20 under $20: Inexpensive but Essential Cooking Tools

This is a roundup of our favorite kitchen tools and gadgets under $20.  We plan to update this list continually as we review more categories and in response to changes in price or availability.  If you have a favorite sub-$20 tool you think we are missing, please let us know.

1. Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler, White (usually under $4) link to Amazon product page

On a price/performance level, nothing comes close to this cheap-looking peeler.  In addition to white, they are available in red, or in a set of three ($11).

2. Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet (around $19) link to Amazon product page

The Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned Skillet is available in a variety of sizes, including 6 1/2-inch ($10), 8-inch ($13), 9-inch ($17: perfect for tarte tatin and far cheaper than copper or enameled alternatives), 10 1/4-inch ($15).  The larger 13 1/4  (around $30) and 15-inch versions ($35) get more expensive and are brutishly heavy.  On the other end of the spectrum is the diminutive 5-inch mini.

3. Microplane Zester/Grater (around $12) link to Amazon product page

Use for citrus, hard cheeses.

4. Microplane Professional Extra Coarse Grater (around $17) link to Amazon product page

Great alternative to bulky box grater for softer cheese.  The all-metal construction is nice because cheese tends to stick to rubberized grips.

5. Silpat 11-5/8-by-16-1/2-Inch Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat (around $20) link to Amazon product page

This is a must for baking.  Fits perfectly in the Jelly Roll Pan below.

6. Chicago Metallic Commercial 18×13-Inch Jelly Roll Pan ($17) link to Amazon product page

This also comes in a convenient 12×9-inch size ($12)

7. OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Stainless-Steel Locking Tongs (around $13) link to Amazon product page

See also a smaller 9-inch model ($11), as well as a larger 16-inch model ($15) that can also be used for grilling.  OXO also makes excellent nylon-tipped tongs for use with non-stick pans in 9-inch ($12) and 12-inch sizes.

8. OXO Good Grips Silicone Silk Strainer (around $8) link to Amazon product page

Is it wrong to love a sink strainer?

9. Kuhn Rikon Paring Knife (red: around $10) link to Amazon product page

Not as nice as the Shun Classic, but a nice little knife that can be sheathed and tossed in a drawer.  It also comes in a variety of colors, including green, blue, purple, orange, yellow, black, pink, and of course, periwinkle

10. OXO Good Grips 11″ Balloon Whisk (around $10) link to Amazon product page

This also comes in a 9″ size ($9).  We liked these rubber-handled whisks better than the all-metal “OXO Steel” version.

11. Oxo Good Grips Swivel Peeler (about $8) link to Amazon product page

Why two vegetable peelers on this list?  Partly to account for personal preferences between this traditional style and the “Y” design of the Kuhn Rikon, and partly because these designs each seem more appropriate to certain types of produce.  OXO also makes a serrated version of this product which costs about the same.

12.  CIA Masters Collection 12 Inch x 17 Inch Wire Cooling Rack ($16) link to amazon product page

13.  Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Measuring Cup (around $7) link to Amazon product page

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t have one already?

14. Screwpull Waiter’s Corkscrew (around $15) link to Amazon product page

For use until all wine is bottled with screw caps.

15. Oxo Good Grips Silicone Flexible Turner (around $9) link to Amazon product page

16.  Aerolatte Milk Frother (about $16) link to Amazon product page

OK, maybe not essential, but fun.  We liked the stainless steel deluxe (around $25) version for the convenience of its stand, but both models performed equally well.

17. CDN Proaccurate Stainless Digital Thermometer (around $18) link to Amazon product page

Much cheaper than a Thermapen

18. Pyrex Storage 10-Piece Set, Clear with Blue Lids (around $15) link to Amazon product page

These won’t stain like plastic counterparts, can be frozen, and placed in microwave.

19. Amco 8-Quart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl (around $18) link to Amazon product page

Commercial quality mixing bowl with nice proportions.  Also comes in 2-quart ($9), 4-quart ($11), 6-quart ($14), and 12-quart ($24) sizes.

20. Oxo Wooden Reamer (about $6) link to Amazon product page