10 Kitchen Tools That Are Both Essential and Inexpensive

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Samara Vise)

It’s easy to swoon over beautiful-yet-pricey kitchen tools, like pretty colored stand mixers, Vitamix blenders, and Dutch ovens. But, when it comes to the essential, can’t-live-without kitchen tools that we use day in and day out, all of our go-tos are actually totally budget-friendly.

All of these tools are seriously useful, and come in handy on a daily basis. And, best of all, they don’t cost hundreds of dollars, but tens of dollars — or in some case, just a few.

Here are 10 essential (and inexpensive) kitchen gadgets that every last one of us need. I seriously don’t recommend cooking without these things on hand.

1. A vegetable peeler

After working with a horribly dull peeler for way too long, I spent $5 on a Kuhn Rikon peeler. It’s small and lightweight, yet it’s lasted years and I’m convinced there’s nothing it can’t handle.

2. Tongs

Easily one of my most-used (and favorite) tools in the kitchen. Tongs come in handy for everything — prep, cooking, and even serving. I use them so much, I actually have three pairs.

3. Wooden spoons

The best thing about a good wooden spoon is that you use it on every piece of cookware — enameled cast iron, stainless steel, nonstick, etc. Wooden spoons come in handy so often. They’re also inexpensive, so it’s worth stocking up on a bunch of them.

4. Microplane

When I bought my Microplane, I had no idea how much I’d use it (hint: all the time!). You can use it for garlic, ginger, lemon, chocolate, spices, cheese … the list goes on.

5. Fine mesh strainer

Our Managing Editor Lauren Kodiak relies on her mesh strainer big time. “It’s perfect for rinsing grains and lentils, sifting powdered sugar, straining homemade nut milks, and so much more,” she says. Get a set and you’ll always have the right-sized tool for the job.

6. Whisks

I like keeping a few different sized whisks handy. Sometimes my tiny whisk is exactly what I need, and other times a balloon whisk is the tool to get the job done.

7. Silicone spatulas

Kitchn editors are totally obsessed with this spatula in particular. It’s all one piece of silicone, which means it’s easy clean. And the metal piece in side the silicone allows the spatula to bend a little — but not too much. I recommend getting it in a few sizes.

8. Instant-read thermometer

If you feel timid about cooking meat (and even if you don’t!), this little tool is your ticket to well-cooked steak, roast chicken, and pork chops every time.

9. Fish spatula

Don’t let the name fool you, this handy tool isn’t just used for fish. Both longer and wider than a regular spatula, it makes flipping everything from pancakes to meat and fish a whole lot easier.

10. Kitchen shears

You can spend some big bucks on fancy kitchen shears, but you don’t have to. I picked up a $20-pair of shears in my 20s when I was stocking my first kitchen. I bought them thinking that I’d get a really nice pair down the line. Well, 10 years later I’m still using that cheap pair.

What are your favorite or most-used inexpensive kitchen tools?