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Small Appliance Buying Guide

Whether you’re looking to reduce prep time or increase your culinary expertise, small appliances do more in less space. Below, we highlight the questions to ask yourself, along with the best features and must-haves of today’s most popular kitchen additions.

small appliance buying guide

Before You Buy

Determine your wants & needs:

Is your family growing? Growing up? Moving out?

Do you want to expand a particular area of culinary expertise?

Are you trying to reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen?

 

Assess Your Space:

How much counter space do you have for additional appliances?

How high are your cabinets?

Are under-cabinet appliances an option for your kitchen?

 

Know Your Preferences:

What is your finish or color preference?

Do you want corded or cordless appliances?

Do you value speeds and cycles or ease and simplicity?

Blenders and Juicers

Blender Juicer Buying Guide

You’ll find wattage ranging from 300 to 1,000, but keep in mind that higher wattage doesn’t always mean improved performance and smooth results. Watts determine speed and power.

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 a lightweight and handling safety.

When buying a juicer, consider buying an appliance with a removable top for adding items while blending. Detachable bases and blades on all types of 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

Coffee Maker Buying Guide

Whether you choose single-serve or full-pot brewing, check to make sure your appliance is pod-compatible for added convenience.

Popular features to consider include integrated bean grinders, temperature adjustment, water filters and permanent coffee filters.

24-hour programmability, pause & serve and automatic shut-off make for easy use, whether you’re getting ready for work or entertaining guests.

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Toasters and Toaster Ovens

Look for toasters 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 the benefits of toasting with additional bake and broil capabilities. This saves energy by eliminating the need to heat a large oven for cooking a small dish.

Adjustable temperatures and timers mean customized cooking, while crumb trays help keep counters neat and tidy.

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Good to Know

Look for automatic shut-off to lend extra peace of mind to time-crunched chefs.

Countertop Microwaves

Countertop Microwave

Depending on your cooking and reheating habits, countertop microwaves are available between 700 and 1200 watts.

Countertop microwaves are available in all the same finishes as built-ins. Before you shop, consider your preference for white, black or stainless steel.

Look for pre-programmed cook cycles and sensor cooking for easy heating of your favorite foods and drinks.

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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 perfectly cools wine bottles, cans or a mixture of containers (based on shelf configuration) in a built-in or stand-alone unit.

Units with automatic settings for red or white wines hold your bottles at the optimum serving temperature so you’re always ready to pour.

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 Fabric Care

Iron Buying Guide

Non-stick soleplates make ironing an easier task, especially with finicky fabrics.

Adjustable heat settings and built-in thermostats mean safe temperatures are maintained for fabric’s specifications.

Steam helps release wrinkles faster and helps to freshen fabric between washes. Steam buttons are available on traditional irons or explore a steamer.

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Good to Know

Automatic Off turns the iron off after a period of inactivity – saving your neighbor a trip to check your iron once you’re at work.

Mixers

Mixer Buying Guide

Depending on your preference, both stand mixers and hand mixers are available.

Look for models with a variety of beater types for flexibility: regular, dough hooks and wire whips add ease and functionality to your kitchen.

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.

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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

Consider the capacity needed for meal preparation.

Look for dishwasher safe, non-stick interiors and removable liners for easy cleaning.

Some cookers and steamers offer multi-function usage to eliminate the need for several appliances.

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Food Processors and Grinders

Food Processor Buying Guide

Look for appliances that can handle dry foods and liquids from a dishwasher safe container.

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 viable option for space saving 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) and large (4 quart) capacities accommodate your ice cream party needs.

Today’s ice cream makers are made with BPA-free plastics for the safety of you and your guests.

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 / drain the basket for improved user safety. If you’re choosing an open system, look for cool touch handles and external basket lifts for safer handling.

Tilt and drain features make clean-up 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 to gain additional versatility from your grill, skillet or waffle maker.

Keep in mind that overflow channels and drains help keep things clean while in use to save time and effort later.

Today’s 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 eliminate punch down and second-rise cycles to ensure gluten-free bakers open their bread makers to find wonderful results.

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 make breads and cakes without preservatives or transfats.

Dehydrators

Dehydrator Buying Guide

Shop for multi-tray systems; they dry more food at once.

Fans that circulate the air create even drying. This means there is no need to rotate your trays.

If you grow your own vegetables or hunt, dehydrators are wonderful for preserving food for months ahead.

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