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The 61 Best Gifts Under $20 for the Cooks and Food Lovers in Your Life

Jul 26, 2023Jul 26, 2023

By Emily Johnson and Megan Wahn

All products featured on Epicurious are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Cheap gifts have a bad reputation, but in reality you don't have to spend a fortune to make a big impact. In fact, some of the best kitchen gifts under $20 are actually our favorite kitchen tools in general. We’ve rounded up our favorite pitchers, beautiful glassware, useful cooking tools for beginners, and, of course, delicious stuff that you can eat and use while cooking. These gifts are ideal if you’re trying to put together a package of small presents, need a little white elephant gift, or want to bring a little gift to a dinner party. Here are the best gifts under $20 from a variety of retailers to show your food-loving friends you care.

A fish spatula isn't just for fish. It's quite simply the best spatula there is. The fish spatula is a sturdy slotted plane of stainless steel with an asymmetrical beveled edge, and it has a much longer head than your typical variety, allowing you the right leverage to flip any delicate item perfectly. It has a nice bit of springy give and is thinner than many other varieties—which, again, makes it easy to slide under thin foods like fried eggs. Our associate editor Joe Sevier says it's quite simply the best device for flipping anything delicate. Read more about why we love it here—and give it to the beginner cook in your life.

This is the best ginger-grating tool out there. The biggest difference between this grater and the classic zester-grater is the shape of its razor-like teeth. Instead of rectangles, they’re triangles, which are far more efficient at cutting through the root's fibers.

This Thai peeler is designed for making papaya salad, but can be used to shred virtually any vegetable into thin, crunchy strands for salads, fritters, or vegetable-noodle dishes.

Photo by Travis Rainey

Our new favorite fun gift to throw in a stocking during the holiday season or give as a fun housewarming present. This cheerful little timer will make your monotonous morning egg boiling a little more fun. Read more about why we love it.

Photo by Travis Rainey

For a beginner cook, this budget chopper is just the perfect gift. The Ninja differs from other mini food processors on the market; it doesn't have a mechanical base. Instead, you plug in the top, which feels slightly safer. It operates by pressing a comfortable handle built into the lid and can pulverize herbs, nuts, and pretty much any ingredient successfully.

This adjustable over-the-counter mesh colander will keep pasta from touching the dirty bottom of the sink and can also double as a dish-drying rack when you need it to.

These swatches of reusable cloth coated in tacky beeswax can be used to wrap foods, cover bowls, even contain a handful of nuts. Buy a set for the friend who's trying to be more sustainable in the kitchen.

These silicone discs come in a set with varying sizes; they’re designed to fit around all types of produce. They’re a great gift for any loved one who wants a new eco-friendly way to save half an onion or lemon—and they’d be a great addition to any beginner cook's stocking.

Though we were skeptical of this viral gadget at first, in our test of the best waffle makers, we found this TikTok-best seller to be surprisingly effective. And it's only $13!

A splatter screen is an affordable, handy solution to a universal cooking problem: grease splatter. Place the screen over a frying pan to avoid a messy oil-covered cooktop. Your neat freak friend will be forever grateful when they unwrap this gift.

If you know someone who uses their phone as their primary source for recipes (shout-out to the Epicurious app!), buy them a stand to prop it up while they’re cooking to keep it from getting covered in flour and spices.

This cheerful reusable water bottle will allow you to hydrate on the go—without promoting waste.

This handmade pitcher is simple and modern with a science beaker vibe that's perfect for the friend who approaches cocktails with the seriousness of an A.P. chemistry teacher. It has a luxe look that far exceeds its low price point. It's also super versatile and able to fit the aesthetic of virtually any tablescape. It's perfect for a hostess whose style you might not have nailed down yet, because who wouldn't love something so streamlined and simple? Serve juice in it. Serve water in it. Serve booze in it. You do you.

This gift might feel superfluous at first, which is exactly what makes it ideal. An egg crate is the kind of thing very few people would think to get themselves, but it's shockingly functional. Having eggs accessible in the fridge makes meal prep extra easy—kids can grab a hard boiled egg on their way out the door. The cute painted one below is pretty enough to feel gifty.

For the impatient butter lover in your life, give a tool that will make it easy to spread cold butter on toast without waiting for it to come to room temperature. The Ginkgo knife makes it possible to cut into even the coldest butter and spread it in a thin, instantly melting layer because it has a series of small perforations along its sharp scalloped edge—a bit like an overgrown version of an old-fashioned citrus zester.

A pretty cruet for olive oil is not only a stylish gift—it will also ensure that the person you give it to will be storing their oil away from air and light, thus keeping it fresher for longer. (And it looks nice on the countertop.)

These shiny place cards add a sleek look to the table—and you can use them endlessly since they can be written on with dry erase marker. You can also whip them out to label dishes on a buffet, or meats and cheeses on a charcuterie plate.

These sparkling wine stoppers make great stocking stuffers for toasting season. They’re simple tools that allow you to preserve the bubbles in a bottle of sparkling. Everyone should have one or two or four on hand.

And while you’re at it, snag one of these trusty Oxo stoppers that also doubles as a spout to help preserve and pour your wine.

Don't worry about refilling butane lighters anymore. These electric lighters can be revived with a charger. Buy a few candles to make a gift set that will help your friends set the mood at their dinner parties this holiday season.

Why have a regular old bottle opener when you could get one with character? This retro dice bottle opener is just the thing to give if you want to go down as the "creative gift giver" at your friend's birthday or this year's Secret Santa. And when your loved one isn't using it to open beer bottles, they can leave it on their counter or coffee table and let it double as a fun piece of home decor.

For that one friend or family member that's always hosting the wine and charcuterie nights, make sure to snag them a cheese slicer. (Fun fact: it's also a great tool to get the perfect citrus twist, according to pro bartenders.)

If you’re looking for a last-minute gifts and candles aren't really your friend's thing, then maybe a diffuser will be more their speed. Sure, this isn't a cooking tool or a piece of servingware. But, having a subtly scented essential oil misting in the bathroom while you throw a dinner party is a nice touch. Or use it to rid your kitchen of lingering garlic or fish smells.

This reusable coffee filter cuts down on waste from the paper variety. And it makes a smooth morning cup, too. Read more about why we love it here.

This inexpensive tool transforms a serviceable cup of French-press coffee into the sort of fancy brew—piping hot, balanced, and finished with a blanket of sweet, soft, fine-grained foam on top—you’d find at your local coffee shop. There are no bells and whistles involved—the frother itself is really just a teensy whisk—but its battery-powered motor is brawny enough to whip a small cupful of milk into a creamy, foamy cloud in seconds.

Any tea lover you know probably already has a tea ball—but do they have the best brewing basket on the market? This infuser basket fits in a variety of mug sizes, and allows water and tea leaves to mingle fluidly for a perfect brew. It came out on top of our test of the best brewing baskets.

And if you want to opt for something more decorative, then these tea strainers with tiny animals on top get the job done while looking adorable.

While you probably won't find many drip coffee makers for $20, the iced coffee fiends in your life are in luck when you give them this cold brew coffee maker. The design is easy to use, and the pitcher compactly fits in the refrigerator door. Plus, it works for making iced tea and other infused drinks.

For the hot coffee enthusiasts in your life who still prefer to brew manually, you can grab this relatively affordable and ultra-simple French press.

This is a classic gift for a reason—it's not possible to have too many mugs. Any hot beverage lover will always appreciate a new coffee mug or two for their latte, tea, chai, or whatever else they drink in the morning. Here are a few different retro and ultra-cute mugs that make great gift ideas:

This scrap bowl, which hangs over your cabinet door, is ideal for tossing food scraps as you’re prepping ingredients, getting things like potato peels or carrot tops out of your way on the cutting board while you're working. When you wipe your counters, you can sweep crumbs directly into it rather than having to awkwardly gather them in your hand and make your way to the main trash can.

Instead of opting for a gift card as a last minute present or stocking stuffer, go for a set of reusable silicone stasher bags. They look way cuter than your average plastic bag, and they're extra durable.

Give the person in your life who hasn't replaced their dish towels for years a refresh. It's about to be a new year—out with the stained, burned old rags and in with these pretty, useful dish towels.

Mushrooms are extremely absorbent, so cleaning them with water can sog them out and prevent them from browning. That's where a mushroom brush comes in, which you can use to brush away bits of soil or growing medium.

Make your giftee the envy of everyone at the farmers market or grocery store with these fashionable shopping bags.

You never thought a kitchen sponge could be fun—but these sparkly numbers, available in a variety of fun different colors, prove you wrong. They make a unique gift for that rare person on your list who actually loves doing the dishes.

If you have negative associations with infused olive oils, you need to give this one a try. Just a touch over $20, it's made by crushing lemons and olives together and has a bright, intense citrus flavor that's perfect for adding a pop to soups and stews—or drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

courtesy of Amazon

Kishibori is a type of shoyu—a variety of Japanese soy sauce brewed with roasted wheat. To make it, soybeans, sun-dried salt, and mineral water are combined with roasted wheat and left to ferment in 100-year-old cider barrels for a year. The slow fermentation process produces an extremely nuanced, smooth, complex sauce. It also comes in a beautiful bottle, making it a good gift.

Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Liza Jernow

If you’re looking for an unexpected ingredient to change your friend's life, then look no further than Lee Kum Kee chicken powder. It revolutionized cooking for not one, but two Epicurious staffers last year. It's an ideal substitute for stock when you don't have time to make one from scratch—and it also makes a fun cheat ingredient for a flavorful pan sauce.

Comprised of roasted chiles de árbol, garlic, onion, and spices sautéed in canola oil, this chile crisp is more garlic-forward and a bit smokier than other condiments of this variety. And it's exceptionally crunchy. Gift this condiment to someone who loves layers of roasted flavor, extra crunch, and the just-right amount of spice.

This rich spice blend includes tomato powder, sweet paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and tumeric. It's technically designed for shakshuka, but it'll add sweetness and savory depth of flavor to any dish where warming spices would be welcome.

A box of chocolate is never a bad gift idea. Or make your own chocolate sampler gift by buying a few of our favorite bars and putting them in a pretty decorative basket or box.

Bake little soufflés in these ramekins—or use them as prep bowls. Or just use them as catch-all dishes on your counter (they’re definitely chic enough for it).

If you have a bread baker in your life, they’ll appreciate a banneton. This rattan basket wicks moisture from the dough proofing inside it, which will help the bread get a crisp crust. A banneton is also responsible for that attractive spiral pattern you might recognize on the artisanal loaves you’ve seen on Instagram.

This curved edged bowl scraper is the perfect gift for the baker in your life—it'll help them catch every last bit of cake or brownie batter stuck to the sides of the bowl. Whether that batter goes in the baker's mouth or into the brownie pan is frankly none of our business.

Silpat is the best of the best when it comes to baking sheet mats—the brand has become synonymous with this style of rollable cookware liner. Made of fiberglass mesh and heavy-duty silicone, Silpat mats are thin and flexible, naturally nonstick, and built to line a sheet pan perfectly.

Last year we wrote about why tall cake pans are superior. Make your bakes more impressive—without any effort—by using a 3" cake pan (rather than the standard 20").

Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Liza Jernow

KitchenAid accessories can be tough for some to justify buying on your own dime, which is what makes them such great gifts. This simple improvement to the classic KitchenAid mixing attachments means you won't have to stop and scrape the bowl a million times when you're making brownies.

Have more on your wish list? Read more of our gift guides below:

Egg crate Oxo Stainless Steel Wine Stopper/Pourer