Every kitchen has the typical selection of large appliances along with some small appliances. The usual suspects when it comes to the latter include a toaster, microwave or toaster oven, and usually a coffee machine. But the small appliance world is so diverse. There are so many other useful small appliances worth putting on your radar. In many cases, these small appliances might sound more like “nice-to-haves” then “need-to-haves.” But chances are once you have one in your kitchen, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Based on my personal knowledge as a passionate cook and baker, these are the 5 small appliances (in no particular order) that I believe every kitchen should have.
What do I mean by you can’t live without them?
I’ll preface the list by noting that by saying you “can’t live without” these appliances, I’m speaking from personal experience. I’m a frequent cook with a decent level of knowledge about cooking. I also have a passion for baking and have tackled pretty intense recipes over the years. (I’m especially proud of my no-fail banana bread and indulgent New York Style cheesecake). My choices might not be yours. But I have found that over years of cooking, baking, researching, and reviewing small appliances of all kinds, these 5 are must-haves that most people, both novice and experts in the kitchen, will appreciate.
1. Instant Pot multicooker
I have long spoken of my love for the Instant Pot. Now, many years into owning one, my opinion hasn’t wavered. The Instant Pot is a versatile tool for the kitchen that can take the place of multiple small appliances. This especially makes it a great option for small kitchens. It’s a multicooker that functions as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, saute device, baking device, and even an air fryer with the optional air fryer lid. I make entire dinners, side dishes, quick school lunches for my son, and more in it. This reduces my reliance on the oven, which in turn helps curb electricity usage and retain cool air in the home during the summer months. It also helps save time since I can pressure cook dishes that would otherwise take much longer on the stovetop or in the oven.
I’d recommend the Instant Pot for everyone from single individuals to couples and families with kids, big and small. Check out our detailed Instant Pot buying guide for help in choosing the right model and size to meet your needs.
2. Food processor
A recent addition to my kitchen, I am using my food processor more often than I anticipated. It’s great for homemade dips, effortlessly grating carrots for a cake or hard cheese for homemade mac and cheese (typically made in the Instant Pot). With a model that has the right attachments, it can slice and dice as well. A food processor helps reduce prep time for recipes, speeding up the overall time it takes to go from cook to table for dinner. Clean-up is typically a breeze, too. While you’ll need some extra space to store the unit and all its attachments (most models are designed so the attachments fit inside when not in use), you can select the right size based on your needs. See our food processor buying guide to learn more about what they can do and how to choose the perfect model.
A food processor is suitable for busy families and those who entertain. It’s also useful for those looking to make healthier alternatives of things you’d typically buy in a store, from dips to salad dressings.
3. Stand mixer
One of my oldest and most prized small kitchen appliances, and one I mulled over the longest before buying, is my KitchenAid stand mixer. More than a decade later, I’m still using it at least monthly. From kneading dough for bread or homemade pizza to mixing ingredients for holiday cookies or banana bread and muffins, I love being able to place everything inside, turn the machine on, and tend to other tasks. It’s especially useful for kneading bread, an otherwise arduous task. With how sleek the latest models are, you can find the perfect one to suit your kitchen. They even come in a variety of colours and finishes.
Learn about all the things a stand mixer can do in our stand mixer buying guide, along with all of the things you probably didn’t even know a stand mixer could do. In fact, one of the things I love the most about my KitchenAid stand mixer is the variety of stand mixer attachments you can add to the set-up over time. These let you do everything from make homemade ice cream to fill sausages and cut pasta noodles. I already own the pasta cutter set and have my eyes on a few others as well.
A stand mixer is great for anyone who bakes, including newbies to the craft. It will save you tons of time and helps take the guesswork out of mixing, kneading, and whipping. As you become more familiar, you’ll find, as noted, that a stand mixer is useful for other purposes as well.
4. Espresso machine
Another recent addition to my kitchen, I have always been content with single-cup coffee from pods to get me going in the morning. But after reviewing a high-end espresso machine, my viewpoint completely changed. My cup of coffee in the morning has an intense and intoxicating aroma and flavourful taste. After lunch every day, I’ll make a delicious, frothy cappuccino or latte macchiato with oat milk. It’s an at-home indulgence that costs a fraction of the price of a $5 latte I’d buy at a local coffee shop. With flavoured syrups, the ante is upped even more. Consider a model with a built-in coffee bean grinder and included milk frother, like the De’Longhi Magnifica Evo espresso machine I reviewed earlier this year. Then, you can purchase whole beans and become your own home barista.
Even if you only drink coffee once a week on Sunday mornings, you’ll appreciate having a machine that can make a really good cup versus a decent one. But ideally, a premium espresso machine is a worthwhile purchase for homes with frequent coffee drinkers.
Read our coffee maker and espresso machine buying guide to learn all about of them and find the right one for you.
5. Air fryer
There has been a boon in the air fryer industry of late, and for good reason. They offer the perfect combination of healthier eating, something most people are concerned about nowadays, with indulgent foods, something everyone deserves to enjoy. The reason is because you can fry items that would traditionally sit in a vat of oil in a deep fryer or pan using little to no oil. I personally don’t own a full-sized air fryer, but if I had the space, I would absolutely invest in one as my next purchase. (I currently use the air fryer lid for the Instant Pot, which has limited capacity but I make do with it). Air frying is part of my routine at least twice a week. I’ll make hot school lunches for my son, whether it’s to cook a frozen mini pizza or sausage roll, or chicken fingers, steam perogies, or reheat leftovers. I use it for my own lunches as well, and sometimes cook dinner, like homemade fried chicken or crispy pork chops. If my son has friends over, I can whip up a quick batch of French fries, too.
I would especially recommend an air fryer as a simple small appliance for those who are intimidated by the concept of cooking. But they’re also handy for veteran cooks who will experiment with more ambitious homemade dishes, too.
Interested in investing in an air fryer for your kitchen? Read our air fryer buying guide to learn more.
Find your top 5 small appliances
These are my top-five small kitchen appliances. Yours might be different, but if you’re looking for something new to add to your kitchen set-up, any of these five appliances will be a worthwhile addition. I’m confident in saying that you’ll end up using any of these small appliances more than you ever thought you would.
Check out all five of these small appliances and others at Best Buy Online.