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10 Cooking Tools You Can Get Cheap at the Hardware Store

Find better quality cooking and entertaining items at the hardware store. Eschew the froufrou!

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cedar plank salmon with lemon and dill garnish cooking on grillShutterstock / Joshua Resnick

Cedar Grilling Planks—about $1 each

You can spend around $15 for a pair of cedar planks made specifically for grilling, or you can head to the lumber department for an untreated 12′ cedar board. Have the employee cut the board into 12- or 15-in. lengths and you end up with 10-12 planks for about $11. That’s a savings of 85%—and a whole lotta cedar planked salmon for years to come!

New to plank grilling? This beginner’s guide will help get you started.

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Pouring milk in bottle with kitchen funnel isolated on white backgroundShutterstock / Evgeny Tomeev

Plastic Funnels—$1 to $2 each

No need to hit the kitchen supply store for overpriced funnel sets with pieces that you don’t need. Just grab a funnel a la carte from the hardware store. These may not collapse like pricier silicone funnels made specifically for the kitchen, but they cost only a fourth or a fifth as much. The hole in the handle means you can hang the funnel out of the way.

Parchment paper makes a quick funnel for dry ingredients. Here are 9 other uses.

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A chef prepares stuffed pastries by brushing egg over the top before bakingShutterstock / Todd Taulman Photography

Paintbrushes, AKA Pastry Brushes—$2 each

Long-bristled paintbrushes work just as well as those sold specifically for pastries, and they cost less than half as much.

You can also get pastry brushes for cheap at this unexpected store.

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Assortment of cheese with honey, nuts and grape on a modern cutting board slate backgroundShutterstock / Anna_Pustynnikova

Slate Tile Cheese Tray—free to $12 each

One of the big kitchen stores sells a 12×18-in. slate cheese tray for $49.95, but we found a sample of this tile, also in slate, for $11.70. That’s 76% off! Some hardware and flooring stores have free samples, too. Now, here’s how to nail that perfect cheese assortment.

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baker portioning dough with bench cutter at bakeryShutterstock / Syda Productions

The Best Bench Scraper—$9

Chef Alton Brown says the 8″ Wal-Board Taping Knife is the best bench scraper he’s ever had. A name-brand one from a kitchen store will set you back about $15—and because it’s smaller, it takes more time to do the job.

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Close macro view of wooden dowels.Shutterstock / FoodStocker

Wooden Dowels—$0.41 and up

Place 1/4-in. dowels around your cookie or pie dough and you’ll always roll ’em to the right thickness. (Rolling guides specifically for kitchen use cost a lot more dough—from $6 for rolling pin rings to $20 for more elaborate dowel-type set-ups.)

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flame caramelizing a creme bruleeShutterstock / Bernd Juergens

Basic Blow Torch—$17

You’ll pay $25 to $40 for a cute mini creme brulee torch from a cooking store. Or you can reach for the professional chef’s choice—a basic blow torch from the hardware store. It’s reliable and it comes with more than 1.5 times the fuel. In no time it broils up this irresistible Chocolate S’mores Tart.

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Bundle of fresh organic asparagus wrapped in craft paper on kitchen tableOlinda/Shutterstock

Kitchen Twine—$0.71 per 100′

Even cotton twine is cheaper at the hardware store—about 30% less than what we found for comparable twine at a home-goods store.

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Salad with cucumber, celery and eggs on a wooden tableShutterstock / A. Zhuravleva

Ring Molds—$1 each

PVC coupling pipes will give you the same formal look as a ring mold—and they cost about 70% less. Use a mold for fancier plated presentations.

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chocolate brownieShutterstock / Shebeko

Plastic Putty Knife—$1.59

Keep these on hand for all those potluck desserts made in a 13×9 pan! The plastic edge means it won’t scratch your pans, and the cheap price means you won’t be heartbroken if it gets misplaced. Here’s a versatile one.

Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a book editor at Taste of Home. A CIA alumna with honors, she creates cookbooks and food-related content. A favorite part of the job is taste-testing dishes. Previous positions include pastry chef at a AAA Five Diamond property. Christine moonlights at a boutique wine shop, where she edits marketing pieces and samples wine far higher than her pay grade.