Making quick healthy meals is way easier when your kitchen is prepared! These are our favorite kitchen appliances that make cooking easier. Don’t stuff your cabinets with gadgets you’ll never touch. We use these at least once per week!
Should I buy new appliances?
There are so many appliances available secondhand at thrift stores or on Facebook Marketplace. When people are decluttering or moving, kitchen gadgets are often the first to go!
You really do not need to buy new kitchen appliances. Instead, check these spots:
- Thrift stores
- Facebook Marketplace
- Your neighborhood Facebook page
- Post on Facebook asking if people have ____ they aren’t using
If you can’t find the item used, consider going without it for a while or try to invest in the best quality product you can afford. See my tips for buying new items here.
We try not to use Amazon, but these are Amazon links. Sometimes we use Amazon just to see reviews and then shop elsewhere.
5 Must-Have Kitchen Appliances that Make Cooking Easier
1. Air Fryer
An air fryer is a medium-sized appliance that sits on your counter and “fries” food by circulating warm air around it for an extended period of time. It works like the convection feature of your oven.
Is an air fryer worth it?
We actually won ours at a family white elephant gift exchange! We had ZERO plans to buy an air fryer and were a little snobby about it. Why would this be better than an oven on convection mode??
In reality, we use ours almost daily. It is so convenient for preparing potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, chicken wings, etc. The food is always cooked perfectly and crispy on the outside. This was a game-changing product for us!
Plus, you’ll use less energy than you would be heating up your whole oven. Try to get a food processor without nonstick coatings.
We recently upgraded to a Ninja Foodi air fryer because it was so versatile. It can work as an air fryer or convection oven. Ours has a sear plate for the best quesadillas, it can make toast, and it even flips up for a low footprint.
Best part? It doesn’t smell like hot plastic when we use it!
2. Instant Pot
An Instant Pot is a multi-purpose kitchen appliance that allows you to sautee, slow cook, and pressure cook at the same time.
Is Instant Pot worth it?
Our Instant Pot shows up on the counter frequently. It is a gem for easy healthy dinners!
We especially love it for cooking entire frozen chickens until they are falling apart with just 45 minutes of pressure.
It’s great for making one-pot dishes, too. You could totally use it to make our veggie-packed marinara bowl!
You can even bake in your Instant Pot or culture yogurt. They’re seriously handy!
We actually have one last for about 8 years before dying and we immediately replaced it. Definitely a must-have!
3. Food Processor
A food processor is one of the best kitchen appliances that make cooking easier! Basically, it has a container with a large blade that spins. As the blade spins, it chops the items in the container into smaller and smaller pieces.
I used to think food processors were just for hummus or salsa until I helped a local woman make pickles! I had no idea how handy they were for shredding and slicing items. Simply remove the main blade and insert the shredding attachment at the top of the bowl. As you feed items into the chute, they’ll either be shredded or sliced.
Ways to use food processors:
- Shredding cheese to ditch the plastic pouches
- Shredding zucchini for zucchini pizza
- Making pesto
- Chopping larger vegetables
- Making vegetable rice (cauliflower or broccoli)
- Shredding cabbage for coleslaw or sauerkraut
- Making hummus (cook the chickpeas in the Instant Pot!)
- Prepping pie crusts or biscuit dough
Especially if you are busy or if you have mobility issues, a good food processor can simplify cooking from scratch significantly.
4. Rice Cooker
A rice cooker allows you to add rice and water into the bowl, press cook, and have fresh, perfectly cooked rice shortly after.
Do you really need a rice cooker?
I was gifted a small rice cooker years and years ago. We didn’t eat a lot of rice growing up, so I’d never had one before.
A rice cooker makes cooking rice so much easier. I almost never recommend single-purpose gadgets like this, but we use ours sometimes every day.
We can cook brown rice, white rice, jasmine rice, etc with no problems. Simply follow the right proportions and you’ll get perfect rice!
I prefer the rice cooker over cooking rice in the Instant Pot as that didn’t turn out as consistently for me. Plus, I sometimes need the Instant Pot for the dish I want to serve on top of the rice.
Plus, my rice cooker cooks rice faster than cooking it on the stovetop! We usually have a pot of brown rice in 25-30 minutes. On the stove, it sometimes takes closer to 45 minutes.
5. Slow Cooker
A slow cooker allows you to cook a dish at a lower (but safe) temperature for a longer amount of time, making it ideal for busy parents who want to have dinner ready when they get home at night.
Do I really need a Crock Pot?
Now that Instant Pots are so prevalent, many of us already have an item in our kitchens capable of slow cooking. Are they still one of the very best kitchen appliances that make cooking easier?
I will admit that I use mine less than I used to, and I even considered eliminating it from this list. However, there are times when I do use my slow cooker instead of my Instant Pot. My slow cooker has a larger capacity than my Instant Pot, so your reasons may differ!
- Large batches of baked beans or ribs
- Heating up dishes for potlucks or barbecues when my Instant Pot is full
- Slow cooking chicken or turkey bones for stock
- Cooking a roast or other cut
In a nutshell, I use mine when the items exceed the capacity of my Instant Pot, when the Instant Pot is being used, or if I have something like a roast that really benefits from a long, slow cook.
Are there any other kitchen tools you think we should have?
We have two half sheet trays that are in rotation for everything from baking cookies, roasting vegetables, roasting meats, etc. I didn’t grow up with sheet trays although my husband did, and I had no idea how handy they would be! The shallow sides allow moisture to evaporate faster so this is a way better solution than a baking dish for a lot of recipes.
Be sure to avoid the nonstick trays as they usually contain Teflon. Just get the regular aluminum ones and use parchment paper or silicone tray liners!
A good knife
One good chef’s knife can be used in so many ways in the kitchen! You can skip the food processor entirely and simply use your favorite chef’s knife.
Since my husband went through a culinary program, we have way more knives than any normal person might need. I do recommend having one or two knives so that if you’re cutting up raw meat and need to cut vegetables, you don’t need to wash the knife in-between.
We have one fancy Japanese knife and probably 4-5 (more?) of these plastic-handled knives that last forever. Check your thrift store for one!
We recommend avoiding nonstick surfaces as those can release harmful chemicals. We use stainless steel and cast iron exclusively!
Plus, cast iron and stainless steel pans should last forever. Buy pans without plastic parts that may wear or crack. Our stainless steel pans have metal handles that don’t get hot. We always touch the cast iron handle carefully before we pick it up, but it’s rarely too hot to hold. If it is, we use a potholder.
Out of the two options, we find cast iron to be our favorite! It’s so versatile and we rarely have any issues with sticking. Learn how to make stainless steel nonstick here.
Want to know more about cooking from scratch?
What are the best kitchen appliances that make cooking easier?
Do you have a recommendation for an appliance or tool we missed? Share it in the comments!