Take your kitchen to the next level with these must-have small appliances for the at-home cook who likes to concoct dishes like the pros. Whether you're planning a formal dinner party or a simple cook-out, these handy kitchen appliances will make it easy for you to create culinary masterpieces in no time.
If you enjoy baking or making bread, you'll want to have a good stand mixer on hand. There are so many brands and models available that it pays to research all useful features so you get the most for your dollar and end up with a mixer that will last for years. Most stand mixers come with standard attachments for mixing, whipping and kneading. You should look for these key ingredients: metal gearing over nylon gearing, planetary mixing action, lift or tilt mechanism, locking mechanism, dishwasher-safe attachments, a bowl that handles 5-7 quarts, at least six speed options and a powerful motor. It's also a good idea to select a mixer that has some weight (at least 25 lbs) so it doesn't start walking when you mix heavy batches of dough.
A food processor is a great tool to expedite repetitive cooking behavior like chopping, mincing, grinding, pureeing, slicing and shredding, especially when you're cooking in quantity. You'll want to look for a powerful model that processes food quickly and consistently and a large capacity of at least 9 cups.
Whether you're a regular coffee drinker or not, every home should have a decent coffeemaker in their kitchen for company. Of course, if you're a coffee lover you will want to purchase a coffeemaker that satisfies your fix for caffeine. There are basically two main ways to brew coffee — the traditional drip coffeemaker or the "very popular" single-serve style coffee brewer. Of course how much coffee you drink in a day will determine whether you need a single or 10-12 cup coffeemaker. The only drawback to a single-serve machine is that you need to use special coffee pods, but it's worth the convenience for a quick, robust cup of java.
True coffee lovers who want to capture the quality of their favorite commercial brand should consider a professional grade coffeemaker that grinds beans and has the ability to make espresso.
You don't need a really expensive blender, but it's great to have one on hand to mix drinks or whip up a shake. If you're into breakfast/protein shakes then you'll want to at least buy a decent name brand so it can handle daily usage. Most blenders range in size from 4 to 7 cups with a variety of speeds (you really only need high, low, fast and pulse) and designs. Don't buy anything with less than 350 watts otherwise you'll be burning up the motor in no time.
Every home should have a decent toaster oven. This is especially useful in the warmer months when you don't want to be turning on your oven.