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I live in New York City. This means my kitchen is tiny and I don’t have a lot of room for a lot of the kitchen equipment many of us take for granted. As someone who finds Zen in cooking, I was a bit stressed about not having all the kitchen gadgets and appliances I needed to create my healthy masterpieces.
To solve the issue of having a small kitchen while still needing my cooking tools, I compromised by having only a select few small kitchen appliances. I’d wager that even if you have ample space you still don’t want your kitchen cluttered with unnecessary kitchenware and appliances. You just need to have what I call the Essential 5 and you’ll be set for making quick and healthy meals every day of the week.
If you’ve been following this blog or if you know me personally, then you know that I love my air fryer. It is the most valuable appliance in my small kitchen hands down! In fact, I use my air fryer almost every evening to prepare dinner. It’s truly an all-purpose cooking appliance and able to cook any type of protein or dish. I’ve used my air fryer to prepare steak, lamb chops, fish, french fries (when I ate them), and even donuts!
So what exactly is an air fryer and how does it work to cook food? At its core, an air fryer is a simple device comprised of a perforated food basket that’s placed within a mini oven. All foods are lightly spritzed with cooking oil and seasoned to taste before they are placed in the cooking basket and “air-fried” by hot air circulating over all surfaces of your food in the mini oven. You select the correct temperature and time based on the type of food being cooked. That’s it, a very simple premise to cook very tasty meals.
I am currently following the keto diet, so eating fat is a requirement, but sometimes I just enjoy eating succulent proteins without the extra grease. My air fryer does a great job of giving me the texture and juiciness of fried food without the extra oil. Food comes out crispy and you can taste the true flavor of your seasoned meat and/or fish. If you don’t have one yet, I highly recommend that you get one. You’ll thank me later.
Following the air fryer, my stand mixer is the second most important item in my must-have list of small kitchen appliances. You may question the need for a stand mixer if you don’t do much baking. I’d wager that you’d do much more baking and making fresh, healthy baked goods for your family if you had one!
A stand mixer allows you to work with sticky dough and mixes without having to use elbow grease or messing up your hands with wet sticky flour. It makes baking an absolute pleasure and it’s easy to clean and maintain. A stand mixer also helps you to do much more than just make baked goods, you can make other desserts like whipped cream and chocolate mousse and even whip up your own body butter!
When it comes to size, there’s no need to purchase a large stand mixer with all the bells and whistles. Just select a small mixer with a few features like an orbiting mixing head and at least three attachments including a dough hook, a mixing paddle, and a whisk. These few features should be all you need for making your own yeast breads, dinner rolls, tortillas, mousses, purees, and whipped cream.
A Vitamix Blender is a must for every kitchen. The Vitamix is manufactured here in the USA and it’s a well-made piece of kitchen equipment. Yes, it is expensive but look at it as an investment you will be able to use for years if not decades.
A Vitamix is not merely a blender, it’s a powerful food processor that can make complete meals without you touching the stove!
- Hot Soup
- Nut Butter
- Ice Cream & Frozen Desserts
- Nut Milk
- Dressings and Sauces
- Food Prep
I challenge anyone to find another kitchen appliance that does more than a Vitamix blender. It’s powerful motor makes short work of any hard ingredients and it’s practically self-cleaning. All you need to do is add some hot water, a bit of dish soap and turn on the Vitamix for a few seconds. Rinse and dry.
If you can afford one, I definitely recommend you purchase and make valuable kitchen real estate available for a Vitamix blender.
It goes without saying that every kitchen needs a microwave oven. Microwave ovens have been around for a little more than 50 years and it’s hard to imagine how we ever managed without them. This marvel of modern kitchen appliances helps us to make food in a very short period when compared to on-stove cooking. This is not to say that I recommend doing most of your cooking with a microwave oven as not all recipes work well with this method of cooking.
Microwave ovens are best suited for quickly cooking frozen vegetables or frozen dinners. Many microwaves come with features such as melt, defrost or soften functions, and some even have a button solely for popping corn. You can use these functions to quickly defrost meats, soften hard ice cream or melt butter. Microwaves are also great for reheating liquids and leftovers. It makes getting food ready quickly really convenient, especially if you have a large family and a lot of food to prepare.
- Cooks/Reheats food very quickly
- Makes great popcorn and other snacks
- May dry out certain foods like bread, rolls, and other baked goods. Cover with a damp paper towel to avoid this happening.
- Need to keep an eye on liquids that can spill over when rapidly heated
Microwave ovens have been around long enough for the majority of us to know how they work. If you have a small kitchen, make sure you choose a small one with a carousel and at least 1000 watts. Microwave ovens with carousels rotate the food so it’s evenly cooked/heated and having at least 1000 watts means more power to get your food ready even faster.
Last but definitely not least of all the must-have small kitchen appliances, is the humble coffee maker. We all need the pick-me-up of a good cup of coffee in the morning. Again, there is no need for all the bells and whistles available in most modern coffee makers today. We are dealing with small kitchens in this article, and the last thing we need is a space-hogging, fancy cappuccino-making coffee machine.
There are many types of small coffee makers available in the market as there are several coffee brewing methods available – it all depends on your personal taste. Here are some small coffee machines you can use to brew coffee by various methods:
- Pressure Brewing: Moka Pot or Aero Press
- Steep Brewing: French Press or Coffee Bags
- Drip/Filtration Brewing: Auto Drip or Percolator
I myself prefer to use a simple auto-drip coffee maker because it’s quick and easy – simply place ground coffee in a filter, add water, and then hit the start button. Five minutes later I have a nice pot of freshly brewed coffee. However, since we all have different tastes, you can select your small kitchen coffee maker based on the options I’ve presented above.
Essential 5 Small Kitchen Appliances
There you have it, my Essential 5 for small kitchen appliances:
- Stand Mixer
- Vitamix Blender
- Microwave Oven
- Coffee Maker
With these five small kitchen appliances, you will have all you need to make quick, healthy meals while preserving precious counter space. Do you have these Essential 5 in your kitchen? Do you have a must-have kitchen appliance that’s not on my list? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do some research to see if we agree! Happy Eating!