The ultimate guide to small appliances
If you spend a lot of time making cookies, casseroles, and everything in between, a well-stocked kitchen can save you a lot of time. Kitchen machines and hand mixers, for example, can automate the tedious mixing process, while a kitchen machine can dice, chop or grind ingredients at the push of a button.
Here at Select, we’re about working smarter, not harder. We regularly advise chefs, restaurant owners, and other culinary experts on small kitchen appliances that may interest amateur cooks, from slow cookers and toasters to coffee makers and waffle irons. Below, we’ve put our expert guide to small kitchen appliances into a handy guide, and we’ve rounded up some top-notch, expert-recommended products in our articles.
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What to look for when buying small appliances
Small appliances usually either sit on the kitchen counter or tucked away in a cupboard when not in use. For some, space is limited, both on the counter and in the closet, so you should consider your kitchen needs before making a decision on purchasing appliances. If you don’t use something, it has no place in your kitchen, experts told us in our guide to organizing a small kitchen space.
Another factor to consider is versatility. Some appliances – like food processors and blenders – can be used for both cooking and baking with the right attachments. For example, in our guide to waffle makers, experts found that the machine could make hash browns, omelets, quesadillas, macs and cheeses, and more.
The best small appliances for your kitchen
From stand mixers to air fryers, here are some top-rated, expert-recommended small appliances to consider when upgrading your current cooking setup.
The best small appliances for baking and cooking
KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer
The food processor is the workhorse in the kitchen: with the right attachments, it can do everything from kneading dough to mincing meat. KitchenAid is one of the most established names in the stand mixer space, and while its mixers are on the more expensive end, experts told us they are worth the money. The Artisan model has 10 speed levels and comes with three attachments: a flat beater, a dough hook and a 6-wire whip. The head of the mixer tilts up so that the bowl and whisk can be easily removed.
If you’re limited in kitchen space or not cooking enough to warrant buying a food processor, a hand mixer is another great option. Hand mixers aren’t quite as powerful as stand mixers and require a little more manual labor, but they do similar jobs and take up minimal drawer space. KitchenAid is a good basic option with five speed levels – the dishwasher-safe whisks can be easily ejected at the push of a button.
A food processor is similar to a blender, except that you don’t need to add liquid ingredients to your mix when using one. The cooking experts we spoke to said they are good for making sauces, chopping herbs, slicing vegetables, and other kitchen tasks.
Food processors vary in capacity, but 8 cups are usually the standard size. This one by Ninja has a capacity of 9 cups and is programmed with four settings that automatically adjust the speed depending on the recipe. “I appreciate the attachments, they have great replacement policies and warranties, and their processors come with blades that accept bread and cookie dough,” said Victoria Abdelhady, the culinary safety director at HelloFresh, previously.
Air fryers use hot air instead of oil to cook food until crispy. Many of them are more than just hot air fryers: These from Instant Pot can also bake, fry and reheat food. The temperature can easily be adjusted from 95 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and the basket can hold up to 6 liters of food.
If you want to cook large quantities of food in one sitting, this iron can cook two Belgian waffles at the same time and beeps when they’re done. With the six-stage rotary control on the bottom, you can also determine how crispy your waffles should be.
The best small appliances for making coffee
This Breville automatic coffee maker has six preset brew modes, including a “Gold Cup” mode that brews coffee according to temperature standards set by the Specialty Coffee Association. If you prefer to make the settings manually, the machine has precise digital temperature control and three flow rates to control the acidity and sweetness of your coffee.
A good coffee grinder is a key component of solid brew – the machine breaks coffee beans into smaller pieces so that their aroma can be properly extracted. There are two types of grinders on the market – knife grinders and burr grinders – but experts recommend the latter for a more even grinding process.
Jiyoon Han, a certified Q-grader coffee sommelier at Bean & Bean Coffee, specifically suggested this Baratza conical burr grinder, noting that they âmade coffee at a pretty reasonable price to buy a grinder that will last you a lifetime can, can grind well. âIt has 40 grind settings for different coffee styles and a digital timer that can be programmed to a tenth of a second.
Gaggia Classic Pro semi-automatic espresso machine
If espresso is your coffee beverage of choice, the Gaggia Classic is a “no-frills machine that gets the job done,” Graham Peeples, Director of Beverage at Methodical coffee, noted in our espresso maker guide. The machine has a built-in steam wand for frothing milk, but since it only has a boiler you will have to wait a bit after you have brewed your espresso to use it.
Cold brew coffee is made by submerging ground coffee in either room temperature or cold water for about 18 hours. Although you can make cold brew in a carafe, some people prefer to use a coffee maker to make larger quantities. This one from OXO also has a “rainmaker” function, which distributes the water more evenly on the beans before they sit and soak.