Fresh smoothies and juices, overnight oats and hot-pressed coffee. Whether your kitchen is huge or hardly existent, it only has room for tools that pull their weight and make your life a little easier. Here are the best of the best, plus tips on shopping and caring for yours.
BUY THE BEST YOU CAN AFFORD
If you're stocking your first kitchen, cheap-o tools will do ya just fine. But as they bite the dust, one by one, do your research and replaced each with the best you can afford. From expanded warranty coverage to extra bells and whistles, this is one case where you get what you pay for. Cross reference reviews on trusted resources like Williams Sonoma with the overwhelming number on Amazon. Take each with a grain of salt. Or, take our word for it:
TAKE CARE OF WHAT YOU HAVE
At a minimum, rinse your small appliances immediately after use. The longer particles of food sit on your appliances, the more they'll stick. The more they stick, the longer you have to soak or the harder you'll have to scrub each piece to get it clean. Over time, harsh chemicals and soaking can take a toll on plastics, in particular. Storing small attachments in a bag near your appliance to avoid dust. Heavier appliances should be stored in lower cabinets to ensure safe access.
This is the toaster of the future. We'll admit, the technology seems a little excessive at first. But once you use it, you'll love it.
The toast lowers and rises smoothly - say goodbye to the days of trying to "pop" your toast up high enough to catch it. It has five levels of browning, plus five smart settings. Of course, there's "bagel" and "defrost," as well as "toast/cancel." The "lift and look" (if you want to take a peek before the toasting is complete) and "a bit more" (if you want - you guessed it - a bit more browning) buttons that sold us.
Perfect toast, every time.
This is a slightly smaller (and less expensive) version of commercial-sized Kitchenaid Mixers but it still packs a lot of punch. 32 colors, 10 speed settings, and an 5qt. stainless steel lock-in-place bowl.
Attachments include flat beater, dough hook, wire whip and pouring shield. From brownies to pasta, this baby has you covered.
The biggest perk of a stand (vs. hand) mixer is the fact that it can work away while you you're focusing on something else. It's a time saver.
First, if you don't have a Cuisinart Mini Prep, start there. It makes quick work of tasks like pesto, tapenades and chopping nuts. It is amazingly powerful considering its size.
Larger jobs, however, require a larger machine. The Sous Chef is super powerful and has three different-sized bowls so you can tackle jobs large and small. The variety of blades can handle everything from slicing and grating to kneading dough.
If you can't imagine spending $600 on a blender, you're not alone. But the Vitamix 750 is worth it.
It boasts five preset settings to tackle everything from smoothies and soups (it heats it with friction!) to frozen desserts, purees and even a 60-second self-clean. The manual pulse setting and variable speeds are great when you want a bit more control.
Our favorite part about the Vitamix is that you can set it and walk away. The lid is amazingly secure - it won't fly off while it's blending.
When you've made a double-batch of soup that would be cumbersome to transfer to the Vitamix, an immersion blender is just what the doctor ordered. Simply submerge the blender head and puree away. This option is solidly built (as you'd expect from the All-Clad brand) and boasts a 600w motor. It's a great value for the money.
If your budget allows, you might want to consider a cordless option like KitchenAid's Pro Line Immersion Blender, $250. It holds a charge for hours of tasks, comes with additional attachments, and even has two arms with varying lengths (8" and 13") to reach into deeper pots.
With a 3" diameter feed tube and 850-watt motor, this juicer can easily handle larger veggies and fruits. We toss whole beets and apple halves in without blinking an eye.
It's simple to operate (one switch, two speeds) but a pain to clean. (All juicers are.) We recommend rinsing all the parts before enjoying your juice; the longer food particles sit, the harder it'll be to get them off. Then, just throw the removable parts in the dishwasher!
Alright, alright. It's not an "electric." But it is a surrogate for one, so we're including it. As convenient as Keurig machines are, they produce a significant amount of plastic waste. A french press gives you the same convenience of making just one, delicious cup... or four. This baby holds up to 34 oz.
This puppy is the crème de la crème. It's super easy to use; there aren't too many settings and once it's done cooking, it'll automatically go into "warm" mode. The non-stick ceramic insert cooks food evenly and can go from stovetop (for browning) to slow cooker to table.
The best part? Its 7qt capacity. Whether you're making two-ingredient Mexican-style chicken (can of salsa + chicken) or braising and slow cooking a roast with veggies, it'll all fit in this pot.
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