We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. The LA Times newsroom or editorial staff was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more

Small Kitchen Appliances

  • It used to be the only way to cook rice was pour it in a pot, add the correct amount of water, and pray. Not enough cooking time and the rice was hard and crunchy. Too much cooking time and the rice ended up gummy. Getting perfect cooked rice depended more on luck than anything so companies began manufacturing automatic rice cookers to give you the perfect pot of rice every time. They do this by supplying the correct amount of heat over the correct amount of time, thereby eliminating the guesswork.All of the best rice cookers in 2021 on this list were chosen because they provide quality rice with the perfect texture every time, meaning no browning or undercooking. These are also the most efficient rice makers, meaning they’ll cook your rice faster than other options out there. These units are also easy to clean thanks to all having removable rice cooking bowls and can be damp wiped for cleaning. Lastly, all of these rice makers will feature a minimum 1 year limited warranty from the manufacturer unless otherwise specified within the description.There is some concern in the cooking industry that rice cookers which use non-stick Teflon that may leach chemicals into the cooked rice. If you want to avoid Teflon, we have also featured some stainless steel options which will be highlighted in the appropriate reviews
    May 29, 2015
  • Slow cookers have been around for centuries, but not quite the way we envision them. Back in the day, a simmering cast iron pot full of food was the best way to tenderize tough meat. Later on, purpose-made Dutch ovens were all the rage with their capacious pot-like bottoms and high-hat tops. You could effectively say these were the first modern version of a slow cooker. They could cook enough food for a very large family and as long as the stove top was kept heated, they would keep on cooking. Slow cookers also go by the name of crock pots. These units are self contained with either a built-in heating unit that surrounds the entire crock or a heated base the crock rests on. They all heat up to a minimum of 200 degrees with some heating higher for faster cooking but even the lowest temperature is easily hot enough to kill salmonella bacteria.Since slow cookers are considered family cookers, these selections of the best slow cookers in 2021 will have at least a 4 quart capacity since the larger the crock, the more efficient it cooks since less heat is lost over the long run. This occurs because more ingredients inside store heat instead of releasing it. Smaller crocks bleed heat, so they run longer on the heating cycle and waste energy to compensate. Each of these slow cookers will give you a superior cooking ability since they evenly heat your food and maintain a precise temperature throughout, and all of the crocks themselves will be removable unlike outdated designs where the base and crock is one solid unit.  Lastly, all of these slow cookers will feature a minimum one year, limited manufacturer’s warranty, unless otherwise stated in the description,
    May 27, 2015
  • The main benefit of a freestanding or countertop water cooler is the convenience of having cold drinking water when you want it, without the fuss of remembering to keep water bottles or pitchers in the fridge. It’s especially useful if you live in a hot climate where ground water can be quite warm out of the tap. It can also save you money if you pay for metered water, since there's no need to run the tap for several minutes waiting for cold water.A water cooler dispenser is not a purifier or filtration system though there are some models (none on this list however) that include filtration features. Their primary function is to dispense chilled and hot water. Dispensed water temperature can also vary, depending largely on the size of the compressor or type of refrigeration used.We've chosen the best water cooler dispensers in 2021 that reliably and consistently dispense both hot and cold water, while being simple to set up and maintain. These models are also quiet when operating, except for a faint hum from the condenser or the occasional bubble of water in the bottle. These quality water cooler dispenser promise consistently good water flow to quickly fill up a cup or bottle, in addition to also having drip-free systems so there's less waste and cleanup required.
    May 14, 2015
  • Conventional hot plates are traditionally made from a cast-iron plate which heats up using electricity. While this durable design is very effective, it can be rather slow to heat up and inconsistent at maintaining precise temperatures preferred by serious cooks. While nduction burners are generally more expensive, but they're capable of fast, precise heat without heating up the cooktop surface. However, induction technology requires the use of specific cookware and will not work with glass, ceramic, or copper materials. Induction burners can also be noisy due to their internal cooling fan, but there's no denying they cook food quickly and consistently.These picks for the best hot plates in 2021 are varied, but they all offer the convenience of a single burner that can be used as a supplementary, emergency, or portable burner. These selections are able to perform essential tasks such as boiling water in a reasonably fast amount of time, and are built with durable materials for long lasting performance.
    April 14, 2015
  • Waffle irons mold the waffles as the batter flows and when heat is applied, the batter hardens into a crisp and delicious artistic pancake. There are many styles and types of waffles, some specific to their original country, but the electric waffle irons here will all be capable of making standard square or round waffles and they’ll all have a non-stick coating for ease of waffle extraction.All of the units on the list of best waffle irons in 2021 were also chosen because they’re easy to use and maintain, allowing you to capture the art of making waffles. You'll have to choose a style or particular type that works best for you or your kitchen setting, but each of these picks will turn out quality waffles. However, if you use lower quality ingredients or the ingredients aren’t mixed correctly, you will get inferior waffles regardless of which waffle iron you employ.
    February 25, 2015
  • Kitchen trends come and go, but certain appliances like the microwave have made an indelible mark on American culinary culture. The best microwave ovens in 2021 range from basic, no-frills appliances to feature-heavy models boasting convenient features and cooking options. The following lists will help you narrow down your options based on cooking needs, available space, and budget. You'll also find a microwave oven buyer’s guide below to help you with your purchasing decision.  
    February 04, 2015
  • Manual can openers are the most basic tools to open up a tin can. Virtually any metal tipped tool will work, from a screwdriver to a hacksaw to a dull thick knife, but those would only be acceptable when absolutely nothing else was available or you were in a survival situation. All manual can openers have to incorporate some type of blade to pierce the metal of the can. Once that is done, it has to be capable of following the edge until the top, or the lid has been removed. This is the action that makes a can opener successful.Every can opener we've chosen for the best can openers in 2021 list will be manufactured solid and sturdy enough to open the tops of multiple cans over the course of weeks, months and years. That might sound strange, but lesser can openers may only work one or two times before they dull or break, making them useless. These picks will also be easy to use so that you can snap or place them onto a can and open it up forthwith, with no guesswork and no hassle. Plus, each of them will be ergonomically designed for maximum leverage to open up a can as quickly and easy as possible.
    November 21, 2014
  • Baking bread at home is an exciting and rewarding task, but it can also be quite time consuming, labor-intensive, and challenging. A quality bread machine helps to alleviate the effort that goes into the bread making process, allowing you to enjoy fresh homemade loaves at any time with minimal effort and frustration. We've narrowed down the best bread makers in 2021 on the market, ranging from basic and budget-friendly up to feature-laden investments that you'll want to hang on to for a while.
    November 21, 2014
  • Ice cream has been a decadent dessert loved by people all over the world for centuries. Originally ice cream was created using what was called the pot method, a very hard concept to create a large batch of this decadent dessert. All this changed when a brilliant inventor named, Nancy M. Johnson of Philadelphia, patented the first ice cream maker.  This invention called the 'artificial freezer' had the basic elements of what we still use today, including a tub, a cylinder, a lid, a dasher, and of course a crank.  New innovated technology keeps advancing all of the time, and this helps all of us who adore this delicious creamy dessert. The newest Ice cream machines boasts features that take the work out of making ice cream. So whether you want to make ice-cream the old fashioned way like grandma, or you prefer the machine to crank it for you, either is not a problem. There are even machines out there which are designed to allow you to do both. The best ice cream makers in 2021 from this review are dedicated to highlight the machines with the best features, so you can decide what ice cream machine is right for you. 
    October 29, 2014
  • Food processors are kitchen appliances which simplify repetitive tasks when preparing food. Most of these units offer innovative features which enhance their ability to do multiple tasks, using only one machine, with various blades. Most machines have wide yet short bowls that are created to keep the processed food within the dish. Unlike blenders, which are similar to food processors, you can cut, chop, grate, or puree various foods without adding any type of liquid. Food processors like many of today's appliances are advancing all the time. Knowing what features make a machine exceptional, is vital when purchasing such an essential machine for your home. All of the best food processor in 2021 that's on our lists boast the latest features and are dedicated to being easy to use and maintain.
    October 29, 2014
  • Theater style popcorn is in a class all its own. No microwave or air popped corn is capable of reproducing that special flavor which also has as much to do with the sight of a nostalgic unit and smell of hot oil too. In order to capture that unique flavor you must have the right style of popcorn maker that looks like it came out of a theater to give you the sensation of being there.All of the best popcorn poppers in 2021 that are on this list are designed to create this unique and delicious treat in the comfort of your own home or even small business/theater. These selections all have the appearance of a theater-style popcorn maker, meaning they’ll look like a large box with glass panels on each side, an electric heating element beneath the popping kettle, a handle to spill the contents into the bottom of a box, and a large doorway to scoop the popcorn out once it is popped.Each of these picks will require minor assembly such as putting the door panels on and mounting the kettle in the machine, so a little do-it-yourself skill is required to put them together. Fortunately, they will all include oil and a popcorn measuring scoop.As with the popcorn popper, the amount of popped popcorn will greatly depend on the quality of the kernels. Different brands of kernels may work better than others, so if you’re not satisfied with the results of your machine, always try a different brand of popcorn and compare the results.
    October 29, 2014
  • Espresso dates to 1884, when Angelo Moriondo is believed to have patented the first espresso machine. It was later improved in 1901 by Luigi Bezzera, and then by Desiderio Pavoni, who founded the firm La Pavoni and began the first mass production of espresso machines.Espresso has become more and more popular in recent years all over the world, due in part to the rise of many popular coffee chains that sell tasty espresso. Espresso is produced by the forcing of hot water under high pressure through specially ground, dark roasted coffee. True espresso is very highly concentrated and almost has a sort of a syrup-like consistency to it. It is a real delight to coffee lovers, when properly made. Fortunately, espresso makers are becoming very common and the prices are dropping. You can get a really quality cup of espresso without breaking the budget (but at the same time, you get what you pay for!).Our best lists for espresso machines in 2021 include a wide variety of excellent products depending upon your budget. They include best stovetop espresso maker, best manual espresso machine, best semi-automatic espresso machine and best automatic espresso machine. We took great care in judging the quality of the various espresso machines, keeping in mind that to judge the quality of the espresso based upon the general price range of that particular line of products.
    October 28, 2014
  • Coffee has played a very important role in human societies for hundreds of years. The earliest known evidence of people drinking coffee dates to the mid-1400s in the shrines of Yemen. From that point, coffee drinking spread out to India, to Italy, and then into Europe and the Americas.These days, a coffee maker is as important an appliance in many kitchens as a refrigerator or oven. However, there are thousands of them on the market, so it can be a challenge to determine which one you should buy.We narrowed down our picks after many hours of research and many cups of coffee with the best coffee makers in 2021. Each of these coffee makers represent high-quality devices that can be counted on to produce great coffee reliably.
    October 28, 2014
  • In this fast-paced world, we’ve come to rely on appliances like toaster ovens which fit into our fast-paced lifestyles. The best toaster ovens of 2021 are an ideal appliance for taking take some of the hustle and bustle out of food preparation. These nifty little contraptions allow you to quickly and easily create small meals or snacks without heating up a conventional oven, and energy-wise they cost far less to use as well. Some even feature built-in rotisseries and grills for an all-in-one cooking and baking unit residing on your counter top. To that end, most toaster ovens can be stored easily if countertop space is an issue.Like most appliances designed for convenience, there are many makes and models to choose from. When searching for a toaster oven, it’s essential to know which features are absolutely necessary and which ones you can live without. All of these toaster ovens are convenient to use, with such options as selectable temperature controls, removable oven racks, a washable crumb tray, and viewing windows to monitor the progress of the food you’re cooking or toasting. Although you may think that all toaster ovens make great toast, that isn't always the case. We omitted the models that weren't capable of making decent toast; for many people, the main reason to have one of these appliances is the toasting feature. You'll have to choose which model fits your own lifestyle best, but each of these selections is a quality product that will come in handy when you don't need a full-sized oven for cooking or reheating.
    October 28, 2014
  • Looking for a new toaster? Here are the best two- and four-slice options based on performance, features, and value. All the best toasters in 2021 that are on this list will have a toast shade adjustment knob so any style or thickness of bread can be toasted to your satisfaction. To keep you safe, they’ll be wrapped in a heat-resistant shell so you won't burn yourself when touching the toaster, and all have a removable crumb tray for ease of cleaning out the bits and pieces of toasted bread falling to the bottom.Two-slice toasters are the most popular types of toasters available. The concept has always been to be able to put in a couple of slices of bread, push the handle down, and in a few minutes - voila - you'll have perfectly toasted bread. Two slice toasters range from options that are only capable of toasting thin slices of bread, to a multi-function unit accommodating bagels, artisan breads, and muffins.Four-slice toasters are perfect for the household which wants toast and wants a lot of it. These appliances are bigger, take up more space, and use more electricity than their two-slice cousins. However, the convenience to make twice as much toast in the same amount of time outweighs these disadvantages, making them just as viable as two-slice toasters over the long run.Each of these toasters will evenly brown the bread, regardless of the setting; after all, first and foremost, the best toasters must make the best toast.
    October 28, 2014
  • A countertop water distiller can be a priceless item to have when traveling, or simply for use at home for those who value the utmost purity from their water. These water distillers boil the water to distill it using steam, and then typically pass the water through a filter to further remove any impurities.Although water distillers tend to be fairly pricey, we've selected models striking a good balance between performance and price. We examined build quality to ensure our picks will be durable and some of our selections even feature a distillation process where water doesn’t come into contact with any plastic.While added features are less important, the following best countertop water distillers in 2021 have useful touches such pre-programmed filtration, so you can wake up in the morning to clean water. Finally, each of our picks are easy to use, with little to no assembly or installation required.
    October 22, 2014
  • A blender has been a staple of the kitchen for decades. Although they have been partially supplanted by modern food processors, a blender is still a kitchen essential.Our best blenders in 2021 picks will appeal to you, whether you are looking for a luxury blender to blend drinks, a budget blender for basic kitchen tasks, or an immersion blender to use in the cooking pot. All of our chosen blenders were selected for performance, value and reliability.
    June 16, 2014
  • Since the early 1900's both hand and stand mixers have become a vital appliance for the kitchen. Most time spent in the kitchen is in the preparation of food, and this is where owning a quality mixer can make a big difference. Good quality mixers are designed to allow even the novice cook prepare delicious homemade meals with minimal work. Choosing the proper mixer whether it is a portable hand mixer or a deluxe stand mixer really depends on how much you're going to use it. These practical kitchen appliances come in many varieties, and some even boast very high-tech features. Our best mixers in 2021 lists are dedicated to simplifying the process of choosing a stand or hand mixer for your kitchen.
    October 15, 2013
  • Studies show that most American's do not consume enough fruits and vegetables in our daily diets. The vitamins and minerals contained within organic produce are essential to our health. Juicers are designed to help individuals create delicious home-made juice which contains all the nutrition we need to flourish. Unlike store purchased juice, home-made juice doesn't contain additives which can be harmful to our health. Juicing machines come in many varieties, with many innovative features. Depending on what you like, it is possible that a simple citrus juicer maybe the perfect fit. Now if you enjoy various fruits and vegetables, then purchasing a more advanced juicing machine may be beneficial to you. All of the best juicers in 2021 on our lists are dedicated to making your purchase of a high-quality juicer easier. Each machine chosen boasts the best features and are easy to use and maintain.
    October 15, 2013