7 Must-Have Small Kitchen Appliances

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pale and creamy vanilla cupcake batter

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

peanut butter cookie batter

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!

❤️ My Faves: KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Stand Mixer or KitchenAid 7-Qt Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer

2. Hand Mixer

beating in the molasses

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

Hummus ingredients in 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

immersion blender in soup

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

frose in 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.

❤️ My Faves: Vitamix 5200 or Braun TriForce Power Blender

6. Waffle Iron

yeasted waffle on 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

churning chocolate ice cream in ice cream machine

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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  • Hi Jenn,
    I love your recipes; your website is my go to. Thank you! What brand do you like for a high quality mini food processor?

    • — Toni on December 28, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Toni, Thanks for your nice words about the recipes — so glad you like them! Cuisinart would also be my go-to brand for a smaller food processor.

      • — Jenn on December 29, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thank you, and happy new year 🙂

        • — Toni on December 31, 2023
        • Reply
  • Do you have a Slow Cooker brand you would recommend ?

    • — Clare on December 24, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Clare, I don’t use a slow cooker so don’t know which brands/models are good. I’m sorry! I took a peek at Cooks Illustrated’s product recommendations and they like this one. It’s a bit on the smaller side, but they didn’t offer recommendations for larger ones. Hope that gives you something to go on!

      • — Jenn on December 27, 2023
      • Reply
    • Thank you so much for taking the time to reply! I really enjoy your blog and just gifted someone with your cookbook!

      • — Clare on December 30, 2023
      • Reply
  • I think the attachments for the kitchen aid stand mixer are also a good way if counter space is a problem. They make a good ice cream maker, slicer and grater , juicer and pasta maker! One machine can do all that! Amazing!

    • — Karen Kalinske on December 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • Our favorite ice cream maker is a hand-crank White Mountain. We use it at home, on the beach, and even in 105-degree desert in Joshua Tree. It’s fun, too!

    • — Jenny Post on December 10, 2023
    • Reply

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