SMALL KITCHEN APPLIANCES…
Maybe you received one as a gift and don't know where to start, or you want to up your game on a machine that you already own. These small kitchen appliances add both convenience and variety to our everyday cooking routines. Here is my take on the most popular machines on the market, a few external resources and some top picks via my Amazon affiliate partner links. Enjoy!
Air fryers are the perfect combination of toaster oven, convection oven and food dehydrator. They yield crispy browned food, with much less fat than traditional deep-fried techniques. In reality, they are simply a small version of a standard size convection-capable oven, cooking food in a dry circulating heat.
Everyone seems to be gravitating to french fries or chicken wings as their primary go-to's. But breakfast may be the undiscovered meal for the air fryer, like Sausage Biscuit Bites or Cinnamon Rolls. For more ideas, think about joining an Air Fryer Facebook group.
With so many configurations to choose from, here are some of my favorites models:
Instant Vortex Plus
INSTANT POT MULTI COOKER
The Instant Pot has been around since 2010. An innovative machine, the instant pot combines a slow cooker and pressure cooker along with a bottom sauté plate for browning food. Perfect for faster cooking in a moist environment. But this is not a machine for crispy crunchy food… think more about braised, steamed and stewed items. Rice and grains are a great place to start (tip: add the water first, to avoid sticking grains). Chili or mac&cheese are also great next-step recipes. For more complex dishes, the manufacturer's website and Facebook Social Groups are great resources for recipes & support. Here are a few top selling models:
SOUS VIDE PRECISION COOKERS
Possibly a lesser known appliance to the general public, the sous vide machine is well respected to meat lover connoisseurs, professional chefs and devoted foodies. With sous vide, food is cooked in a sealed or vacuumed environment submerged in a water bath. The sous vide stick is submerged into water and maintains a circulating constant temperature, so food is brought to the precise degree of doneness. Think the perfect creamy soft cooked eggs with your favorite style yolk or medium rare steak at 130-135°F. Cuts of meats are then finished with a quick sear in a hot skillet for an ideal brown exterior.
Pro tip: Skip on the vacuum sealing equipment, and simply purchase high quality storage bags like Ziploc or Glad, with a label stating 'rated for microwave use'. Then use a water displacement submerging technique to force the air out of the bag before finally sealing shut, creating an almost vacuum-like seal for the food.
For more great tips, check out Serious Eats for their take on sous vide cooking. Here are some top selling Sous Vide Machines:
KEURIG K-CUP BREWERS
Keurig machines are nothing new, but they still remain the top selling small kitchen appliance at major retailers like Walmart and Amazon. Here are some pro tips to fully utilize your Keurig machine.
- To prevent clogging, always remove spent K-cups after each use, so the brewing needle does not rest in wet grounds.
- If your machine doesn't have the 'iced coffee' feature, not to worry. Just place your glass of ice under your brewer, and select the 4-6 ounce pour. The melting ice will dilute the stronger coffee, resulting in a perfect drink.
- A favorite hack, use your machine when you need a small amount of hot water for oatmeal packets, powdered cocoa or instant ramen. Simply lift and close the handle without inserting a K-cup, then select your brew size (some machines vary, with additional buttons). Enjoy more than just coffee!
Here are some top-selling Keurig models: