Small Appliances that Pack a Big Punch!

Countertop Cooking Introduction

Cuisinart CounterPro Convection Toaster Oven Broiler

Cuisinart CounterPro Convection Toaster Oven Broiler

The Cuisinart CounterPro convection toaster oven broiler has bake, convection bake, broil, toast and warming functions. Its .6-cubic-foot interior allows for roasting a whole chicken, broiling fish, toasting up to six slices of bread at a time, or baking a 12-inch pizza. With 1500 watts of power, this countertop oven can produce temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and saves energy over using a traditional oven because of its smaller size.

Viking Professional Hand Blender

Viking hand blender

The Viking hand blender can blend and chop everything from soups to smoothies to coffee beans with a professional-grade 300-watt motor. Two-speed pulse control offers flexible performance and automatic safety shut off. The blender comes with a blending attachment, stainless steel whisk and 35-ounce mixing cup with lid. A chopper attachment is optional.

Make Snacks and Treats in Your Own Kitchen

Ice Cream Maker By Hamilton Beach

Courtesy of Hamilton Beach

If you want to make unique flavors of ice cream, try using an ice cream maker to surprise and tantalize your taste buds.

Ice Cream Makers

Ice cream makers can usually be divided into two categories: ones with bowls you have to freeze on your own, and ones with self-contained freezing units. The latter will be more expensive, while the former simply require a bit more planning, as you'll need to freeze the bowl before making your ice cream, and then freeze the mixture.

There are manual ice cream makers that require you to mix the ingredients by hand. There are also electric ice cream makers that allow you to basically add the ingredients and then push a button to create the mixture.

Ice cream makers typically make between 1 and 2 quarts, and range from $50 to $300.


Electric Popcorn Poppers

Courtesy of Presto


Popcorn Poppers

These simple devices use heated air to increase the temperature of corn kernels until they pop, producing popcorn. While many people opt for microwave popcorn, heated air poppers allow you to season and flavor your popcorn as you like it. They also require little to no cooking oil to work, so you can make popcorn that is healthier than microwave popcorn, which is usually packaged with cooking oils and salts.

There are two common shapes of electric popcorn poppers: a unit that looks like a tower, and a unit that is shaped like a dome. The tower-shaped unit requires a bowl to be placed under the spot where the popcorn dispenses, while the dome-shaped units have a lid that keeps the popcorn contained. Most electric poppers cost between $20 and $40.


Panasonic Bread Maker

Courtesy of Panasonic


Bread Makers

These handy items simplify the bread-making process by eliminating the need to create your own dough. Most bread makers allow you to use a pre-made bread mix, and some allow you to add yeast yourself, which gives you control over the rise of the bread. More expensive bread makers will give you more control over what you can add to the dough (such as cranberries or raisins) and the crispiness of the crust. Finally, many bread makers offer three different loaf sizes from which to choose. Expect to pay between $100 and $200 for bread makers.


A waffle maker.
Waffle Makers

Similar to sandwich presses, waffle makers have both top and bottom heating surfaces. This allows for a fast, even cooking process. Waffle makers have a distinct look, as the heating surfaces have a raised grid pattern, allowing the mixture you pour in it to take a waffle shape.

Waffle makers can vary in size. Belgian-style waffle makers are bigger since Belgian waffles are larger and thicker than an average waffle. Other waffle makers might allow you to make triangular-shaped waffles. Some have heating surfaces that are non-stick, making it easier to remove the finished waffle from the waffler. Prices for waffle makers range from $50 to $200.





KitchenAid Coffee Maker

KitchenAid Coffee Maker
Courtesy of KitchenAid

New coffee makers from KitchenAid have removable water tanks, variable brew-strength settings and flat brew baskets, all designed to extract maximum flavor from the coffee grounds. Features that simplify brewing include a stop function, cleaning alert, variable warming control and time-since-last-brewed indicator. Some models include power loss backup and hot water dispensers. Coffeemakers are available with 10- or 12-cup thermal carafes or a 14-cup glass carafe.

Things to Think About When Selecting Small Appliances

A selection of color-coordinated small appliances

Courtesy of Hamilton Beach

The following questions provide some important food for thought when shopping for small appliances. We have more information on how to choose specific products throughout this section, but this list of factors to consider is a great place to start.


  1. Appearance: Are you likely to hide them in cabinets or in a pantry? Or will they spend most of their time on the counter? If the latter, do you want them to match your large appliances (which are likely to be in white, black or stainless steel)? Or do you want to add color or strengthen an existing color scheme by buying small appliances in a more adventurous shade?

  2. Capacity: What quantities of food and beverages do you plan to produce with these appliances? Enough for one or two people, family dinners, or large parties?

  3. Space: How much room do you have in your kitchen to store and to use these "small" appliances, some of which are actually rather big? Will they fit in the cabinets or underneath the cabinets? Do you have more wall space than counter space, in which case you might be better off choosing built-in instead of countertop models when possible (for example, with a microwave or a coffeemaker)? Can you save space by buying one appliance with multiple functions instead of multiple appliances with single functions?

  4. Frequency of use: Will you use a particular appliance on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Or will you only pull it out for special, rare occasions? You may want to invest more in a machine that has to stand up to regular abuse.

  5. Ease of cleaning: Look for dishwasher-safe components unless you enjoy doing dishes by hand.

  6. Corded or cordless: How portable do you need your portable appliances to be? Do you like to set up at a table that happens to be a little too far from an electrical outlet? Are you concerned about blowing a fuse?




Viking 9-Speed Hand Mixer

Viking 9-speed hand mixer

The Viking Hand Mixer offers 9-speed digital touch control, a 250-watt motor and two sets of dishwasher-safe stainless steel beaters. Its 5-foot-long, easy-winding cord allows for maximum kitchen range and also convenient storage.

Compact Units for Making Crispy and Baked Dishes

A four-clice toaster

Newer toasters have a variety of settings and have slots for more than just two pieces of toast.

Toaster Ovens & Toasters

Toasters no longer serve just as simple canisters in which to heat bread. Modern toasters can have a range of temperature settings, as well as oversize slots to accommodate thicker or longer bread and bagels. Typically they have two or four slots.

A convenient feature to look for is a slide-out tray for disposing of bread crumbs. These trays make it easier to keep a toaster clean. Toasters typically cost between $20 and $100.

A toaster oven looks like a mini oven, and for all intents and purposes, that's what it is. It's great for heating smaller food dishes, and is a suitable replacement for an oven in situations where a regular-sized oven is not available. Toaster or countertop ovens can be set at a variety of temperatures, and they also have a setting for toasting bread. Some newer countertop ovens even offer convection heat, which makes for faster and more even cooking.

When using a toaster oven, make sure to take certain precautions. These small boxes produce a great deal of heat in a short amount of time, so you'll want to make sure food placed inside it doesn't overheat and catch fire. If you're using a toaster oven in a temporary kitchen setting, or in a small confined space, make sure extremely flammable items are not placed near the toaster oven, as they can catch on fire.

Toaster ovens typically cost between $75 and $300.

Electric Rotisserie Oven from Deni

Courtesy of Deni


Electric Rotisseries

A derivative of the toaster oven, the electric rotisserie often looks like a toaster oven with a rotisserie attachment. You can also find vertical standing rotisserie ovens, where the rotisserie rod is positioned upright instead of horizontally. Most electric rotisseries have more interior space than a typical toaster oven in order to accommodate the size of items being cooked, such as whole chickens or turkeys.

They typically cost between $50 and $200.




The Baker's Small Appliance


Courtesy of KitchenAid

This KitchenAid stand mixer's bowl has a handle for easy lifting and pouring.

Stand Mixers

Whether you are a regular baker or aspire to corner the neighborhood cupcake market, a stand mixer will help you handle the arm-tiring work of mixing, blending, kneading and beating. With different bowl sizes, weights and attachments to consider, choose the stand mixer that works best with your everyday needs.

Stand mixers can get heavy, but that weight helps stabilize their loads for intense mixing jobs. You'll probably want to store the stand mixer on your countertop because of its heft, so its color and design may be important to you. (If you're remodeling your kitchen, consider a mixer shelf or lift in a base cabinet.)

The bowl should be large enough to handle bigger loads-at least 4.5 quarts. Some bowls come equipped with a handle to make pouring batters and mixes easier.

The more power your mixer packs, the more dough it can handle. And while your stand mixer may have up to 8 or even 16 speeds, you will want to look for low or slow-start speeds to avoid splattering.

Finally, stand mixers come with different kinds of mixing motions. Conventional stand mixers have two fixed mixers, but commercial grade mixers will have planetary motion. That means that as the mixer spins on its own axis, it also rotates around the bowl, folding more batter into its path and reducing the need to scrape the sides of the bowl.


 stand mixer attachments like a juicer and pasta maker

Stand mixer attachments make this small appliance more versatile.


Stand Mixer Attachments

Some stand mixers will come equipped with standard paddles and beaters, in addition to a dough hook and wire whisk. Other mixers may only come with fixed whisks. For more options, you can purchase additional attachments such as food grinders, pasta rollers and cutters, juicers, shredders and more.

 hand mixer by hamilton beach

Padded stainless steel whisks on this hand mixer from Hamilton Beach protect bowls from nicks and scratches.


Hand Mixers

For quick and easy mixing, a hand mixer does the trick. The hand mixer is the little brother to the stand mixer, handling lighter jobs like mixing cupcake batter or whipping icing.

If baking isn't a regular thing for you, then a hand mixer that can be stored away and cleaned up easily is a good choice. Like the stand mixer, you should select a model that has a slow or soft start feature to keep your ingredients from being whisked out of the bowl.

Since you will be handling this mixer, you'll want to consider the ergonomics of your machine's design. Handles that slant up toward the front of the machine keep your wrist from being strained, and lighter models are easier to manage.

Avoid hand mixers with less than 175 volts of power, and lean toward your options with lighter, stainless steel double whisks. Some models feature coated stainless steel whisks to softly scrape the bowl. Other models include accessories for storage.






Preserve the Coffee Beans' Aroma and Flavor

Coffee tastes best when made from freshly ground beans. For best results, the size of the grounds should differ based on the brewing method: drinks made with shorter brewing times should use finer grounds;  espresso needs a fine grind; drip and percolated coffee require medium grinds; and French presses work best with coarse grinds.

More expensive, larger coffeemakers have grinders built into them, but separate grinders can be purchased for anywhere from $10 to $200. On the cheaper end of the scale you have blade grinders; on the higher side you have burr grinders.


Blade grinders use a sharp metal blade to chop whole coffee beans into grounds. To get smaller grounds, you run the grinder for a longer period of time. Made from plastic or stainless steel, these grinders are shaped like cylinders, with a motor at the base of the container and a lid on top. They typically make 12 to 21 tablespoons of grounds.


  • Affordable
  • Small, good for drip coffee makers
  • Produce enough grounds for six to 10 cups
  • Can be used for grinding spices and herbs


  • Size of the grounds varies, which affects brewing quality
  • Heat generated by the blade can burn the grounds, affecting taste
  • Not recommended for espresso machines
  • Don't make enough grounds for larger coffee pots

Burr grinders,
also called burr mills, use a rotary tool to crush whole coffee beans into grounds. You have a choice of two types, a wheel burr grinder or a conical burr grinder.

Wheel burr grinders
have a horizontal metal wheel or disc that revolves against another, stationary wheel. The space between the two burrs determines the size of the grounds and usually can be adjusted. The wheel spins anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 rotations per minute.


  • Create less heat than blade grinders
  • More affordable than conical burr grinders
  • Produce consistently sized small grounds
  • Good for espresso machines


  • Noisier and messier than conical burr grinders
  • Create more heat than conical burr grinders


Conical burr grinders have intricately designed steel burrs that can run at a speed below 500 rotations per minute. Both the size of the grounds and the time it takes to grind the beans can be adjusted.


  • Quietest
  • Retain the most flavor and aroma in the coffee
  • Stay cool
  • Least likely to clog with oily or flavored coffee beans
  • Produce the most consistent grounds
  • Work well with any type of coffee maker


  • Most expensive
  • Larger and take up more space