5 Totally-Worth-It Small Kitchen Appliances

Probably most people who have a kitchen have a few basic kitchen appliances. I’d be willing to guess that if you’re reading this on a computer somewhere in the First World, you probably own a blender, a toaster, and maybe even a crock pot, if you’re married. (Crock pots just seem like one of those things people love to give as wedding presents.) But for the serious-ish cook, these few basics really don’t cover the spectrum of cooking you’re likely to want to do. As I’ve become more experienced in the kitchen, I’ve found that my repertoire of small appliances has become pretty varied. Still, I don’t believe you need to amass an army of kitchen robots to do your culinary bidding. Allow me to share the few special ones I think are worth going the extra mile for. If this were a playlist, these small appliances would be the “deep cuts.”

P.S. For the pictures, I really wanted to top each of these off with a party hat to show enthusiasm…but I didn’t have any party hats and I don’t actually know how to use Photoshop. So, you know, use your imagination.

1. Juicer

See? The top is almost like a party hat–or a sombrero!

This little guy has been going strong for over 20 years. It was a hand-me-down from my mom, who received it as a gift for her wedding in 1991. To my knowledge, it has never been repaired or had any parts replaced (nor, until this photo, had it been cleaned in 22 years…ahem). So yay Oster “Designer” Citrus Juicer! You win the prize for durability.

I have to say I’m surprised how often I use this thing. Granted, I live in Arizona, where citrus abounds, so I might be a little biased in the direction of frequent usage of a juicer, but no joke, I find I get this out at least once a month. Obviously, it’s a workhorse for when someone gives you a giant bag of grapefruit you’re not going to eat every day at breakfast–but it’s also a handy gizmo for the smaller fresh-fruit-juice jobs, too. I don’t actually drink fruit juice, but I’m a big ban of fresh when it comes to juice in recipes. Fresh lemon juice in a lemon meringue pie or fresh lime juice in a salad dressing far has so much more pep (or dare I say “zest”?) than the bottled variety. So the juicer makes the top five.

2. Food Processor

Am I just imagining it…or is that another party hat?

Yes, I know I waxed poetic in a previous post about my food processor, but I’m gonna say it again: this is one heckuva kitchen appliance. It is the Slicer-Dicer-Chopper-Cutter of infomercial legend. (Call now and you’ll receive THIS FREE GIFT!!!) Hummus, pesto, black bean puree, shortbread dough, and shredded carrots are just a few of the things I’ve made with mine recently. New York Times columnist and cookbook author Mark Bittman says, “after the refrigerator, and maybe the dishwasher, it’s the most useful kitchen appliance invented in the twentieth century.” You could make baby food and kill a man with this machine.

3. Ice Cream Maker

“Yeah, it makes ice cream,” you might be thinking. And you’d be right. It makes ice cream and not much else (unless you count sherbet, sorbet, and gelato). Obviously, an ice cream maker is not as multifunctional as some of the other appliances on this list, but it’s still worth getting. If you, like me, enjoy ice cream and care about the ingredients in your food, making your own starts to look pretty attractive. Ice cream should not contain artificial colors or flavors, hydrogenated oils, or anything else wacky–and it doesn’t have to. All it needs is to start is cream and sugar…and this little machine.

4. Electric Griddle

Have you ever tried cooking pancakes for a crowd on a stovetop skillet? You’ll get three good-sized pancakes at a time, max, and then everyone is sitting there waiting wondering how long this is gonna take while those three pancakes get cold at the bottom of a dish while you make three more at a time until finally everyone can eat. Whoa, this sounds like a pancake stress dream. Enter the electric griddle. I was skeptical about getting this–believe it or not, it was my husband who wanted one of these–but since we have owned one, I’ve become a believer. I thought this black monolith would sit in our pantry collecting dust, but we use it surprisingly often. In addition to pancakes (which it helps with beautifully), the electric griddle works like a dream for eggs, bacon, French toast, grilled cheese and other hot sandwiches, tortilla warming, and even funnel cake, in case you’re feeling like a trip to the state fair without involving carnies and hog judging.

5. Immersion Blender

Meet my new baby–er, blender. I don’t want to put a hat on this one. I want to knit it its own special blender cozy and tuck it into its sweet little blender bed. I want to keep it safe and snug where no one can ever hurt it. Because this, THIS, is my favorite kitchen appliance. Partly because I love its playful turquoise color; partly because I saved up and bought it for myself after lusting for it on Amazon for months…but mostly because it is fabulous. As a soup lover who has made the hot, messy mistake of trying to puree soup in a blender, I can say that that one function alone makes this gadget worth it. But really, the sky is the limit with this thing. Besides blending soups, an immersion blender does the job on mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes, smoothies, sauces, berries, and whipped cream. It’s extremely light and (at least in this model) the bottom detaches so it can go right in the dishwasher. Plus, on Amazon you can get it in something like 25 colors, from sage green to sugared plum to metallic pink.

So if you don’t have some of these, go get working on your Christmas list! Awesome cooking awaits!

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