Whether you’re moving into your first place or you are upgrading to a new home, there’s no doubt you’re going to want to have a well-stocked kitchen; a space where you can prepare wholesome home-cooked meals. In order to do that, you’re going to need to have the right appliances. It goes without saying that a refrigerator, a stovetop, an oven, and a microwave are all essentials; but, what about countertop appliances?
As you browse through your local home furnishing store or search around online, you’re going to find that there is a dizzying array of countertop appliances to choose from. Bread machines, pasta makers, rice cookers; the list goes on and on. Do you need all of them? Unless you are planning on preparing food that requires these specialized appliances, you probably don’t need them. However, that being said, there are some countertop appliances that every kitchen DOES need.
So, what appliances should you put in your shopping cart? Here’s a look at five must-have countertop appliances that every kitchen should have because, well, they’ll just make preparing healthful food more enjoyable and a lot easier.
A blender of some sort is an absolute must. From milkshakes and smoothies to soups and sauces, a countertop blender is a handy appliance that can be used to make a wide assortment of beverages and food.
Of course, as with all countertop appliances, there are dozens of blenders to choose from. What will work best for you depends on your specific needs, including what you plan on making and the amount of space you have; however, in general, we recommend one that features a motor that’s no less than 500 watts. Additionally, you’ll want to opt for one that features a sturdy container that will be able to accommodate what you believe you’ll be using the appliance to make; a pitcher that’s made of either dense glass polycarbonate, as these materials will be able to withstand wear and tear. We also recommend a blender that features stainless steel blades and one that offers 4 to 10-speed settings; if it has less than 4, you’ll be pretty limited with what you can do, and anything more than 10 just isn’t necessary. A pulse button is also a definite must.
Options to Consider
Some of our favorite countertop blenders include:
A Toaster Oven
No matter what size your kitchen is, forego the standard toaster and pick a toaster oven instead. You can use this handy-dandy countertop appliance to heat up leftovers, bake frozen foods, like pizza and waffles, make hot open-faced sandwiches with delicious ooey-gooey cheese… You can even bake a small batch of homemade cookies or brownies. And of course, you can use a toaster oven to toast bread and bagels to perfection.
As you can probably imagine, there are tons of toaster ovens on the market. When selecting one, the amount of space on your countertop that you can dedicate to the appliance is important. As far as features go, it should have a temperature-adjustable toaster, broil, and oven setting. You’ll likely find yourself using this countertop appliance even more than you use your standard oven.
Options to Consider
Three of the best toaster ovens on the market include:
- Black and Decker 4-Slice Toaster Oven
- Hamilton Beach 6-Slice Countertop Toaster Oven
- Breville Smart Oven Countertop Electric Toaster
A Food Processor
Homemade peanut (or cashew, almond, walnut or any other type) butter; fresh hummus; light and airy mashed potatoes; fresh and healthy salad dressings; flour; ground meat… The list of things that you can make with a food processor goes on and on and on! This countertop appliance will really be the workhorse of your kitchen; you can use it to do slice and chop veggies or whip up some super creamy homemade whipped cream.
Like all other countertop appliances, you do need to consider the size. Additionally, we also recommend that you invest in a higher-end model; one that features a strong motor that can power through virtually anything, comes with at least a few accessories (a slicing and shredding disc and a dough blade, etc), a large bowl, and a lid with a feed tube, for example. High-end food processors may have a higher price tag, but they are definitely worth the cost, as you’ll more than likely get quite a lot of use out of it.
Options to Consider
Our top picks for the best food processors include:
- KitchenAid 14-Cup Food Processor with Exact Slice System and Dicing Kit
- Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor
- Breville Sous Chef 12 Cup Food Processor
A Slow Cooker
If you aren’t keen on the idea of slaving away over a hot stove, you just don’t have the time to dedicate to prepare intricate dishes, or you simply want to make cooking as easy as possible, then you’re definitely going to want a slow cooker in your kitchen.
This countertop appliance can be used to appetizers, main courses, and desserts. Make hearty stews, melt in your mouth roasts, heavenly puddings, tantalizing sauces – and so much more! Slow cookers are so easy to use, too! Just toss in the ingredients, turn it on, and in a few hours, your entire house will smell absolutely divine; and of course, you’ll have incredible meals and treats to sink your teeth into. What’s more; cleanup is a cinch! Just line the pot with a disposable slow cooker liner before you fill it (you can purchase them virtually anywhere), toss the liner when the food is done cooking, and give the appliance a quick washdown. That’s it!
Slow cookers are pretty basic appliances; they don’t require a ton of features or settings. As long as it has an adjustable temperature control, a timer, and a warm setting that will hold your food warm when it’s done cooking, that’s really all you need. We suggest going for one that has a clear lid so you can keep an eye on your food while it’s cooking, as well as dishwasher safe lid and pot.
Options to Consider
You’ll turn out some incredible dishes in any of the following slow cookers:
- Crock-Pot 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
- Hamilton Beach 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
- All-Clad 6.5 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
An Air Fryer
Last but not least on our list of the top five countertop appliances every kitchen must-have is the air fryer. If you love the crunchy goodness of fried foods but you loathe the idea of all the crease and extra calories it comes along with than an air fryer is definitely for you!
With this appliance, you can make healthy and delicious French fries, chicken fingers, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and anything else you’d make with a traditional fryer – and they’ll taste just as delicious and will be way healthier, too! Plus, you won’t have to contend with the huge mess of changing out used oil or the pungent odor that a standard fryer produces. An air fryer can be used to make more than just standard fried fare; you can use this countertop appliance to make cookies, seafood, steak tidbits, and even hardboiled eggs! It’s really an all-in-one appliance that you’re bound to get tons of use out of.
Look for an air fryer that can accommodate the type and amount of food you plan on cooking in it. A 2 to 3 quart capacity is ideal for cooking dishes for up to 2 people; if you’re cooking for up to 5 people, a 5.3 quart air fryer should suffice; and, if you’re planning on using it to make meals for large gatherings or larger items – such as whole chickens – opt for an air fryer that has a capacity of at least 6 quarts. In addition to the size, features to look for include an adjustable thermostat and a timer; a dishwasher safe basket is a good idea, too.
Options to Consider
Of all the air fryers on the market, we were the most impressed with these three:
And there you have it: our top five countertop appliances that every kitchen should have. Whether you only plan on making the basics or you are a passionate foodie, having these appliances in your kitchen will definitely make cooking a lot more enjoyable – and a lot easier!