If you plan to host a big holiday event, or even if you want to make something special for the family, holiday cooking can take a lot out of you. With so many different dishes that require different cooking methods, times, prep, and ingredients, there’s a lot of organization that’s involved. Forget to defrost a frozen turkey long enough in advance, for example, and you’ll be left frantically trying to defrost last minute in the most efficient and safest way possible. (I’ve been there!) Thankfully, there are plenty of small appliances (as well as large ones) that can help simplify the holiday cooking process. Leverage these and you’ll have everything ready with time to spare.
A food processor is a simple and quick way to prep fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other ingredients for recipes so you aren’t painstakingly doing everything with a knife or grater. Use one to shred, dice, and grind, or even beat batter or egg whites and knead bread dough. They’re more versatile than people realize and can tackle certain jobs more precisely than a blender. You can julienne vegetables for a lovely, presentable salad or stir fry, slice potatoes for a scalloped potatoes au gratin dish (grate the cheese to broil on top, too!), juice oranges or limes for fancy homemade cocktails, or grate carrots for a deliciously indulgent carrot cake. The possibilities are endless and you’ll find a quick rinse between jobs is much easier than doing the precision work yourself.
I often sing the praises of the Instant Pot for everyday cooking but it’s also great for holiday cooking. Indeed, I usually use mine for side dishes like homemade mac and cheese, corn on the cob, potatoes, or even steamed vegetables. You can easily set and forget, cooking what you need and leaving it inside on the Keep Warm function until you’re ready to serve. This leaves your oven and stovetop burners free to tackle the other dishes, sides, sauces, and desserts.
Interestingly, there’s another way a multicooker can simplify things: many people like to use one to make things like homemade pasta sauce, lemon curd, or even vanilla extract. With a set of empty bottles and creative labeling, it makes a wonderfully personalized and thoughtful gift for the neighbours, co-workers, friends, and family.
An air fryer is the perfect small appliance for appetizers, including pre-made hors d’oeuvres that you can simply pop inside to cook and/or reheat right from frozen (or fresh). Cook chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, pigs in a blanket: you name it. With quick heating times, you can easily have a refill set frying to replenish what guests have devoured as needed.
My stand mixer is one of my favourite small kitchen appliances. For pre-Christmas baking, it gets used daily in the weeks leading up to the holiday. I make a wide selection of Christmas cookies to box and give as gifts, and the mixer goes into overdrive for all of them. From mixing the batter for sugar and gingerbread cookies to whipping butter for shortbread and icing for iced cookies, it’s such a versatile appliance. It’s also useful for mixing ingredients for cakes and pies, from traditional pumpkin to a delectable lemon meringue. Check out Shelly Wutke’s review of the new KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer, which has some features and specs that will come in handy for holiday baking.
Much like an Instant Pot or other multicooker, a slow cooker is a great set and forget small appliance that can be used for a side dish, or even a main. If you plan to serve a stew, for example, or perhaps even chili or slow-cooked pulled pork, you can dump everything inside a slow cooker when you get up in the morning, leave it in all day, and have it ready when it’s time to serve dinner. It’s a super easy way to knock out at least one side dish without having to worry about tending to it, keeping it warm, or reheating.
The concept of a double oven is perfect for holidays. It comes in handy when you need to either cook two things at different temperatures at the same time (think a roast and a pie). Or maybe you want to cook something in the oven while it’s also being used to keep warm all those delicious dishes your family members and friends brought over for the potluck. Maybe you’re roasting potatoes at 425°F at the bottom, for example, but want to bake dessert at 350°F up top. A double oven makes this possible, allowing you to complete two dishes at once so you don’t have to worry about timing everything accordingly.
A mini fridge is a great way to keep your main refrigerator space free for main dishes, especially ones you have prepped ahead of time, like a gorgeous veggie platter, charcuterie arrangement, and cake. People want cold beverages, and instead of relying on a cooler with ice, or even leaving the drinks out back during the cold winter (nature is, of course, a limitless refrigerator in Canadian winters!) you can invest in a mini fridge. Place it upstairs for easy access and fill with juice, cola, water, beer, and whatever other libations guests will need. It’s a nice, self-serve way for guests to choose what they want without opening and closing the fridge repeatedly. And you don’t have to worry about arranging your fridge like a game of Tetris to find unique spots to fit cans and bottles in every free nook and cranny. There are even mini fridges like the Insignia 1-Tap Kegerator that can double as a keg.
You can also use a spacious mini fridge for things like dip refill, condiments, and cut fruits and vegetables to refill a prepared tray. Some include small freezers which are ideal for storing things like ice cream (for the kids, of course), popsicles, and frozen appetizers (for reheating in the air fryer).
Mashed sweet potatoes are a must for my holiday meals, and after I cut, boil, and remove the skin, I pop them into my blender with some butter, milk, salt, and a secret array of spices and other ingredients (sorry, I’ll never tell!) Then, I blend away to get a delicious, smooth consistency. If you’re like me, you might also have leftover pumpkins from Halloween that you simply can’t bring yourself to toss when they’re still perfectly fresh and edible. Cut one open, boil the pieces, remove the skin, then blend for your own puree. I use the puree in homemade pumpkin muffins (a wonderful snack or moderately healthy breakfast option, depending on the other ingredients you add) as well as pumpkin soup. Mashing by hand is do-able, but with a blender, you can get dishes like this done in a snap, with a literal push of a button.
Holiday cooking doesn’t have to be stressful
It’s easy to feel stressed when thinking about all the ambitious dishes you want to make and present for the holidays. Along with your grocery list, write out the menu and how you plan to cook each item. You’ll find with the addition of these small appliances, you can not only get some things done ahead of time so you have less to worry about, you can also get multiple things done at once. This will, in turn, shave time off the process.
For example, using an air fryer for apps means not having to make sure the oven is free when guests arrive so you can heat them up. Using an Instant Pot for potatoes or corn means not getting frantic when you realize you forgot to cook them: it won’t take 45 minutes to an hour, they can be ready in literally minutes. With a double oven, you can tell all the aunts and grandmas that you’ll happily keep their famous casserole warm in the oven for as long as they need because it doesn’t hinder your ability to continue to cook.
Ready to get cooking? Check out plenty of great small appliances to simplify holiday cooking at Best Buy Online.