Small Appliance Buying Guide

ultimate small appliance buying guide

Before you dive into this small appliance buying guide, we have a suggestion on how to use it. The way to get the most out of this handy guide is to read it over, and get an idea of what we’ve assembled here for you. Then do a copy and paste into a text editor or MS Word, and print it off, or try our new print feature at the bottom of the page. It will make a good reference point for you, going forward.

Without further ado, please enjoy our small appliance buying guide!

Smells are closely linked with memories – and oh so many of those memories can be stirred up with a trip to the kitchen, which is why you’ll realize the necessity for this small appliance buying guide!

Turkey Dinners Trigger Memories

You may remember everything from large turkey dinners with the entire family to a quick can of ravioli late at night. You also may remember licking cake batter from the spoon, or scraping the last bit of brownie from the bottom of the baking pan.

Small Appliances are Part of Your Memories

Inside every one of these kitchen memories are appliances – the larger ones such as microwaves and refrigerators you know of. Aside from these machines there are many others that have started to become commonplace – think of things like toasters and mixers, coffee makers and blenders.

Reference Guide

In fact there are a large amount of machines that you might be eyeing that can do all sorts of mixing, toasting, blending, cutting, and shredding for you. You will need a reference guide to help you decide which is the best small appliance for your lifestyle. This is your lucky day, as this small appliance buying guide was written for you!

So Many Small Appliance Choices

There are dozens of small kitchen appliances out there. To make it just that much more confusing each of these appliances have at least a couple different variants under several other brands. This can multiply your choices considerably making it all a bit overwhelming. This was one of the key reasons that we created the small appliance buying guide, to help you navigate through all the confusion that’s been created.

Best Brands Overview

In this small appliance buying guide you will be given the tools to make the choice that is right for you. The first section will be a brief overview of the best brands to look out for when in the market.

Small Appliances Overview

The next part will focus on the appliances themselves, giving a brief overview and a few recommendations on what to look out for.

Purchasing Considerations

From here you’ll find some short sections on some other considerations, how to maximize your kitchen space, and picking the right decor to fit your aesthetic. All in all it is the hope of this small appliance buying guide to give you confidence on all things related to small kitchen appliances.

Best Small Appliance Brands

While there are plenty of great brands out there, these are some of the best ones to look for when purchasing small appliances. Many of these brands have been around for several decades or more and are well known for their high commitment to quality while also being reasonably priced.

A quick note: In order for these brands to get a mention in our small appliance buying guide, it means we believe in these companies. They’ve displayed good treatment of customers, and make a quality product.


This American based corporation has been around for nearly a century. It has been known for its exceedingly high quality products ranging from mixers, grills, and refrigerators. In fact KitchenAid is notable for having one of the earliest conceptions of the modern mixer – released in 1918 the C-10 model revolutionized the kitchen. Today the company is part of Whirlpool and has a whole host of different products.

Cuisinart-Logo-This organization made waves with the introduction of the electric food processor to the US market in 1971. Starting from humble beginnings, the company exploded with popularity into the late 1970s. Today the Cuisinart brand is a subsidiary of ConAir and has everything from blenders, espresso makers, and waffle irons underneath their name.

breville-logoAn Australian manufacturer, Breville came on the scene in 1932. It wasn’t until 1974 that they truly saw success with the creation of the sandwich toaster – catapulting the brand as a major competitor. Today the brand has presence in over 30 countries spread over 6 different continents.

This century old company is best known for creation of the first self-contained refrigerator. So strong was this connection that for a time many people used the terms Frigidaire and refrigerator interchangeably. Originally part of General Motors, in 1979 the Frigidaire brand got passed to White Consolidated Industries. Since then Frigidaire has expanded to include a large amount of kitchen appliances big and small.

Hamilton_Beach logoOriginally founded in 1910, this company is the oldest on this list. For much of its existence it flew under the radar but was always known for high craftsmanship in consumer and commercial appliances. Today the company has a wide variety of products that range from blenders, juicers, steamers, and toasters.

Quick Mention: If you don’t have the time to read the whole small appliance buying guide right now, you can scroll to the bottom of the page, and print it out, using our handy new print on demand feature.

Common Small Appliances

In doing the research for the small appliance buying guide, we determined that this is a fair representation of the most common kinds of appliances for the kitchen. So, this is the list with a brief description of each of the small appliances you’ll find in your kitchen. Many of these come in different styles and varying levels of quality. Here you’ll get a short history of each appliances along with a brief overview of things to look out for.

cake mixer - small appliance buying guideElectric Mixer

One of the earliest kitchen appliances, the original mixer was made with a series of gears in 1856. It wasn’t until 1885 that an electric mixer came out, with mass production trailing off into the early 20th century. By automating stirring, the electric mixer greatly speeds up the baking process by using a set of beaters attached to a motor.

Detachable Beaters

The best mixers came with detachable beaters that can be cleaned and replaced with different ends if necessary. There are few versions of this that range from a handheld mixer, to a more powerful but stationary mixer.

Correct Motor Wattage Important

As you can imagine, you won’t need a powerful stand mixer if all your going to use it for is mixing up eggs. On the other hand, hand mixers can be really convenient but can get gunked up against heavier doughs. From here you’re going to want to look at the wattage – anything less than 250 watts is rarely useful, while 1000 watts might be overkill depending on what you are using it for.

coffee maker - small appliance buying guideCoffee Makers

Who doesn’t like a good cup of morning Joe? Coffee makers are a convenient machine that percolate hot water through grounds and a filter, creating coffee. Coffee originally was roasted for hundreds of years with just a simple pot and hot water infusion process. It wasn’t until the early 18th century that an actual brewing processed was introduced.

Multiple Coffee Maker Types

Today there are multiple types of coffee makers such as vacuum brewers, percolators, electric drip, French press, and the single-serve. The vacuum brewers were invented in the 1830s and remained the most popular until the beginning of the 20th century. Electric drip coffee makers are the most common nowadays.

Programmable Coffee Maker – Handy

When selecting a coffee maker make sure you get one that makes the required coffee that you need. There are varying size pots, along with single serve makers that give you the amount that you want. Also try to take a look if the coffee maker is programmable and how long it keeps coffee warm. Many programmable coffee makers will turn on at a certain time and also allow you to control the temperature – giving you the ability to create stronger or weaker coffee as you see fit.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine - small appliance buying guideEspresso Maker

These machines are similar to a coffee maker and can often be incorporated into the same machine. Espresso machines pressurize the espresso coffee grounds with water by different methods and shoot out the finished espresso coffee.

Espresso Machine – Steam or Pump-Driven

The first espresso machine was invented in 1884, but it wasn’t until the early 20th century that several improvements made it more viable for mass use. Espresso machines typically come in either steam or pump-driven varieties. You can still find some of the pump-driven machines in coffee shops while steam-driven ones are used in homes because of their smaller size

Espresso Machine Incorporated With Coffee Machine

When purchasing an espresso maker you can apply many of the same principles as if purchasing a coffee maker. When looking at espresso makers, make sure to see if they can come incorporated with a coffee maker. These machines are usually slightly bigger, but can still save you space by combining two appliances in one.

Frappes, Cappuccinos and Lattes

Also make sure to look at the settings – many espresso makers boast all different ways to customize and make drinks like frappes, cappuccinos and lattes with the press of a button.

electric kettle - small appliance buying guideElectric Kettle

The modern kettle is made of metal and goes on the stove to heat up the liquid inside – typically you’ll hear a whistling sound when it is ready. The first electric version of this kettle was sold in 1893 by Crompton and Co.

Boil Water Without Stove

These electric kettles are a step higher than their older counterparts, as they can boil water without the use of a stove top. Most notably is that these kettles can reach specific temperatures – making it great for tea. Electric kettles are also faster at heating up water than traditional kettles or microwaves.

Specific Tea Settings – Handy

When looking at electric kettles make sure to check out all the different settings – often times you can find kettles that specifically adjust the temperature based on the tea that you are making such as black, oolong, or green tea. Also look at the size (usually measured in cups) along with how long the heating element stays on – most keep the water at a constant temperature for around 20 minutes, but there are a few that go longer than that.

Cleanblend 3HP 1800-Watt Commercial Blender - small appliance buying guide Blender

Countertop blenders are great for shredding, grinding, and blending different foods into a puree. Originally inspired by drink mixers, the blender was invented by Stephen Poplawski in 1919.

Blend a Host of Products

Today blenders are used for blending ice cream, milkshakes, making cocktails, frappuccinos, and even butters. They do this by using high powered blades to shred up all sorts of material. These machines can easily fit in a cupboard or on a countertop.

Blender – Dishwasher Safe

When looking at blenders be mindful of the different types of speeds and pulse functions. The best blenders use dishwasher safe material, as this makes them much easier to clean. Also try to find out the power of the blender in question – more powerful blenders can cut through tougher material and avoid getting all gunked up and stuck.

Immersion Blender vs. Personal Blender

There are a couple different types of blenders as well – aside from the traditional ones there are personal ones that make a simple, single serve one, while immersion blenders are shaped like a wand and are controlled by the hand.

centrifugal juicer - small appliance buying guideJuicers

Similar to the blender, a juicer extracts liquid from fruits, greens, and other vegetables. First created in 1936 by Norman Walker, these machines led the way of the ‘Juicing revolution’. The juicer crushes these foods into a pulp which can be disposed of or incorporated into your meals.

Reamer Juicer

There are three different types of juicer – the original being a reamer, which is a machine that literally squeezes the juice out of fruits and vegetables.

Centrifugal Juicer

Centrifugal juicers on the other hand work like a blender and use high powered blades to separate the liquid from the pulp.

Masticating Juicer

The masticating juicer goes a step further and is able to crush things like pasta, noodles, and spices with ease.

Various Juicer Machine Sizes

When in the market for a juicer, take a look at the size of the machine. Not only will this determine how much you can juice at once, but also how much pulp the machine can hold before it needs to be disposed of.

Centrifugal Juicer – Best Value

All in all centrifugal juicers are probably the best value – often as cheap or cheaper than most blenders they can also shred through most tough material.

Masticating Juicer Powerful

Masticating juicers do have an advantage in power and are able to shred through leafy green material a little bit better though.

KitchenAid Food Processor - small appliance buying guideFood Processors

The first electric food processor came on the market in 1946 by Electrostar. Also another blender offshoot, this machine uses interchangeable blades and disks to dice up food.

Not a Blender

Unlike blenders, which require liquid to cut everything up, food processors can do everything dry. Because of this they are good at slicing and dicing up vegetables and meat, grinding up nuts and seeds, and grating many different types of cheeses. Some food processors are even great at kneading dough to make homemade bread.

Size Matters

Like anything else, size is what matters most (lol). Obviously, you should lean toward a larger machine if you intend to use a food processor a lot. If not, there are much smaller versions called a food chopper that has all the same abilities of a food processor.

Motor and Blade Size

Also keep in mind the relative power of the machine – looking at both the motor and blade size. Many different companies offer different attachments for their food processors – allowing you to convert it to either a juicer or blender with ease.

slow cooker - small appliance buying guideSlow Cooker

Crock Pot

Also called the crock pot, the slow cooker is a countertop appliance used to slowly cook and simmer at lower temperatures. Originally advertised in 1950 by Radiant Heat Corp, the general abilities of the slow cooker have been only slightly augmented.

Extremely Versatile

This machine is great for cooking pot roasts, stews, and soups. These machines are made up of an oval pot made of porcelain or glazed ceramic that sits in a cradle that controls temperature – with settings that usually vary from low, medium, and high.

Range of Slowcooker Sizes

Pots can come in several different sizes but usually vary from 3 ½ to 5 quarts in size on average. Whatever size you think you need, it is recommended to get a removable liner to help with cleanup. Also see if the slow cooker comes with a ‘keep warm’ function, as this will keep your stew at a set temperature for as long as you want.

Digital Controls Make Life Easier

Other settings like poultry, soup, chili, and what not, can also make your life easier. The most important part is investing into a machine with digital controls – while manual controls aren’t bad per se, they do suffer from a lack of precision and versatility.

toaster - small appliance buying guideToasters

Pop-Up, Conveyor Belt & Oven

Invented in Scotland in 1893, the toaster is the most common household appliance on the planet. Coming in pop-up, oven, and conveyor belt varieties, it is also one of the most useful.

Pop-Up Toaster Most Common

Pop-up toasters are by far the most used as they are the smallest and easiest to understand, but can typically only toast bread. Toaster ovens and conveyor belts on the other hand are bigger but can do much more – able to toast many frozen food products and things like vegetables and meats.

4 Bread Slots – Convenient

When purchasing a pop up toaster make sure to see how many slots it has. A toaster with just two slots will take up the least amount of space, but if you often have to toast multiple pieces of bread you might want to get a bigger one.

Removable Crumb Tray

While this is pretty much a market standard at this point, make sure that whatever toaster you get comes with a removable crumb tray – this makes cleanup much easier.

Toaster Oven Cooks Better Than a Microwave

Toaster ovens aren’t as easy to use as a normal pop-up toaster, but is much easier to use than an oven and cooks better than a microwave. It is recommended to get one of these if you want to toast more than just bread products as they are only limited by the internal space.

bread machine - small appliance buying guideBread Maker

A relatively new invention, the breadmaker was created in Japan in 1986, it was another decade before it started becoming popular in the United States though.

How Does a Bread Machine Work

A bread maker consists of a pan that is filled with the necessary ingredients and inserted into the oven portion. There is an onboard computer that cooks the bread depending on the type (white, wheat, French, etc.).

How Long To Bake Bread

Originally they took around 3 hours to cook bread, recently there has been fastbake versions that can cook in under an hour. While the fastbake might seem great, it should be noted that this setting does make bread of lower quality.

Buying Considerations

When researching the bread maker that you want, it’s best to look over its settings. If you want to bake things outside of just bread, you can get bread makers that are designed to bake cakes, cornbreads, muffins, or brownies. Many current models also have the potential to make different size loaves of bread, along with other things like gluten-free baking.

deep fryer - small appliance buying guideDeep Fryer

Frying food in oil goes all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia. Thankfully our methods have become updated since then, as there is now the deep fryer. Larger versions are often found in many restaurants, but smaller ones are purchasable.

Multiple Styles of Deep Fryers

You can fry many different vegetables, meats, and breads with these machines. Deep fryers come in electric, propane (gas), and air fryers – with the last being an oil-less healthier version.

Propane Deep Fryer – Outside Only

When buying a fryer you need to keep a couple things in mind. For the best fried food the propane variant is the way to go, but you must use these outside because of the potential fire hazard.

Air Fryer is Healthier

Electric deep fryers are much more convenient. For something healthier you can try an air fryer – which technically isn’t a fryer but still tastes great. If you go for an oil version see if you can get one with a rotation system – this helps cut back on the amount of oil you need.

Digital Temperature Controls – Accurate

Digital temperature controls are also a must as they are many times more reliable at sensing and adjusting the temperatures to what you want.

waffle iron - small appliance buying guideWaffle Irons

Surprisingly one of the oldest kitchen appliances on the planet – the first waffle irons go back to the 14th century. It was General Electric that brought the first electric waffle iron to the market in 1918.

Waffle Iron – Cast Iron or Aluminum

These appliances today are self-contained tabletop machines that are heated up internally. You can find these machines in cast-iron and aluminum – the latter of these are more often used inside of households.

Adjustable Waffle Thickness

When purchasing a waffle iron you need to see if it is customizable – some of these appliances allow for control over the thickness of the waffle. Some machines are able to make super thin waffles that can then be reformed into a cone.

Temperature Controls an Asset

When looking at the settings make sure you are able to easily control the temperature and also allowing for different grids to be inserted.

Small Appliance Buying Guide – Things To Consider

So, we’re drawing towards the end of the small appliance buying guide, and so now just discussing important considerations, and not specifics about the different available small appliances on the market. Keep an open mind, and you’ll make the right choices when you’re shopping for your kitchen.

Don’t Overkill

While all these appliances are great, you probably won’t need all of them unless you are an enthusiastic cook. When looking at a new appliance you have to ask yourself how often you’ll use it. If it’s just for a single meal, I would recommend getting a manual variant – an electric mixer might seem useful, but a spoon and a bowl can work just as well considering the circumstances.

Heavy Duty Appliance May Be A Waste

If you do decide to get an appliance, try to look at the level of quality. A heavy duty blender can cut through just about anything – but if you’re only smashing up easy pieces of fruit a less powered version might be better for you.

Multiple Uses For One Appliance

You may also see how compatible they are as other machines – things like toaster ovens and food processors can sometimes be converted for different uses.

Digital Controls vs. Manual Controls

Some appliances still come with manual controls – while these may be cheaper, just keep in mind you are sacrificing quality of control and ease of use by not getting digital controls. From here take a look at customization – often you can find this on things like coffee and espresso makers.

Cleaning & Maintenance

You’re also going to want to look at how relatively easy it is to clean and maintain – stainless steel appliances are easier to clean but show smudges easier. Black appliances on the other hand have the opposite problem.

How Much Counterspace Do You Have

Finally, you’re going to have to look at your counter space – by organizing your kitchen in a certain way you can maximize space.

How to maximize space

Wanting an appliance but having nowhere to put it is a drag. In order to get the most out of your kitchen you need to use up all the space efficiently. This mean not only keeping the counter space neat and the cabinets tidy, but also using spots you wouldn’t have thought of before.

Back of Cabinet Doors

Think of things like the back of cabinet doors – here you can attach hooks, magnets, or whatever else to hang utensils and what not.

Use The Side Of Fridge

Put magnetic baskets on the side of the refrigerator to hold spices, or put hangers from ceiling to hold pots and pans.

Under The Sink

Underneath your sink you can incorporate plastic totes to organize cleaning supplies, along with lining the sink door with a pocket organizer. For even easier access, you can use a rolling shelf system on the bottom shelves – these can stack on top of each other for even more space.

Above The Sink

If you have an open spot above the sink, try buying an over the top sink shelf to hold measuring cups, soap, and sponges. The idea behind this is to maximize all the space you have so you can comfortably get to your appliances easily.

Utilize a Kitchen Cart

If you find you have sufficient space already, many of these tips can still make your life easier. For larger spaces you can use a kitchen cart to keep your dishes, cooking supplies, and spices so you can easily move them around.

Everyday Appliances – Easiest to Reach

When organizing your small appliances keep every day ones – like toasters and coffee makers – out in the open, while dedicating some shelves or cabinets to other, less used appliances.

Electrical Outlet Considerations

You might need an outlet splitter so you can have multiple appliances going at the same time easily, but keep in mind wattage. You don’t want to overload a receptacle and create a fire hazard, or be constantly blowing fuses, or popping breakers (depending on what kind of electrical panel you have).

Appliance Size Is The Most Important

After we concluded the research for this small appliance buying guide, we concluded that appliance size is the most important factor of all. A full size food processor might not be necessary, if you only use it sparingly. Relying on a hand mixer instead might be more ideal as a stand mixer takes up a lot of space. If you still want the appliance but aren’t going to use it too much, try installing some shelves or setting them inside of the closet for storage.

Pick the right decor!

It might seem a little silly to get caught on aesthetics – but with all the choices out there why get stuck with something that doesn’t look good? If you are getting all new appliances you should try to get everything to match.

Modern Color Scheme Is Awesome

Many appliances nowadays come in the ultra-modern colors like stainless steel – which can look great depending on the rest of your setup. This scheme looks great in spacious areas with lots of counter and floor space.

Darker Colors Shrink a Space

If you have something smaller you might want to go with lighter colors like white. When in doubt just remember darker colors have a tendency to make a space look smaller while brighter colors have the opposite effect. As mentioned before, stainless steel appliances clean easier but get smudged more often. White doesn’t look too bad as long as it doesn’t suffer from any permanent stains.

1950’S Retro Chic Is Back

Keep in mind white, black, and stainless might be the most common, but aren’t the only styles to choose from. Many appliances come in a retro chic that can work great together. Stationary mixers do this best and come in a whole host of colors. If this retro look is what you are going for try either light blues or reds for your colors – this scheme screams 1950s.

Just make sure if you do choose to go for more colorful appliances make sure you pick something you can live with for several years or more.

Small Appliance Buying Guide – Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a whole host of different small appliances to choose from. This small appliance buying guide gives an outline of some of the most common, but is by no means an exhaustive list of everything. Regardless, it is recommended to focus on some of the top brands when it comes to these as they offer a good balance of quality and price.

Suggested Brands

Try to look for brands like KitchenAid, Cuisinart, Breville, Frigidaire, and Hamilton Beach. Periodically, we will update the small appliance buying guide, and therefore we may modify the brand names we suggest you look out for.

Other than this you need to look at what the gadget you want, has to offer – everything from size to power can either hamper or help what your meal goals are.

No Shortage of Appliance Choices

When it comes to quick dicing and slicing there are blenders, juicers, and food processors.

For different types of cooking there are toasters, bread makers, and deep fryers.

If you like to have a caffeine fix close at hand take a look at different coffee and espresso makers.

Space & Decor

Whatever you ultimately end up getting, just make sure you have the proper amount of space and it fits your decor.

There are a couple tricks you can pull off to get the most out of your kitchen – all it takes is a little bit of creative organization.

Tasty Foods Await

Hopefully this small appliance buying guide has given you the education you needed to create a whole host of different tasty foods and smells. From here it’s just a matter a picking the machines that will help you do the job – creating a great meal doesn’t have to be difficult with any of these amazing small kitchen appliances!


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