10 Favorite Kitchen Tools Under $15

I feel that buying gifts for cooks is easy, especially since I love to cook.  However, I've been told non-cooks hate to shop for cooks because they don't know where to begin.  And so, for those of you who enjoy the kitchen, I suggest making a specific list. After all, no one but you knows if your plastic measuring spoons are warped, so the best way to have them replaced is to tell someone you'd like new ones. (Communication is marvelous that way!!)

So, to aid you in answering gift questions this Christmas, here are 10 favorite kitchen tools (with links for your shopping convenience).  These are the workhorses of my kitchen and make an appearance at least weekly when I cook.  (So you know, I don't receive any freebies or compensation for any recommendation on my blog!)

1. Metal measuring spoons & cups

15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets
15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Plastic cups and spoons are subject to staining, warp over time, and don't always give accurate measurements.   This is a perfect gift for your child to give you!  I don't think the brand matters on these items, so get what you like.  Just avoid any sets with extra plastic around the handle.  (These work for cups and spoons.)

2. Pastry Cutter

15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets
15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Every time I make scones or a pie or anything requiring me to cut butter into flour, I thank my stars for this tool.  At $10.00 (here),  it's a super bargain for any baker.

3. Bamboo Cutting Boards

15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets
15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

I have a stack of bamboo cutting boards because they clean so well and my knives don't dull when I use them (unlike the plastic ones).  I also use them for serving trays for appetizers!  Amazon has a great selection here.

4. Microplane Grater/Zester

15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets
15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

There's nothing like a dash of lemon zest in baked dishes or a pasta dish topped with fresh grated cheese.  To do either of those things hassle free, you need a microplane.  My preference is to get the all-metal kind so nothing will melt in the dishwasher, but if you're not worried about such things, live on the edge and get one with a comfy plastic handle.

5. Little bowls

15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets
15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

To the novice eye, little bowls sound like a lame gift.  Actually, most of the things on this list SOUND lame, but based on how many of these bowls I take from the dishwasher every load, these are THE “go to” prep bowls for us.  You can’t do "mise en place" without ‘em, plus you can pick up a set at Target for $15 bucks. Score!!!

6. Hand Juicer

15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets
15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

I have a “real” juicer, but I use it once a year.  Instead, this little press takes care of all of those little requests for juice in ceviche, salsa, or sangria  Plus, it’s super easy to clean.  Pick one up on Amazon for $9.

7. Kitchen Shears

15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets
15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

A contender for “most used” item in the kitchen has to be my shears.  I’ve given up (mostly) using my teeth to open things and there is NO substitute for sheers.  At $15, these are worth every penny.

8. Salt Cellar

15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets
15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

I had no idea how much I would use a salt cellar until I had one.  These small containers are meant to stay near your cooktop so you can add a dash of salt whenever you need to without having to get into the cabinet.  My particular cellar has two parts.  I use the top part either for a different variety of salt or for “double dipping” (when I’m working on a poultry and I don’t want to contaminate the whole pile of salt).  There are tons of options for salt cellars when you Google it.  If you can’t decide on a color, opt for wood (here).

9. Mandoline

15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets
15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

If you’re not a knife ninja and you don’t want to drag the food processor out for a small job AND you need finely sliced veggies, you would love a mandoline.  Unfortunately, most of these tools are expensive and take up lots of storage space.  That’s the beauty of the one by  Keuken.  It’s only $7 and will make all of your food chopping look perfect.  Especially helpful with the Brussels sprout salad!

10. Cast Iron Skillets

15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets
15 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

No matter how fancy and incredible your All Clad or Le Creuset cook sets are, your pan selection is incomplete without a couple of cast-iron skillets.  I love my Lodge set. They are inexpensive (here) and will outlast everything else I own.  If you need to know how to season your pan, look here.  I have two sizes, but the small 8 inch is most critical for homemade cornbread! Let me know if this is helpful and if you'd like to see any higher range tools!  Happy giving!!

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