7 Kitchen Appliances That Are Worth The Counter Space

Chefs and nutritionists reveal which investments they rely on to make their healthy meals, from stand mixers to Vitamixes.
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Just as soon as you finally discard another rarely used appliance (goodbye, George Foreman grill), it seems as though another “must have” is showing up in the kitchen (hello, air fryer). But smart home cooks know that the mark of a truly worthwhile appliance is one that provides solid value in exchange for both its cost and the amount of real estate it takes up in the kitchen. Sure, a lot of appliances are fun for a few uses, but are they truly counter-worthy?

We talked to people who do a lot of home cooking to find out what appliances are always on their counter. Here are some of their top picks:

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1
A Cuisinart food processor
Chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell told HuffPost that working in a commercial kitchen helped her realize how necessary a food processor can be for someone who’s cooking a lot. “I’m still old-school and use a knife for slicing, but the Cuisinart is essential for pureeing or shredding,” she told HuffPost.

Chef Rossi, owner and executive chef of New York caterer The Raging Skillet, bestowed loving nicknames on her two models. “I call the 14-cup Cuisinart food processor my esposa, which is Spanish for wife, and I lovingly refer to the 7-cup Cuisinart food processor as my esposo, which is Spanish for husband,” she told HuffPost. The rationale? “In this sexist world, I like giving the more powerful job to a lady,” she explained.

The value of the appliances is clear to the chef: “If I had to do the math, I’d have to say these food processors have given me back at least three years of my life. You can take away most appliances in my kitchen and I will survive, but don’t go near my esposa or my esposo, because we’re family.”

Get the 14-cup Cuisinart food processor for $249.99.

Get the 7-cup Cuisinart food processor for $128.15.
2
A rice cooker
John Sugimura, chef and owner of Minneapolis’ PinKU Japanese Street Food restaurant, has fine-tuned the tools and appliances he really needs to stock in his kitchen. “I like things that are inexpensive and don’t require a warranty or the need for a service person to do repairs,” he told HuffPost. “But there still are some indispensable things I truly need to help me put one foot in front of the other.”

His Zojirushi rice cooker is a top pick. “It lets me prepare a lot of rice at one time, but with the kind of high quality that would make my grandmother proud,” he said. Sugimura has found multiple uses for his cooker, including using it to steam a full head of cabbage stuffed with a whole white onion. “I cut it like a pie and drench it with warm Green Goddess dressing, and it delivers pure pleasure every time.”

In her home kitchen, registered dietitian nutritionist Sharon Palmer uses a Hamilton Beach rice cooker that’s served her well for 15 years. “I can’t live without my rice cooker,” she told HuffPost. “I use it to make not just brown rice, but whole grains like farro, wheat berries, sorghum and barley. It’s easy to use, never burns the grains and takes up only about as much room as a medium-sized pot.”

Get a 10-cup Zojirushi rice maker for $202.77.

Get an 8-cup Hamilton Beach rice cooker for $29.99.
3
A KitchenAid stand mixer
This kitchen workhorse was named by several experts. RDN Vicki Shanta Retelny told HuffPost, “I can’t live without that mixer. I use it for cookie batter, pancakes, quick breads, soups and sauces.” RDN Sara Haas sang its praises, starting with aesthetics: “It’s beautiful — like a work of art,” she told HuffPost. “I make a lot of baked goods like cookies, cakes, brownies, breads and pizzas, and I use my mixer every time. It’s simple to use, easy to clean, and it’s never failed me.” Palmer said her KitchenAid is a “must” on her kitchen counter. “It’s great for making bread, dough, aquafaba and batter. I just turn it on, let the mixer do the work and walk away.”

Get a KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus Series 5-quart stand mixer for $429.99.
4
A Vitamix blender
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“I asked for this for a Christmas gift five years ago, and it has made such a difference compared to a standard blender,” Palmer said. “It can puree difficult, tough ingredients — like pomegranate seeds for my smoothies. And it makes velvety creamy hummus, pureed soups and things like pesto, which sometimes can be harder to blend in a less-powerful blender.”

Registered dietitian Marissa Meshulam appreciates how the Vitamix can help anyone create more nourishing food. “It’s a great way to incorporate good nutrition to your meals, as it can blend anything amazingly well.”

Get a Vitamix professional-grade blender for $435.21.
5
A milk frother
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“My milk frother is a non-negotiable for me,” Meshulam said. “It gives coffee-shop quality to all my made-at-home coffee. I love that it can do both hot and cold froth. Plus, when coffee at home tastes this good, I’m less likely to spend money daily at a coffee shop. It is a win in my book.”

Get a Bodum milk frother for $30.46.
6
A Ninja Foodi digital air fryer oven
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RDN Andrea Mathis loves the multi-function capability of this appliance. “It can bake, air fry, toast and so much more,” she told HuffPost. “On busy weeknights, I’m able to quickly air fry a few pieces of salmon and bake a variety of veggies for my family.” Now that she has this appliance, she’s removed her toaster and air fryer from her kitchen countertop. “It’s definitely worth the investment,” she said.

Get a Ninja Foodi oven for $209.99.
7
A Kenyon city grill
Kenyon
“It’s definitely not inexpensive, but I absolutely love my Kenyon City Grill,” RDN Amy Gorin told HuffPost. “The countertop grill means I never have to go outside to grill if I don’t want to, and I can eat burgers and grilled veggies year-round. Plus, it’s been really fun to experiment with grilling more unexpected foods, such as salmon, tofu and pineapple. I can also easily whip up recipes like grilled asparagus and grilled balsamic peaches.”

Get the Kenyon City Grill for $475.
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