If you spend a lot of time whipping up cookies, casseroles and everything in between, having a well-stocked kitchen can save you a lot of time. Stand mixers and hand mixers, for instance, can automate the tedious mixing process, while a food processor can dice, chop or grind ingredients at the touch of a button.
Here at Select, we’re all about working smarter, not harder. We regularly consult chefs, restaurant owners and other culinary experts about small kitchen appliances home cooks might be interested in, ranging from slow cookers and toasters to coffee makers and waffle irons. Below, we compiled our expert guidance on small kitchen appliances into one handy guide and rounded up some top-rated and expert-recommended products across our articles.
What to consider when shopping for small appliances
Small appliances typically either sit on the kitchen counter or get stowed away in a cabinet when they’re not in use. For some, both counter and cabinet space is limited, so you should consider your needs in the kitchen before you decide which gadgets to buy. If you aren’t going to use something, it doesn’t have a place in your kitchen, experts told us in our guide to organizing a small kitchen space.
Another factor to consider is versatility. Some appliances — like food processors and stand mixers — can be used for both cooking and baking with the right attachments. In our guide to waffle irons, for example, experts noted you can use the machine to cook hash browns, omelettes, quesadillas, mac and cheese and more.
The best small appliances for your kitchen
From stand mixers to air fryers, here are some top-rated and expert-recommended small appliances to consider if you're looking to upgrade your current cooking setup.
Best small appliances for baking and cooking
The stand mixer is the kitchen workhorse: With the right attachments, it can do everything from knead dough to shred meat. KitchenAid is one of the most well-established names in the stand mixer space, and though its mixers fall on the pricier end, experts told us they’re worth the splurge. The Artisan model has 10 speed settings and comes with three attachments: a flat beater, a dough hook and a 6-wire whip. The head of the mixer tilts upward, making it easy to remove the bowl and beaters.
If you have limited kitchen space or don’t cook enough to justify purchasing a stand mixer, a hand mixer is another good option. Hand mixers aren’t quite as powerful as stand mixers and require a bit more manual labor, but they perform similar tasks and take up minimal drawer space. KitchenAid makes a good basic option with five speed settings — the dishwasher-safe beaters easily eject with the push of a button.
A food processor is similar to a blender, except you don’t need to include any liquid ingredients in your mixture when you use one. The cooking experts we spoke to said they’re good for making sauces, chopping herbs, slicing vegetables and performing other tasks around the kitchen.
Food processors vary in capacity, but 8 cups is typically the standard size. This one from Ninja has a 9-cup capacity and is programmed with four settings that automatically adjust the speed depending on the recipe. “I appreciate the attachments, they have great replacement policies and warranties and their processors come with blades that accommodate bread and cookie doughs,” Victoria Abdelhady, the culinary assurance lead for HelloFresh, previously said.
Air fryers use hot air rather than oil to cook food to crispy perfection. Many of them are more than just air fryers, too: This one from Instant Pot can also bake, roast and reheat foods. The temperature can easily be adjusted from 95 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and the basket can hold up to 6 quarts of food.
If you want to make large quantities of food in one sitting, this iron can cook two Belgian waffles at a time and beeps when they’re done cooking. The six-setting control knob on the base also allows you to decide just how crispy you want your waffles to be.
Best small appliances for making coffee
This automatic coffee maker from Breville has six preset brewing modes, including a ‘Gold Cup’ mode that brews coffee according to the temperature standards set by the Specialty Coffee Association. If you prefer to adjust the settings manually, the machine has precise digital temperature control and three flow rates to control your coffee’s acidity and sweetness levels.
A good coffee grinder is a key component to a solid brew — the machine breaks coffee beans down into smaller pieces so that their flavor can be properly extracted. There are two types of grinders on the market — blade grinders and burr grinders — but experts recommend the latter for a more uniform grinding process.
Jiyoon Han, a certified Q grader coffee sommelier at Bean & Bean Coffee, specifically suggested this Conical Burr Grinder from Baratza, noting that it can “grind coffee well at a pretty reasonable price point for purchasing one grinder that can last you a whole lifetime.” It has 40 grind settings for different coffee styles and a digital timer that can be programmed down to one-tenth of a second.
If espresso is your coffee drink of choice, the Gaggia Classic is a “no-frills machine that will get the job done,” Graham Peeples, director of beverage at Methodical Coffee, noted in our espresso maker guide. The machine comes with a built-in steam wand for frothing milk, but since it only has one boiler, you need to wait a bit after brewing your espresso to use it.
Cold brew coffee is made by immersing ground coffee in either room temperature or cold water for about 18 hours. Though you can make cold brew in a carafe, some people prefer to use a coffee maker to make larger batches. This one from OXO also has a “rainmaker” feature that more evenly distributes the water across the beans before they are left to sit and soak.