Choosing the Best Small Appliances for Your Kitchen

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Whether your outfitting your kitchen as a single person or getting ready to form a household, this guide to small kitchen appliances will assist you in making the best choices possible.

A gift box with a a refrigerator, microwave, toaster oven, and other small kitchen appliances "photoshopped" into it

I’ve been having so much fun exploring the many, many different pieces I’m adding to my wedding registry and will eventually get to stock my kitchen with.

Even though I can’t stop asking myself how I’m supposed to wait a whole year to play with these new toys, the bigger question I keep running into is which of these gadgets do I actually need?

After all, I don’t have my subway-tiled dream kitchen full of endless storage space quite yet. Though that’s not to say there aren’t sneaky ways to expand your kitchen storage beyond what you ever thought you could.

If you haven’t been following this series, I covered cookware in part one of the wedding registry series and bakeware in part two. Also, I made extensive use of the Amazon Wedding Registry Tool which allows you to add items that you’d like to receive from ANY website – just not Amazon.

However, purchases made through the program from Amazon are eligible for a 10% discount. I’d highly recommend that you check this tool out as well.

After doing some research and really thinking about my cooking style and what I see myself reaching for, here’s my paired down list of small kitchen appliances that I’m asking for on our wedding registry.

The list is longer than you might expect because I really, truly do spend a lot of my free-time cooking and know I’d put these small kitchen appliances to good use.

Basics

Slow Cooker

A slow cooker is an invaluable tool for home cooks with any skill level. Although they were originally created for cooking beans, they’re now a favorite for getting dinner prep out of the way in the morning so you can have a hot meal ready for supper time.

There are few things better than coming home after a long day of work to a roast and potatoes ready and waiting for you. I use mine for everything from soup to roasting a whole chicken.

I had a very tiny slow cooker that I got for $20 thinking I had no need for something bigger, since I was just feeding my fiancé and myself. This was fine… for some things. It ended up really limiting me and a year later, I bought something bigger.

Again, I bought something inexpensive, and now I really wish I had something that was programmable so I didn’t have to worry about it while I was at work.

Some advice: invest in something great from the get go, because you’ll end up there anyway.

What to buy

The Crock-Pot’s 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker as pictured below.

You can program it to cook for as long as you need and it’ll switch to warm once time’s up, so you won’t have to worry about overcooked food.

The Crock-Pot Programmable Slow Cooker is big enough to cook a variety of dishes and the lid locks so food won’t spill if you need to transport it.

Food Processor

A good food processor can be such a timesaver and it’s very adaptable in the tasks that it can perform. Don’t have great knife skills?

That’s okay, a food processor can take care of most of the slicing and dicing you’ll ever need to do. Some come with blades for different cuts, like thin slices or mincing, so no need for a mandolin which can be a bit risky to use.

They’re also great for emulsifying salad dressings and dips and many are even able to knead bread dough.

One of the things I’m most excited about is using it to shred cheese! Maybe I just need to spend more time at the gym, but shredding enough for macaroni and cheese always leaves my arm tired.

What to Buy

Cuisinart Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor. You can go for a small, cheap mini-food processor, but you’ll likely want to upgrade in a few years anyway.

Cuisinart DLC-10S Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor is a great kitchen accessory to add to a wedding registry

Cuisinart DLC-10S Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor available from Amazon

This one is big enough to handle almost any job and has several different blades so you can use it for anything. Best of all, the Cuisinart Pro Classic is great for my fellow lazies: it’s dishwasher safe! Check out my full review of this excellent machine.

Hand or Standing Mixer

A good mixer is an essential staple for any home cook, even if your time spent in the kitchen doesn’t include a lot of baking. They’re great for whipping eggs and cream cheese, kneading dough, and mashing potatoes.

You can even shred several chicken breasts with just a few turns rather than fifteen minutes doing it by hand!

If you do like to bake, this is a great time to take the plunge and get a standing mixer. It makes stirring cookie dough and kneading bread so much easier with the same amount, if not less, of cleanup.

If you invest in a good one, they’ll last decades. The one I’m currently using (pre-wedding registry upgrade!) was my mom’s and it’s twenty one years old. KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixer in Empire Red color on isolated white background is a great example of a kitchen appliance to add to your wedding registry

KitchenAid KSM150PSER Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer, Empire Red

If you are using this opportunity to invest in a standing mixer, get this KitchenAid 5 Quart Artisan Stand Mixer (read the full review here on Foodal).

The bowl is big enough to handle most jobs, it has a handle, a true 325 watt electric motor and comes with the basic attachments.

It also comes in every color under the sun and I’m really digging the Pistachio!

The KitchenAid 5 Quart Stand Mixer is from the same line as the one I’m currently using, and like I said, it’s over twenty years old!  KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus series stand mixer in Tangerine color on isolated white background

KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus Series (Tangerine)

If you want to bump up to a little more power, the KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus Line is  also available from Amazon for not much more money but the color choices are more limited and they don’t have my Pistachio in this series (insert unhappy face).

These machines feature 450 watt motors and are a little more adjustable in height.

KitchenAid KHM920A 9-Speed Hand Mixer

If you’re not quite ready for a standing mixer, try this KitchenAid 9 Speed Hand Mixer. This hand mixer will serve a lot of the functions the standing mixer would, although not quite as convenient. Read the full review now.

I wouldn’t get a smaller five speed version as you will start running out of power and speed options really quickly – stick with one of the larger and more powerful models. If you do get a stand mixer, consider adding some fun attachments to your registry.

As I’ve said, I’m a bit of a cooking nerd and really want a meat grinder and sausage stuffing attachment. There are countless other attachments you can get, too, especially if you get a KitchenAid: an ice cream maker, a slicer/shredder attachment for vegetables and cheese, pasta rollers, and plenty more.

Blender

Every wedding registry needs to have a blender, or it’s not a real registry. Okay, maybe that’s not quite true, but it really is a kitchen staple. I love mine for a quick morning smoothie: coconut milk, frozen berries, a banana, plenty of spinach, and I’m out the door with a filling and portable breakfast.

What you may not know is that blenders serve several other purposes in the kitchen: you’ll find that you need them for smoothing soups and sauces, too.

I often find it easier to toss all of my marinade ingredients into a blender instead of chopping everything by hand.

There are three important things to look for when picking your blender: a powerful motor, multiple speeds and functions, and easy to clean. Blenders often have nooks and crannies for food to hide and can wear out fast as a result.

A powerful motor is important otherwise you’ll never get the smoothness you’re looking for, or at the very least it’ll take you a long time to get it.

What to Buy

I’m going to offer several suggestions on the blender as they come if a very wide range of prices and capabilities.

vitamix 5200 series blender is a top end appliance suitable for anyone's wedding registry

Vitamix 5200 Series Blender

High End: The Vitamix 5200 Blender is definitely the crème de crème of home blending appliances and would be a great piece to add to your wedding registry. It will blend dang near anything and do it without bogging down the motor. Check out some customer reviews at Amazon and you will see what all of the fuss is about or take a look at our own in depth review.Oster Counterforms 6-cup Glass Jar Blender with chopped up vegetables in the carafe

Oster BVCB07-Z Counterforms 6-Cup Glass Jar 7-Speed Blender, Brushed Stainless/Black

Budget: The Oster Counterforms 6-Cup Glass Jar 7-Speed Blender. It meets all of my criteria, it’s super well-reviewed, and lazy-friendly (dishwasher safe).

Coffee Maker

If you don’t already have a coffee maker or are still using the garage sale find you got for your dorm room, now is the time to upgrade. If you’re like me, you can only chug two cups or so before running out the door to work, maybe one more if you remember to grab your travel mug off the counter.

Even so, get one big enough to make coffee for guests. Some people are really picky about their coffee, so keep that in mind when looking at coffee pots.

I’m currently using a tiny French press and my biggest annoyance is that my coffee gets cold so quickly.

I want a coffee maker with a good thermos or one that sits on a hot plate so I can enjoy hot coffee throughout my morning.

Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, Chrome

What to Buy

Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker (read my detailed review). It’s self cleaning and will keep your coffee hot two hours after brewing.

My favorite thing about the Mr. Coffee Programmable Coffee Maker is that you can program it to brew so you wake up to a fresh pot of coffee! Now I just need to find a way to drink it in the shower…

Check out more of Foodal’s recommended automatic drip coffee makers now.

Toaster or Toaster Oven

My fiancé grew up with a toaster oven and firmly believes it’s the only proper way to reheat leftovers, so I know this has got to make it on to our wedding registry.

If I’m going to let such a large chunk of precious counter space be taken up, I want to make it worth my while, so I’m looking at a smart oven.

Not only does it act as a standard toaster oven, you can also use it as a conventional oven! Which means I can use the oven for lamb chops and roast brussels sprouts in the smart oven, and my fiancé gets his pizza toaster. Win, win.

I have to admit, I’m also considering our late night Mad Men marathons, when my fiancé wants to cook a frozen pizza but I want to bake up some cookies. No more battling over the oven! A smart oven is an ingenious addition to any small living space.

Breville BOV800XL Smart toaster oven at 1800 watts is perfect for your new home and would be a great appliance to add to your wedding registry

Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven with Element IQ

What to buy: Breville Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven. This thing does absolutely everything: reheating, baking, broiling, roasting, you name it.

The Breville Smart Oven doesn’t take up very much space and it’s easy to clean with a pull-out crumb tray. I’m in love. Check out my full review of all of the Breville Smart Oven Models. Hamilton Beach 2 slice metal toaster with toast in the slots on white isolated background

Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster – Brushed Metal

Only looking for a standard toaster? Try this Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster available at Amazon. You can also read my complete review of this toaster here.

Extras:

Pressure Cooker

My inner kitchen geek has been dreaming about a pressure cooker for awhile now. A pressure cooker is like a slow cooker, but it uses pressure and steam in the cooking process to really speed things up.

It can cook your food in as little as a third of the time as conventional preparation methods, bake potatoes in 15 minutes, and a dozen other wonders.

Whenever I come across one, though, I always talk myself out of it. I don’t technically need one. But wait, homemade chicken stock in a half hour?! Maybe I do.

Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W

What to buy: Instant Pot 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker. This thing is not only a pressure cooker, it’s a slow cooker and rice cooker, too! It has up to a 24 hour delay, so I could totally throw oatmeal ingredients in it the night before and wake up to breakfast.

A lot of my crock pot dishes pair well with rice, so now I’m dreaming of literally complete meal when I come home from work. Dinner in the crock pot and rice in the pressure cooker on a timer.

I might never have to stand over a stove after 5 p.m. again. Click here to read my full review of the Instant Pot 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker.

Coffee Bean and Spice Grinder(s)

A coffee grinder is a seriously handy tool. As a Portlander, I feel it’s my duty to tell you that your coffee will be extra tasty if you freshly grind your beans each morning.

That said, I know that takes a little more foresight and time than many of us have, but a grinder is helpful for other things in the kitchen. Also as Portlander, it’s my duty to recommend TWO grinders to cover all of your needs.

Yes, that’s right – two.  It’s best to have a dedicated burr grinder for coffee and a separate blade grinder for spices.

Burr Grinder for Coffee

Coffee performs at its best if ground into uniform flakes and this uniformity requires a burr type grinder to make sure the grounds are properly sized.

You do not, however, want to run your spices through this same grinder unless you like tasting a bit of black pepper or cumin in you java every morning. There is a good chance that you may not be able to fully clean every bit from the burrs. Breville BCG800XL Smart Grinder with hopper full of coffee beans on white isolated background

Breville BCG800XL Smart Grinder

What to buy (Coffee Grinder)

I’d recommend the Breville BCG800XL Smart Grinder shown above for a great performance for the price – note that coffee grinders for the home coffee making fanatics can reach into the upper hundreds to even thousands of dollars for those whose hobbies are purely espresso making.

For the average cup of joe or French press, you definitely don’t need an extremely expensive unit but you will notice an improvement in tastes with a decent grinder equipped with burrs.

Inexpensive Blade Grinder for Spices

To get the most from your spices, it’s best to buy them in their whole or seed form, like coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and cloves. Toast them yourself when you’re ready to cook with them and then use this handy tool to grind everything up.

Your dishes will be so much more fragrant and wonderful! This tool is a must if you cook a lot of Indian or Asian inspired dishes.

The Krups Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder would make the perfect wedding gift

KRUPS F203 Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder with Stainless Steel Blades, Black

What to buy (spice grinder)

KRUPS Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder with Stainless Steel Blades. This one will last you awhile, it’s very simple and easy to use, and it’s got a powerful motor for fast grinding.

I also like the KRUPS Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder because it’s tiny and easy to store. You can grind coffee in pinch with a blade based grinder such as this but I wouldn’t unless I had no other option. The Krups has over 3000 reviews with very high rating on Amazon.com (at the time of this writing).

Vacuum Sealer

My freezer stocking strategy is to buy meat in bulk when I find a good deal. Coming home with twenty chicken breasts or an eight pack of tri-tip steaks is not an unusual thing, and it should be since I’m only cooking for two.

Nothing makes me happier than a friend that’s up for going halves on a lamb or being first in line to the elk my dad brought home. I also like to freeze leftovers or heat-and-serve meals for my fiancé since I often work late. He can only eat so many PB&Js and pizzas before I start to worry a bit and I can’t buy him Lean Cuisines without feeling a bit guilty. A vacuum sealer would make this whole process way easier! Freezer bags are expensive so it would help with our budget, too.

Foodsaver V2244 Vacuum Sealing System with chicken breast sealed on an isolated background

FoodSaver V2244 Vacuum Sealing System

What to Buy

Foodsaver Vacuum Sealing System. It’s relatively compact and super easy to clean. The Foodsaver Vacuum Sealing System also has a port and hose system, which means you can marinate food in just a few minutes!

Now I won’t be quite so irritated with myself when I’m sitting at my desk and realize I forgot throw the defrosted chicken into a bag with the teriyaki sauce before leaving. I found this item on Amazon (plus I used their wedding registry system to organize everything). Check out my complete FoodSaver V2244 review.

Juicer

Who doesn’t love to make their own juice? A super nutritious green juice is one of my favorite ways to start the day and it would be awesome (and way cheaper) to be able to make it myself.

I always feel better about myself if I get all my vitamins and nutrients in on the front end, especially since working in a restaurant means I eat a lot of less than healthy food.

Not to mention, green juices are supposed to do great things for your skin, something I’m starting to take extra care of in preparation for wedding photos! Breville Bje200XL Compact Juice Fountain would make an awesome counter top appliance for any newly married couple

Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain 700-Watt Juice Extractor

What to Buy

Breville Compact Juice Fountain. I already know that I love Breville products so I can trust that I’ll get my bang for my buck with this.

The Breville Compact Juice Fountain features a super powerful motor (fast juice!) and, yes, it’s dishwasher safe. It’s also a much cheaper option than some of the more expensive masticating type juicers on the market. Read some of the many reviews from verified Amazon.com customers for this amazing device.

I know that this research can be exhaustive and hope that my favorite picks have given you some ideas for your own selection of small countertop accessories for the kitchen portion of your wedding registry.

Also, check out the Amazon Wedding Registry Tool to help you organize you wants and needs and to potentially save your friends and family 10% off of your entire selection.

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About Chelsea Miller

Chelsea Miller, born and raised in Portland, Oregon, graduated from the University of Oregon where she discovered both her love of football and cooking great food. She's the founder of the food blog "A Duck's Oven" and began writing for Foodal in 2014.

Read Foodal's guide to picking small kitchen appliances for a bachelor apartment, your wedding registry, or for giving as a wedding present. Read here.

10 thoughts on “Choosing the Best Small Appliances for Your Kitchen

  1. I didn’t know about the Amazon registry so I will spread that one around to my friends. It’s definitely worth investing in a toaster oven which is one of the most used items. It’s so much better than a microwave and great for toppings on toast and reheating pizza.

  2. I had no idea the kitchenaid mixers had new bright colors! I love them. I have the krupps coffee grinder and it’s great. I will definitely be putting a new blender and juicer on my list. I can’t wait to get a new one 🙂

  3. No wedding gift registry for me, just a wish list that i ‘d like to give santa for christmas this year and the list goes like this;
    A coffee grinder
    A juicer
    A blender
    Definitely a microwave
    A slice toaster, i like my bread toasted in the morning
    A kichtenaid mixer couldn’t hurt as well…oh santa just give me everything please…i promise i have been extremely good {innocent eyes}.

  4. These are some really fascinating items. I want them all! I absolutely love that there are so many timesaving devices available to make good eating less of an arduous task than it used to be.

    I have a Cuisinart food processor and would not trade it for anything in the world. It has never let me down. The best thing about purchasing quality items like these is that you won’t waste time out of your life being without what you need for the task because it broke down; they practically last forever.

  5. I love this list! I have them all besides the juicer and the vacuum sealer, and they make my life so much easier and cooking much more efficient. As you said, these essential basics should be purchased as high-quality items because you’ll always need them, so it’s better to get an amazing one from the start instead of getting one that will break down later (you’ll have to spend more in total for the latter situation anyway).

    I love the coffee machine on the list because coffee machines can also just generate hot water for the occasional instant food (I’m definitely guilty of catching a really quick bite before I run somewhere) or tea. I wish that I thought of coffee makers with a good thermos or hot plate like you! My coffee gets cold pretty quickly too… I’ll look into that. Thanks so much!

    Finally, I definitely recommend the microwave. I know that it has similar functions with the toaster oven (which I still adore, by the way), but it’s definitely quicker when you want to heat something and step out the door, all in the span of 2 minutes. There are a lot of articles on how it’s unhealthy though, so maybe it’s just me that has to ditch the microwave habit (and the habit of always running late)! 😉

  6. Dishwasher safe juicer is really a must-have if one is going to have a juicer at all! I had two juicers, and I barely ever used them because cleaning them was so tedious!

    I love toaster ovens. I mean, all of these products are awesome — but the toaster oven is one of these things that you just won’t have to clean too much, and very useful for cooking stuff without heating up the complete normal oven!

  7. What a great list, Chelsea. These items make life much easier. I don’t have all of them… yet.

    I swear by using a toaster oven. They are wonderful for reheating, because food comes out so much better than it would in the microwave. They are also fantastic for whipping up a quick dinner during the heat of summer. You don’t have to use your big oven and heat up the whole kitchen.

    That spice grinder sounds great too. I recently learned that eggshells can be ground to powder to use as a health supplement. I was wondering what to use for that process, and I think a spice grinder with stainless steel blades, might do the trick. Thanks!

  8. I’m s firm believer in paying for higher quality items especially when it comes to kitchen appliances. You get what you pay for. You can easily spend a few bucks on a cheap food processor, toaster or slow cooker but it’s not going to last you as long as if you just buy a name brand one. I’ve been through 3 toasters before I finally paid more money for a name brand one. My old ones would keep breaking after a few months. I’ve now had my cuisnart one for over a year and it’s the longest I’ve had a toaster for. The same is true for a good knife set. I used to but a whole knife set for a $100. I finally cut my hand when the knife slipped. I then decided to invest in a few nice brand name knives and trust me it makes a difference.

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