Some kitchen gadgets remain state-of-the-art for decades-there's no improving on the rice cooker, for instance. Yet others are continually updated with smaller proportions, and so many bells and whistles that they'll do everything but the dishes. To compile our list of the best budget-friendly cooking tools we combed through the classics, the brand new, and the new-and-improved. If you don't already have these kitchen essentials, you'll wonder how you ever survived without them!
1. Four-in-One Avocado Tool
Instead of juggling (and dirtying) a knife, spoon, and fork when preparing an avocado, use this nifty all-in-one tool for ease, convenience and cleanliness. About $15, williams-sonoma.com2. Coffee Grinder for Spices
Use a coffee grinder to freshly grind spices and achieve more flavor in your dishes. The Braun Coffee Grinder is an affordable way to concoct your own spice blends, control the texture of the grains, and just make less mess. About $22, kitchenwareetc.com3. Attachments for KitchenAid
Clearly the KitchenAid mixer is itself a classic kitchen gadget. But you can pimp out the machine with some amazing affordable attachments.
The KitchenAid Citrus Juicer comes with a straining feature for smooth morning OJ. About $35, shopkitchen.aid.com
The KitchenAid Sausage Stuffer Kit makes sausage-making easier and manageable; it comes with two different thickness sausage options. About $14, shopkitchen.aid.com
(Over $50 but super cool and definitely worth mentioning are the Ice Cream Maker, Pasta Press and Ravioli Maker attachments)
Life will never be the same after you've brought the griddle pan into your daily life. Toast a quick piece of bread, make the perfect quesadilla, brown the crispiest piece of bacon, and more on this all-purpose piece of cookware. The 5-Ply Stainless Steel Round Griddle will become and instant favorite. About $49, kitchenandrestaurant.com
Sure-fire rice in a nonstick rice cooker? Just measure in the rice and water and let the machine do its magic. Or throw in some vegetables, spices, and broth along with the rice and quickly make a flavorful one-pot meal. The Zojirushi Rice Cooker, in a smaller 3-cup version, will produce a manageable-sized portion and will even keep the rice warm after it's done cooking. About $43, target.com
See 10 more of This Old House's favorite kitchen products for under $50 at ThisOldHouse.com.
And, click here for 13 ways to get out of the kitchen faster this holiday season.