I have been cooking and baking for a long time. And like most people, my kitchen gadget trajectory started with very inexpensive tools and graduated to very expensive tools. Now, after about 30 years, I realize not all my tools have to cost a billion dollars. In fact, some of the best tools I own cost right around to well under $50. So, for your edification and to hopefully help you choose gadget useful kitchen tools that won’t break the bank, I give you my list of The Best Kitchen Tools Under $50.
The Best Kitchen Tools Under $10
The good news here is that the cheapest tools can also be the most versatile. Here are my picks for the best you can find for under $10.
First up, a bench knife. So versatile, and so inexpensive! I use mine for scraping the counter clean, scaling dough, scooping up chopped veggies (rather than using my knife and possibly dulling the blade), measuring (they’re about 6″ wide and this one comes with a ruler embossed on it), and more. Best $6 you will ever spend.
The balloon whisk is a versatile workhorse. Whip cream, make meringue, mix pancake batter (gently), aerate flour, use in place of sifting (whisk dry ingredients together), stir pudding, etc. Definitely a must-have.
Bowl scrapers can be used pretty much in the same way the bench knife can be, but it’s flexible and really shines when trying to clear every speck of batter, dough or other ingredients out of a pot, pan, mixing bowl, or food processor. And 4 for $10 is a bargain. You will use these guys all the time.
I was a late adopter of tongs, but I had been missing out. I use them to pull hot oven racks out (and push them in), for sauteeing/flipping ingredients either in skillets or on sheet pans, and for reaching stuff on high shelves. Indispensable. And these guys are also locking, which makes them easy to store in a drawer, although you can also hang them in easy reach. And at 2 for $10, you really shouldn’t say no.
The Best Kitchen Tools Under $20
You have plenty of choices in the $10-$20 range. Small, easily stored, versatile. In other words, a lot of bang for your kitchen gadget buck.
Cooling racks are great for, well, cooling cakes and cookies, but also for pouring glaze over petit fours, cakes, etc. And this one is also oven-safe to over 500F which makes it great for roasting, cooking bacon, and more. Bonus: it is sized to fit a half-sheet pan, so pair it with the Nordic ware half sheet pan, and you’ll have an excellent roasting set.
My French pin is my favorite. It’s pretty lightweight, so you won’t get tired using it. Use it for smoothly rolling out dough–it’s especially good for discs–as well as for pounding out meats or crushing nuts, cookies, etc for making crumb crusts.
I love my OXO set of silicone spatulas. That little green guy is perfect for swiping out measuring cups and getting down into jars. The other two are all-purpose and heat-resistance, and I use them on an almost daily basis for everything from scrambling eggs to scraping out mixing bowls.
A half-sheet pan is the best. Use it to make jelly rolls, bake cookies or rolls or boules, for sheet-pan suppers and roasting all sorts of meats and veggies (along with that baking/cooling rack). You may want to line it with parchment or non-stick foil, because it’s not nonstick, but it will last you a lifetime. Note that if you put it in the dishwasher, it will get dull and discolor. I absolutely don’t care about that, but if you do, make sure to hand wash it.
The Best Kitchen Tools Under $30
Honestly, I thought I’d hate the hand mixer the OXO folks so kindly sent me, but I was wrong. The housing lights up to let you know it’s on and then lights up even brighter when it’s running. This feature allows you to see into the bowl to make sure your ingredients are well mixed. I find myself reaching for it more and more for cheesecake, cakes, and cookies rather than breaking out the stand mixer.
I love a good set of nesting bowls, and I think it’s important to have both insulating glass and conductive metal bowls. The glass bowls are great as batter bowls, for whisking cream, egg whites, etc, for storage, and for pinch bowls for salt and other spices (the tiny ones, of course), while the metal bowls make wonderful water baths–your stocks and custards will cool down much more quickly in metal bowls submerged in ice water than they will in glass bowls.
And the kitchen scale. Need I say it again? For those of you here for the first time, I cannot stress how important it is to have a scale for weighing ingredients accurately and consistently as well as for portioning. I often weigh batter and then divide by 2 or 3 so I get exactly the same amount of batter in each cake pan for perfectly even layers. My scale is also indispensable for scaling bread dough for even-sized rolls and buns. For under $30, you get an easy-to-clean and accurate scale in a multitude of colors to match your kitchen or your mood. It can weigh up to 11 pounds (5 kg), has a tare feature and switches between standard and metric measurements at the touch of a button. Please get one. I implore you. Please.
The Best Kitchen Tools Under $40
I use my toaster oven all the time for keeping pancakes warm, for toasting bread, toasting nuts for recipes, reheating pizza–all sorts of things. This model is the one I bought my mom when her super old one died. It’s great because it opens on a radius so you never have to reach your hand all the way in and risk burning yourself. Plus, it looks really cool and will not break the bank.
You don’t always need an 11-cup food processor. For small jobs like making a bit of salsa, mincing some garlic or onion or making salad dressings, a little 3-cup guy is all you need. Takes up less space in cabinets or on counters, too.
These bamboo cutting boards are gorgeous and versatile. Use them for carving meats, slicing bread, cheese, etc, and also for serving–cheese board, anyone? These guys work hard, are kind to your knives, are more sustainable than hardwood cutting boards and will last a lifetime as long as you take care of them and hand wash.
Last but not least in this price range, I recommend a sturdy grill pan. Buy one, and you will never have to buy another unless you want two of them. Great for burgers, hotdogs, paninis, any kind of meat, fish, or chicken as well as vegetables. You can even use it to put grill marks on bread for crostini and bruschetta.
The Best Kitchen Tools Under $50
First up, you do not have to spend hundreds of dollars for a high-end enameled cast iron Dutch oven. But you will want to own an enameled cast iron Dutch oven because they can go from stovetop, to oven, to table to fridge with no problem. You can use this guy for stock, soups, stews, braising, bread baking, making big batches of stove top popcorn, and more. I use mine at least once a week. At least.
Along with a digital scale, I cannot stress how important it is to have a reliable instant read thermometer. I use my guy for everything from checking the temp of sugar syrups to the internal temperature of breads to make sure they’re fully baked. I use my instant read almost daily, and sometimes multiple times a day.
I never thought I’d use a food mill. That is, until I got one. So perfect for making gazpacho, tomato sauces, apple sauce and more. The OXO model comes with three dies so you can get everything from nearly smooth apple sauce to chunky cooked salsas. Bonus: no seeds and no skins!
A good immersion blender is a reliable kitchen helper. Puree vats of soup without having to transfer to a blender. This model comes with its own mini food processor attachment, which is kind of genius. Plus trade out the blade for the whip and whip cream in a flash. I use mine to puree soup, to mix ingredients into bases (for example, blending peanut butter into plain ice cream base), and more.
And there you have it, friends. These are my recommendations for the best kitchen tools under $50. Of course, as with any list, I have left out lots of items.
Other tools I can’t live without include fine mesh strainers (3 sizes for under $15), poly cutting boards (3 sizes for $15), a sturdy cake turntable (less than $50), offset spatulas (3 sizes for $20), a Microplane zester/grater (around $12), a blade grinder for grinding spices (about $12)and an excellent-quality chef knife (lighter weight than the Wusthof Classic, so should work well for folks who aren’t using their knives every day, all day. A great deal at around $80). The last is a bit of a splurge, but you don’t want to go cheap with your knives, trust me. If you want to upgrade to a Wusthof Classic, which is one of the chef knives I use on a regular basis, expect to pay about $130 on Amazon. Consider it if you use your knives daily.
I hope I’ve broadened your horizons when it comes to kitchen tools for cooking and baking. You don’t always have to go for the most expensive appliance in the house, and most of the time you’ll still walk away with a tool that is more than suitable for your needs and should last you a very long time, if not forever.
Thanks for taking the time to check out my recommendations for the best kitchen tools under $50. Take care, and have a lovely day.
Want more shopping recommendations? Take a look at my Top Eleven Must-Have Tools for Serious Bakers.