"Convenience" and "efficiency" are important words for a home cook. Buying a dehydrator, a toaster oven, and a fryer is unnecessary when you can just buy an air fryer that can do all those jobs in one. Why work your wrists into cramps from grating blocks of cheese for homemade macaroni when you can just attach the grating disc to your food processor and shred in minutes?
Countertop appliances are space-saving workhorses. They make baking projects and meal prep less stressful, offering robust capabilities and ease of operation. We researched and tested everything from espresso machines and blenders to food processors and pressure cookers to simplify your kitchen.
Here are the best small kitchen appliances.
Hamilton Beach P90D23AL-WR 0.9 Cu. Ft. Stainless Steel Microwave Oven
Variety of cook functions
Concerns about longevity
When it comes to microwaves, more affordable options often work just as well as pricey models. This one is particularly space-efficient, but still comes with plenty of presets and functions including baked potato, popcorn, pizza, beverage, frozen dinner, and reheating. Our tester particularly liked that the beverage function allows you to choose between 4-, 8-, 12-, and 16-ounce options. There are also express cook settings, adjustable power level settings, and a child-lock function to keep your settings from being messed with.
Despite its compact size, this microwave still fits a full-size dinner plate easily—it's also extremely easy to set up and clean. Our tester noted that over a full month of testing, this microwave performed as well as more expensive models again and again. If you're looking for a microwave that won't eat up lots of counter space, you're unlikely to find a better value out there.
Price at time of publish: $80
Capacity: 0.9 cubic feet | Turntable Diameter: 10.5 inches | Cooking Power: 900 watts | Dimensions: 17.09 x 14.25 x 22.2 inches | Warranty: 1 year
"If you use Express Cook all the time, you'll particularly appreciate this model's expanded set of features." — Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Best Air Fryer
Philips Premium Airfryer XXL HD9650
Seven functions and several presets
Design drains excess fat from food
Better results than competitor models
Add-on accessories are pricey
A good air fryer can be your best asset in a small kitchen due to how many jobs it can do in one—it's not just for cooking with less oil (although it can do that too). This model, in particular, can air fry, bake, grill, roast, toast, dehydrate, and reheat, which eliminates the need for several other appliances. Despite being an XXL model and having a 7-quart interior capacity, it's still fairly space-efficient. It has presets for foods like French fries, whole chicken, fish, and more, and its design allows excess fat to drain away from your food, giving you a crispier end product. There's also a keep-warm function that runs up to 30 minutes after cooking.
All the removable dishwasher-safe parts are easy to clean, though the plastic fat drain rack needs to be hand-washed. There are lots of add-on accessories for making pizza, dehydrated snacks, and baked goods, but they're on the pricier side.
Our testers raved about how well the food came out every time on all the different functions, from baked cornbread to air-fried chicken drumsticks. It's not one of the more affordable air fryers on the market, but between taking the place of several other appliances and out-performing the competition every time, we felt strongly that it deserved a spot on this list.
Price at time of publish: $350
Capacity: 7 quarts | Power Rating: 1750 watts | Dimensions: 15.55 x 15.55 x 15.67 inches | Warranty: 1 year
"The Philips impressed in nearly every test we threw its way. One of the best rotisserie chickens, chicken tenders, and French fries. We loved the Philips for its very consistent browning, and how user-friendly the machine is from setup to preheat alerts." — Collier Sutter, Food and Drink Review Editor
Best Food Processor
Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor
Extra-large feed tube
Can be difficult to clean
For a busy home cook, a food processor is almost like having your own sous chef in the kitchen. It aids in quick completion of mise-en-place, does the heavy lifting for holiday dinner prep, and makes mezzes in a flash. Whether you're grating cheese, preparing pie dough, slicing vegetables, or making pesto, the Cuisinart 14-Cup Food Processor is a smart choice.
The design could not be more user-friendly. There are just two large, paddle-style buttons: one for "off/pulse" and the other for "on." There's no fussy touchpad and only one bowl to worry about. The base is solid and doesn't slide around during heavy use. It has an extra-wide feed tube, which means you can slice larger vegetables and grate blocks of cheese without having to cut them into small pieces first. It comes with a shredding disc, slicing disc, removable disc stem, and metal blade for chopping, mixing, blending, and pureeing.
Our tester appreciated that the food processor could handle smaller tasks, such as pureeing hummus, and larger ones, including making pastry dough. She also noted that it blended both wet and dry ingredients consistently.
Price at time of publish: $250
Power: 720 watts | Capacity: 14 cups | Size: 11 x 7.9 x 14.8 inches
"If you’re averse to reading through thick instruction manuals like I sometimes am, you’ll feel you’ve lucked out with the Cuisinart’s intuitive design." — Tierney McAfee, Product Tester
Best Espresso Machine
Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Easy to use
Nice variety of drinks
Difficult to clean
Trips to the coffee shop can be an expensive habit. An espresso machine at home can add a lot of savings to the monthly budget and offer the convenience of espresso shots, cappuccinos, and lattes whenever the mood strikes. Mr. Coffee is a trusted brand, especially for electric drip brewers. Its espresso and cappuccino maker maintains this reputation with its semi-automatic operation, simple interface, and customizable brewing options.
The Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is a sleek, modern addition to your kitchen countertop. The intuitive design boasts a one-touch control panel, simple indicator lights, removable water and milk reservoirs, and an automatic sleep mode after 15 minutes. You can also switch from automatic to manual mode if you want more control over drink customization.
Our tester loved that the machine fit full-sized mugs with ease. Another highlight was the sleek and modern design which looks great on any countertop.
Price at time of publish: $250
Power: 1040 watts | Capacity: 1.6-liter water tank | Size: 12.6 x 8.86 x 11.22 inches
"Compared to some of the cheaper alternatives, [the Café Barista] wins out because it is semi-automatic. With this machine, it’s easy to make cappuccinos and lattes at the touch of a button." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best Coffee Maker
Cuisinart 14-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
Programmable up to 24 hours
Adjustable brew strength
Temperature control keeps coffee hot
Difficult to fill the water reservoir
Sometimes, waking up to a ready-brewed cup of coffee is exactly what you need to start the day right. The Cuisinart Perfectemp Coffee Maker affords this option and more. It's programmable up to 24 hours in advance, and you can choose your carafe temperature and coffee strength. The display is easy to use with large, simple buttons, and you can make as little as 1 cup or as many as 14 cups.
There's more to this model, though. You can grab your cup mid-cycle with the "brew pause" function, and there's an alarm to let you know when the pot is finished, which was the favorite feature for our tester. It has a modern, stainless steel exterior and compact footprint, making it an attractive, space-saving addition to your counter top. It also has a reusable, gold tone filter, so you can ditch paper filters and reduce your kitchen waste.
The self-cleaning feature helps keep calcification at bay, ensuring a fresh cup of coffee every time. The auto-shut-off option lets you safely leave the house without worrying whether you left the coffee maker on.
Price at time of publish: $99
Weight: 9 pounds | Capacity: 14 cups | Size: 7.75 x 9 x 14 inches
"Considering its sleek design, temperature control, and undeniably useful features, this coffee maker simply brings so much to the table. An investment in this product will transform your morning cup of coffee routine forever." — Lambeth Hochwald, Product Tester
Vitamix 5200 Professional-Grade Blender
Simple to use
Good at heavy tasks
A good blender can be used for a lot more than smoothies, though the Vitamix 5200 excels in that department. This multi-use appliance cuts time when preparing smoky barbecue sauce, emulsifying vinaigrette, or smoothing out chunky soups. With a spacious 64-ounce, heavy-duty, BPA-free, Tritan plastic jar, you can blend large quantities, too.
The intuitive design of the Vitamix 5200 makes it easy to use. A single dial allows control over ten speeds, and a mode switch for high/variable options could not be simpler to operate. The rubber lid is spill-proof and features a drop-in hole to add ingredients or utilize the included tamper to break up air pockets or push stubborn ingredients toward the blade mid-session. The powerful stainless steel blade crushes ice in an instant.
You don’t have to worry about overworking the motor because it has an automatic shut-off to keep it from burning out, and the hefty sticker price comes with a seven-year warranty to keep you blending for years.
Price at time of publish: $550
Power: 1380 watts | Capacity: 64 ounces | Size: 20.5 x 7.25 x 8.75 inches
Best Pressure Cooker
Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, 6 Quart
Remembers previous settings
Three temperature levels
Precise temperature control
Difficult to see the pressure valve
If you're pressed for time but don’t want to order takeout, the Instant Pot is your answer. Its large 6-quart capacity can feed a family, and the seven functions take you from pressure cooker to steamer to sauté pan and more. It has three temperature settings and two pressure settings, as well as 13 cooking programs to accommodate foods like rice, stew, and yogurt. For even quicker prep, the machine will remember your exact time and pressure settings for the next time it's used.
The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker has a stainless steel insert with a three-layer base for even cooking and a steam rack for veggies or baby back ribs. Schedule meals with the delay start option (this can be set up to 24 hours in advance), 10-hour automatic keep-warm function, and manual keep-warm function that will maintain safe potluck temperatures for up to 100 hours.
Our tester appreciated the built-in safety features, like overheat protection and safety lock, which avert potential hazards. The exterior is fingerprint-resistant, and accessories are dishwasher safe.
Price at time of publish: $99
Weight: 11.8 pounds | Capacity: 6 quarts | Size: 13.39 x 12.21 x 12.48 inches
"This Instant Pot has its temperature and pressure sensors dialed in, resulting in precise results when cooking." — Danielle Centoni, Product Tester
Best Indoor Grill
Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
Nonstick, removable, dishwasher-safe cooking plates
Opens flat for griddling and grilling
Bottom plate heats more than top
Craving a steak, but it's raining? Yearning for a panini, but the restaurant is closed? The Cuisinart Griddler is the machine for those moments and more. It's incredibly versatile with options for a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, and half grill/half griddle. The grill plates are reversible, too, so you can have a flat or ridged surface depending on your needs. The hinge adjusts to accommodate thicker or thinner items and opens fully, so you can avoid steaming foods or pour on heaping helpings of pancake batter.
The simple controls make it effortless to operate. The selector dial allows you to choose between griddle and grill, and then the temperature is adjusted with the appropriate dial to the left or right. Indicator lights let you know when the griddler has reached the set cook temperature. Cleanup is easy with the nonstick, dishwasher-safe removable grill plates.
Our tester loved how easy the griddler was to operate, but noted it the hidden drip tray was easy to forget while cleaning.
Price at time of publish: $100
Power: 110 volts | Material: Aluminum plates with nonstick coating | Size: 13.5 x 11.5 x 7.12 inches
"I appreciated the ease of using the Griddler, as well as the simple cleaning of the grill plates in the dishwasher." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Breville Juice Fountain Compact
Wide feed chute requires less prep
Fast and powerful
Not great with leafy greens
Creates a wet pulp
Most people think of juicers as bulky and expensive, but this one from Breville's highly reputable Juice Fountain line is surprisingly affordable and space-efficient. It's a centrifugal juicer with a 14,000 RPM motor, which makes it very fast and very powerful. Since it has a wide feed chute, you can put whole fruits and veggies in without having to spend lots of time chopping them first.
Note that this juicer doesn't do as well extracting juice from leafy greens, although bundling the greens together helps a bit. The resulting pulp is not as dry as some other juicers, meaning there could be more juice extracted, but overall its efficiency is good. Although juicers are notorious for being hard to clean, this one's parts are dishwasher-safe; the only trickier part to clean is the fine mesh strainer, and a cleaning brush is included to make that much easier.
Overall, our tester felt that this juicer is an incredible value that can help you incorporate lots of fresh produce into your daily life without monopolizing your counter space.
Price at time of publish: $100
Style: Centrifugal | Dimensions: 7.4 x 10.4 x 12.7 inches | Weight: 9.68 pounds
"My juice was perfectly smooth, pulp-free, and yes, delicious." - Sharon Lehman, Product Tester
Best Bread Machine
Oster ExpressBake 2-Pound Bread Maker
Even distribution of mix-ins
Display isn't backlit
No gluten-free setting
Fresh, homemade bread is a completely different experience from storebought bread, but it can be a pain to go through the process of mixing, proofing, kneading, proofing again, and baking. Bread machines take almost all the work out of the process, but most are both bulky and expensive. This one is surprisingly affordable and takes up much less counter space, but still has eight bread settings, three crust settings, and can make loaves up to 2 pounds. If you like homemade jam with your bread, this machine can make that as well.
A large LCD screen shows where you are in the process, and like most bread makers, this model has a delay timer that allows you to add ingredients and bake later; it also has a keep warm setting. If you’re in a hurry, the Expressbake feature can produce a finished loaf in under an hour. Our home tester praised the machine's solid overall performance when she followed the included recipe, but she noted that the results were less predictable when she used her own.
Cleaning is relatively easy, with the paddle being the trickiest part. Overall, this is highly reliable machine that gives you delicious homemade bread with a fraction of the time, labor and counter space.
Price at time of publish: $110
Dimensions: 12 x 11 x 11 inches | Weight: 8 pounds | Loaf Size: 2 pounds | Timer: 13-hour delay | Fastest Bake: 1 hour | Electrical Rating: 1,450 watts
"I started my testing by whipping up a basic white bread recipe from the included booklet, and the result was spot on." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
What to Look for in a Small Kitchen Appliance
What is "small" to some may not mean "small" to you. If you have very limited cabinet or counter space, the appliance's size is a crucial factor to consider when shopping. It can help to measure your space before you make the purchase.
If the small appliance is going to sit on your countertop, it will become part of your kitchen décor. Make sure you choose a model with a color and style that works in your space and has a look that will please you every day.
Price and Value
Whether you have a budget or not, price is always an important factor to consider. With more expensive items, you may be paying for features you won't use, or the price tag may be based on the brand's popularity. Consider the product's value when it comes to your needs and personal preferences.
Frequency of Use
It's easy to get caught up in a high-tech appearance or the bells and whistles of a small appliance, but if it is going to collect dust in the cabinet—or, even worse, on the countertop—and only be used once a year, it may not be the smartest purchase. Consider how often you will use the appliance before clicking "buy now."
How do you clean a microwave?
Even stubborn food debris is easy to remove with a couple easy steps. Mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a glass measuring cup with 1 cup of water. Place it inside the microwave and set it on high power for about five minutes or until you see the mixture boiling and steam creating condensation on the door. Leave it in there for another five minutes, and then remove it. Wipe the interior with a sponge.
What are the attachments for a food processor?
There are many different attachments for various food processors, but common types include shredding discs, which are useful for cheese, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and other foods you need grated or shredded; slicing discs, which gives you a thin slice on fruits, vegetables and meats; and metal blades for chopping, blending, pureeing, grinding, kneading, or emulsifying dips, nut butters, sauces, salsas, spice blends, breadcrumbs, and more.
One caveat for food processor attachments is that they're extremely sharp. Be careful attaching, removing, and cleaning to avoid injury.
How does a pressure cooker work?
Pressure cookers are used to cook food quickly via a sealed pot that traps steam. As the steam gathers, pressure builds, which raises the boiling point of water inside past 212 degrees and up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The high pressure created by the trapped steam forces moisture into the food in the pot, cooking it quickly in comparison to traditional methods. This is especially good for tough cuts of meat that need tenderizing.
Can you put foil in an air fryer?
Aluminum foil is a great tool to use in the kitchen, whether that’s in the oven, on the grill, or even in your air fryer. Many people use foil to line trays so things stay tidy or wrap meat to retain moisture while cooking.
If you want to use aluminum foil in your air fryer, we suggest checking the user manual for guidance first. For example, the Cosori VeSync Pro II Smart Air Fryer’s user manual says “you may use parchment paper or foil” in the fryer. The brand even suggests using it to make cleaning the basket easier.
It’s best to either wrap the foil around the food itself or to part of the basket so the hot air doesn’t blow loose foil around. If all of the vents are blocked by foil, the hot air won’t be able to flow and cook the food properly.
Can bread makers make sourdough?
Making sourdough bread is often seen as a labor of love. Fortunately, there are many bread makers that have a dedicated sourdough setting. You’ll still need to provide some sourdough starter, however.
For bread makers that don’t have a specific sourdough setting, there are many recipes online that suggest using other long-rising programs, such as French bread.
Can you use a blender as a food processor?
Though blenders and food processors can perform similar functions, they are two different appliances. For many recipes that call for a food processor, a blender will work just fine. That said, blenders are generally designed for more liquid-based ingredients, while food processors tend to be drier.
Common uses for blenders include making milkshakes, salsas, soups, or smoothies. Food processors are great for mincing meat, making hummus, grating cheeses, and shredding potatoes.
If you’re looking to cut down on manual chopping, shredding, and other meal prep tasks, a food processor is a great investment.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Carrie Honaker is a food writer who has owned her share of small kitchen appliances on this list. As a restaurateur and avid home cook, she knows the importance of finding the right tool for the right job. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Bon Appetit, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.
This article was updated by Katya Weiss-Andersson, a writer and editor for The Spruce Eats who has nearly a decade of experience as a professional chef. Katya is intimately acquainted with the small kitchen life and knows the importance of finding tools that help you do the most with your space and your budget.
Allison Wignall, who updated this article, has never had a particularly large kitchen. She understands how valuable compact or versatile kitchen appliances can be in close quarters. Her work has been featured in publications, such as Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, and Southern Living.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bisphenol A (BPA) factsheet.