Our Favorite Budget-Friendly Kitchen Luxuries Under $25

updated Mar 22, 2023
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ladle and lid holder on countertop, holding navy blue and copper pan lid. Stove nearby
Credit: Jada Wong

It’s easy to fall in love with the investment pieces of our kitchens — the Le Creuset Dutch ovens, high-tech rice cookers, induction stovetops, and Japanese steel knives — because we’ve likely pined after them for some time before purchasing. But what’s equally enjoyable is finding smaller, more affordable luxuries that we repeatedly turn to, whether that’s a high-quality meat thermometer or the best drink garnish you’ve ever had. 

So, we reached out to our team of editors and contributors alike to compile their favorite budget-friendly kitchen luxuries, from an extra-special fish-shaped pancake pan to a cure-all for dry hands. 

1 / 19
Yamazaki Home

We already love Yamazaki’s dish rack, magnetic organizer, and cookbook stand, so it’s no wonder Shopping Director, Jada Wong, fell in love with this nifty little lid stand from the aesthetically pleasing brand. “It has saved me so much counter space,” she says. “And keeps the area around my stove clean when I'm cooking. It's transformed the flow in my kitchen, too — I'm no longer running between the stove and the sink to drop in a hot lid dripping with condensation or, worse, letting the condensation drip onto my feet.”

2 / 19
was $12.95

It’s not difficult (or expensive, for that matter) to up your at-home barista game. Commerce SEO Writer, Nic Dobija-Nootens, uses this milk frother “every time I make iced coffee to make the beverage taste a little richer and creamier. It also comes in handy in the winter when I make hot chocolate.” It also comes with a glass beaker to easily see how much you’ve frothed your milk up, and is available in four different colorways to coordinate with your existing coffee bar setup.

3 / 19

These are “hands-down the best cocktail cherries you can buy,” according to Senior Recipe Editor, Christine Gallary. “Luxardo adds the final sweet touch in so many cocktails,” she says, like a classic Old-Fashioned or Manhattan, or a new spin on a gin and tonic. Plus, Gallary adds, “the intense syrup is also great mixed into bubbly water for an afternoon pick-me-up.”

4 / 19

If you’re on the same side of TikTok as Madeline Bilis, AT’s deputy lifestyle director, you’ve likely come across a litany of videos advocating for kitchen lamps. “By the 10th iteration of this video I was influenced. And reader, let me tell you something — I LOVE having a tiny table lamp in my kitchen," she says. "Being able to turn off my overhead light and enjoy the lamp's soft glow makes dinnertime feel extra special.” Bilis actually thrifted her tiny table lamp, but recommends adding this petite drum shade to a squat little find of your own.

5 / 19

To strike the balance between from-scratch chai and the less-than-authentic grocery store stuff, SEO Content Director, Adriana Velez, turns to Kolkata for the real deal. The brand, founded by two brothers passionate about making (and drinking!) traditional chai, “makes excellent masala chai, but their rose mix is extra special. They add a generous amount of dried petals for a floral, fragrant (but definitely not too-floral) brew. It's a lovely way to take time out during the day to treat yourself.”

6 / 19
was $14.99

In need of a new set of cutlery? Contributor (and certified design expert) Sarah Lyon loves this 20-piece set. Despite it being less than $15, this set is “filled with personality and looks so stylish! I've always been drawn to faux bamboo decor, so this checks all the boxes,” Lyon says.

7 / 19

As for myself, I was on the hunt for an attractive, strong utensil rack for quite a bit before I stumbled upon this one. I love that the brass tone coordinates with my kitchen hardware, and that the design is elevated compared to a generic magnetic knife rack. I lined three of them up to create storage for all my cooking utensils — knives and metal tools are magnetized, while wooden and silicone tools hang from the included hooks. —Caroline Mullen, contributor/writer

8 / 19
was $21.00

The world of kitchen gadgets is chock-full of finicky and easy-to-break thermometers, but Thermopop is a brand we can rely on again and again. Food writer Elizabeth Briskin loves the mini Thermopop because it’s inexpensive, incredibly fast, accurate, and easy to use and read. “It takes the guesswork out of cooking meat, poultry, and baked goods,” she says. “Plus the narrow tip is great for slipping into a cake or loaf of bread fresh out of the oven to test for doneness without damaging the structure of your bake.”

9 / 19
MoMA Design Store

Contributor and cookbook author Ivy Manning has introduced us to possibly the best pot holders to ever exist. “These witty farfalle-shaped pot holders are both an object d'arte and useful,” she says. “They're great for grabbing casseroles out of the oven and draining pasta pots, and they're cute, so I don't mind leaving them out on the counter — which is not something I can say for my stained cloth pot holders.”

10 / 19
was $18.99

“Perhaps this tool doesn't fall into the glittering bubble of ‘luxury,’" starts writer Andrea Aliseda. “But a stainless steel tong, which I use as an extension of myself when sautéing, frying, and roasting, is certainly a staple that makes cooking run more smoothly — and that is a luxury in and of itself.” This superior version has a little loop at the base to lock the tongs when not in use, which Aliseda says makes them less clunky and easier to store.

11 / 19

Lovers of kitchen kitsch, rejoice! Kat Thompson adores her taiyaki pan (which operates similarly to a waffle iron: butter, batter, flip) because it makes any batter a little extra special. “I've stuffed my taiyaki with mochi, Oreos, Nutella, peanut butter and jelly,” Thompson says. “And have even made taiyaki banana bread when I only have a single brown banana. I know single-use items aren't great for smaller kitchens, but I'm happy to have this taiyaki pan take up space knowing how much joy it provides me with each crispy fish I eat.”

12 / 19

Food writer Kristina Vanni loves this zester so much, she argues that there’s no reason to waste your time with any other. “Sure, they might be a little bit more expensive upfront,” she concedes. “But the quality of the citrus zest, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and more is worth it every time I use the Microplane.” In fact, she’s so passionate about this tool that she’s given them as wedding and housewarming gifts to start a beginner kitchen off on the right foot.

13 / 19
Pottery Barn

If you’ve decided to invest in some Luxardo cherries, let us take it a step further. L. Daniela Alvarez declares that “every cocktail feels so decadent and luxurious when I'm drinking it from this. It makes me feel like I'm drinking a potion made in the kitchen of a Gothic castle.”

14 / 19
Crate & Barrel

Decanting dry goods into more aesthetically pleasing and airtight containers is a favorite hack of professional organizers, but even if you’re not ready to decant everything, try starting small. Contributor Meleyna Nomura keeps three of these acacia-lidded canisters on her counter, filled with her most-used grains so she can easily see how much she has at a glance.

15 / 19

Reusable glass straws are kind of the definition of a little luxury, so these sculptural colored ones are just a step up. “I adore the range of colors that you get,” says Commerce SEO Editor, Sarah Vasquez. “And the bent design makes them great for kids, too!”

16 / 19
Bean Box

Shopping Director, Jada Wong, admits she has a weak spot for good coffee, so a monthly subscription from Bean Box has basically transformed her hurried mornings into something decidedly more leisurely. This blend in particular is “chocolate-y, s'mores-inspired, rich, and smooth,” which makes Wong “feel like I'm eating (drinking?) dessert for breakfast. And isn't that the ultimate luxury?”

17 / 19

Sure, it’s a tad bit cheaper to buy parchment paper in big rolls, but you just can’t beat the convenience of a pre-cut sheet. Next time you’re in a hurry to get a batch of cookies in the oven or fold up a piece of fish for freezing, you might agree with Culinary Producer Kelli Foster, who says she’ll “happily splurge every time.”

18 / 19

Doing a lot of cooking means doing a lot of dishes, which can certainly take a toll on your skin. Foster recalls that “another Kitchn editor recommended this lotion to me a few years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. I keep a tube of this on my kitchen counter near the sink so I can apply throughout the day.”

19 / 19

Lining a baking sheet with tinfoil seems simple until little bits of aluminum are sticking to the bottom of your baked soy-glazed salmon — a problem that contributor Kelsey Mulvey has experienced one too many times. Now she swears by silicone baking mats for convenience — the ultimate luxuries. “Available in multiple sizes, these sheets do the job of tinfoil without awkwardly sticking to my cookies, frozen apps, or whatever I'm cooking. Oh, and did I mention they cut down on superfluous waste *and* are dishwasher-safe?”