Kitchen gifts sitting atop red and green kitchen towels

Is there a home chef in your life who might appreciate new tools this holiday season? There’s no need to splash out on pricey processors or budget-busting blenders.

Consumer Reports has some great gift ideas, including a top-scoring toaster, coffee maker, personal blender, and waffle iron that will raise any cook’s game in the kitchen—for less than $50 a pop.

Go to Consumer Reports' Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.

Coffee & Tea

Drip Coffee Maker
Hamilton Beach 12-cup Programmable 49465R

    An extraordinary value, this inexpensive drip coffee maker beat dozens of pricier models in CR’s battery of tests. Brew performance rates Excellent, and it can be programmed to have piping fresh coffee waiting in the morning.

    For more options: Best Drip Coffee Makers

    Electric Kettle
    Amazon Basics Stainless Steel Electric Kettle

      This AmazonBasics kettle is made of stainless steel and is one of the least expensive kettles in our tests. It’s small, though, holding just 4 cups of water—the least of the kettles we test. It's among the fastest to bring our testing standard of 4 cups of water to a boil, clocking in at just under 4 minutes and earning a Very Good rating in our time-to-boil tests. This kettle is the hardest to clean of the models highlighted here, however. The warranty lasts one year. 

       

      For more options: Best Electric Kettles

      Cookware

      Cast Iron Pan
      Lodge Cast Iron Pre-seasoned

        Lodge has been making cast-iron frying pans in its Tennessee foundry since 1896. This 12-inch Lodge is top-notch at browning scallops and earns an Excellent rating for searing a steak. Baking is only so-so, though. Heating evenness is also mediocre. It weighs 7.8 pounds, which is about average in this category.

        For more options: Best Cast-Iron Frying Pans

        Nonstick Frying Pan
        The Rock by Starfrit Nonstick

          Is it a frying pan or is it an action hero? Joking, of course, but The Rock by Starfrit is a star in our cooking evenness test, earning an Excellent rating. That means pancakes come out evenly browned every time. It's almost as good in our food-release test, so you can fry eggs one after another and they'll easily slide out of the pan. The handle stays cool to the touch but isn't as sturdy as some in our tests. And this pan held up well in our durability test, so it should last longer than some other low-priced pans.

           

          For more options: Best Nonstick Frying Pans for $40 or less

          Small Appliances

          Rice Cooker
          Instant Zest 8-cup

            Despite the name, the Instant Zest 8-cup is actually a 4-cup rice cooker. (The “8-cup” refers to cooked rice; most rice cookers go by dry measurements.) Like most of the rice cookers in our ratings, this one scores a Very Good rating for cooking rice. One taster on our trained panel said the brown rice made in the Zest had a good texture and a nice bite. However, many tasters found that while the white rice was cooked through, it often came out a little sticky.

             

            For more options: Best Rice Cookers

            Food Chopper
            Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus DLC-2A

              The Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus DLC-2A is a 3-cup chopper that combines great value with solid performance. In our tests, it was particularly adept at chopping almonds and onions, and grating Parmesan cheese, though other choppers were better at puréeing. This model is ideal if you have limited counter space—it takes up as much counter space as a postcard.

               

              For more options: Best Food Processors and Choppers

              Toaster
              Bella Pro Series 90062

                Gluten-free bread, which is denser than regular bread, doesn't toast quite the same. Bella picked up on this and added a gluten-free setting to the two-slice Bella Pro Series 90062. It works as promised, turning out nicely browned gluten-free toast. As for regular bread, the Bella earns an Excellent rating in our time tests, putting it among the fastest two-slice models in our ratings. Overall, it combines top performance and a reasonable price, making it a CR Best Buy.

                For more options: Best Toasters

                Immersion Blender
                Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-75

                  Excellent at puréeing vegetables for soup, this gadget—the perfect size to fit in a drawer—is also great at blending yogurt. The Smart Stick also comes with a three-year warranty, better than most we tested.

                  For more options, check our buying guides and ratings for blenders.

                  Waffle Maker
                  Chefman Anti-Overflow Belgian Waffle Maker

                    The Chefman was the only waffle maker we tested to snag a CR Best Buy designation. For far less money than most of the competition, this machine churns out evenly browned round waffles. It garners a Very Good rating for its color-range settings, meaning there’s a remarkable difference between waffles made on the darkest setting (brown and crispy) and lightest setting (light and fluffy). It has an indicator light to let you know when the waffles are ready, the option to store it vertically to save space, and a batter cup for precise portioning. However, the handle and latch get uncomfortably warm during cooking, despite the “cool touch” claims, so you may want to use an oven mitt when opening and closing the lid.

                     

                    For more options: Best Waffle Makers

                    Hand Mixer
                    Cuisinart Power Advantage HM-50

                      Cuisinart’s well-priced 5-speed hand mixer has no trouble powering through stiff cookie dough in our tests, and it's very quick at whipping heavy cream. We also like the mixer’s wire beaters, which are easier to clean than the traditional center-post variety. But this mixer is louder than other models in CR's tests. Still, hand mixers are used in such short bursts that the noise may not bother the home cook using it.

                      For more options, check our mixer buying guide and ratings.

                      Personal Blender
                      Black+Decker PowerCrush PB2000G

                        The sleek PowerCrush PB2000G can crank out smoothies every morning, no problem: It earns an Excellent rating in our tests for making icy drinks. Family members and roommates will appreciate it, too, because this blender earns a Very Good rating in our noise test, meaning it’s relatively quiet. (All the other blenders we tested rate only a Good or Fair.) Black+Decker’s personal blenders earn a Very Good rating for predicted reliability, based on data from CR’s member survey.

                        For more options: Best Personal Blenders for Smoothies To-Go