Small Kitchen Appliances

An A-Z guide to countertop appliances that you can't do without.

Blender: With short blades that rotate quickly, this kitchen helper trims preparation time by instantly blending, chopping, and pureeing foods.

Blender Tips

  • Blend large quantities of food in several small batches for better control.
  • Stop your blender often and check the size of the food pieces. Blenders work quickly and can easily overblend or overchop food.
  • Keep in mind that a blender cannot whip foods (such as whipped cream and potatoes).
  • In general, cut foods into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces before adding them to the blender.
  • When blending heated mixtures, cool hot foods slightly before blending and fill the blender container half full. Cover with lid and open vent. Cover blender container with a clean towel while operating. Begin blending warm mixtures on low speed, then increase to higher speed, as necessary.

Blenders, hand-held: Also called immersion blenders, these can blend, liquefy, or puree foods directly in pots or bowls. This saves on cleanup, because a blender container isn't needed.

Bread machine: This machine takes bread recipes through mixing, kneading, rising, punching down, and baking.

Electric mixer: This appliance is essential for efficiently mixing, whipping, and beating foods. Two types of mixers exist. A hand-held, portable mixer will do for most recipes. If you do a lot of cooking, you may want to invest in a heavy-duty stand mixer, which can handle large amounts of thick batter and allows you some freedom while it's operating. Also, many stand mixers can knead bread dough with special attachments.

Food processor: This appliance performs many of the same jobs as a blender or electric mixer. While it can't whip foods, it can slice and shred. When processing heated mixtures, cool mixture slightly; fill bowl only half full. Cover lid with a clean towel while operating.

Toaster oven: Because these take little time to preheat, they're ideal for toasting several slices of bread at once and baking small amounts of food.