10 Editor-Loved Tools Under $40 That Will Take Your Cooking to the Next Level

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Not every kitchen tool is an essential — some are simply nice to have. And, although you’ve gotten by fine for years without them, a select few of these gadgets can help you make tackling all of your kitchen duties quicker, easier, and way more efficient. These are the kinds of tools that you may have put off buying (or assumed would be too expensive), but once you get them in your kitchen, you’ll never want to part ways with them.

Our editors have their personal favorite kitchen upgrades that they recommend to everyone. From tools that save you time chopping and dicing to accessories that leave you with less to clean up when you’re done cooking, these are all smart and worthwhile additions to your kitchen. What’s more, they’re all budget-friendly! Grab some of these for your home or get them as a gift (Mother’s Day is just around the corner) and discover how quickly they become some of your favorite kitchen tools.

1 / 10

Keeping sticks of butter in their wrappers in your refrigerator is fine, but if you want them to be a bit neater, switch to storing your butter in this chic porcelain container. In addition to being able to keep both East Coast and West Coast butter fresh under its wooden lid, it has a removable butter knife that tucks into the lid so you never have to grab one from your cutlery drawer. As a dairy-based fat, butter has a tendency to pick up other unwanted flavors that are drifting around your fridge, so this container helps your butter taste better, too. Check out our full review to learn more about this brilliant food storage upgrade.

2 / 10
was $9.95

Sure, you could go the rest of your life peeling and cutting all your garlic with a knife. But you can save time and hassle with this ridiculously cheap and effective garlic rocker. Your purchase includes a peeling tube that removes the husks from the cloves — then you can simply lay the garlic under the rocker and turn it into a fine mince in a matter of seconds. This little tool helped our contributor Thao Thai use more fresh garlic in her cooking, which she prefers to the jarred stuff, and she found it super easy to use. "The ergonomic design seemed great for anyone who may struggle with the grip involved in other presses," she wrote. "And because there are no fiddly parts with the press rocker, it only requires a quick rinse under hot water, or a run through the dishwasher on the top rack."

3 / 10

Quit worrying about whether you're cleaning your cast-iron pans correctly and pick up this brush that promises to keep your cookware sparkly clean without ever damaging it. The backside of the brush has a scraper edge that's helpful for unsticking large stuck-on bits, and the sturdy bristles remove the rest of the debris, so you're just left with a smooth and clean pan. Our senior commerce editor also likes that this tool is much more durable than other scrubbing brushes. "If you’re looking for the last cast-iron cleaning tool you’ll ever need to buy — or you’re just sick of wading through all of the unqualified cookware opinions on the internet — do yourself a favor and snag this OXO Good Grips Cast Iron Brush​ ASAP," he wrote.

4 / 10
Our Place

Once you have a chef's knife you can trust for all your slicing and dicing, get this pair of impressively strong kitchen shears. They're exactly what you want for trimming herbs, snipping scallions, and cutting through cartilage on meat, because they give you much better leverage and control than any knife can. Our contributor Stella Totino appreciated that these shears come apart for easy (and sanitary) cleaning, but her favorite detail is the clever package opener on the back. "Instead of dulling your nice kitchen shear blades, finding yourself frustrated with that aforementioned arts and crafts pair, or, like me, using a house key, now you can just safely utilize the backside of the Shear Genius and slice open any package, no matter how hefty the tape," she wrote.

5 / 10
The Container Store
was $21.99

The problem with the little containers that berries are sold in is their lack of ventilation. They don't do a great job of letting moisture escape, and because they're usually packed so tightly, once one piece of fruit is on the verge of becoming moldy, the ones around it are all in danger. These reusable bins solve both of those issues and can even store cut-up melon because they have extra space on the bottom for liquid to drain. Our contributor Rochelle Bilow tested a number of similar products and found these to be the best. "The insert has handles, which makes it easy to remove (and rinse the berries). The small notch in the lid lets you tightly cover the container while still allowing for airflow," she wrote. "If you use berries every day, you’ll appreciate the luxe storage space these bins provide."

6 / 10
Le Creuset
was $32.00

Want your dessert to be extra special without you putting in extra effort? Pick up these miniature lidded cocottes from Le Creuset and use them to bake and serve individual desserts that will wow all your friends and family. Instead of making an apple crumble or banana pudding in one big tray, simply divide it across these smaller dishes, which can also help things cook more evenly due to their tiny size. Our senior commerce editor Ian Burke likes them for their versatility, too. "In the kitchen, you can use them to make mini pot pies, cook gratins, bake souffles, and whip up single brownies, cookies, crème brûlées, and more," he wrote. "Outside of the kitchen, they can even serve as catch-alls, key holders, jewelry boxes, butter dishes, jam holders, chic pet food bowls, and party dip containers."

7 / 10
Yamazaki Home

The secret to keeping your kitchen clean and free of clutter is having a place to set down your lids and cooking utensils while you're in the midst of meal-making. This simple lid stand and spoon rest combo prevents drips and drops from landing on your floors or countertops, and also keeps lids from taking up space when you're stirring the pot. "Anytime I’d make a dish that required simmering, boiling, or steaming, I’d have to hold the pot lid up awkwardly as I stirred or shuffled ingredients around," wrote our shopping director Jada Wong. "Ever since I got the Yamazaki Lid & Ladle Stand, the area around my stove has a much better flow and much more space."

8 / 10

A good instant-read thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking large — and even small — cuts of meat, and this one displays an accurate readout in seconds. While our editors recommend the more expensive Thermapen ONE, they stand by this more affordable version that's just as reliable. "It’s incredibly accurate, averages three seconds per reading (versus the one-second reading of the ONE), and has a large, legible display," wrote our former tools editor Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm. "It also has buttons that activate a rotating display (so it can be read at any angle, which is especially helpful for those who are left-handed) and a backlight (so you can easily read it if you are reaching into a shadow-y oven or grilling at night)."

9 / 10
Le Creuset
was $32.00

Save yourself from having to wipe up one more mess with this practical and beautiful spoon rest. Since it comes from Le Creuset, you know it's made of durable stoneware and has a stunning color that allows it to double as a piece of kitchen decor. Our commerce writer Nikol Slatinska especially likes how it stays out of the way but comes in handy when you need it most. "The new flower spoon rest is completely chip-, scratch-, and stain-proof, so don’t even worry about rinsing off your marinara-coated spoon before placing it on top," she wrote. "This quality is also great because when you’re making multiple dishes at once, you often don’t have the time to rinse cooking tools off in-between uses. On the other hand, you don’t want to dirty your countertops. This product totally eliminates that hassle and also prevents utensils from sliding or falling over. You’ll also find that its glazed surface is nonstick and dishwasher-safe, making cleanups that much simpler."

10 / 10
Williams Sonoma

Adding fresh vegetables and aromatic alliums to your dishes is always a great idea, and it's much easier to pull off when you have some help with all the cutting required. Our senior commerce editor Ian Burke got this mini food processor for his kitchen and it quickly became his food prep superhero. "The easy-to-use (and seriously affordable) Mini-Prep Plus makes what would ordinarily be time-consuming prep tasks a breeze, from pulverizing herbs to grinding nuts and whole spices. And, you can switch between the chop and grind settings without having to change the blade," he wrote. "My favorite part about the whole appliance, though, is its tiny footprint. It takes up about as much space as a toaster, and tucks away neatly in my cabinet when not in use."