20 Kitchen Tools Under $20

America’s Test Kitchen is celebrating 20 years on public television and we’re marking the occasion with an important reminder: You don’t always need to spend a lot to get a lot.

In fact, some of our all-time favorite pieces of gear cost less than 20 bucks. First up: our longtime favorite steamer basket. Its comfy, easy-to-grip handle makes it easy to move in and out of pots. Our highly recommended 9-inch cake pan produces tall, fluffy, level cakes that release easily. Put that gear to use with the recipes featured in the America’s Test Kitchen Twentieth Anniversary TV Show Cookbook, a showstopper that commemorates the past 20 seasons on TV. It also includes a behind-the-scenes look at cast members and special features such as Jack Bishop’s favorite flavor enhancers and Lisa McManus’s top kitchen equipment. Whether you’ve loved us for a long time or you’re new to the ATK family, this is an exciting time to look back at 20 years of successful home cooking.

This brush had an ideally sized brush head—neither too short nor too long—with bristles that were just under 1 inch long and optimally positioned on both the brush head's sides and tip, allowing us to effectively scrub most containers we tried. The rigid handle had a large, rubber-coated grip that made it comfortable to hold. One tester said this brush was “remarkably easy to rinse” and “seems clean and non-icky,” but it's also dishwasher-safe for even simpler cleaning.  More on this test

While it may take you just a touch longer to use, our smaller old favorite still scours cast iron and glassware very well, easily lifting off rough patches of bacon, hamburger meat, or sticky sauce. Its larger rings had a harder time getting into tight corners and grill pan grooves but were slightly easier to clean when food got stuck on them.  More on this test

This inexpensive sealer attaches with an easy one-handed motion and an affirming click. Wine saved with it was just as fresh as a newly opened bottle for two full days (a full week if left undisturbed) and still drinkable on day three, thanks to its protruding plug and a secure closure that combined to make the best seal. Once on, it was almost flat against the top of the bottle and fit easily in the fridge.   More on this test

This stellar tool felt especially comfortable in hand, thanks to its lightly textured silicone material and gently rounded handle. The spatula head is spacious and sturdy and presses flush to the sides and bottoms of cookware. Since it’s wrapped in one continuous layer of silicone, there are no nooks or crannies to trap food. The vibrant red color hid stains, and it proved quite odor-resistant.  More on this test

Our favorite potholders are fashioned as pockets with a sheet of silicone on one side, a panel of cotton fabric on the back, and soft cotton lining in between. The silicone layer offered excellent protection from the heat. Our hands never became too hot during kitchen tests and we were able to hold a 350-degree cast-iron skillet comfortably for 23 seconds. They were also flexible, which allowed testers to feel like they had control when maneuvering hot pans. Although both the silicone and cotton fabric remained stained after our durability tests, it didn't shrink or warp. We liked that it is machine-washable.  More on this test

This light, maneuverable brush features perforated flaps in the bristles that hold liquid like a bubble wand. It easily trapped watery egg wash, was delicate enough to paint pastry without damage, and brushed barbecue sauce evenly and thickly. Its handle felt comfortable and secure; the angled head helped reach tight spots and kept sauce off the counter when we set it down.  More on this test

This funnel had the longest spout in the lineup, nearly 2 inches, which made it feel securely anchored during use. Its spout was a tad narrower than ideal, but it still allowed foods and liquids to flow reasonably well—though the viscous barbecue sauce proved challenging. As with some other models, we learned that we could address flow issues by either slowing down our pour or tapping or shaking the funnel.  More on this test

The shorter version of our favorite 12-inch tongs, this model easily picked up foods of all shapes and sizes—from dainty blueberries to a hefty jar of salsa—and was extremely comfortable to operate. The uncoated, scalloped stainless-steel tips allowed us a precise grip, making it especially easy to lift and arrange thinly sliced fruit, and the tongs' locking mechanism was smooth and intuitive.  More on this test

The longest model in our lineup, this double-headed muddler stood tall in vessels of all sizes. With a moderate weight and a large, smooth head, this model quickly and efficiently muddled everything under it, making great drinks. Testers liked that it also had a second, smaller head, which was handy for maneuvering in narrow vessels or for making a second drink without having to wash the muddler. Made of unvarnished wood with indentations cut into it, this model was particularly easy to grip, even when wet. And although the wood stained slightly after its overnight cocktail bath, the muddler was otherwise quite durable.  More on this test

This product looks like the classic blue sponge we've all used, but its plastic-based scrubbing side has ripples. These ripples added texture, which helped nudge off cooked-on food. This sponge was absorbent and durable, and it looked surprisingly clean at the end of testing. It was also our preferred size: thick enough to hold comfortably but small enough to maneuver in tight spaces.  More on this test

This extremely sturdy, warp-resistant baking sheet turned out evenly cooked and browned chicken, cauliflower, and focaccia. Its lightweight, compact size made it easy to maneuver into and out of the oven. Its size is ideal for preparing recipes that serve two and for kitchen tasks that require only a small amount of space, such as toasting a handful of nuts or a few tablespoons of sesame seeds.   More on this test

Our old favorite fits a good amount of food, and we love its new telescoping handle: When the handle is extended to the full 4 inches, it's easy to grip to move the steamer in and out of the pot. The handle can also collapse to 2.5 inches when the steamer is in the pot or for compact storage. Our only quibbles? The metal leaves are a bit finicky to clean and bent a little during testing, though the unit remained perfectly functional throughout.  More on this test

Our new favorite passed every test and looked good doing it. Its clear, lightweight Tritan plastic material stayed as clear and stain-free as glass, and its audibly snug seal didn't leak, even when we turned the container upside down and shook it hard. It held a generous amount of chili, and its low profile helped foods chill or heat up more evenly than did deeper containers. Microwaving chili was easy and neat, with lid vents that let you leave the container fully sealed while keeping splatters contained and extended rims that stayed cool for easy handling. Its flat top made for secure, compact stacking in the fridge or freezer. One quibble: While we like that the gasket is attached so we don't have to fuss with removing it, you do need to clean carefully under its open side, as some testers detected very slight fishy odors. It's also sold in sets, in varying sizes.  More on this test

This fairly thin, lightweight plastic model—a smaller version of our Best Buy full-size cutting board—was easy to hold and lift but was also stable on the counter thanks to its grippy rubber sides. It’s dishwasher-safe, and while it got a bit scratched by the end of testing, it was otherwise intact, resisting warping, cracking, or staining and retaining no odors. Testers liked cutting on its textured plastic surface and appreciated that one of its sides had a small trench for collecting juices from roasts or wet foods.   More on this test