My Favorite Kitchen Tools Under $20

The BEST low cost kitchen tools. Less than $20! A must have list for home cooks and anyone looking to stock their kitchen on a budget. From wellplated.com | @wellplated

As much as I dream of raiding every Williams Sonoma west of the Mississippi, when I honestly evaluate the tools in my kitchen, many of the ones I reach for the most are among the least expensive. Whether you are looking to add a few fresh items to your kitchen, stock it for the first time, or help a college student in culinary need, these 15 items under $20 are practical, affordable, and make cooking easier too!


Fish Spatula. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Fish Spatula. Good for SO MUCH MORE than fish. I cannot adequately express how often I use mine. It’s perfect for turning and serving roasted veggies, flipping a delicate pancake, and serving any piece of meat (or fish, of course), and it even makes over-easy eggs, well, easy. If you buy one thing on this list, make it this one!

 

 


Half Sheet Pan. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Baker’s Half Sheets. OK, I lied about #1 above. You need two items on this list, the fish spatula AND a set of baker’s half-sheet pans. These kitchen workhorses are my go-to for roasting anything and everything, from a quick batch of roasted broccoli to an entire sheet-pan chicken dinner, complete with Brussels, sweet potatoes, and more.

 

 


Silicone Baking Mat. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Silicone Baking Mats. Rather than go through sheet after sheet of parchment paper, line your baking sheets and cookie sheets with one of these babies. They make clean up a breeze, and I notice that for whatever magical reason, they help my cookies bake more evenly too.

 

 


Digital Instant-Read Thermometer. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Digital Instant-Read Meat Thermometer. The easiest, most accurate way to determine if meat is done and avoid overcooking it. Use this tool and never eat another dry chicken breast.

 

 


8x8 Baking Pan. Best low-budget kitchen tools.The Best 8×8-inch Baking Pan Ever. Everything from brownies to banana bread bakes evenly with nice edges and sharp corners in this pan, and nothing sticks to it. I have several pieces from the same line of bakeware and love them all. (Best cookie sheets too!)

 

 


12-inch Cast-Iron Skillet. Best low-budget kitchen tools.12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet. YES. You can purchase a decently sized cast-iron skillet for less than $20. I’m still breaking mine in, but so far, I love using it to make one-pan meals and ensure my breakfast potatoes are nice and crispy. Bonus: you can bake in it too (reference: Giant Skillet Healthy Peanut Butter Cookie; Skillet Red Velvet Pancakes; many stellar cornbread recipes). For a few dollars more, this brand is excellent and a bit heavier duty.


Citrus Juicer. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Citrus Juicer. This juicer extracts every last drop from lemons, limes, and oranges, without those pesky seeds infiltrating your food. After watching my friend painfully juice limes by hand for a round of margaritas, I gave him one too. The report: life (and lime) changing.

 

 


Whisk. Best low-budget kitchen tools.9-Inch Whisk. Now that I’ve experienced the ease of working with this smaller whisk, I almost never use a standard-sized one. The 9-inch is much more versatile and easier to use, especially for wet ingredients such as dressings, melted chocolate, and beaten eggs, and I find it combines dry ingredients more effectively too.

 

 


Cookie Scoop. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Cookie Scoops…in every size. I love the medium one for portioning cookie dough (same-size cookies = even baking), the small one for no-bake energy bites or smaller cookies, and the large one for muffin batter. Pro tip: if you use a cookie scoop to scoop and drop your muffin batter into the pan, the muffins tend to rise better and be fluffier than if you use a spatula or spoon.

 


Metal Measuring Cups. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Metal Measuring Cups. Scoop with confidence. And without those annoying, bendy handles.

 

 

 


Two-Sided Measuring Spoons. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Two-Sided Measuring Spoons. If you too loathe interrupting your baking to wash the spoons in between ingredients, you will LOVE these. Bonus: they are magnetic, so they stay together neatly in the drawer.

 

 


Nonslip Cutting Board. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Non-Slip Cutting Board. Easier and safer than cutting boards without the non-slip feature, and it’s dishwasher safe. I have one for savory ingredients such as onion and garlic and one for sweet ingredients such as chocolate and fruit. Keeping the two separate ensures that my Paleo Brownies never come out with hints of garlic. I mean, I’d probably still eat them, but it would be more of a battle.

 


Plane Cheese Grater. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Less-Obnoxious Cheese Grater. This plane-style grater is much easier to use and clean than box-style graters.

 

 

 


Microplane Rasp Grater. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Microplane Zester. My favorite for zesting lemons and oranges directly into the bowl so that you don’t lose any of their wonderful oils (and thus flavor). Also, if you aren’t grating your own ground nutmeg from whole nutmeg yet, you are in for a delightful flavor upgrade once you start.

 

 


Parchment Paper Sheets. Best low-budget kitchen tools.Parchment-Paper Sheets. Although I love my silicone baking mats, parchment paper still has its place. Although a roll of parchment works just fine, I find the precut sheets are worth the time they save. One sheet cut in half is perfect for lining an 8×8-inch pan, and I also like them for lining larger-sized pans when I’m cooling messy things dipped in chocolate, such as these Pistachio Truffles.

 

What are some of your kitchen must-haves? I’d love to hear from you!

 

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

19 comments

  1. I absolutely have to have silicone spatulas and spoons. I have them in many styles and sizes – even mini ones. I think this comes from not wanting to waste things. I want to get the very last bits out of pans, bowls, etc. And I definitely agree about the sheet pans and don’t even get me started on the greatness factor of parchment sheets! While they most certainly cost more than $20, every kitchen should have the very best knives affordable. I love my Chicago Cutlery and my husband keeps them nice and sharp for me – less chance for cutting things other than your food that way! The rest of your list is for sure the must haves.

  2. I totally support your list! One thing here that I have never seen before… these two-sided measuring spoons are genius!

  3. This was life-changing! Thank you for the recommendations! After following your blog for quite some time I admire you & trust your opinion. Do you have a recommendation for a good chef’s knife? Something that is not triple digits? If you had one to add to this $20 list that would be your grand encore!

    Rating: 5
    • Josie, I am so glad these recommendations are helpful! I WISH there were a slam dunk $20 chef’s knife, but a great knife really is an investment. A brand I’ve really loved over the years is Zwilling. I have several of their knives, including a chef’s knife, and it has served me so well. This one isn’t cheap, but it at least doesn’t hit the triple digits!

      • Thank you for the reply & recommendation! Just want to Amazon to purchase. And thanks again for sharing your time & expertise through this outstanding blog. You rock!

  4. I’ve never heard of the two-sided measuring spoons, what a great invention! I honestly have 2 sets of measuring spoons for this reason but I wish I knew about this before I bought the second set! I absolutely love my apple-corer. A life-saver! :)

  5. I had several Lodge frying pans but bought a glass top stove and was told I could not use cast iron on it so I gave my pans away. Really miss using them and would like to know if this 12 inch pan you are advertising would be usable on the glass top before I purchase one.

    • Hi Margaret! I’m sorry, but I’m not familiar with glass cooktops. I’d suggest checking the manufacturer’s website or even reading some of the FAQs on Amazon. You may be able to find more information that way.

  6. Maria Clarke, Sister-in-Law/Sous Chef(Slave) Reply

    As a professional, and someone who spends 6+ hours a day over a grill, lemme tell you girl, a “fish spatula” is absolutely a necessity for me! Everyone, seriously. Buy one. Buy four.

  7. I have a Stellar 1000 Stainless Steel Sauce Pot which is PERFECT for anything from gravy to cheese sauce, hot toddy’s to melting chocolate!

    It’s an investment (£30/$40) but I will never ever be without it <3

    Lo
    http://www.themixturesat30.blogspot.co.uk

  8. hey girl- great list! so cool!

  9. I have to buy metal measuring cups & spoons. I’ve broken many plastic ones. I LOVE my offset spatula & cookie scoops.

  10. Hey Erin!
    My half sheet pan just came in the mail today, and I am so excited to use it!
    Next, I’m getting that 9-inch whisk.
    Thanks so much for turning me on to that,
    Nikkie

    Rating: 5
  11. Hey Erin! I love your list! I sell Epicure which is a Canadian company that has tons of amazing spice blends as well as some of the cooking products you listed!! I would love a shout out for my business. I find your recipes so inspiring and the emails I get each day help me to keep cooking at home and eating Clean! I have a group of ladies where I help to inspire them to eat clean and cook at home. I have shared your blog in that group because your recipes and posts are fantastic! Thank you!!

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