Arrow-right Camera
Subscribe now

10 cheap, trusty kitchen tools that make great last-minute gifts

By Becky Krystal Washington Post

Holiday gifts don’t have to be big or expensive to be appreciated. In fact, it’s often the smaller, practical items intended for everyday use that end up having the most impact in the long run. That’s certainly the case when it comes to the home cooks in your life.

You can explore our eclectic food gift guide, compiled by Anna Rodriguez, which has practical, fun and delicious options. But if you’re looking for one or two things to round out your gift bag – or a bunch of ideas to package together – we’re here to help.

We gathered some of our favorite staff- and reader-recommended cheap kitchen tools in one place to make the decision easy. The gifts below range in price from $49.95 (for a 10-piece bowl set) down to $5 (for a peeler).

Serrated paring knife

The Victorinox serrated paring knife slices with ease through almost anything you can throw at it. It’s ideal for fruit and vegetable prep, as well as dividing sandwiches in half. ($8 from Victorinox)

Glass prep bowls

Prep bowls (sometimes called pinch or finger bowls) come in a variety of sizes and are great for assembling ingredients, especially when making quick-cooking recipes such as stir-fries. Use to portion salt and pepper when dealing with raw meat, to avoid cross-contamination. ($49.95 for 10-piece set from Crate & Barrel)

Y peeler

Odds are, whatever Y peeler is in your gift recipient’s drawer is old and dull. One of the main reasons for going with a Y peeler as opposed to the swivel style is the wider strips of food you can remove with the blade. We’ve had good luck with the Oxo Good Grips and Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler. ($11.99 from Oxo; $5 from Kuhn Rikon)

Spoon rest

A nice wood or ceramic spoon rest adds flair and helps keep the kitchen neat. No more in-use spoons and spatulas on wadded-up paper towels, plates, the counter, the stovetop or, precariously, the edge of the pot. Some spoon rests are just big enough for the end of the spoon or spatula, but full-length versions are also an option. ($19.95 from Williams Sonoma)

Funnel sets

Decanting can be a messy business, whether it’s for dry or wet ingredients. A narrow-mouth funnel is ideal for filling spice or other small bottles; sets are nice because they give you a few size options. Also consider metal canning funnels that can be used to fill regular- and wide-mouth jars when organizing the pantry with supplies of rice, beans and other dry goods. ($8.99 for set of three silicone funnels from Fante’s Kitchen Shop; $9.99 for stainless steel funnel from Fante’s)

Dish towels

When you cook and clean a lot at home, it’s easy to go through dish towels at a rapid clip. A large pack (24 is super) means never running out or having to do laundry all the time. Plus, they cut back on waste by standing in for paper towels. ($19.99 for 12-pack on Amazon)

Bench scrapers

Bench scrapers can do a lot – getting that last bit of dough out of the bowl or off the counter, cutting dough for square biscuits or slicing sturdy bar cookies. Use them to clean dough or flour from counters or level off dry ingredients in measuring cups. Consider a set with stainless steel and plastic scrapers that fit snugly together for compact storage. ($12.99 for 3-in-1 set from Chef’n)

Jar/mini spatulas

These slim tools are invaluable for scraping the last bits of mustard, honey, jams and more out of the jar. Depending on the size, they can also assist in mixing and sauteing. They’re also handy for maintaining a sourdough starter in a canning jar. ($5.99 for 4-pack on Amazon)

Reusable storage bags

Durable, sustainable food storage bags, such as Stasher’s, are important to any kitchen. They keep the food visible but airtight thanks to a tight seal and can stand up to the fridge, freezer, dishwasher, microwave, oven and even sous-vide cooking. And they reduce the need for disposable plastic bags. ($36.99 for 3-pack from Stasher)

Pastry cutter/blender

A multibladed pastry cutter incorporates butter into flour for pie crusts, biscuits and more. Clever cooks also use it for mashing avocados for guacamole or bananas for banana bread, as well as slicing hard-cooked eggs. ($7.99 at Fante’s Kitchen Shop)