Must-Have Small Kitchen Appliances
Small appliances now handle the bulk of kitchen work. Experts dish on which ones top their shopping lists, and why.
When it comes time to roast chicken or steam rice, your mind probably turns to your range. But countertop appliances can take on those chores and more, saving on power and space, and keeping kitchens cool in summer. From sous vide machines to air fryers, we asked top kitchen experts to weigh in on the best small appliances for your home.
Efficient and Healthy
“We’re seeing a trend toward efficient and healthy cooking techniques,” says Adam Blank, vice president of Merchandising at Williams Sonoma.
Two of the newest small appliances deliver on both counts: the pressure cooker and the air fryer.
Electric pressure cookers have almost replaced the loud, messy, steamy stovetop versions of the 1970s. Like the cookers of old, they help you prepare a great meal in a fraction of the time by cooking food under high pressure and temperature.
A dish that usually takes hours, like beans, ribs or stew, can be done in 25 minutes. Macaroni and cheese, that comfort-food staple, cooks in about five.
Because the cooking chambers are completely contained in the new models, the food is cooked silently and odorlessly.
Speaking of comfort foods, if you love fried foods, but hate the fat, consider an air fryer.
Leah Drill, senior associate of Public Relations at Bed Bath & Beyond, says, “They’re simply revolutionary.”
Air fryers, sometimes called oil-less fryers, give calorie-conscious home chefs a healthy alternative to deep fat frying while offering the same results you would expect from a deep fryer.
The machine circulates heat, using little to no oil, to make foods like French fries, tortilla chips or even doughnuts.
Doug Kilgour, small appliance expert at Wayfair, says, “People love the taste of crispy fried food, but hate the unhealthy nature of deep frying and the messiness of dealing with several quarts of oil is frustrating.”
With preset programs for popular dishes like fish or chicken, removable baskets for easy cleaning, and a great price — a good one can be had for under $100 — air fryers let you have your French fries and eat them, too.
You can never go wrong with a power blender. Whether full-sized or personal — the perfect size for whipping up smoothies on the way out the door in the morning — these appliances are the workhorses of the kitchen.
The newest offer several containers that you can use with the same base, including travel mugs. “The blender automatically detects the size of the container, so foods are perfectly blended according to volume and consistency,” says Blank.
A top-quality blender not only makes smoothies, but also lets you chop veggies, make sauces and grind your own flour and nut-butter, leading to healthier eating.
And getting back to breakfast, what would the morning be without that first cup of coffee?
Pod-based systems simplify the coffee-making process by reducing it to a one-button operation. Drop in the pod, hit the button and in a few seconds, you have perfect espresso or coffee.
Precision and Versatility
Once the territory of top chefs, sous vide (say “sue veed”) is a French cooking technique, which translates to “under vacuum.” In it, food is vacuum-sealed in a pouch and heated to the perfect temperature in water, allowing home cooks to replicate restaurant quality meals at home.
These machines have been long prized by Michelin-starred chefs as the ideal cooking technique due to precise temperature control. While they started off at a price beyond that of most home chefs, they’ve come down in price point, and now start under $200.
Another new, popular piece of kitchen tech is the multi-cooker.
Alycia Johnson, director and divisional merchandise manager at Sur La Table, says, “Multi-cookers are hot. Our customers love them for their versatility and convenience.”
These multi-purpose units let you slow cook, brown, steam, bake, cook rice and even make yogurt.
And don’t count out the countertop oven. Higher wattage and larger interiors help them tackle bigger tasks with ease, like cooking pizza or reheating large dinners. And newer models offer features that conventional ovens don’t have, like a proofing setting (for baking bread), and options for air frying and dehydrating.
With the latest generation of small appliances, cooking has never been easier. Or more delicious.