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Whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, you almost certainly have a kitchen in your place of residence. And a kitchen means the opportunity to expand your culinary horizons, be that as simple as tweaking a classic favorite — like spicing up a box of mac ‘n’ cheese with some roasted broccoli and buffalo sauce — or developing your own array of from-scratch recipes.
But, even if you have a top-notch range (AKA a stovetop-oven combo) in your kitchen, there are plenty of other cooking-centric devices you might want and/or need in order to take full advantage of your dietary adventures, especially in the age of internet recipe blogs and social media food-sharing. It’s with all of this in mind and more that we’ve rounded up a collection of small kitchen appliance essentials that every foodie should own, plus a few worthy examples of each.
Once thought of solely as beverage makers, blenders have become an incredibly valuable and versatile kitchen appliance. Yes, they’re still exceptional for making smoothies, but they can also be used to craft sauces, dips and — with a little creativity — seemingly-stranger things like ice cream or bread dough. With all of that on the table, it’s easy to see why you might want one on your counter.
There are actually numerous reasons you might want to consider buying yourself a coffee grinder. The biggest of those reasons, however, is that they give you far more control over your coffee, especially in the realms of freshness, flavor and even style (meaning you can choose your own grind, be that extra coarse for cold brew or ultra-fine for a ristretto shot). If you’ve got a bean juice addiction, this should be near the top of your list of must-have small kitchen appliances.
If you’re going to make your own coffee at home and you don’t want to deal with the more labor-intensive styles, like pour-over and/or french press, you’ll certainly want your own coffee maker, if even just for occasional convenience. However, there are legions of sub-par options out there that are cheaply built and limited as to what you can do with them. Instead of wasting your money, take stock of what you want out of a coffee maker and invest in a good-quality option that can make that happen.
Backyard barbecues can be immensely enjoyable, but the required fuels (especially charcoal and wood) and the particulate matter they produce don’t translate very well to indoor usage. But if you’re dead-set on grilling even in inclement weather, an electric grill is a great workaround and a means of expanding your kitchen’s versatility. Whether you like grilled veggies or flat-top bacon and eggs, these devices will get the job done right.
For certain types of foods and recipes, hand-cutting, -chopping, -dicing and -slicing is absolutely necessary. But if you’re making something where the ingredients are more integrated — as can be seen in everything from purees to patties, sauces to salsas and everything in-between — then a food processor is a handy means of saving you time and effort. Furthermore, while blenders can pulverize most foodstuffs (especially the industrial options), they often lack the finesse and versatility of food processors.
The job of air fryers can be done just as well by convection ovens. While we believe that to be the truth, the popularity of air frying over the last two years has made dedicated tabletop fryers more accessible and approachable, especially from a price standpoint. If you don’t care about the other things a convection oven can do, a fryer could be the right investment, especially if you want to attempt to somewhat sidestep the health issues around oil-heavy deep frying without missing out on the satisfying crunch.
An integral part of all things baking, mixers of both the hand and stand varieties are a practical necessity when it comes to making bread, pastries and so much more. The style you choose will largely be dependent upon your budget, counter/storage space and level of patience. But we’d highly suggest that all foodies keep one on hand; you never know when you’ll have a craving for some home-baked sourdough and you’ll find it far more difficult to make without a mixer.
Colloquially misnomered as Instant Pots (a brand-item association similar to how adhesive bandages are often called Band-Aids), multicookers are remarkably versatile, relatively small kitchen appliances that are exceptional for single-pot meals like stews, soups and casseroles. They can also be used to make rice, baked goods and intrepid chefs have even experimented with using them to cook steaks and whole chickens. You might actually find it easier trying to figure out what can’t be made in one, rather than charting the exhaustive list of what can.
Designed to be, you guessed it, immersed in liquid-heavy foods — like soups, stews and even dips and spreads — this style of device offers a more convenient and less messy means of blending mixtures, especially when they’re already inside their cooking vessel. For instance, if you’re making a soup and you want it to be a bit thicker, you might add in some more ingredients after you’ve already started cooking it in your multicooker. Well, an immersion blender will let you blend those new ingredients without removing the entire soup from the pot. This is especially crucial for foods that need to be mixed while cooking, like egg-based recipes.
Not to be confused with immersion blenders, immersion circulators are made to be submerged in liquids and will gently and (more importantly) evenly heat said liquids and maintain a constant temperature. This is best exemplified in sous vide cooking, which is admittedly a bit buzz-worthy but also boasts benefits like better consistency and precision (this can be very important when cooking meats), lower energy consumption and even a higher degree of food safety.
Toasters & Tabletop Ovens
Toast is an undeniable staple of the worldwide culinary world, especially where breakfast is concerned. And while you could get a simple standard toaster (the kind with vertical bread slots and a push-down activation lever), we’d suggest expanding your horizons into the realm of toaster ovens or even tabletop convection ovens, the latter of which can also be used to air fry your food. This is an expansive category and there’s no single right answer for everyone, but a toaster is certainly one of the most crucial small kitchen appliances.