10 Small-Appliance Superheroes Our Editors Love — All Under $50

The Kitchn received compensation for this post, which was written and edited independently by our editorial team.
Crisp and fluffy Belgian waffle batter in waffle iron.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Kitchen appliances don’t have to be expensive to be good at their jobs. Sure, pricier types of stand mixers and blenders may come with extra features that the bare-bones models don’t have, but those cheaper versions can still perform the basic functions just as effectively and reliably. The trick, of course, is knowing which budget models to go for and which ones to avoid. You can really only figure that out by trying them IRL, which is where we come in.

Our editors and writers have tested a lot of kitchen tools and appliances, and they know which ones are actually worth their sticker price. Check out their top picks for small, budget-friendly appliances to find some of the best tools for your home kitchen. This comprehensive list covers all the essential cooking gadgets and includes trusted brands such as KitchenAid and Cuisinart — plus, everything is $50 or less.

1 / 10

This portable, rechargeable personal blender is a handy gadget for making smoothies and whipping up powdered drink mixes. The best part, though, is that it doubles as a cup, so you'll have one fewer glass to clean. Our managing commerce editor Tamara Kraus loves using it for smoothies, salad dressings, and sauces, and she appreciates how easy it is to clean. "When I’m done sipping on my beverage, I fill it with some warm, soapy water, press the start button, and it cleans itself," she wrote.

2 / 10

Our contributor Stephanie Ganz really appreciates this waffle maker's small size, because it lets her store it in either a cabinet or a drawer, and there's less surface area to clean up when she's done cooking. Stephanie said it produced consistently delicious mini waffles for her family: "It makes waffles that are super crispy on the outside and soft on the inside — in a matter of minutes." She also found it useful for making unexpectedly delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, too. You can also get ones that make heart-shaped waffles.

3 / 10
Williams Sonoma

A good food processor is a super helpful shortcut for cutting and prepping all the veggies, herbs, nuts, and aromatics for meals, and this 3-cup model is as reliable as they come. Our senior commerce editor Ian Burke found that the processor's blades remained sharp after more than a year of use and said that his favorite aspect is its tiny footprint. " It takes up about as much space as a toaster, and tucks away neatly in my cabinet when not in use," Ian wrote. "In other words, it doesn’t have to live on my countertop 24/7 like a larger-format food processor would."

4 / 10

Sometimes an old school brew just hits the spot! Ask our Senior Commerce Editor Ian, he'll tell you that this compact Mr. Coffee 5-Cup Coffee Maker is a superstar when it comes to an affordable, dependable, and easy coffee. "While most drip machines these days have what seems like a million different settings and knobs, this spartan model is easy to use and gets the job done every time. It literally has one button: the 'on' switch. Just pop in your filter, pour in your ground coffee, add water to the reservoir, flip the switch, and voila — coffee is served."

5 / 10
was $24.99

Rice cookers are your foolproof route to getting perfectly fluffy rice with little effort and zero expertise. This model can cook up to 2 dry cups of rice and lets you focus on other cooking tasks at hand. Our contributor Erin Cavoto liked that it lets her make rice in the summertime without turning on her stove and heating up her kitchen, and she found the finished results to be delicious. "I get pillowy-soft rice every time, which is perfect as a fuss-free side or as a base for stir fry," she wrote.

6 / 10

Our editors chose this as the best-performing low-budget immersion blender because it pureés well and includes useful accessories like a blending cup (with a lid to prevent splatter). "This KitchenAid immersion blender packs quite the punch," they wrote. "The blender’s attachment easily twists on and off and is easy to clean. And while I did find its control button required more force to press down… for the price, this immersion blender is a steal."

7 / 10

This instant-read thermometer is made by the same brand behind our editors' absolute favorite digital thermometer, only it's a fraction of the price. Our former tools editor Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm found that it gives you an accurate read in three seconds and has additional features that make it easy to use. "It also has buttons that activate a rotating display (so it can be read at any angle, which is especially helpful for those who are left-handed) and a backlight (so you can easily read it if you are reaching into a shadow-y oven or grilling at night)," she wrote.

8 / 10
was $29.67

Our contributor Erin Cavoto described this electric kettle as "the best decision" she's made for her kitchen because it has a window for seeing how much water is inside and simply because it works flawlessly. She also prefers it to stovetop kettles, which are loud and less efficient. "Perhaps the best part about electric kettles is that they don’t have to be fancy," Erin wrote. "While there are splurge-worthy kettles out there that have gooseneck spouts and temperature control settings… a budget-friendly electric kettle will do exactly what you need it to: boil water quickly."

9 / 10
Williams Sonoma

This powerful hand mixer has five different speed settings so you can start slow to avoid splatter and increase the speed as the mixture comes together. It has the same 220-watt motor and side-locking power cord — so right-handed bakers can keep it on one side and left-handed bakers can keep it on the other side — as the slightly more expensive seven-speed model that our editors loved. That means you're getting practically the same functionality for $20 less.

10 / 10

Because this mini toaster oven takes up almost no room, it's both a budget-friendly and a small-space-friendly find. Our contributor Stella Totino found it toasted breads and bagels evenly and likes that it comes with both a rack and a tray so she can use it to toast nuts and seeds before adding them to salads. "I find myself using this darling little appliance multiple times a day, from breakfast to dinner," Stella wrote. "I honestly can’t imagine how I ever lived without it."