7 Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need

Thanks in part to all of those home remodeling shows filling up the weekend cable TV lineup, designer kitchens are very popular and home cooks can’t help but want a truly fancy kitchen complete with every small appliance they see.

I’ll be honest. After I’ve browsed Bon Appetit or watched a remodeling show, I start dreaming of pasta arms above my stove, high-powered blenders and top-dollar juicers, but the fact of the matter is, most small kitchen appliances aren’t worth the money or the counter space.

Here are seven small kitchen appliances you can skip:

1. Panini press

A panini press flattens and grills, turning a regular sandwich into a hot panini. In theory this sounds like the perfect way to turn your kitchen into an Italian deli on a Saturday afternoon. In reality, a panini press can be heavy and difficult to lift. And it’s not something you really need.

Oprah.com has a cheaper way to make a panini. Assemble the sandwich, butter both sides and put it in a hot skillet. Cover the bottom of your heaviest pot with aluminum foil and place it on top of the sandwich. If it’s not heavy enough, fill a kettle with water and place that in the pot. You’ll get the same thing without the extra appliance.

2. Stand mixer

Most home cooks I know swear by their KitchenAid stand mixer, but I’ve never been able to justify the cost. Instead, I mix and mash ingredients by hand. It’s more work, but theKitchn thinks hand mixing might be better. Here’s why:

When you’re working by hand, there’s more control over each step. You can see for yourself exactly when the egg whites reach a stiff peak and feel when the bread has developed enough gluten. You’re a part of the entire process from start to finish, and that creates a certain satisfaction that we feel is different than when we’ve zipped it together in a mixer.

3. Electric kettle

The electric kettle was the first small kitchen appliance listed in HuffPost Taste’s unnecessary kitchen appliances slide show for good reason. An electric kettle is plugged in so that it can heat up water. That’s it. The rest of the time it takes up space on your counter.

If you want to make a cup of tea, heat the water in the microwave or in a pan on the stove, not in a special kettle.

4. Popcorn maker

With a popcorn maker, whole kernels are heated and then fluffy popcorn emerges at the top. It may seem like the best way to get ready for movie night, but HuffPost Taste says you can get the same results with a pot on the stovetop.

5. Baby food maker

At first, baby food makers seem like a great idea. With one little appliance, you’ll be able to give your baby fresh fruits and vegetables. But you can still do that even if you don’t have the actual appliance. Oprah.com explains how:

Cook those carrots in boiling water or a steamer basket, and then use a fork to smash them. Not smooth enough for your tot? Add some of the cooking water and whip them together in a food processor or with an immersion blender until they’re to his liking.

6. Blender

Last year I was dead set on having a blender and ending up getting one as a gift. I was thrilled. Six months later I had used it only once. Turns out, my food processor does a better job of crushing ice and blending fruit for smoothies than the blender does. Plus, my food processor does a better job of fitting in my small cabinets.

7. Electric grill

I’ve seen electric grills advertised as two things: either a way to grill indoors for apartment dwellers, or the best way to cook healthy grilled meals. In reality, they’re bulkier, more expensive and harder to clean. Plus, Oprah.com warns that electric grills may actually steam food rather than grill it, so you may end up getting different results.

Have you bought a small kitchen appliance and then later regretted the purchase? Share your story on our Facebook page.

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  • http://moneystepper.com/ moneystepper

    Awesome tips. I especially like the panini making idea! Pretty cool…

  • Nancy

    Love my stand mixer. I bought it about 30 years ago and it’s still working like a dream, so it has cost me about 2 cents a day. Love my food processor. I long wanted one but kept putting off the expense, until my wonderful daughter and son in law gave me one for Christmas. Love my crockpot, which I use about once a week. Love my waffle irons. I would never buy one myself but I got two as wedding gifts 35 years ago and I use them about twice a month. A rice cooker and a bread machine have been on my wish list for some time, but . . .

    • Dawn Lawrey

      If you want a bread maker…do what I did. I went to a thrift store and found a $250+ fancy one for $8.00. Doubt the store knew what they had…but for less than $10…I got something I’d been wanting to upgrade to for years. Don’t care for a bread maker with all the bells & whistles…they usually have one for about the same cost as what I paid for my fancy one. Just need to go to several of the stores to get the best bargain.

      Your next question…what it worth the $8.00 I paid. I make at least two loaves a week by dividing up a 2 Lb clump of dough into two loaf pans I bought at the dollar store. Been doing this for several months and have even been asked to bake loaves for use on Sunday morning at my church for special functions.

  • Kristin Thomas

    I agree with everything except for microwaving water for a cup of tea. There is something about microwaved water that doesn’t steep tea properly, like it doesn’t have enough air in it. As a choosy tea drinker, I definitely recommend making the effort to bring to a full boil on the stove. I admit to having an electric kettle though, having lived in the UK for the better part of a decade a home wouldn’t be the same without one. But when I visit homes without one, a pan on the stove works just fine.

  • ModernMode

    For the popcorn maker, it sounds like you’re describing a hot air machine. That is not the same as a pot on the stove, as the pot requires oil.

    • Sarah A Shunk

      I agree with the popcorn maker. I love the one we got at a gift for our wedding. It is much easier to use than a pot. You also don’t have to worry about burning the popcorn.

      I grew up using one all the time at my grandpa’s house. It was very useful for him as he lost his arm in a farm accident.

  • Al Seaver

    Nothing wrong with the cost of a KitchenAid stand mixer if you know how to price shop on line, particularly if you don’t mind a factory refurbished one. Got my wife one for less than $190 and shipped free, and in red.

  • Michael Anthony Scire

    It really depends on how often one uses a specific appliance. The teetotaler would make great use of the kettle whereas the blender is of great use in my home (not going to use a food processor for margaritas).

  • dragon

    What is the cost of using a 220 watt stove compare to using a 110 watt appliance long term? granted you don’t need every gadget that comes down the river but if you use them the small gadget will be worth the buy and just look for for impulse buyers wanting to clear their kitchens you get great deals

  • ManoaHi

    1. Don’t these depend upon usage? First we have a hot sandwich maker, it is light (ok, it is black so it’s dark) and small and sits on our kitchen counter, because it is used constantly. We make them for hot sandwiches for breakfast, on weekends, quite frequently us it to make lunch. Kids come home after school, make a hot sandwich for a snack, then head out for sports or club activities. For Fridays, we have scouting, which means we sometimes eat them for dinner. If we used Oprah’s method, we would have to buy bulk foil (which takes up a lot of space, which offsets the panini maker’s size). I you use it infrequently, then it makes sense.

    2. We dont’ bake often (about twice a year) so a stand mixer is not necessary, but for us. If you use it everyday or several times per week, it very may be worth the space or money.

    3. Never thought about having one. Regarding the person who loves tea, boiling takes air out of the water, what you are not doing in the microwave is roiling boil. Try a little longer in the microwave. You need to get more air out.

    4. Popcorn maker is a must for us (or at least me), nothing better than popcorn with hot sandwiches (yes, I will eat popcorn with breakfast). I make them for snacks at work. Hot air doesn’t cut it for me, tastes better in oil. Health wise, ok, but my cholesterol is low; with the BMI rating I am on the heavy side, but carry only 7% body fat, 5’9″ and have a 29 inch waist, and exercise quite a bit – thanks for my genetics: mom/dad/grandma/grandpa. I eat popcorn so much that I’d probably would go poor with a pan/pot (that actually requires more oil) and it is actually a little more difficult to do in pan/pot, because you need to let out steam without having oil all over the place, or the popcorn absorbs the steam making it stale immediately. Leave the cover ajar? Depends if you can prevent oil from coming out. Sound easy to you? I make popcorn that way during drive up camps, and it is much more difficult, but I do have the hang of it, so I can’t really leave it to someone else. Microwave popcorn is rather over salted, flavour not quite as good as from our popper. It is also expensive, and as soon as it is done, you’ve go to open it to let out the steam.

    5. N/A, kids are teenagers.

    6. Don’t have a food processor, so a blender is all we have and we use it to make smoothies. For slicing and dicing, I use a knife, including those paper thin cucumbers and for making potato chips (if you can’t do that, sharpen you knives, mine are sharp enough to shave with). We also make hambuger with a knife (buy meat and mince it ourselves). Seems like a food processor is the unnecessory appliance.

    7. “In reality, they’re bulkier, more expensive and harder to clean.” What does this mean? So what’s the alternative? So, an electric grill is far smaller than some outdoor barbeques (ok, not griling but full on wood fired ovens), but compared to a charcoal or propane grill? Don’t know many grills that are smaller than an electric grill, and they sure aren’t harder to clean than a charcoal or gas grill, unless you’re used to letting them get all gunked up, for that they’re all even. More expensive? In the long run, no they’re not. Gas and charcoal, try totalling that over 5 years, so count your electricity, compared to your propane and charcoal. For apartment/condo people, charcoal is a bit out of the question. Propane might be ok, but flammable gas should be contained to the stove. So what on earth are you comparing an electric grill with, to come up wth bulkier, more expensive and harder to clean?