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Over my 25-year career as a cooking professional, I have amassed a mountain of kitchen tools, gadgets, and small appliances. Many of them have been relegated to dark corners of my kitchen cabinets or the basement, where they are collecting cobwebs (oil-less turkey fryer, I’m looking at you). That’s why I’m all about keeping things simple and streamlined in the kitchen. Not only is this easier on your wallet, but it also saves precious counter and cabinet space. Here are the 7 essential small kitchen appliances that earn their keep in my kitchen.
1. Stand Mixer
A stand mixer is a cornerstone in my kitchen for baking tasks, effortlessly handling cakes, cookies, breads, and even non-baking essentials like mashed potatoes and pizza dough. A tip from my years of baking: opt for a model with at least a 5-quart capacity to ensure it can manage larger recipes with ease. While a quality stand mixer is an investment, its durability and versatility make it a workhorse in the kitchen—and it looks great on the counter too!
2. Hand Mixer
A hand mixer is the smaller, more affordable cousin of the stand mixer (you really don’t need both). Its compact size and budget-friendly price make it a smart choice for those tight on space or not ready to invest in a stand mixer. It’s important to note that while it’s a champ at most tasks, it does tap out at bread dough—so if you’re dreaming of making homemade loaves, you’ll need something with a bit more muscle. For recipes designed with a stand mixer in mind, just nudge up your hand mixer’s speed a notch to get the job done.
❤️ My Fave: KitchenAid 5-Speed Hand Mixer
3. Food Processor
A food processor is truly a kitchen workhorse, indispensable for a wide range of tasks. It enables you to chop vegetables in a matter of seconds, effortlessly whip up sauces, dressings, and dips, and even shred cheese with ease. While mini food processors are available for smaller tasks and come with a smaller price tag, I’ve found that a larger model offers much more flexibility. I personally use a food processor with a 14-cup capacity and find it ideal. Based on this, I would advise opting for a model with at least an 11-cup capacity to ensure flexibility with various kitchen tasks.
❤️ My Fave: Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor
4. Immersion Blender
An immersion blender, also known as a stick or hand blender, offers incredible convenience in the kitchen, and its compact size requires minimal cabinet space—always a plus! Ideal for blending soups or puréeing baby food, this type of blender stands out for its ease of use directly in pots or bowls. Unlike traditional blenders that necessitate blending soups in multiple batches, an immersion blender simplifies the process, allowing you to blend everything in one go.
❤️ My Fave: Braun Hand Blender
5. Stand Blender
Stand blenders are great for blending smoothies, milkshakes, frozen drinks, marinades, salad dressings, and sauces. And compared to an immersion blender, its larger motor provides more power for handling tougher ingredients like frozen fruit or ice cubes. When choosing a blender, size matters. I have one that holds 64 ounces with plenty of space for whatever needs blending. If you buy a blender with a smaller pitcher, you may run short on room when blending larger batches of ingredients.
6. Waffle Iron
If your family loves waffles and you’re looking to ditch the store-bought frozen ones, a waffle iron is a must. Most models come with a nonstick coating allowing waffles to easily release, and cleaning is a breeze. Also, the one I like has red and green indicator lights, along with browning controls. The lights signal when the iron is heating up, ready for batter, and when the waffle is finished cooking. The adjustable browning controls allow you to customize the golden color and level of doneness of your waffles, ensuring they come out exactly as you like.
❤️ My Fave: Cuisinart Mini Belgian Waffle Maker
7. Ice Cream Maker
An ice cream maker is a valuable investment if your family enjoys indulging in homemade ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sorbet. The model I own has a generous capacity, capable of making up to 1.5 quarts. I like its user-friendly design, featuring a straightforward assembly and only a few simple parts. Also, the lid provides access so you can add ingredients like chocolate chips or crushed cookies.
❤️ My Fave: Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker
When considering what to purchase, think through what you’re likely to use most and what will make your time in the kitchen easier, faster, and more enjoyable. If you have any questions about which options may be good to start with, just use the comment section below. Happy Cooking!
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