Handy helpers: all you need to know about countertop appliances

Countertop Appliances Kitchen Aid Candy Apple Red tilt-head stand mixer

No matter your kitchen layout or how much (and what) you actually cook, there’s one thing they all have in common: countertop appliances. In fact, more of us are looking to buy one – or more – of these handy helpers to make our busy lives easier and help with our culinary adventures.

And I’m no exception to that rule, really.

The other day, as I was wandering around one of my favourite Asian supermarkets to sort out dinner, I came face to face with the handy helper of my dreams: a rice cooker.

But not only any little one, oh no – I fell in love with a high-end model.

We’re talking settings for different kinds of rice, recipes, a self-cleaning function… in short, a surprising amount of functions for an appliance that, if you buy a really basic design, needs exactly two settings: on and off, plus a keep warm function.

Countertop appliances high-end Wolf blender

Choosing multi-functional appliances can help you save money and worktop space. This Gourmet high-performance blender from Wolf, priced £599.94, can do far more than produce smoothies: it also chops vegetables, purées sauces, grinds grains, and it can whizz up vegetables into hot soup. The best bit? It’s been designed for ultra-quiet blending.

But as I left it there on the shelf – partially owing to the appropriately hefty price tag as well as me being a responsible adult – it got me thinking.

How do you pick the right countertop appliance? What do you need to watch out for?

Luckily, I’m right at the source of all the info you need – and since sharing is caring, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Whether you’re dreaming of waking up to freshly baked bread (heaven!) or want to find a way to have the perfect espresso perk you up before work, you’ll probably have noticed that the range of what’s available is absolutely vast.

There are solutions for every need and every budget, from uber-smart to basic but reliable.

Why have countertop appliances?

First and foremost, they are convenient. Why wake up earlier and pop by a coffee shop – including the risk of a very long queue – when you can simply prepare your own drink at home?

Cuisinart food processor with sprouts

Got a lot of chopping to do? A food processor – such as Cuisinart‘s Easy Prep Pro in Frosted Pearl, priced £120 – will make the task a little easier. And, if you’re anything like me, it’ll also speed everything up.

They can also easily change up your kitchen look, especially as colour is a trend right now and seems to be staying for the foreseeable future.

Function

Much like the rice cooker of my dreams, the general rule is that the more high end your countertop appliance, the more functions it will have.

Some of the latest models feature restaurant-spec set-ups, allowing them to be used continuously for food preparation.

Countertop appliances red Morphy Richards slow cooker

Imagine the scene: you come home, the house smells delicious, and all you need to do to enjoy dinner is get a plate out. Heaven – especially in winter, when stews are just about the best food to warm you up. This Morphy Richards Sear And Stew slow cooker, £25.60 from Dunelm, also comes in a fashionable red to brighten up your scheme.

Gone are the days of the office kettle giving up after a few months because people are having too many cups of tea in a row.

Need to know

I know, I’m guilty of not doing it too, but you should always read the instruction manual to ensure you get the most out of your device.

When not in use, experts generally recommend to unplug your countertop appliances, especially when you’re heading out, to reduce the fire risk.

Sage Barista express coffee machine

If you love your morning brew, a bean-to-cup machine will produce barista-style drinks every time. This Sage Barista Express espresso machine, £599.95 from Harvey Norman, for example whips your drink up in less than a minute – ideal if you’re busy (or simply like a lie in before work).

And if you treated yourself to a new toaster, make sure you don’t place it directly underneath cabinets – because doing so might also cause a fire.

Speaking to Debbie McIvor-Main at Dualit, she recommend to also register any new kitchen helpers with the manufacturer, in case there are any product updates.

Buying tips

Of course, the first thing when looking at countertop appliances is to ask yourself what you really need and how you’ll be using it.

Then look at your worktop or cupboard space, because you have to keep them somewhere, as well as your power sockets – after all, a slow cooker you can only plug into a socket in a really inconvenient place isn’t ideal, to say the least.

Dunelm kettle and toaster set

When choosing your appliances, why not go for a matching set? This contemporary jug kettle, £45, and toaster, £45, from Dunelm are both matt white, adding a hint of Scandi style into any scheme.

Also consider whether you might be able to combine designs to save space, for example a food processor and a liquidiser.

Compact, multi-functional appliances are very much in high demand, so take your time when shopping as you might be able to save some space and money.

Countertop appliances Swan Nordic digital microwave grey

Think microwaves all look the same? Think again – this Nordic 20-litre microwave, £109.99, from Swan not only boasts six heating levels and a timer of up to 30 minutes for longer cooking times, it also banks extra style points.

Maintaining your countertop appliances

Always give your kitchen helpers a proper clean and don’t forget any possible dirt traps. Check if any parts can go into the dishwasher, to make life easier for yourself.

Countertop appliances yellow toaster

Toasters don’t have to come in neutral colours – this Tix Tostapane, around £119.16 (€139) from Italian shop Vice Versa, is shown here in a cheerful yellow. It offers nine toasting levels plus a defrosting function and an easy to read LED display so you know how much longer you’ll have to wait for your bread.

When you fit or remove attachments, make sure you unplug the appliance to reduce the risk of injuring yourself – this is especially important if you’re working with knives or other sharp implements.

So, tell me – what’s the countertop appliance of your dreams?

 

Featured image: With a generously sized bowl, the Kitchen Aid Artisan stand mixer is a popular kitchen feature. This tilt-head design, £599, in Candy Apple not only provides plenty of functions for professional results every time, it will also brighten up your space every time you cook.

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