7 Small Kitchen Appliances You Don’t Need

Remodeling shows insist you need a small kitchen appliance for every task. But you can get the job done without splurging on these seven counter-cluttering gadgets.

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Designer kitchens remain the rage, thanks in part to all those home remodeling shows that flood the cable TV airwaves every weekend. Home cooks can’t help but covet a truly fancy kitchen complete with every small appliance imaginable.

I’ll confess that after I’ve watched a remodeling show or browsed Bon Appetit magazine, I start dreaming of pasta arms above my stove. Or maybe I have visions of high-powered blenders and top-dollar juicers dancing in my head.

But the truth is that most small kitchen appliances aren’t worth the money or the counter space. That’s especially true of the following seven appliances:

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.

But in reality, a panini press can be heavy and difficult to lift. And it’s not something you really need.

Oprah.com offers 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 your panini without having to splurge on the extra appliance.

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2. Stand mixer

Many home cooks 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

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 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 can give your baby fresh fruits and vegetables. But you can still do that even if you don’t have the actual appliance.

For example, boil or steam carrots, then smash them. How simple is that?

6. Blender

A couple of years ago, I was dead set on having a blender and ended up getting one as a gift. I was thrilled.

Six months later I had used it only once. Turns out that 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 bulky, expensive and hard 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 in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

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  • TWL

    I’ll add to the list–electric can opener. Never had one–the old fashioned hand-held work, last forever, and take up no space. Like my blender about every 6 months so it is stored in the pantry–could I live without, sure. Prefer my stove top Whirly-Pop–best popcorn, period. Don’t regret having a food processor but I only use once a month. Guess I’m old fashioned and like good knives, a potato masher, hand grater, etc. instead of an appliance.

    • Jcatz4

      My electric can opener broke many, many years ago. I never replaced it because almost every can now has a pull off top. If I do need to open a can that doesn’t have a pull off top, I use a manual can opener. The kitties I have now don’t know what an electric can opener sounds like.

  • me

    We have an under the cabinet mount electric can opener and use it all the time. The only downside is that now the cats come running every time we use it.

    • Altruistic One

      Get rid of the cats.

      • Jcatz4

        Your comment is NASTY and uncalled for.

  • Dahna M. Chandler

    So, I can air pop my popcorn on the stovetop and don’t need this air popper I use at least twice a day? Will it still be fat free? And, can I leave the popcorn on the stove, walk away and come back and it’s done? Just trying to clarify here. 😊

    • annie m thompson

      This made me laugh. My husband is a popcorn lover; addicted. I guess it’s all about what you particularly like to cook. Prioritize for yourself. That’s probably the key to most things in life. Enjoy.

  • ManoaHi

    Doesn’t it depend whether or not you use any of the above a lot?

  • violetmoon

    We do use our blender every so often and we do not have a food processor. We LIKE air popped popcorn so we have an air popper and keep it put away until we need it. A stand mixer was the only kind when I got mine so I have it for major mixing but use the hand mixer for little jobs. Again. put away until needed, both on them. My Mom has Alzheimer’s so an electric kettle is a safe alternative for her as she does not do the stove well anymore.

  • Cindyjc

    I bought a Kitchen Aid mixer right after I got married 39 years ago and it is still working! I’d say that’s a pretty good value for the money.

    • Genna Troup

      I just got my stand mixer when we redid our kitchen last year. Everyone said I would never use it, and I’ve used it almost once a week. We also bought it on Black Friday, so I got it $100 cheaper than normal.

  • Ted

    Bought a KitchenAid about 8 years ago and used it once to make (Atkins Diet) faux mashed potatoes out of cauliflower. Didn’t mix all that well and faux mashed potatoes taste genuinely awful! What a waste of $300!!!

    • me

      Spark people had a recipe that used cauliflower to make a “low-fat” Alfredo type sauce. It was disgusting. I rarely throw anything out, but I dumped that sucker out right away. I was pissed iI wasted my time on it.

  • NJS007

    Got to have my Whirly-Pop for the best popcorn. Just use Flavacol and coconut oil for “movie popcorn”. Also need my cobalt blue KitchenAid mixer. Like my Belgian waffle maker and George Foreman grill. I also use a manual can opener. Use my blue mini food chopper a lot. All of my small appliances have their own home in the kitchen cabinets. The only appliance that is kept on the counter is a large 30+ year old microwave that just keeps on cooking. Since I cook almost all of our meals from scratch these implements are worth the expense for the time saving. As a tea drinker, I would add electric coffee makers to the list.

  • https://www.valpak.com Marie Hickman

    I totally agree with most, especially #2. However, I disagree about the blenders. I have three – two standard size and one Nutribullet – and a food processor. I use all four several times a week. Yes, my tiny kitchen looks like a discount appliance store but as a working mom I value function over form!

  • Lori Kemer

    Funny I should get this in my email today because I was just telling my son that I am buying an air popper on groupon. Also, just bought a 700 watt blender and my son bought me an electric tea kettle. Water cooked in the microwave and used for tea does not taste that great and as far as standing at the stove popping corn in oil, no thank you. I love a blender for chopping nuts when making cookies or pureeing fruit for the top of french toast or ice cream. I did have a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer which I couldn’t stand, so I gave it to my son who loves to bake and uses it about twice a week. I have a Belgium Waffle Maker that I use weekly and love it. All my appliances are kept in the cabinet other than the kettle because I drink hot tea and water constantly.

  • paladin

    If you’re trying to limit your salt intake and don’t want to spend a fortune on low or no salt bread, make your own. And get a KitchenAid stand mixer to make the dough. It will pay for itself in just a year or two. It also makes great no salt pizza dough, too.

  • chuberry

    It is true that I don’t use my vintage Kitchenaide mixer every day, but I use it a lot! I love the control these things have. You can have the beaters barely moving at all or whizzing at light speed. Modern regular hand mixers usually have three speeds, but all of them seem to be nearly light speed and you can barely tell the difference between the speeds – bad deal!

    The only way to get fat free air popped popcorn is via an airpopper. But, if I do any airpopping, I have to melt some butter and drizzle it over the popcorn to make it edible. I love popcorn but rarely eat it any more due to the carbs. By the way, my friend Larry, had the bariatric surgery and lost about 60 lbs, not that noticeable, but then plateaued. I suggested that he refrain from his nightly popcorn habit, something his doctor also suggested trying. Sure enough, once he stopped eating this high carbohydrate grain, he started to lose weight again.

    My daughter has a panini press. She uses it regularly and loves it. When done, it goes on a shelf and is no big deal.

    Blenders vs. Food Processor. Food processors seem to be bulky and hard to store due to all the parts and accessories. We hardly ever used our Cuisinart. In fact we had two of them. They are now in storage for the next garage sale where they will be sold for cheap. Blender? Gets used ALL the time.

    Electric grill. We have two of them, a large and a small, both made by Farberware many years ago. They work perfectly and we use them a lot. Contrary to this article, they are quite easy to clean and easy to disassemble and reassemble. Nothing to it.

    There’s my two cents.

  • William Troiano

    I use my stand mixer, blender, electric tea kettle and my Foreman Grill quite a few times each week and have never regretted purchasing them. I would not have the time or energy to hand mix cake batter or cookie dough, will keep my Kitchen Aid stand mixer!

  • James Hazelton

    Three more questionable appliances:
    Electric can openers, especially if you don’t live on canned foods. BUT if you live in areas subject to power failures due to storms, a hand can opener is essential for emergency eating.
    Popup toasters, if you have a toaster oven especially if you rarely if ever toast bread. I use a multipurpose toaster oven with convection much more frequently than the conventional ‘big’ oven.
    Crock Pots. While I agree that anything can be slow cooked in eight to 10 hours, I find I can cook the same in 45 minutes to an hour since I never eat dinner a minute after I get home from work and enjoy cooking as a change of pace. (No Mom, your chili is NOT that much better than mine :-)

  • Joseph Freitas

    Pretty presumptuous article.

  • grandmaguest

    I guess it all depends on your perspective. If it is a gadget that you use, it is truly worth it. If it’s not, then get rid of it. Unfortunately, sometimes you just don’t know. You get something thinking you will use it…it will save you time, money, and be easy to clean, etc. But you find, you can do it faster, easier, with some other appliance that you aleady have. Or it’s a pain to clean and reassemble. Live and learn.

    My daughter and her husband make iced tea all the time and bought an ice tea maker. They love it and use it all the time. They gave me their old one, since I too like ice tea and brew mine up in the microwave in a 4 cup glass measuring cup. (see multipurpose, since it’s a cup I use all the time). Their old ice tea maker has yet to be used in several years and is taking up space in my pantry. It will be headed to a donation pile along with other things in a month. I figure, if I haven’t used it in a year or two, I probably don’t need it.

  • Y2KJillian

    I have to agree with commenters who suggest appliance choices are very individual; the author makes a point that we could “think” harder before we buy appliances…but of course readers of this site must already know such things!
    As for small appliances we’ve had and not needed: an electric ice crusher (previous choice was to use a hammer on ice rolled in a towel–tore the towel to pieces but after using the crusher a time or two, realized I seldom really needed crushed ice; a combo waffle & grilled cheese griller with non-stick coating that didn’t work well; you can grill sandwiches in a frying pan easily, and gosh, if you want them flattened, why not just press down on them with a spatula? (And back then we preferred them “fluffy” the idea of “pannini” wasn’t current yet.) I’d add a “hot-dogger” (who thought that up? Hot dogs are NOT hard to heat up!… a “salad spinner.” We don’t need to spin our lettuce electrically. We used to have one of those outside coil popcorn makers from my mother from the early 60’s; they could be used as an alien helmet turned upside down– and today they look hideously dangerous (and they were! DON”T TOUCH THE COILS we were told frequently)…but Paul does make popcorn on the stove top…he’s a whiz at it but it takes a few minutes of shaking and watching. I understand you can pop corn in a plain brown bag, exactly as you would in a microwave packet…just put some in the bag, fold the top over several times, and put it in the microwave and turn it on, listening for the popping to start and then taper off. That’s it. But then you’re not sure how much BPA is in the brown paper bag…so there’s that.
    In our current small kitchen, we think five times before we buy a new small appliance…but lately we’ve gotten a new stainless toaster, a stainless electric coffee percolator (not one of those plastic and glass carafe kinds), and a new small microwave…we use them all frequently and like them very much.
    But it’s good to be reminded about advertised new gadgets–give it an extra think and imagine how you DON’T need it instead of how you MIGHT.

  • Manuel

    I have a popcorn maker that doesn’t use any oil (just hot air)… and even though it’s not necessary it sure its convenient, easy to keep and a breeze to clean (sometimes just wiping will do)

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