Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Nov 9, 2009 04:02 PM

Gifts in jars - cookie mix, pancake mix, soup mix - What have you done? What would you do again--or not??

I know there was a thread with this topic a couple of years back, but it didn't yield very many recipes. Gift season is approaching for many of us, and there are a few names on my list for whom such a "gift in a jar" would be appropriate. I am thinking a little daughter of a friend, who would love to make cookies. A recently married friend who is just a beginner cook. I'm sure you have such people on your list.

Any ideas? Please share recipes, if you have them.

By the way, here's the old thread:

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. JMO, but I think you solved at least one of your gifting questions right in your own thread--for your friend's little girl. She'd love to make cookies? Help her make cookies. :-) Kids love thumbprint cookies, and that's a simple recipe. I'd go for the chocolate version and include the Hershey kisses.

    If you're talking about older cookie bakers, maybe bar cookies with a twist. For example, Bon Appetit had a recipe a month or two ago for....I think they were cappucino brownies---something "coffeeish". Maybe something like that, or a kit for making a variety of sables, or refrigerator cookies with a couple of special cookie cutters looped into the bow that decorates the package.

    Instead of cookies, you could also do a "cracker baking" kit in a jar, for people who enjoy baking, but maybe for whatever reason don't eat sweets that often. You might check Ina Garten's recipes to see if any would work. They're quite simple.

    And--not original, I know, but--people seem to like scones.

    For your newly married, beginner-cook friend, one of the suggestions on the thread you linked to might work--the pasta dish in a jar, where all she needs to add is the oil and the water. So you could something like pasta, chickpeas, walnuts, spices or maybe herbs for pesto. Or maybe pasta e fagiole, with the pasta and dried beans, or something cajun or Tex-Mex like rice and beans or a chili jar, where the recipient only has to provide ground meat.

    Another option could be rice pudding in a jar. Dress it up with some ingredients like dried fruit and/or nuts and some high-quality cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans.

    I can't remember having ever received a recipe in a jar, though I've heard of them of course, but I have received food baskets and "food kits" from friends. The ones that I've appreciated most have been the ones that gave me something I could whip up either when I was to tired to cook, or was going to have company on short notice and needed something to "whip up". E.g., one of my friends gave me a quick-bread basket last year, with several sweet bread mixes and a more savory type. I just used the last mix about a week ago when none of my on-hand starch choices for dinner appealed to me. So the dry ingredients for a tasty quick bread you could definitely do in the jar.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Normandie

      Thanks for the suggestions. I like the idea of the thumbprint cookies. I'm looking for something that doesn't require a food processor, or complicated steps, so I hope i find a recipe that works this way.

    2. Full tummy, for whatever reason the editing function won't work for me tonight.

      I wanted to add the following suggestions...For your friend's daughter, kids also love Rice Krispie treats. You could dress them up by including add-ins such as M&Ms.

      And for your newlywed friend, you could also do something like "baked beans in a jar". Just depends on the recipients' personal tastes.

      1. We did hot chocolate mix in a jar and attached a recipe and homemade marshmallows in a cellophane bag to the jar. These were a big hit. I don't remember what recipe we used for the hot chocolate mix but I'm guessing there are a ton out there. For the marshmallows I used the La Brea Bakery cookbook. Surprisingly easy to make and soooo much better than store bought marshmallows!

        1 Reply
        1. Many good ideas above. I like to give very good quality bittersweet chocolate - there's a 1kg bar I like a lot (Caro Chocolat Negro Artesano), or 'exotic' rice not avaiailable in supermarkets. Mix up some dukkah, or other spice mix with instructions for use. I generally think granola is miserable and too sweet but I have a friend who brings large jars of a perfectly delicious version. A good dry spice mix for pot roast or chile for novice cook might be good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: serious

            Yes, granola, and the spice mix is a great idea!!!

          2. I buy some very wonderful dried fruit online (, but Trader Joes has pretty good stuff too. Layering different kinds in a pretty jar makes a nice gift. If including nuts, it's best to use ones in the shell, so they don't get soggy or sticky from the moisture in the fruit.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greygarious

              Sort of like a custom trail mix. Sounds wonderful.