We’re lucky to have so many labor-saving appliances and kitchen tools. Cooking has never been easier. Yet it’s easy to waste money on equipment you’ll use once or maybe never. Check out my list below to help you invest wisely in kitchen tools that earn their space in your kitchen and make memorable gifts. You’ll find ideas for vegan and health-conscious cooks, bakers and bread lovers, busy cooks, coffee and tea lovers, and even kitchen appliances that save energy and the planet.
Where to Get Kitchen Appliances
- Follow the links below to check the prices on Amazon. If you buy through those links, you’ll help support the Cook for Good project at no extra cost to you.
- Find great bargains on kitchen equipment at yard sales, thrift shops, and online through Craigslist and the like.
- Ask your friends and family if they have a WizBang or whatever gathering dust before you buy one. I borrowed a Vitamix from a friend while she was on vacation to test drive it. Now I have my own and use it nearly every day.
My Top Kitchen Appliances
For Vegans and Health-Conscious Cooks
My new equipment love this year is the Vitamix. Now I can make ultra-smooth cashew cream for dairy-free cheesecake, gelato, nicecream, chocolate hazelnut spread, queso sauce, and more. I also use it for super-smooth smoothies, pesto, and hummus. I bought a refurbished Vitamix 5300 like the one shown here. I saved $100 and still got the full Vitamix guarantee.
Many kitchen appliances are noisy. Use noise-canceling headphones to avoid getting a headache or damaging your hearing. I love my Bose Quiet Comfort Wireless Headphones. They play music and podcasts from my phone or computer. Even without other sound coming in, the noise-canceling technology dampens the roar of the Vitamix, the vacuum cleaner, or an airplane. Add a little background sound and I barely notice the ruckus from my Taster’s action-adventure movies or my neighborhood lawn crews.
Ice Cream Maker
It’s easy to make world-class ice cream at home without dairy or chemical additives. Use local fruit at the peak of ripeness for fragrant sorbets. Make decadent chocolate nicecreams and gelatos with cashew cream, avocados, or coconut milk. We got our Donvier Manual Ice Cream Maker as a wedding present nearly 30 years ago. It’s still top-rated–easy to clean and use. The highly rated Cuisinart 1.5 Quart Frozen Yogurt – Ice Cream Maker is less expensive, but uses electricity. Many reviews say it’s noisy. I enjoy watching the freezing process as I turn the silent Donvier’s handle every few minutes, so it’s still my top choice.
A stand mixer lets you whisk aquafaba into egg-free meringues and other fluffy confections. Whipping aquafaba takes between six and fifteen minutes, long enough to make your arm practically fall off if you are using a hand mixer. My KitchenAid blends cake batter and frosting in half the time that it took my hand mixer. Before I got my bread maker, I used my stand mixer to knead bread. You can even splurge on attachments to roll out pasta or spiralize vegetables. I recommend the KitchenAid Classic Plus 4.5 Quart Stand Mixer. It has more watts of power than more expensive models.
For Bakers and Bread Lovers
Serious bakers will love the stand mixer mentioned above. But unless you want to whip aquafaba or knead bread dough, a good hand mixer such as the KitchenAid 5-Speed Ultrapower Hand Mixer provides plenty of power. This hand mixer is much more affordable than a stand mixer, takes less space, and comes is a rainbow of fun colors too.
Bake better and faster with a food scale. You’ll measure the right amount every time, with no measuring cups to wash. I use the Oxo Good Grips 11-pound scale. The sturdy scale can hold a bowl with the ingredients for two loaves of bread or a large cake. Pull out the display for easy reading even when you are weighing a plate of beans.
I make bread at least twice a week in my Zojirushi bread machine. Unlike my former bread machine, the Zo bakes as good as it kneads. It takes five minutes to dump in the ingredients at night and start it baking. The bread bakes while we sleep and is cool enough to cut in the morning. I also use it to make pizza dough and pretzels. The model I got through Craigslist has been discontinued. Now I’d look for the affordable one-pound Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker or the two-pound Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker. If you bake for someone who is avoiding gluten, check out the two-pound Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker with the Gluten-Free Menu Setting.
For Busy Cooks
The best way to save money, eat well, and make a difference is to cook a pot of beans every week. The best way to do that is with a slow cooker. I have a Cuisinart 350 3 1/2-Quart Slow Cooker that is pretty enough to take to cooking classes and potlucks. Save money and still get the core features with a manual 3-Quart Crock Pot. Either one of these will quickly pay for themselves as you cook dried beans instead of using canned ones. They also make slow-simmered stews and sauces. Compared to an Instant Pot, a slow cooker takes up less space and is easier to clean.
The Instant Pot continues to be the it-appliance. And why not? It does everything a slow cooker does and it pressure cooks for super-speedy meals, sauteés, ferments yogurt and uttapams (delectable Indian pancakes), makes rice, steams, and warms. It takes up more space than a slow cooker, but you can get rid of your slow cooker, rice cooker, and yogurt maker. It’s loaded with safety features and is very quiet, even when pressure cooking. If I were stocking a new kitchen, an Instant Pot would be high on my wish list.
I use my Instant Pot DUO about once a week to make mashed potatoes or cauliflower in a flash or to cook a pot of beans when I didn’t plan ahead. You can also get versions that sterilize baby bottles and more.
To Save Energy and the Planet
I love using the sun to roast vegetables, bake artisan bread, and make cupcakes. The GoSun Sport Solar Cooker makes it possible to do this at home, in a park, or on a trip in about the same time as it takes to use a wall oven. It’s an essential part of my emergency-preparedness kit. I’ve used it in the snow when the power’s been out. (Note: this isn’t strictly a kitchen appliance because you use it outdoors, but it’s an intriguing and handy cooking tool!)
Convection Toaster Oven
I start nearly every morning with toast done to perfection in my Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven. The convection feature lets me bake enchiladas, casseroles, and cakes without burning. This little powerhouse roasts beets and okra, toasts pine nuts and hazelnuts, and reheats pancakes too. Using the toaster oven instead of my big oven saves energy and keeps my kitchen cool in the summer..
I spotted a George Foreman Grill at the Scrap Exchange and took a chance on it. I’m so glad I did! It grills eggplant, onions, squash, and other vegetables in just five minutes. I used it nearly every day all summer. If you don’t have an outdoor grill or just want a healthy dinner in a hurry, put an indoor grill to work. The one I got for $8 has fixed plates, but the newer George Foreman Removable-Plate Grill and Panini Press is under $25 and has plates you can run through the dishwasher.
For Coffee and Tea Lovers
Electric Water Kettle
Every morning, I boil water for tea or coffee in my Secura Double-Walled Stainless Steel Electric Water Kettle. It shuts off automatically when the water boils, lets you choose the perfect temperature for your beverage, and stays cool on the outside. Best of all, no plastic touches your water, only stainless steel. The knob that connects the base to the kettle is sturdy enough to endure my early morning clumsiness without breaking off, unlike other kettles I’ve used.
Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Be your own barista with the Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker. Save thousands of dollars a year by switching from Starbucks to homemade. With the Aeropress, you can easily make top-quality coffee for friends, too. The innovative coffee press is lightweight and portable, so you can take it with you when you travel. My Taster got me an Aeropress for my birthday a few years ago and I’m still grateful. 😉