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15 Essential Kitchen Countertop Appliances

This gallery of 15 essential kitchen countertop appliances featuring the important must-haves for your kitchen, along with information about their uses and how to use them.
Essential kitchen appliances on a shelf and countertops in the kitchen Over the years, we’ve been introduced to a number of handy products that can make life in the kitchen easier. On the other hand, too many gadgets can quickly clutter a kitchen. That’s why we’re here to break down which ones are the essential types of appliances and exactly how you can make the most out of them.

Coffee Maker

A black drip coffee maker and a spilled jar of coffee on the kitchen countertop If you’re someone who needs a caffeine boost in the morning, you won’t want to skip having a coffee maker on the kitchen counter. You have a few different options for this.

Traditional coffee makers usually feature a large pot with measurements. However, some come in personal sizes as well. From there, you add as much water as you want and a proportional amount of coffee. The only catch is getting this ratio right is up to you.

Then, there are coffee makers like Nespresso machines and Keurigs that take a lot of the work out for you. Instead of loading these up with coffee and water, you add the water and a pod of premeasured coffee.

These often allow you to make other drinks such as hot tea, hot chocolate, and more. Since these options make one cup of coffee at a time, it’s a great way to make sure each cup of coffee is as fresh as the last.

Stand Mixer

Red standing mixer and baking ingredients on a table Stand mixers are handy tools that offer a lot of versatility. Many associate stand mixer models with baking and they’re great for that! After all, with the mixer attachment in place, you can use them in almost any of the same capacities you’d use a hand mixer for. With another attachment, a stand mixer might just be able to help you knead bread dough as well.

That isn’t to say you’re just left to cakes and brownies, though. Stand mixers are great for savory dishes such as mashed potatoes, grinding meat, or even shredding chicken. This makes them a handy staple to have no matter what kind of home chef you are.

Using a stand mixer is rather simple. First, you just have to remove the bowl from the stand and add the ingredients you need into the bowl.

Then, make sure you have the right attachment on before locking the bowl and mixing arm in place. From there, you just have to flip a switch and you can control things like how long and how fast the mixer runs.

Electric Kettle

White electric kettle pouring water in black cup on kitchen countertop Boiling water takes a lot of time and many of us have heard the phrase “a watched pot never boils.” One way to take your eyes off the pot is to choose a faster method to boil water. That’s where an electric kettle comes in.

These tools allow you to boil water in moments. Usually, all you have to do is fill the kettle, set it on the base, and press a button. Many models turn off automatically when the water boils to avoid fire hazards.

There are a few ways that you can use this tool. Perhaps the most obvious is boiling water to make drinks like hot tea or “just add water” meals like instant ramen.

In addition to that, you can use an electric kettle to speed up anytime you need boiling water. Want to make your pasta a little bit faster? Try heating the water in an electric kettle and adding it to the pot when it’s already boiling.

Microwave

Woman using microwave oven on wooden countertop in kitchen A microwave is one of those tools that nearly everyone has one of in their home. They offer two things that make them a great value: versatility and convenience. After all, we all have nights we don’t want to come home and fire up the oven. Visit our buying guide on the types of microwaves for additional information.

The microwave can come in handy for a few things. For one, it’s great for reheating food or even making snacks like preparing a TV dinner or a bag of popcorn. On the other hand, there are a few other uses you’ll want to remember for your microwave as well such as defrosting meat or even proofing yeast before you make bread with one of your other appliances!

These are made to be straightforward and easy to use as well. All you have to do is press the corresponding buttons to the command you’re punching in. They’re all labeled carefully and once you have the right ones, just press “start.”

Toaster Oven

Brushed stainless steel toaster oven See this toaster oven at Amazon [sponsored link]

A toaster oven is another appliance that brings a lot of versatility and convenience to your kitchen. While the name includes “toaster,” a toaster oven functions much more similar to a small oven rather than a toaster.

This means there’s a lot you can do with it. Sure, you can use it to heat up your morning toast. Plus, it offers the extra space to toast things that may not fit in a traditional toaster like muffins, bagels, and biscuits.

Many types of toasters also offer enough room to reheat food items. If you wanted, you could even roast something in your toaster oven or bake a little treat!

Toaster ovens often feature two dials for you to adjust once you’ve plugged it in. These control how long the toaster oven cooks and at what temperature it cooks at. From there, you just have to wait for the “ding” to tell you your food is done!

Blender

Blender set of ceramic plates and other kitchen wares on wooden countertop in kitchen If you prefer to make a smoothie for breakfast or enjoy milkshakes for dessert, having a blender around is a no-brainer. Yet, these kitchen appliances are also useful for making sauces, soups, dips, and more. In other words, they’re definitely a tool you’ll want to have at your disposal.

Blenders usually work rather simply too. Once you plug them into the wall, you can activate them with the set of buttons on the front of the base of the machine.

The controls can vary from model to model but may include a “pulse” button to trigger the machine. Some models may also feature preset modes for certain dishes like smoothies or a timer to preset the blender to run.

The types of blenders come in a variety of sizes and functionality. So, if you live alone, for example, you can save counter space with a single-serving model.

It’s important to note that blenders and food processors aren’t completely interchangeable. While blenders break down food and help to blend ingredients, they don’t have as sharp of blades as food processors. As such, they won’t grind food as thoroughly.

Pressure Cooker

Electric pressure cooker See this pressure cooker at Amazon [sponsored link]

Pressure cookers are one of those appliances where you just need to throw the ingredients in, adjust a few settings, and wait for your delicious meal to come together. However, they’ve received a much more frightening reputation than an option like a slow cooker.

However, they’re a versatile tool! In the fall when you’re hungry for a stew or roast, you can turn to your handy pressure cooker. However, you can poach, steam, boil, brown, or braise just about anything in here. If you’re feeling a little sweet, there are even dessert recipes like cheesecake for pressure cookers.

To cook in a pressure cooker, start by adding your dry ingredients and your liquid to your pressure cooker. Close the lid and choose the appropriate settings for pressure.

When the time is up, you’ll have to follow the manual’s instructions to carefully release the pressure and enjoy your food! Unfortunately, there will be no taste testing along the way with this appliance.

Electric Grill

Fish with lemon and electric grill on kitchen table Are you a fan of those sunny days when you can go outside and fire up the grill? Honestly, the food you can make on a grill is sometimes hard to wait for fair weather to eat.

Luckily, an electric grill can solve this problem by allowing you to grill inside. Since they only reach about 450 degrees, though, you don’t have to worry about setting off the fire alarm in your house if you want to grill inside.

These appliances offer you a lot of control too. There’s a lot less guesswork as to the temperature of the grill compared to a charcoal grill you might use outside. Many are easy enough to use – all you have to do is plug them in and set the temperature. Once it heats up just start cooking!

This tool is great for a variety of uses. If you want to whip up burgers, hot dogs, grilled veggies, grilled fruit, or even throw together a panini, you can do that! Flat-top models rather than closing ones are great for frying up breakfast items like bacon and pancakes as well.

Food Processor

Electric food processor on kitchen countertop with sink on the background We previously mentioned that a food processor comes with a sharper blade than a blender. This tool will help you save time on cutting ingredients in a variety of ways including chopping, slicing, and blending. Still, your blender is better suited to handle your morning smoothie.

Food processors offer this variety by offering an array of interchangeable blades. This way, the appliance can adapt to many different jobs. Some larger models even come with a kneading arm which is handy for any home baker.

Once the food processor is together, you have to start by choosing the blade you want to use. Then, you can add your ingredients. Depending on the blade you chose, pressing the button to activate the machine will offer different results.

Many food processors also have an opening at the top with a pusher. This will help you safely add the ingredients you need as you use the food processor.

Juicer

Black juicer machine See this juicer at Amazon [sponsored link]

A juicer is used to juice fruits and veggies. However, it does it a lot more effectively and thoroughly than trying to hand-squeeze your items might. Plus, it does the work for you in separating the juice you’re working for from the parts of the fruit you aren’t interested in like the seeds, skin, and pulp.

This is a great tool to have on your counter if you like fresh orange juice in the morning or even lemonade on a sunny afternoon. On the contrary, if you aren’t much of a juice drinker, that doesn’t mean these tools are useless. For example, if you like a really smooth smoothie, a juicer might be just the tool you’re missing!

Air Fryer

Black air fryer machine on gray kitchen countertop Air fryers come in a few different shapes and sizes. Some models require you to start by preheating them, much like you would an oven. Others start to work as soon as you put food in the basket or on the tray. No matter how your air fryer starts, though, there will be two input options for temperature and time, usually on a dial or a digital prompt.

When it comes to what an air fryer makes, the options are nearly limitless. For one, you can whip up almost anything that you’d usually break out a fryer for like french fries but you can also bake, reheat, and roast in your air fryer. For a crisper finish, you can even try making usually-microwaved items like pizza rolls or chicken nuggets in!

There are a few different sizes available too. If you have a big family, a large air fryer might be just the thing. However, a smaller model is also perfect if you’re more likely to be making dinner for one or two people at a time.

Soda Makers

Soda maker with different bottles See this soda maker at Amazon [sponsored link]

If you enjoy a carbonated drink now and again, you might want to consider how you can make them at home. A soda maker is a great tool for this. These allow you to experiment with a variety of flavors to find what you love.

Soda makers are often praised as a healthier alternative to store-bought soda too. After all, you’re controlling everything that goes into the drink you’re making. For instance, you can make a homemade soda with a soda maker that doesn’t necessarily have as much sugar or other additives when you make it at home.

They’re pretty straightforward too. Usually, there are three main things to make sure of. The machine needs the water bottle filled to the line and screwed into place.

From there, you’ll have to add the flavoring you want and have a carbon dioxide cylinder to add the carbonation. Exactly where each of these components goes can vary depending on the model you’re using.

Once everything is in place, all you have to do is press a button and you’ll have a sparkling drink in front of you shortly!

Ice Cream Maker

Woman is pouring a mixture into an ice cream maker with mixed berries and waffle cones on the side As the name suggests, ice cream makers are a great appliance if you love a creamy, cold dessert. What’s better than a bowl of homemade soft serve?

There are a few other things you can make with an ice cream maker, though. This includes slushies, frozen smoothies, and sorbets. If you want to get even more practical with it, the chilled appliance is a great tool for keeping something cool in a pinch. 

Most ice cream makers will guide you on how to make an ice cream base. Once you have your ice cream base, you typically just need to pour it into the appropriate opening on your machine and press the button to activate the machine. An ice cream machine does all of the manual labor of churning for you.

Immersion Blender

Eggs in bowl and immersion blender on wooden table Countertop blenders and handheld mixers are incredibly useful. The only problem is that they take up a lot of space. An easy, small kitchen appliance you can use instead is an immersion blender.

Immersion blenders look more like a straight rod than what you’d expect a traditional blender to look like. Once you plug it in, all you have to do is press a button to turn it on and adjust the speed.

For the best results, you’ll want to put the head of the immersion blender fully into the container and the ingredients you’re stirring. If you leave it hanging out of the mix, you’ll end up with quite a mess on your hands.

You’ll also want to start low and increase speed as you start to mix around the pot. As the mixture is more finely blended, you can increase the speed further.

Another benefit to an immersion blender is that it doesn’t have to be a countertop addition if you can’t find a place for it. They’re small enough to easily slide into a drawer or cabinet.

Waffle Iron

Opened red waffle iron on the marble kitchen countertop with cooktop on the side A waffle iron is one of those appliances that can really become a staple around breakfast time. They’re not too obtrusive or time-consuming either.

After you’ve prepared your waffle batter, you just have to fill the machine and close it. The machine will press the batter into shape and cook it, notifying you with a timer when the waffle is ready.

There are some out-of-the-box recipes you can try with a waffle iron as well. You can use it for cookies and brownies or even more savory treats like quesadillas.

Still, some recipes will require you to keep a closer eye on the time rather than let the machine tell you when the waffle timer is up. You’ll notice that no matter what you make, though, the waffle pattern the waffle iron is shaped in will remain.

Have we missed any of your favorite essential kitchen countertop appliances? Let us know in the comments your thoughts. For more related content, read our guide on kitchen appliance storage ideas.

 

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