7 Kitchen Appliances I Can’t Live Without

Originally posted in 2011. Updated with two of my new favorite appliances.

7 Small Appliances I Can't Live Without
Back in my great grandmother’s day, she could whip up a mouth-watering feast with nothing more than a pot, a cutting board and a decent knife.

These days, however, we are blessed — and sometimes overwhelmed — with every kitchen gadget and appliance imaginable. I try to keep my kitchen streamlined, but there are some kitchen appliances that have become essential to my daily and weekly routine.

Here are the 7 small appliances I can’t live without — or, at least, would really not have to:

#1. Immersion Hand Blender

I love hand immersion blenders for making blended soups. But after melting my plastic-bottomed one in a pot of hot soup, I’ve switched over to the stainless steel kind. If you don’t already have one, the Cuisinart SmartStick Immersion Hand Blender is my #1 recommendation.

I love that the bottom part comes off easily for washing, so I can clean it in a cinch. Having low and high speedings is also handy – and that cup it comes with it pretty awesome, too. I use my blender for lots of different things — everything from salad dressings to homemade mayo to those blended soups.

#2. Cuisinart Food Processor

I’ve done without a food processor for many years, and it’s definitely possible to shred or dice by hand. But, man, is it sure is easier with a food processor. Five years ago, I received a Cuisinart food processor as a Chanukah gift from my dad and stepmom and it’s definitely one of my favorite presents! I make yummy, fresh salads in mine for Shabbat, and finely chop up herbs in a jiffy.

Mine was purchased from Costco, but here’s the same 9-cup Cuisinart model on Amazon. I recommend at least a 9-cup capacity – bigger is better when it comes to a food processor. 

#3. Toaster

Toaster OvenWe don’t have a toaster oven, but an actual push-down-the-bread-and-wait-for-it-to-pop-up toaster. (Or, more often in our case, the waffle or bagel.) For five years, we had a $5 toaster from Big Lots. We finally had to retire it to the appliance graveyard when we moved to Ohio, but we got a new one from Bed, Bath & Beyond – for just $15 after a coupon.

This may not seem like that critical of an appliance, but as my husband reminded me, at our house, toaster = breakfast most mornings. Sigh. We still haven’t gotten ourselves organized enough to have a proper sit-down breakfast most mornings, so the kiddos often get handed a toaster waffle on their way out the door.

#4. High Power Blender

BlendtecWe saved to splurge on a Blendtec Blender 3.5 years ago. This blender costs more than the rest of the appliances in this post combined.  And yet it’s still on my list!

My husband has a green smoothie every morning for breakfast – and the Blendtec makes it so simple. We’re able to blend frozen and fresh ingredients, with very little water. I also use the blender to make quick and easy desserts: banana “ice cream”, avocado chocolate pudding, and even our yummy lemon strawberry sorbet.  We’ve also made cold and hot soups in our blender. Oh, and salsa!

Our Blendtec was purchased from Costco, but Amazon occasionally has good deals as well.

#5. Bread Machine
Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 12.43.25 PM

As you guys probably already know, we love our bread machine for making challah. Well, technically for mixing, kneading and letting our challah dough rise.

Since bakery challot can cost as much as $5 or $6 each, our bread machine has more than paid for itself in 2.5 years of use. It also saves me an immeasurable amount of time. I wish I was a kneed-by-hand type, but I have to be honest with myself: I’m just not. The bread machine is the only way my family is getting homemade challah every week.

We bought our West End bread machine four years ago, and I’ve been very happy with it. Unfortunately that model is no longer available, but here is the newest version of it – which comes with a 2.5-lb capacity. I make my challah dough with 5-6 cups of flour and that makes two big or three medium size challot.

#6. Keurig

Keurig K40I don’t even drink coffee, and yet I’m putting the Keurig on my list because I love my husband, who does drink coffee! We had a majorly cheap (less than $5), scratch-and-dent coffee maker for years, but then three years ago I WON a Keurig at a blogger’s conference. Talk about lucky!

Having that coffee brewed and ready to go in the morning is a major pick-me-up for my husband – and I enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or Chai tea every now and again, too. As I said, we won ours, but if you are looking for a good deal on a Keurig, stay tuned for Black Friday — Kohl’s or Target always have great Keurig deals.

#7. Crock Pot(s)

3-in-1-crockpotYes, crockpotS. Plural. We have two – one for meat and one for pareve. We make cholent at least a couple of times a month in the winter; and two weeks ago, I forayed into crock pot chicken soup, which I think is a great hot Shabbat lunch option as well. (Find more non-cholent options for Shabbat in my Crock Pot Recipe Exchange.)

I use our pareve slow cooker for everything from tomato sauce to chickpeas. It saves a lot of money to buy dried beans instead of canned and the slow cooker is the easiest way I’ve found to make them.

One Appliance I Could Live Without

I know this is going to be surprising as most people LOVE their KitchenAids. I love mine, too. It’s a real workhorse! It whips up my cookie bars a cinch and is great for making meringues. But… the reality is that I’m not a huge baker, so if I had to pick on appliance I could live without, it would probably be my mixer.

What are your favorite kitchen appliances? Which ones could you live without?


  1. I love your list and agree with everything on it. I own two crockpots too, but they are both for meat because my family can’t agree on chulent. The kids like a heavy traditional meat cholent, and I like one with turkey or chicken, or even vegetarian. I love the idea of having a pareve one for tomato sauce, soups and beans. I think I’m going to invest in a third!!! Do you recommend a particular one?
    I’m also thinking of getting a food processor for Pesach. I have never had one, and it seems like a lot of money for once a year, but BOY would it make my work easier!!! I’ll check out the one you linked to.

    • A food processor for Pesach is SO worth it! I used to have a tiny one for Pesach, but then a couple of years ago invested in a full size one. It has made so much difference in my food prep.

  2. Chavelamomela says

    Although it’s not a “must have” I appreciate the following small appliances in my kitchen (the ones not on your list):

    Toaster OVEN – yes, the full oven variety. Because in addition to toast, it also does a good job with reheating small batches of pizza bagels, blintzes, veggie pancakes (like the Dr. Prager’s kind), and the essential “grilled cheese” (instead of the frying pan). And in the summer when you don’t want to heat up your whole kitchen to bake a hot meal, that’s a really nice thing to have. Plus, the toaster oven can toast thicker bagels, which an old-fashioned toaster just doesn’t do.

    Rice Maker – I keep mine pareve, and its the most fool-proof way to make rice. It cooks it with less water, the grains aren’t sticky, and its a great way to make rice or other grains without fuss – it has an automatic shutoff, so you’ll never overcook the grains. (I make my own sushi sometimes, and this is great then too).

  3. Kathy Lipkin says

    My new Zojirushi rice cooker. Yes, it is very expensive. It is also changing my life. Steel cut oats and water in bowl in evening, punch a button, and voila! steaming, perfect hot oatmeal in the a.m. for whole family. All I do is dish it up. Rice is made at a touch of a switch. But the oatmeal!!!!!!! Ahhhh. Now, I am a Mom Who Cooks a Hot Breakfast!

  4. Last year, my Pesach splurge was a Ninja blender–on sale, of course. I used it as a food processor to turn matzah into all the matzah meal I’d need for the entire year. (Here in Chicago, the grocery stores sell 5lb packages of matzah for $2–what a great loss leader…and what great savings for the rest of the year.)

    Mara, I know you use the co-op, but maybe a trip to Chicago is in order… stores will be stocked one week *before* Purim.

  5. I would have to say my toaster oven. We do use it for toast and waffles, but mostly I use it for my dairy baking/cooking! Since my regular oven is pareve, this is an easy way to make lasagna (and other cheesy pasta), pizza, dairy shepherd’s pie, or anything else dairy. (I sometimes buy very cheap *dairy* cookie and cake mixes, or refrigerated cookie dough, and this is a great way to get the kids cooking, the toaster oven doesn’t seem as dangerous as the real oven.) I’m actually on the lookout for a replacement, since although the oven itself still works, the door broke and we have to rig something up to keep it closed.

    Other than that, we also use our crockpot a lot. A few months ago I bought a second one to use for dairy. I’ve been using it on the days that I work all day, so that we come home to a fully cooked meal.

    • Can’t believe I forgot the bread machine! We’ve put it through a lot. i use it to make challah sometimes, but mostly dinner rolls, pizza dough and breadsticks, and just plain bread (which I bake in the oven in a loaf pan). I usually just use the dough setting. Sometimes I’ll make a real loaf of bread in it or sweet bread.

  6. I try to have as many non-electric appliances as possible, although I have all of your 7 musts except the toaster. We use a toaster oven which is handy as an oven for quick heat-ups that you don’t want to do in the microwave. I guess I’d also put the microwave on the list. One appliance I’ll never have is an electric can opener. I got one once from my mom for Christmas :-(. What a waste of electricity! I guess I should never say never, though. I’ve talked to people with arthritic fingers and, for them, it’s one of the musts.

  7. One exciting non-appliance: Pampered Chef is releasing a manual food processor on March 1. My friend and I (both consultants) are looking into whether it’s usable on Shabbat/Yom Tov…

  8. My new favorite is my electric tea kettle. My good friend, Jan, got me addicted to Teavana last year and I’ve been drinking a TON of loose leaf tea. The electric kettle heats water faster than the microwave and for some reason the water is more evenly heated. It sits on my counter – next to my cuisinart coffee pot and cuisinart food processor. 🙂

  9. Another one I forgot – the pressure cooker. Mine is pareve and I basically use it to cook beans, which we eat weekly. It is great to have beans ready in less than an hour. If I had another one to make fleishig or milchig, I would use it to cook meat or soup. I’m sure I would use it a lot for that.

  10. We love our electric teapot!!! Otherwise we have very few appliances. We do have a food processor (and a second cheap one for Pesach). Where we have splurged is in three pricey sets of knives.

  11. I totally can’t live without my kitchen aid, and i’m dying to get a second one for milchigs. I use the microwave A LOT as well as the toaster oven. I had a bread machine that i inherited and never used, so i gave it away. Definitely the immersion blender and food processor are must haves. And one more that i can’t live without? my cocomotion! I had borrowed one from a friend and decided i did not need it, then another friend gave me one for a bday present, and i decided God was telling me something. I do dring Hot Chocolate a lot, and this makes it so much faster and easier! (I am not a coffee drinker, so this is it for me).

    • galileegirl says

      To use your Kitchen Aid for dairy you just need to buy a second bowl and perhaps new beaters if you don’t want to kasher them between uses.

  12. I love my crock pot and kitchen aid! I just bought an electric griddle using swagbucks- it sounds silly but I am looking forward to being able to make eight pancakes at once (my family loves pancakes on weekends but it takes forever and uses so many pans for five people and that is without guests) and homemade crumpets/english muffins.
    I am saving for an immersion blender and an ice cream maker. My stepson likes ice cream cakes for his birthday and we all like ice cream a little too much in the summer so being able to control what goes in it would be lovely. After that I will replace our blender with something that will actually crush ice.
    I don’t know that I think anything is truly a waste of space if it gets used. That said, I try to have multipurpose gadgets so I will never have an asparagus pot.

  13. of course I could never live without my crockpots. I have one fleishig and one milchig and use both swveral times a month. I make everything in them!

  14. I love the electric kettle, ours just broke, and it is really missed…

    But my most loved item is the Bosch Universal Mixer. I got rid of my KitchenAid and I never use the bread maker. The Bosch can knead up to 5lbs of whole wheat flour without skipping a beat. I love it so much, I make doubles of pizza dough, pita, soft pretzels, of course challah, and bagels. I can’t say enough good things about this machine. It is a little more expensive than the kitchenaid, but I think it is totally worth every penny. I wish someone had told me about it when I got married and I wouldn’t have wasted years on the Kitchenaid.

  15. Oddly enough, my most beloved appliance is a waffle iron. I make waffles for my kids all the time using the Krusteaz whole wheat pancake mix and water. I can make the exact amount that I need. My kids are probably the only ones told, “No, you can’t have cold cereal for breakfast–there is no time. Here, have a homemade waffle instead.”

  16. My rice cooker is incredible. I specifically got the Zojirushi one from Amazon b/c it does a good job on brown rice. Will keep warm and fresh for 3 days (great for yom tovim!). Also make steel cut oats with cinnamon in rice cooker every morning — add more water to make it creamier. You can also make it the night before and it goes to warm status. Just open and serve in the morning! Better than anything I’ve used to make grains — millet, quinoa, etc.

    Now actually looking to get a Persian one as well to make tahdig!

  17. Kitchen Appliances says

    Love my crock pot! I use it at least twice a week, so convenient for making large meals without having to stand over the stove for hours.

  18. Ive never seen a crock pot like that… what is it?

    • Mara Strom says

      I’m not sure if they are still making it, Shifra, as I haven’t seen it for sale in a long time. It has three “crocks” – 2, 4 and 6Qt. It’s great for a huge cholent or a small roast. Love it! If I see it available online, I will for sure post it!

  19. We’re vegetarians, so my kitchen is basically all dairy. I do have a small selection of parve cooking items that I use to make things to take for fleishig potluck dinners. Up until recently, I would have had my bread machine on my list of essentials, but since I’ve discovered no-knead challah, I’ve quit using it entirely. It’s probably going to Goodwill. My greatest love is my immersion blender, especially in the winter when I make soups all the time. I would add my rice cooker and my digital food scale to this list. If you bake a lot, weighing beats measuring for consistent quality every time.

  20. I really wish people would consider the environmental consequences of using a Keurig. I get the appeal, but we can do better. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/the-abominable-k-cup-coffee-pod-environment-problem/386501/

  21. The link for the bread maker leads to an immersion blender. Is there a better link?

    I love appliances and did even before arthritis made it difficult to do many actions by hand. Now my appliances are more precious than ever.

    I have had my Kitchen Aid mixer for over twenty years and could not do without it. The same for my food processor. My rice maker is constantly used (I have two – one parve and one meat). I use my crock pot for yummy soup and even for brisket. My Nutra-Bullet pulverizes all. I have two Magic Bullets and a Ninja. I make all of my own salad dressings, I grind all nuts for recipes. I toast and reheat in the toaster oven. The immersion blender works well for soup blending. Hubby likes the Keurig, though as a picky tea drinker, I could do without it. I love my appliances and use them constantly.

  22. Many of your items are on my can’t-do-without list also…but the question is…how do I streamline my kitchen when I feel like I need two or three of each thing so that I have equal ease whether I’m making a meat, dairy or parve meal?!

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