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Small Appliance Buying Guide

Choose the best small appliances for your kitchen with our guide. Reduce prep time and increase your culinary expertise with our most popular small appliances that do more work in less space.

popular small appliances

Before You Buy

A few questions help you start your search for a new appliance.

  1. Do I have enough counter / storage space available for the product I'm considering?
  2. Is it available in the color / finish I desire?
  3. Is it easy to clean / maintain?
  4. Are safety ratings and reports available to guide me?

Blenders and Juicers

Blender Juicer in the small appliance buying guide
  • Watts determine speed and power, ranging from 200 to 1,500.
  • Higher wattages pulverize ice, frozen fruits and nuts more easily than lower wattages.
  • Carafes range from 4-9 cups and are available in glass, which is heavier and offers transparency for easy monitoring; stainless steel, which is non-staining; and plastic, for light weight and handling safety. Look for BPA-free plastic to reduce exposure to carcinogens.
  • Removable juicer tops make it easy to add items while blending.
  • Detachable bases and blades on blenders and juicers make cleaning easier.

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Good to Know

Check the manufacturer’s specifications carefully to find out if your appliance of choice is approved for use with both hot and cold liquids.

Coffee, Tea and Espresso Makers in the small appliance buying guide

Coffee Maker in the small appliance buying guide
  • Whether you choose single-serve or full-pot brewing, check to make sure your appliance is pod-compatible for added convenience. Coffee pods are pre-packaged coffee units that eliminate the need to measure loose grounds and use coffee filters.
  • Some brewers accommodate both single-serve cups, pods and loose ground coffee within a single unit.
  • Popular features to consider include integrated bean grinders for the freshest-tasting coffee, temperature adjustment for those who prefer tepid or extra-hot coffee, coffee strength selectors, water filters and permanent coffee filters to reduce landfill waste.
  • 24-hour programmability, pause-and-serve and automatic shut-off are convenience features helpful when you're getting ready for work or entertaining guests.

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Toasters and Toaster Ovens

A toaster in the small appliance buying guide
  • Toasters come with 4 to 6 slice openings, with the option of extra-long or extra-wide slots to handle everything from baguettes to bagels.
  • Toaster ovens offer toast, bake and broil capabilities, eliminating the need to heat a large oven for cooking a small dish.
  • Features like rotisserie or convection cooking allow you to customize your cooking experience. Rotisserie cooking rotates food in heat for more even cooking and crispier skin. Convection toasters save time and cook foods more evenly by circulating hot air with a fan.

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Good to Know

Look for an automatic shutoff feature to elminate worry about appliances overheating, damaging surrounding countertops and cabinets or causing house fires.

Countertop Microwaves

Countertop Microwave
  • Countertop microwaves are available between 700 and 1200 watts.
  • Watts equal cooking power. The more power you have, the faster food cooks.
  • Countertop microwaves are available in all the same finishes as built-ins: white, black or stainless steel. They can be paired with a trim kit for a built-in look.
  • Preprogrammed cook cycles and sensor cooking easily heat your favorite foods and drinks with a single button. Preprogrammed settings are automatically set to heat popular snacks, such as popcorn. Sensor cooking checks the doneness of foods by monitoring steam, adjusting cooktime automatically to avoid overcooking.

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Good to Know

Before you shop, measure your available counter space to ensure a good fit, as countertop microwaves vary greatly in size.

Wine Chillers and Coolers

Wine Chillers and Coolers
  • Wine chillers and coolers maintain ideal temperatures for wine and / or beer bottles, cans or a mixture of containers (based on shelf configuration) in a built-in or stand-alone unit.
  • Chilling units with automatic settings for red or white wines hold your bottles at the optimum serving temperature per varietal.
  • Look for textured aluminum interiors, which maintain temperature and humidity better than other materials.

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Good to Know

Solid doors offer the best performance. But, if you opt for a glass door, make sure it is UV-coated. Light can damage wine.

Irons and Steamers

Iron Buying Guide
  • Non-stick soleplates make ironing an easier task and are easier to clean.
  • Adjustable heat settings and built-in thermostats mean safe temperatures are maintained for fabric specifications.
  • Steam settings help release wrinkles faster and help to freshen fabric between washes. Steam buttons are available on traditional irons to release wrinkles without effort.
  • Stand-alone steamer units smooth fabric with less damage. Wand and upright models are available.

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Good to Know

Automatic Off turns the iron off after a period of inactivity.


Mixer Buying Guide
  • Stand mixers and hand mixers are available.
  • Mixers come with a variety of beater types for flexibility: Flat beaters mix ingredients without whipping, dough hooks let air into bread or pizza dough, allowing it to rise, and wire whips add air to your foods for fluffy whipped cream or meringue.
  • With stand mixers, determine the beater action that’s right for you. Planetary means both the beater and bowl move. Standard means that just the beaters move.
  • Stand mixer attachments are available for a variety of food prep: juicing / saucing, slicing and shredding fruits and vegetables, rolling and cutting pasta, even making homemade ice cream.

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Good to Know

Consider the weight of your mixer. For hand mixers, lighter is better because it reduces exertion and shoulder stress, while heavier stand mixers help the appliance remain stable at high speeds.

Cookers and Steamers

Slow Cooker Buying Guide
  • Cookers are available in a variety of sizes, from .75 quart to 18 quarts in configurations from single-vessel to triple-vessel.
  • Look for dishwasher-safe, non-stick interiors and removable liners for easy cleaning.
  • Some cookers and steamers offer multifunction usage - sear / brown meat, then switch to traditional slow-cooking for savory roasts. Use the steam feature for rice or vegetables. Use the reheat option for warming up to 400 degrees. 

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Food Processors and Grinders

Food Processor Buying Guide
  • Food processors and grinders come with accessories to tackle many kitchen chores: shred vegetables and cheeses, finely chop vegetables, grind meat, pulvarize grains, chop nuts for toppings or process them to make nut butter.
  • Some appliances come with additional attachments to handle prep work. Look for attachments to help knead dough and tackle juicing, shredding, slicing and grating.
  • Feed tubes on the top of the appliance let you add items while the machine is running.

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Good to Know

Mini-choppers are a space-saving option and come with many of the same features and attachments as full-size models.

Ice Cream Makers

Ice Cream Maker Buying Guide
  • Small (1.5 quarts = 12 1/2-cup servings) and large (4 quarts = 32 1/2-cup servings) capacities accommodate your ice cream party needs. Since people tend to enjoy more than a 1/2-cup serving of ice cream at a time, adjust portions accordingly.
  • Today’s ice cream makers are made with BPA-free plastics to protect your health.
  • Self-refrigerating compressors mean that you don’t have to freeze the bowl ahead of time. Enjoy homemade ice cream on a whim.

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Deep Fryers

Deep Fryer Buying Guide
  • Closed systems cook to time and automatically lift and drain the basket for improved user safety.
  • Open systems require manual lifting and draining of the basket and are available with cool-touch handles and external basket lifts for safer handling.
  • Tilt-and-drain features tilt the basin to drain the oil and make cleanup easy.
  • Sealing lids are a great option if you plan to store oil in your fryer.

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Good to Know

Read and follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions carefully to avoid burns and damage to countertops and other surfaces.

Indoor Grills, Skillets and Waffle Makers

Grill, Skillet and Waffle Maker Buying Guide
  • Look for interchangeable flat and ridged non-stick plates for toasted sandwiches, pancakes, bacon and more from your grill, skillet or waffle maker.
  • Overflow channels and drains empty grease and juices into a separate receptable for easier cleaning.
  • indoor grills and waffle makers cook evenly on both sides, so there’s no need to flip for perfect results.

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Bread Makers

Bread Maker Buying Guide
  • Explore pre-programmed settings for crust color, loaf sizes, cakes and more. Convection fans provide for even cooking.
  • Gluten-free settings allow those with gluten sensitivies and aversions to create delicious gluten-free bread.
  • Shop for dishwasher safe, non-stick pans for easy clean-up.

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Good to Know

Adding a bread maker to your small appliance collection means you can control what goes into your food and make breads and cakes without preservatives or transfat, unlike store-bought breads which are loaded with preservatives to keep them shelf-stable and unhealthy transfats that comes from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.


Dehydrator Buying Guide
  • Dehydrators preserve food for months ahead.
  • Control what you eat by making healthy dried fruit and jerky. Drying food concentrates flavors and maintains nutritional value.
  • Fans circulate the air for even drying, so there is no need to rotate your trays.

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Do not use small appliances near water.