little cookbook by Rick which focuses on salsas and the many different ways you can use them - beyond dunking chips! Rick starts with one salsa recipe and then shows how you can then use it in many different ways - as a marinade, as a salad ingredient, even in a Mexican-style lasagna. With six salsas (which you can even order if you don't want to make at home) you can make more than 50 very different recipes in this book.

Rick Bayless Mexico One Plate At A Time

This book is the companion to Rick's popular PBS series "Mexico: One Plate at a Time". Recreate the recipes he showcased on the show and take a tour of the many different cuisines of Mexico - far beyond the "Tex-Mex" we so often only get a taste of in other countries.

2. "Mexico: One Plate at a Time" DVD Set

Mexico One Plate at a Time

Here's a great companion gift to go with the above cookbooks - or perhaps as something different for a home chef who already has these books! You can order a complete 9 DVD set of Rick's "Mexico: One Plate at a Time" PBS series directly from his website. There are multiple episodes per disc with approximate disc running times of 80 minutes each - it's a culinary tour of Mexico in your own home!

There are more great gift sets on his website featuring Rick's own salsas, sauces, chips and seasonings, too.

3. A Traditional Mexican Molcajete

An essential tool for any Mexican kitchen

The molcajete is the Mexican version of a mortar and pestle, used for grinding spices and preparing fresh salsas and guacamole. Sure, you could use a modern food processor or chopper, but the results aren't going to be quite the same, are they?

Traditionally the molcajete is made from volcanic stone which has a perfect rough texture for grinding. They're terrific for dramatic table presentations as well - serve your fresh-made guacamole in one and dinner party guests are sure to be delighted.

4. A Tortilla Warmer

Keep tortillas soft and warm for serving

Tortillas are an essential part of almost every Mexican meal - and if you notice in most all restaurants they are served in a special covered bowl to keep them soft and warm. If you just serve them on a plate they can dry out, get cold and tough...yuck! So a tortilla warmer is really an important piece of kitchen and dinnerware for the Mexican chef.

This tortilla warmer is not just useful but it's extremely attractive, solidly-made and durable - perfect for gift-giving. Made of red stoneware, it's microwave and oven-safe up to 325F, so you can also use it for lower-temperature baking purposes, too.

5. A Tortilla Press

For making fresh tortillas at home
2012 03 08_0747

The more-experienced home chef may eventually want to try making her own tortillas instead of always using store-bought. (Just like in Italian food with pasta, there are some Mexican recipes that work better using homemade vs. ready-made tortillas). A tortilla-press is a traditional method for making them by placing a small ball of corn tortilla dough in the center and pressing down, creating the flat, round tortilla shape. The press does not cook the tortilla, only shapes it so that you can fry it, fill it, warm it on the griddle...use however you intend from there.

This heavy-weight, cast iron tortilla press is perfect for making corn tortillas - even pressing out small balls of pie dough for pastries! It features a traditional design as used in countless Mexican kitchens and will save you a great deal of time over trying to roll out even-shaped and evenly-thick tortillas at home.

6. A Multi-Compartment Taco Tray

Make "Taco Night" more fun - and easier to clean up at the end of the night!
Fiesta Taco Tray, Terra Cotta

You've made your tacos, your salsas, your other how to serve them? An all-in-one taco tray is a great gift for the Mexican food and taco enthusiast, as you can assemble everything together in one neat and organized serving platter to take direct from the kitchen to table. It's great for parties or even just for two to enjoy together. Less mess and less scrambling around for lots of bowls, plates and serving platters.

The "Fiesta Taco Tray" is both microwave and dishwasher safe - making it easy to keep tacos and meat fillings warm before serving, and then clean up in a breeze! It includes six sections to stand up taco shells as well as five compartments to organize fillings like cheese, meat, salsa, greens and more.

7. A Fatija Pan and Serving Set

You don't need to go to a Mexican restaurant to enjoy fajitas
Fajita Trio @ Chili's Grill and Bar

After tacos, what are probably one of the most popular dishes in Mexican and Southwestern restaurants? I'd say probably fajitas! There's nothing like having that sizzling pan of meat, onions and peppers brought out to the table to assemble in soft tortillas with the fillings of your choice. There's no reason not to enjoy them at home, too, as a fajita pan is not that expensive an investment - but it makes for a great gift as it's an item most home chefs wouldn't think of buying for themselves.

Fajita pans can be used for other dishes, too, like baking nachos or keeping steaks warm before and during serving.

This fajita pan set by Lodge is highly recommended by Amazon customers. It comes complete with a pre-seasoned, cast-iron surfaced pan that makes for easy clean-up and even cooking; a red-stained wooden base for keeping your table and countertops safe from the heat; and an attractive chili-pepper patterned handle mitt for safety.

8. Tostada Bakers

Perfect for making taco salads and filled tostadas!
Tostada Grande

Baked tostadas are delicious and so much fun to eat! They make perfect "edible bowls" for salads and kids love them; they're perfect for parties as well, as guests can assemble their own "taco salads" to enjoy from a variety of meats, greens, salsas and cheeses. (They're even great for Mexican-themed ice cream sundaes, too!)

This set of two non-stick tostada bakers from Mexican Origins is a perfect choice for someone who wants to make baked tostadas at home. They are also available in a smaller 6 1/2" size for more petite bowls, so why not get some of each for various uses?

9. Membership in a Salsa-of-the-Month Club

chips and salsa offers numerous different types of Food-of-the-Month clubs, including one dedicated to salsas! Their Salsa of the Month program will treat recipients to a different kind of salsa each month, from traditional Southwestern and Mexican salsas to fusion-style New England crab salsa, Southern fruit salsa, and many more.

Each month the club will send one 12-16 ounce jar of salsa to the recipient with detailed information, serving suggestions and recipes. You can choose a 3, 6 or 12-month plan and can set the start date however you want, making it a fun gift for Christmas, a birthday, or other special event.

10. A Culinary Adventures' Tour of Mexico

Toasting the Dried Chilies on the Comal

Finally, here's a gift to share with someone you really want to reward: your spouse, a parent, or perhaps as a perfect gift to a special couple in your life. Cookbook author and culinary guide Marilyn Tausend offers specially-themed tours of Mexico for those who really want to savor the country's cuisine in person via her website Culinary Adventures, Inc.

Marilyn and her staff have been offering guided tours for over 25 years. There are cooking tours where you can work one-on-one with great chefs - such as Rick Bayless himself! - while also touring tequila distilleries, exploring Mexican culture, and sampling wonderful food. There are also culinary adventures like "Ride, Cook and Eat" that you can enjoy while on vacation in Mexico spotlighted on her travel page.

Cookbooks by Marilyn Tausend
Updated: 12/14/2017, sockii
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MBC on 05/15/2016

Put me down for a Rick Bayless cookbook!

sockii on 10/26/2015

I have the larger size tostada bakers and would definitely like to get the smaller size, too.

sockii on 10/26/2015

I really loved the taco tray as soon as I first saw it, too. Such a neat idea for serving tacos so everyone can add fixings just as they want, but keeping everything neat and easy to serve.

CruiseReady on 10/26/2015

What a well thought out collection of gift ideas! My favorite is definitely the multi compartment taco tray. That's something not every household has, but anyone with a taste for tacos could really use.

candy47 on 10/26/2015

I have a set of the small tostada bakers, I've had them for about 20 years. I use them all the time. They're great!

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