How to Make the Most Out of These 6 Kitchen Gadgets


If you're running a more minimalist kitchen — or even if you aren't — you may be wondering which small appliances are worth keeping around. Or maybe you're planning your wedding registry and want to know what should you include on your list. You've seen everything from bread makers to ice cream machines to margarita blenders on the shelves at your local shop. Single-task appliances may not seem like a smart buy, but you need to consider that not all all of them perform only one task.

Here's the lowdown on kitchen appliances that every kitchen should include, and how to make the most of each one.

1. Blender

We took the plunge last fall and bought a NutriBullet blender. I sincerely believe that a blender is an appliance no kitchen should be without. Beyond smoothies, you can blend together soups, sauces, condiments, and even baby food. And you can also make milkshakes, banana ice cream, and even peanut butter.

Yes! You can make peanut butter in a blender. It's best if you use a heavy duty blender that can grind up the peanuts. Simply pour in your desired amount of dry-roasted peanuts, salt, and sugar. Then blend on the highest setting until smooth. (See also: 15 Creative, Delicious Things You Can Make in a Blender)

2. Waffle maker

We use our waffle maker almost every single day. First, we like waffles. I even make my own mix so we can easily whisk it with water and get it cooking in just a few minutes flat. We also use our waffle maker as a panini press to make delicious sandwiches. I mean, this little appliance cost us just $17.00 and we use it often enough to keep it out on the counter.

What else can you make with a waffle maker? Pizza, cake, brownies, quesadillas, and the list goes on. (See also: 15 Delicious Foods to Try in Your Waffle Maker)

3. Slow cooker

I own a slow cooker that also cooks rice and steams veggies. Still, I don't think I need to elaborate much on the merits of owning a crock pot. It can be your best friend in the kitchen. It can be your tool to making dinners a breeze. It may even be your key to keeping your grocery budget low.

How? There are countless recipes online for vegetarians and carnivores alike. If you can dream it, you can likely make it in a slow cooker. Toss the ingredients in the pot, set the timer, and sit back. The rest of the work is done for you. (See also: 7 Tricks to Get More Out of Your Slow Cooker)

4. Instant Pot

If you want to go an extra step, you can get an Instant Pot. This multifunctional pressure cooker is extremely popular with my meat-eating friends. It can cook up a pot roast in as little as 20 minutes. Not only that, it also does the work of seven — yes seven — appliances. It functions as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute/browning device, yogurt maker, steamer, and a warmer.

The Instant Pot basically cooks everything — and fast. Trying to decide between a slow cooker and this device? Consider what you'll be cooking. If you don't need the 7-in-1 functionality, you may be able to get away with a traditional crock pot. If you do a variety of cooking — especially things like meats, dry beans, and other tough stuff — the instant pot may be the kitchen tool of your dreams. (See also: 12 Instant Pot Recipes That Will Save You Money)

5. Mixer

You don't need a large stand mixer, even if you bake a lot. I have one, but I don't use it much since I got a hand mixer for a fraction of the price last year. You can do a lot with this handy appliance. My favorite is creaming together butter and sugar for cookie-baking marathons. You can also blend fluffy mashed potatoes, whip up salad dressings, and whisk together eggs for a quiche.

If you want to get even more use out of a hand mixer, consider buying a dough hooks attachment. They'll help knead together anything from dinner rolls to delicate pastas in a flash.

6. Bread machine

Did you know that bread machines make more than just loaves? You can mix and rise dough to bake pretzels, naan, pizza dough, and rolls. You just have to stop the machine before the bake cycle and continue the process in your standard oven. You can even make jam. No, really. This Strawberry Jam comes together in the bread machine. Simply combine chopped strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice, and hit that jam setting you probably hadn't noticed before. (See also: A Beginners Guide to Homemade Bread)

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