Anyone can appreciate being able to get meals done more quickly, and with less effort. And there are many small appliances that can help you achieve this.
While you might not think you need any of these small appliances or believe you don’t have the space to accommodate them, you’d be surprised to learn of the different ways they can come in handy. Not to mention how often you would likely use them.
So which small appliances fit the bill and can make your life easier in the kitchen? I’ll break it down, touching on each small appliance individually.
Whether you bake a lot or just every now and then, a stand mixer is a useful small appliance to have. Most people think of stand mixers as only being useful to do things like mix cake batter or cream butter and sugar. But they can do much more than that.
Most stand mixers come with various attachments, including one for standard mixing as well as one for whipping and another for kneading dough. With the whipping attachment, pour in some heavy whipping cream and let the machine do the work. It will turn the liquid into delicious homemade whipped cream for your ice cream sundaes, cake, hot chocolate, or fruit. Or, whip meringue to make a delicious pie. With virtually any recipe that calls for whipping ingredients, a stand mixer will save you not only time but also the effort of manually doing it with a wire whip. (Whipping manually takes good arm strength!)
How you can use a stand mixer
The main way I use this attachment with my stand mixer is to whip butter for shortbread cookies during the holidays. I throw in the softened butter and let it whip for a good 30 minutes while I tend to other tasks. There’s no way I could make them so soft and buttery without a stand mixer.
Most also come with a dough hook you can use not only for making bread but also other pastries, like pizza dough. There is benefit in kneading dough by hand. It gets just the right texture and imparts flavour from the oils of your hands. But not everyone has the strength nor the time to do this. It would take about 10 minutes of good, strong manual kneading to get dough just right. With a stand mixer and dough hook, you can accomplish this in about two minutes.
Finally, lots of stand mixers, like the KitchenAid line, can work with a variety of attachments. These range from ice cream makers to meat grinders, pasta cutters, slicers and shredders. All of these make meal prep a breeze. Check out Shelly Wutke’s review of the new KitchenAid Artisan stand mixers to learn more about what they can do.
Multicookers make cooking easier thanks to the many “dump and go” recipes. With these, literally dump meat, vegetables, potatoes, broth, and spices or other ingredients in, press and button, and leave. But they also make cooking faster.
With a multicooker like the Instant Pot, you can cook meat that would normally have to be slow cooked for hours in a fraction of the time. Pulled pork, for example, could be done in 45 minutes. Want to cook corn on the cob as a last-minute side dish? A couple minutes in the Pot and they’re done.
They also make cooking easier because you can get things done without having to keep an eye on the cook. This allows you to take care of other chores or activities while food is cooking. Many keep the food warm inside once cooking is done so you don’t have to rush to remove the food once the timer goes off.
I still cook often in my oven and stovetop. But I have a series of quick meals in my weekly rotation that I make exclusively in the Instant Pot. And when we need a side dish in a rush, the Instant Pot is the go-to for quick mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, steamed vegetables, or creamy mac and cheese.
One of the newest additions to my kitchen is an air fryer. I use one that can only make small batches of food at a time, but there are plenty of larger-sized air fryers that you can use to make a full meal plus sides.
I have the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid that fits atop my Instant Pot, which is a nice option if your concern is a lack of counter space. It comes with its own base, but you could also stack it on top of your Instant Pot to save room. It can also more easily be stored in a cupboard than a full-sized air fryer.
While the primary draw for these small appliances is to enjoy traditionally fried foods in a much healthier way, using little to no oil, they can also make cooking faster and easier.
How you can use an air fryer
When you don’t know what to cook, pop some chicken breasts, nuggets, pork chops, or sliced potatoes into the air fryer and have a delicious and healthy meal in no time. Air fryers also work wonderfully for reheating food. It does a better job than a microwave for tasks like this, which can result in your leftover chicken balls from Chinese take-out the night before becoming soggy. The oven might require the same amount of time, but it takes time to preheat then longer to reheat.
In most cases with an air fryer, you don’t have to worry about marinating meat and poultry for hours beforehand: add a nice dry rub, spray the tray with a bit of oil (if it’s even needed), and fry up dinner.
I’ve tried everything from homemade French fries and chicken nuggets in my air fryer, to pork chops and veal as well as reheating leftovers. You can get really creative not just for meals but snacks, too. Just want to save time and pop in frozen, store-bought French fries and chicken fingers? You’ll get a nicer, crispier texture, and won’t have to worry about preheating.
If you love to make soups, stews, stir fries, and other dishes that require a ton of prep, including chopping, slicing, and dicing vegetables and other ingredients, a food processor will be a dream to have. It’s the number-one item on my kitchen wish list right now. It’s the one small appliance I feel like I’m missing in my arsenal.
A food processor can do so much more than people realize. It can not only chop, slice, and grind, but also mince, puree, mix and blend, shred, grate, and even knead bread dough. When it comes to prepping everything from garlic for a dip (which you could also mix right in the food processor) to chopping nuts for a pecan-crusted salmon, a food processor will simplify, and speed up, the process. One of my favourite desserts to make around certain holidays is homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. The entire process is simple except for one task: grating 2+ cups of carrots really does a number on my arms! Using a food processor would make this task a breeze.
Not only can a slicer or shredder help simplify cooking, it can also lead to nicer presentations. You get uniform, perfectly cut pieces of fruits, vegetables, or even meats for a charcuterie board, salad, or even as garnish for a dish. Simply cut the vegetables, like carrots, into smaller pieces (no need to worry about cutting nicely or evenly), insert into the chute, then watch as it comes out the other side as perfectly grated or cut pieces.
In addition to standalone machines, there are also slicing and shredding attachments for stand mixers, like those from KitchenAid. These use the mixer’s handy Attachment Hub to screw right into the machine and tackle the task with ease.
These small appliances really can make cooking faster and easier
There are plenty of small appliances that make cooking faster and easier. And I’d rank tall five of these at the top of the list. They have all found a home in my kitchen, or they’re on my wish list to buy this year.
When I’m baking, my stand mixer is always in use. And especially during the holiday season, the mixer does a lot of the grunt work. This allows me to focus on cutting, decorating, and packaging. For quick dinners or side dishes in a pinch, I always resort to my multicooker. And using the pressure cooker function is a weekly occurrence in my household. It’s used for “set and forget” and “dump and go” meals. Some of the most popular ones include delicious short ribs cooked to perfection in 35 minutes and BBQ pork chops.
I couldn’t be happier with the results from my air fryer. Homemade French fries are a matter of washing and cutting fresh potatoes, tossing them in some salt and olive oil, and frying. But interestingly, I most frequently use it to reheat food.
Meanwhile, with a food processor and slicer/shredder in the mix, I would be pretty set and could have dinner on the table in record time.
Check out a wide selection of small appliances that making cooking faster and easier at Best Buy Online.