Across a series of handy buying guides, we have covered the most widely-used appliances in oak kitchens: hobs, ovens, refrigerators and more. However, these aren’t the only appliances to feature in modern kitchens – there is now a wide range of smaller appliances that are found in many family kitchens.
From bread makers to health grills, these small appliances often cannot be integrated into your kitchen cabinets, so choosing the right model – in terms of size, style and features – requires careful thought.
Most small appliances in a kitchen are defined by the fact that they are designed to sit upon your worktop. They can be moved around or even stowed away in a cabinet when you don’t need them.
Some small appliances – like microwaves and even coffee makers – can be built into specialist cabinets, but on the whole you will have to consider where the best location for your small appliance might be, based upon how and when you will be using it, and where you are storing other items in your kitchen.
Because small kitchen appliances are often on display, they can both add and detract from the overall décor and ambiance of the kitchen environment. This means that you should spend time to consider whether the design of the appliance fits in with the theme; whether it is overly dominant; or if there is a range of matching appliances from a single manufacturer that meets all of your needs.
The category of small appliances is by far the largest of any kitchen electronics, in part because many highly specialised gadgets have been created to help in the kitchen. Whilst we could have spent a long time listing the benefits of electric pasta makers, meat slicers and automated yoghurt makers, we have decided to concentrate on the most popular gadgets that you will find in almost every kitchen.
Types of Small Appliance
A microwave is now considered a kitchen staple. Not only can they heat food in much less time than a conventional oven, but they are also handy for defrosting food, re-heating and much more besides.
Modern microwaves are often either silver or black, but a vast range of styles are available, with an almost never-ending feature list. If you spend enough, you could even cook an entire roast dinner in a microwave.
Microwaves can be easily installed into specialist cabinets, and there are even integrated microwave options available.
Another traditional small appliance that graces almost every kitchen is the humble toaster. Without one, producing the perfect piece of toast can be a tricky business!
Simple toasters allow the user to select amount of toasting time in minutes, and may feature a cancel button, too. More fancy toasters can accommodate up to six slices simultaneously, cook bagels and other doughy treats, and there are even toasters that have an additional egg cooker attached.
Designs vary greatly, but commonly toasters come in a chrome finish. Retro-design toasters have become popular in recent years, and some toasters even have see-through sides for you to check on your toast’s progress.
Integral to any kitchen, the kettle is always on hand to boil your favourite brew. Whilst providing an obvious functionality, kettles have evolved with kitchen styles over the years, bringing contemporary designs and finishes.
Stainless steel is now very popular, but there are also a huge range of different coloured kettles in range of designs. Some will even have a matching toaster companion.
Look out for handy features such as ‘quick boil’, and consider what capacity you will require, as kettles vary from around 1 to 2 litres. If you live in a hard-water area, look for a kettle with an inbuilt water filter to reduce limescale build-up and make your beverage taste better.
A relatively new small appliance that is now becoming commonplace in many kitchens, the health grill was first popularised by ex-boxing legend George Foreman back in 1995. Since their boom in popularity, almost all kitchen appliance brands have brought their own iteration of the fat-reducing grill to market.
Health grills are available in a wide range of sizes: from small units that are ideal for individuals, up to large grills that can serve up to 10 portions at a time. Some grills also double as waffle irons, griddles and may even have removable plates for easy cleaning.
Like all the other small appliances here, a range of designs are available, but brushed aluminium and black plastic are the favoured finishes.
There are a vast range of coffee machines available, and whilst most are free-standing, some units are available that can be built into cabinets in a similar fashion to microwaves.
Some coffee makers are just for single-servings and may use expensive ‘pods’ or sachets for each brew. The more widely used coffee makers that are suitable for serving multiple cups of coffee are percolators and drip filter coffee makers. Electric models also keep your coffee warm, meaning less coffee is wasted.
If you value your coffee highly, you might want to consider an Espresso machine. They are by far the most expensive type, but often have numerous convenient features to make a wide variety of caffeinated beverages.
Which coffee maker you choose will ultimately depend on how many people you are serving, the type of coffee you prefer, and whether you prefer freshly roasted beans or ground coffee.
What is better than coming home to the smell of freshly-baked bread? Baking bread has never been easier – simply put the right combination of ingredients into the bread-making machine, and after a few button presses your bread will be prepared without any further attention required.
Some bread makers offer a variety of possibilities, from sandwich loaves to speciality breads, cakes and even jams. Most offer control over loaf size, ingredients and timing, and some models include a handy viewing window and interior light to allow you to monitor progress.
Most bread makers are a glorified table-top oven, so whilst designs do vary, ultimately they all look quite similar, and often come in either white or silver plastic, or brushed aluminium.
There are many other small appliances for your kitchen beyond the range we have featured in this buying guide. For more suggestions, why not head over to our Pinterest page? We have a wide range of boards featuring additional kitchen gadgets – from mixers to juicers. Each month we also feature a kitchen ‘Gadget of the Month’ over on our blog.