Skip the Fruit Cake and Give a Spread

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It’s hard to gift someone a dish from their favorite restaurant or recreate their beloved childhood favorite food. But it’s really easy to capture those nostalgic tastes with a simple dollop of something from a jar. Jams, butters, chile crisps, and other delicious spreads are a low-stakes gift, but one that has the potential to delight on a daily basis. And what’s better for holiday gifting than that?

Brooklyn Delhi’s line of sour-sweet achaars — a condiment somewhere between a pickle and a hot sauce that’s great with rice, on eggs, and to add a kick to any dish in between — includes rhubarb, tomato-chile, and garlic-chile versions. They’re all vegan, and all excellent. Upgrade a loved one’s condiment shelf by gifting one or all three.
Price: $12

This chile crisp is a perfect gateway food for the curious eater who’s new to Sichuan peppercorns. Packed with oily flavor thanks to a combination of dried Erjingtiao chiles and signature Sichuan spiciness, this vegan, gluten-free condiment gives any dish a welcome hit of earthy heat (and looks great brightening up a refrigerator shelf…). Get a set of two.
Price: $35

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Price: $2.98

There are chile crisps, and then there is Boon Sauce, a creation from chef Max Boonthanakit. The 2019 Eater Young Gun is a pastry chef by day, making delicate works of dessert art. But he’s also behind this Japanese-inspired chile-oil paste that packs an unexpected wallop thanks to anchovies, shallots, garlic, and a load of spices. Give it to someone who appreciates deeply good flavor.
Price: $18

If you’re doing olive oil right, it’s as much a spread as any other condiment — glugged on slices of hearty bread, drizzled across thick-cut tomatoes, sliding off mozzarella. And if you have a bottle as enticing as this one from Oracle — a new small-batch olive oil brand made with organic Koroneiki olives, with an exceedingly delicate taste — you’ll never want to put it away.
Price: $38

Portland-based company Alma Chocolate, which has been selling thoughtfully sourced chocolates since before “bean-to-bar” shops were cool, is the brand behind this sauce. It is, plain and simple, sweet, thick, deeply flavored goodness that makes you roll your eyes back in your head and reach for another spoonful.
Price: $10

This sweet, nutty spread will ruin you for all others — it’s full of flavor, smells amazing, and the green color makes it way more fun than the standard beige-hued selection. Good on everything from cakes and fancy toasts to tart berries and yogurt (or even just by the spoonful), a jar is perfect for anyone who appreciates a little luxury among their kitchen staples.
Price: $29

Being gifted a jar of Su Spicy Chili Crisp is far and away the best thing that could ever happen to a stash of frozen dumplings. No disrespect to that always trusty jar of Lao Gan Ma, but as long as this complex mala chile crisp is in the pantry, there’s no need to reach for anything else to top wontons or noodles.
Price: $14

Nothing can replace Nutella, but Hella, a healthier chocolate hazelnut spread with zero refined sugars (there’s coconut sugar in there instead), makes a strong case. For the sweet tooth in your life (or the lactose intolerant — Hella is dairy-free, too), this spread makes a foolproof, delicious gift. Get a pack of three.
Price: $27

At intimate Austin shop Confituras, owner Stephanie McClenny offers spreadable, preserved tastes of Texas, perfect for toast and biscuits. The large jam box is a great deal, with four jams made with local seasonal ingredients, like tart cranberry jalapeno or the just-sweet-enough pear, honey, and sage jam, for flavor combinations you’ll find nowhere else.
Price: $40

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