The Very Best Small Appliances for 2020
Clearly, if we’re going to pick a small appliance for 2020 (or even the decade leading up to it), it’s going to be the Instant Pot. But which model? And what small appliances do home cooks need beyond the multi-cooker?
We recently launched our guide to the very best kitchen tools and gadgets for the year (it’s called Kitchn Essentials; you can browse the whole thing here) and today, we thought we’d take a look at our picks for small appliances. If you’re in the market, these are the best ones for today and for the rest of the year to come.
The Best Multi-Cooker: 6-Quart Instant Pot Duo
No kitchen tool or gadget has had a bigger impact on how Americans cook these last 10 years than the Instant Pot. Don’t already have one? Get the 6-quart Duo, which does all the things you want an Instant Pot to do but doesn’t have too many extra bells and whistles (translation: you’re not paying for features you might not use). Here’s everything you need to know to get started with this life-changing appliance.
Buy: 6-Quart Instant Pot Duo, $88.56
The Best Slow Cooker: Cuisinart 6-Quart Multi-Cooker
Lots of Kitchn staffers have a slow cooker in addition to the Instant Pot, even though the IP has a slow cook feature. Call us old-fashioned? We’re fine with that! This is our best slow cooker pick because you can brown your meat in the pot, it has three fully programmable cooking functions, and it will keep a dish warm for up to 24 hours.
Buy: Cuisinart 6-Quart Multi-Cooker, $88.56
The Best Air Fryer: Philips Premium Digital Air Fryer
A few years ago, we would have said air fryers were just a passing fad. Now, it’s surprising how fast they have taken hold in our editors’ kitchens, especially in those with small kids. Faith Durand, our Editor-in-Chief, uses hers daily to crisp up freezer veggies and tots. This model is the mother of all air fryers: It’s giant and holds up to three quarts of food. (If you want something smaller, go with this one from Dash.) It also has clear controls, crisps food up better than other machines, and won all of the speed tests we’ve done against other models. Crispy mozz sticks on demand? Yes, please.
Buy: Philips Premium Digital Air Fryer, $259.95 at Williams Sonoma
The Best Toaster: Black + Decker 4-Slice Toaster
For a third of the price of other top toasters, this guy still pops out toast with great results. We once tested five batches of oversized honey-wheat slices in a row, and all 10 pieces of toast came out looking exactly the same. Impressive, indeed!
Buy: Black + Decker 4-Slice Toaster, $43.49 at Target
The Best Stand Mixer: KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixer
The KitchenAid stand mixer is the peak of domesticity and a luxury item for sure. Set one out on your counter and you instantly get more baking cred (even if you’re not a baker). Of course, it’s not just a status symbol: It can mix up cake batter, knead dough, shred chicken, juice lemons, and more. This is the most popular model and the one that’s best for most home cooks.
Buy: KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixer, $220 at Walmart
The Best Hand Mixer: Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus
A stand mixer doesn’t actually always replace the hand mixer. Having both is smart for the avid baker. Luckily, the latter won’t cost you nearly as much as the former. Use this budget pick for smaller tasks — like whipping egg whites, making whipped cream, and mixing brownie batter — and use the stand mixer for bigger tasks (think: kneading dough).
Buy: Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus, $39.99 at Walmart
The Best Food Processor: Black + Decker 8-Cup Food Processor
We made a bold move on our food processor pick: We chose one that costs (we are not making this up) less than $40. For many cooks, a food processor is extremely helpful but used infrequently. For everyday cooking tasks, you need something that slices, dices, and blends with little fuss; it doesn’t make sense to spend hundreds of dollars. Ariel Knutson, Features Director, has had this one for almost six years, and she remains eternally impressed. It does exactly what she needs it to do and it’s easy to clean too! (Of course, if you’re a food processor devotee by all means spring for Faith’s all-time favorite, the Magimix.)
Buy: Black + Decker 8-Cup Food Processor, $39.02
The Best Blender: Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender
For those of you who are willing to invest in a blender, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than the Vitamix 750. It churns out the smoothest soups, frozen piña coladas, and smoothies. It also has one of the most powerful motors on the market and comes with a seven-year warranty. Pro chefs often keep this in their restaurant kitchens, if that tells you anything. (Just in case: Our favorite budget pick.)
Buy: Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender, $509.47
The Best Immersion Blender: Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender
Every soup lover needs an immersion blender in their arsenal, as it can purée veggies right in the pot (no need to ladle, cup by cup, into a blender!). We also use ours to make homemade mayo. This Breville pick is our favorite and it gets the thumbs up from Wirecutter and Consumer Reports, too.
Buy: Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender, $129.95