Man barbecuing and laughing with family around.

Every year, we try to throw at least one big summer party, inviting close friends and neighbours. We go all out with food and drinks made in a multitude of appliances. That’s combined with a killer streaming music playlist and other forms of entertainment, like games and, of course, conversation. There are only so many hot months per year in Toronto where I live, after all. So why not make the most of them?

Each year, I try something new for our summer barbecue. It might be an interesting recipe, a new drink mix, or adding fun new backyard toys to the mix that the kids (and let’s face it, adults, too!) can enjoy. For my next summer party, I have my eye on a few new small appliances that I know would help me really kick things up a notch. Here are 6 of them.

1. A food processor for prep

Vitamix Ascent food processor

I jumped the gun and already invested in a food processor. I know it will be put to full use for my next summer barbecue. It’s so simple to make things like homemade dip in a food processor. But I’ll also be using it along with an attachment to grate cheese for my famous seven-layer taco dip. I might even use fresh basil from my garden to whip up a pesto sauce for pesto burgers, slice and dice fruits and vegetables for salad, and more.

A food processor is a versatile small appliance that can help reduce prep time. Anyone who has thrown a large gathering knows that prep and clean-up take the most out of you. So anything you can do to help in those departments is a godsend.

See our food processor buying guide to find the right model and learn about the different attachments so you get the one that will meet your needs.

2. Ice machine for self serve drinks

Insignia portable Nugget ice maker

After reviewing the Insignia portable nugget ice maker earlier this year, I realize the benefit of having an ice maker if you entertain a lot. This will save you a trip to the grocery store for bags of ice to fill coolers (not to mention the added expense). Plus, unlike with a fridge that has a built-in ice maker to make a limited amount of cubes or crushed ice per hour, you have an ongoing, ample supply of ice ready for guests to self-serve. They can make their own drinks, or you can use it to fill the shaker while whipping up a summer-themed concoction.

Add filtered water, turn it on, and let the machine do its thing. You can set a portable ice machine up before guests arrive and keep replenishing water as needed to keep ice flowing all night. You’ll quickly realize that with plenty of guests and everyone going to the fridge for ice, a refrigerator’s ice maker simply can’t keep up with your needs.

3. Espresso machine that makes cold drinks

De'Longhi Magnifica Evo espresso machine

Another product I reviewed earlier this year is the De’Longhi Magnifica Evo espresso machine with milk frother. It not only convinced me of the benefits of having delicious, fresh ground and brewed coffee at home via a premium espresso machine. It also gave me ideas for a summer party. Wait, coffee in the heat? Absolutely! Coffee with dessert is a mainstay. Whenever we have gatherings, it seems like the dessert table is bigger than the dinner one with all the goodies everyone brings from their local bakeries. Some espresso machines, like this one, can make iced coffee, too.

Even if the machine doesn’t have a specific setting, just brew a cup (or pot), add your milk or milk alternative and ice, and let it cool. Serve up this delicious iced coffee and guests will be impressed. Add sweetness (because the baked goods just aren’t sweet enough!) by squirting in a few pumps of caramel or French vanilla syrup. Go the extra mile and pour chocolate syrup around the edges of the cup then top it off with a dollop of freshly made whipped cream (whipped in your stand mixer, of course). Even the guests who swear they couldn’t possibly have another bite and claim to be watching their figures won’t say no to one of these coffee creations with, or even for, dessert.   

4. Bartesian premium cocktail machine for fancier drinks

Bartesian Premium cocktail maker

Load up the home bar with all the most popular spirits, then grab the Bartesian premium cocktail machine and a selection of compatible capsules. Instead of offering up the usual canned wine cooler, bottled beer, or spirits on ice, offer guests classic cocktails (and even mocktails). Then, watch their jaws drops when they think you’re about to make it from scratch. Instead, each capsule contains all the necessary syrups, juices, and bitters for the respective cocktail. Add the spirit, which can be poured into one of the five included glass bottles for dispensing, press a button, and wait. The machine automatically runs a cleaning cycle after each drink so there’s no unwanted mixing. And other parts are dishwasher safe for further easy clean-up.

The capsules include everything from a classic margarita (just add salt to the rim!) to a tequila sunrise, long island iced tea, old fashioned, Negroni, and more. Get a variety pack so you can offer a wide selection. What isn’t used during your party will go down easy the next Sunday evening when you and your partner or friends spend the evening relaxing on the back deck.

5. Pizza oven for a switch from the ordinary

Ooni Koda pizza oven

When we first invested in a smoker, we went on a homemade pizza kick. But what I really covet now is a pizza oven. My cousin has a full-sized one in her backyard. When she has gatherings at her place, family is usually met with a lovely, round piece of dough to flatten out and top as desired for homemade personal pizzas.

What I would really love, more specifically, is an outdoor pizza oven like the Ooni Koda 16-inch pizza oven. It has been growing in popularity thanks to consistently positive reviews from owners. Pizza ovens like this one can crank the heat to the ultra-high temperature that’s required to make the perfect pie: think 500°F and higher. You’ll have pizza in minutes, whether it’s a few large-sized pies, or a dozen personal ones for each guest. The great thing about pizza ovens is that you aren’t limited to just pizza: you can cook meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, even bread in them as well. I’d love one of these for my next summer barbecue. But I am also confident that we’d be using it a lot for weekly family meals through the year as well.

6. Mini fridge for convenience

Insignia bar fridge

A mini fridge is typically found in a “man cave” or basement for quick access to things like drinks. But they can also come in handy for a summer party. If you have a covered deck, you could place one outside, plug it in, and it’s a step-up from an ice-based cooler. (Just make sure to turn it off, empty the condensation once it melts, and bring it back inside once the party is over). I love the idea of a neat and tidy way for guests to grab drinks, especially things like juice boxes for kids. Since most of these are made of cardboard, they don’t hold up well in a cooler with melting ice.

Even if you keep the mini fridge in the kitchen, placed on a counter or the floor, it’s a cool way (literally) to store items. This could be drinks, dip containers, prepped fruits and veggies to refill a tray, and other small items you’ll need to access multiple times through the day. This leaves room in the fridge for larger refrigerated goodies for the party (and the ones guests will inevitably bring as well). This also prevents guests from constantly opening and closing the refrigerator door to get a drink. Doing so frequently will let the cold air out and potentially impact the quality of the food inside. I’d opt for a mini fridge with a freezer section as well to store freezies and popsicles for the kids, or ice cream for the ice cream sundae dessert table (hint: this is always a hit for kids at our summer barbecues).

Happy entertaining!

All these small appliances are ones I have either already purchased for my summer barbecue this year or that are on my radar. They simplify prep for a day that will inevitably be busy and can help make the experience more enjoyable for both you and your guests. Serve up unique eats, treats, and drinks, and make your summer party this year a memorable one.

Check out plenty of small appliances that would be great for a summer barbecue, and all year ‘round, at Best Buy Online.

Christine Persaud
With 20+ years of experience in trade and consumer tech journalism, I have covered the tech space since before social media was a "thing" and the smartphone as we know it was even invented. Writing for various technology, lifestyle, and entertainment sites, I have covered and reviewed hundreds of tech products, from home appliances to wearables, fitness tech to headphones, TV entertainment products and services, and more. I'm also a passionate foodie who loves to cook and bake, a TV show fanatic (happy to give what to watch recommendations!), and proud mother to a 12-year-old son.