13 Small Kitchen Appliances That Aren't Worth the Money

By Aaron Crowe on 3 December 2015 9 comments

No matter how big your kitchen is, sooner or later the countertops become cluttered. Whether it's from all of the wedding gifts you just received or too many late-night infomercial purchases, all those small kitchen appliances can really take up valuable space.

Here are 13 small appliances that aren't worth the money, with cheaper alternatives.

1. Bread Machine

There's no better smell than fresh-baked bread. A $100 bread machine is easy enough to use — put the ingredients in, turn it on, and wait for the bread to bake — but the cleanup is difficult. And, speaking from experience, the rotating mechanism at the bottom of the bread machine can break, rendering it useless.

A Cheaper Alternative

Make bread from scratch. Find a cookbook, follow the recipe, and you're set. Making homemade bread is a lot of work, but that can be the point of cooking — a slow, Zen-like process where the extra time is likely to equate to a better meal.

2. Stand Mixer

The KitchenAid mixer is one of the best-looking and often-used small appliances in our kitchen. But at $350, it's difficult to justify buying another when it breaks — which ours did. To make matters worse, its warranty had expired long ago.

A Cheaper Alternative

Buy a cheap electric hand mixer and use your own bowl to mix things. It won't be as easy to use as a stand mixer, but it's less likely to break. And it takes up a lot less space in your kitchen.

3. Immersion Blender

At $100, an immersion blender is an expensive way to make squash soup or other dishes that need to be crushed or blended while cooking. We have one, though it rarely gets use. It sits so far back in a cupboard that it's often forgotten about.

A Cheaper Alternative

Crush items with a big, wooden spoon while cooking in a pot, or pour them into a blender.

4. Deep Fryer

I'm not a big fan of deep-fried food, and cooking it at home seems messy. But if you like to deep-dry, spending $60 to $120 on a small fryer for the kitchen can sound like a deal — until it breaks or you find you barely ever use it.

A Cheaper Alternative

Take a frying pan, add half an inch or less of cooking oil, and you've got a simple deep fryer. Or find a recipe to make fried chicken or onion rings in your oven.

5. Ice Cream Maker

Homemade ice cream is one of the most delicious treats. A quality ice cream maker is about $200, which may sound like a deal, but chances are you actually won't use it often enough to justify the cost or the amount of space it takes up.

A Cheaper Alternative

Make ice cream by hand. One effective DIY method involves beating an ice cream base in a bowl over ice. Like many alternatives, this takes more time, but should pay off in taste.

6. Contact Grill/Griddles

I have nothing against George Foreman and his popular grills that sell for $18 to $100. I've never used one and can only assume they work great. But it's another device to clean, and odds are you already have other pans at home that will do the same job.

A Cheaper Alternative

Make a crispy panini right in a pan on the stove using a smaller lid as a press. You can use that pan for anything else a contact grill or griddle can make.

7. Electric Juicer

Fresh-squeezed orange juice in the morning is one of the best ways to start the day. An electric juicer, however, is an often-forgotten kitchen appliance that is probably bought with the best of intentions, but never fully utilized.

A Cheaper Alternative

A handheld juicer is a few dollars, and takes up a lot less space than most electric ones.

8. Vacuum Sealer

Some food can break down quicker when introduced to air — steak, coffee, and dried fruit, among others — and a vacuum sealer can solve that problem by sealing it in an airtight bag for the freezer. But at $100 or so, a vacuum sealer can be a waste of money if you don't use it very often.

A Cheaper Alternative

Buy freezer bags and squeeze as much air out as you can when using them. And don't buy so much food that you need a vacuum sealer to begin with.

9. Electric Slicer

An electric slicer is a must-have for a butcher. But are you really slicing that much meat at home?

A Cheaper Alternative

Use a sharp knife you already have.

10. Dehydrator

A dehydrator is useful if you want to make beef jerky or dried fruits and vegetables. But again, as with too many small kitchen appliances, is this something you really plan on using often?

A Cheaper Alternative

Dry fruit in your oven. Or buy it that way at the grocery store.

11. Stovetop Smoker

Smoking meat in your kitchen sounds like a good idea. For around $60, a stovetop smoking pan provides an easy way to get this great flavor in homemade meals, but again — more often than not, it will sit unused.

A Cheaper Alternative

Cook on your backyard grill, or make your own stovetop smoker with a roasting pan or stockpot, metal steaming tray, and aluminum foil.

12. Multi-Steamer

At $30, a multi-steamer to cook vegetables is a relatively inexpensive tool. But the hassle of using one means that often times, you simply won't.

A Cheaper Alternative

Steam with a conventional pot you have at home, or use a microwave oven.

13. Tea Kettle

I used to drink hot tea often, and thought it was quaint to have a tea kettle that would make a whistling sound when the water was hot. This was great until I discovered that in my small kitchen, the kettle took up a premium spot on the stove and water deposits in the kettle made it worthless after a while.

A Cheaper Alternative

Boil water on the stove or in the microwave.

What other kitchen gadgets are a waste of counter space?

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Guest's picture
Doug

Nice list but I have to disagree with the bread maker and immersion blender.

Our bread machine gets used a lot, mostly for dough so that we can make things like homemade pizza without needing to spend several hours kneading etc.

Our immersion blender gets used WAY more that our counter top blender, soups especially (using it in a crock pot soup makes things so much simpler than needing to try and put 6 quarts of soup into a blender).
We have one that comes apart so the bottom goes into the dishwasher and it is kept very handy.

We also use our George grill for panini and it is way simpler to pull the grates off and throw them in the dishwasher than to get out 2 pans, heat them both to the point they will grill and get a good crisp sandwich, not to mention it does 2 at a time so in about 11 minutes (5 minutes per cycle, 1 minute to heat back up) I can make dinner for 4 once everything is prepped.

YMMV but I would spend the $$$ on those again in a heartbeat.

Guest's picture
ii

I don't agree with your assessment of the immersion blender - if one cooks and eats soups or makes dips and humus frequently, it gets used A LOT. Mine also has whisk and chopper attachments and is used to mince meat, turn nuts or millet or oats into meal/flour. It's the one small kitchen appliance I'll always own. I do cook 90% of all my meals so not everyone may feel the same.

Another favorite is the electric tea kettle - I drink french press coffee and tea/infusions daily, I use it to heat or boil water for pasta or steaming vegetables as it's faster (and I hope more energy efficient) than waiting for a pot of water to boil on the stove.

I do agree on the ice cream maker. A gift wasted on me.

Guest's picture
Guest

Strange list. Who gets rid of a stand up mixer? I wonder if you can go to a bakery and find hand mixers.

Guest's picture
Beau

What's your take on toaster ovens?

Guest's picture
Guest

Can't disagree more about the immersion blender. I use it for soups, gravy, sauces, among other things and it is invaluable. It is my favorite kitchen tool.
Plus it's so easy to clean.

Guest's picture
Guest

What utter claptrap this pointless article is! Different people will make very different use of kitchen equipment to suit there own needs. I use many of these items week in, week out with great results (and the only serious issues I have had with reliability has been with hand blenders!). So what does that prove? Just that my experiences are different to yours.

Guest's picture
Mom Good

I use my bread machine weekly. It is more than 10 years old. I would definitely replace it. I also have a food processor and a blender that I use regularly. Most meals are cooked from scratch. So for me those items would be a must have small appliance.

Guest's picture
Bargnhtress

This was obviously written by someone who rarely cooks.

Guest's picture
Christie

How in the world did your Kitchen Aid Mixer die? Mine has fallen off my countertop while working (TWICE!) and is still trucking on...