Whether you love or dread spending time on food prep, it can be tempting to load up on small appliances to make the job easier. But many kitchen gadgets end up idle on a countertop or forgotten in a cupboard. Cheapism.com has curated a list of highly rated, value-priced slow cookers, toaster ovens, coffee makers and grinders, hand mixers, blenders, rice cookers, and ice cream makers that you'll actually be glad to have in your kitchen.
HAMILTON BEACH STAY OR GO 33461
Good Portable Slow Cooker
Price: $30 | Buy it from Bed Bath & Beyond
The Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 33461 is a manual slow cooker with a 6-quart capacity that easily serves seven people and holds a 4-pound chicken or 6-pound roast. Reviewers praise the accuracy of the heat settings, absence of bells and whistles, and overall functionality. The "Stay or Go" design makes it possible to transport a loaded pot from kitchen to potluck without leaving a trail of gravy in your wake.
Best Manual Slow Cooker Under $50
Price: $15 | Buy it on Amazon
The Crock-Pot SCV400 appeals to consumers with its simplicity, dependable performance, and 4-quart size, which should feed a family of four with some left over. The oval-shaped stoneware insert is dishwasher- and microwave-safe. There's nothing fancy or high-tech about this Crock-Pot, but it has fed hordes of hungry people for more than a decade.
CROCK-POT COOK & CARRY SCCPVL610-S
Good Programmable Slow Cooker
Price: $50 | Buy it on Amazon
Programmable slow cookers automatically shut off and switch the heat setting to "warm" after the desired cooking time has elapsed. The Crock-Pot Cook & Carry SCCPVL610-S is an extremely popular 6-quart model. Reviewers value the ability to program cook times in 30-minute intervals up to 20 hours and laud the countdown timer. This Crock-Pot is also portable, with a tight-fitting lid secured by wire clips. The removable stoneware insert can go in the microwave or regular oven at up to 400 degrees.
HAMILTON BEACH SET & FORGET 33969
Best Programmable Slow Cooker Under $50
Price: $49 | Buy it on Amazon
The Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 33969 cooks evenly and retains heat well, according to online reviews by users and experts. This 6-quart model comes with a probe that monitors the internal temperature of a roast and signals the unit to switch from cooking mode to keep-warm mode. Another unique feature lets users control this programmable slow cooker manually. It's large enough for a 6-pound chicken, and clips keep the lid tight. The slightly older but very similar model 33967 ($40 on Amazon) features a clip-on spoon.
WEST BEND 84905
Not Just for Slow Cooking
Price: $49 | Buy it on Amazon
Home cooks applaud the versatility of the West Bend 84905 cooker, which can be used to brown or sauté ingredients on top of the stove before submitting them to hours of low heat. It can also be set in the oven for a finishing flourish or to reheat leftovers. Reviewers like the light, 5-quart metal cook pot, with its oblong shape, better than a traditional slow-cooker crockery insert; it's also freezer-safe. The cooking base can be used as a griddle.
PROCTOR SILEX 31116R/31118R
Good 4-Slice Toaster Oven
Price: $25 | Buy it on Amazon
Compact, cheap, and fuss-free, this Proctor Silex toaster oven comes in white (31116R) or black (31118R) and does its job capably. Users say the advertised four-slice capacity is a stretch, but this model wins over a majority for its toasting and baking abilities. The 15-minute timer is somewhat limiting, but a "stay on" function keeps the contents warm.
Convection Toaster Oven
Price: $40 | Buy it from Walmart
The Oster TSSTTVDFL2 sits in the budget zone but looks like a million dollars and even boasts convection baking. This six-slice toaster oven holds its own on the baking front and sports three rack heights for optimal positioning. It comes with a five-year satisfaction guarantee.
HAMILTON BEACH 31330
Best Toaster Oven Under $50 for Pizza
Price: $44 | Buy it on Amazon
With a curved back and glass door, the six-slice Hamilton Beach 31330 can hold a 12-inch pizza. It shines on the baking front, according to reviews, and toast generally turns out okay. The rack can be raised for broiling and slides out from the lowest level when the door is opened. The timer runs for 30 minutes.
BLACK & DECKER TO1322SBD
Best All-Around Toaster Oven Under $50
Price: $27 | Buy it from Home Depot
A toaster oven with a long history, the Black & Decker TO1322SBD claims legions of fans. Unlike many other budget models, this four-slice toaster oven earns its stripes as a toaster as much as an oven. A rounded rear wall ensures space for a 9-inch pizza and a two-year warranty provides a measure of comfort, just in case.
BLACK & DECKER DLX1050B
Good Programmable Coffee Maker
Price: $28 | Buy it on Amazon
The 12-cup Black & Decker DLX1050 is a basic machine but fully programmable for those who stumble their way to the coffee pot in the morning. Consumers who own this model appreciate that they can count on hot coffee to be waiting when they wake up. The warming plate keeps it at a drinkable temperature for up to two hours before turning off automatically. There is a Sneak-A-Cup function for users too impatient to wait for the whole pot of coffee to drip through before getting their fix.
CAPRESSO 5-CUP MINI DRIP
Best Small Coffee Maker Under $50
Price: $40 | Buy it on Amazon
The programmable Capresso 5-Cup Mini Drip makes just enough coffee for several small cups or three 8-ounce mugs. One advantage of a compact pot: The coffee is likely to be consumed within 30 minutes, as experts suggest, instead of turning stale and bitter in a 12-cup pot. Even so, a warming plate keeps coffee heated for two hours. The five-minute brewing time is what experts recommend for best results -- less and the brew would be too weak; more and it would be too bitter. The glass carafe has an ergonomic handle and doesn't dribble when it pours, reviewers say.
HAMILTON BEACH BREWSTATION SUMMIT ULTRA 48465
Best Carafe-Free Coffee Maker Under $50
Price: $43 | Buy it on Amazon
The 12-cup Hamilton Beach BrewStation Summit Ultra 48465 makes coffee inside a thermal tank for dispensing directly into a mug. There's no carafe to break and no hotplate to potentially scorch coffee sitting in a pot. The brew stays hot, users say in reviews, and the machine stays on for up to four hours. This coffee maker can be programmed ahead of time and has a "bold" setting that slows down brewing so the water soaks up more flavor from the beans.
HAMILTON BEACH THE SCOOP SINGLE-SERVE COFFEE MAKER 49981
Best Single-Serve Coffee Maker Under $50
Price: $30 | Buy it on Amazon
The Scoop Single-Serve Coffee Maker by Hamilton Beach makes one mug at a time with ground coffee instead of pricey pods. It can be adjusted to brew directly into a coffee cup or a taller travel mug. Use the mug to fill the reservoir with coffee, measure ground coffee into the permanent filter, and press "on." An 8-ounce cup fills in about 90 seconds and a travel mug in less than three minutes; selecting the "bold" option slows down the process a bit.
CAPRESSO ON-THE-GO PERSONAL COFFEE MAKER
Best Coffee Maker Under $50 for Travel
Price: $39 | Buy it on Amazon
Head out for the day with a 16-ounce insulated stainless steel travel mug filled with piping-hot coffee, courtesy of the Capresso On-the-Go Personal Coffee Maker. The brewing process takes less than four minutes, using water heated to a temperature of 200 degrees; experts say an optimal cup of coffee is made with water that's just off boiling, 195 to 205 degrees, when it flows through the grounds. Soft pods are an option, but many users savor the ability to brew their choice of ground coffee, limit waste, and adjust the amount to their liking.
BODUM CHAMBORD 8-CUP FRENCH PRESS
Best French Press Under $50
Price: $40 | Buy it on Amazon
French press coffee is for people who crave a deep, dark brew. The process involves pouring boiling water over coarse grounds, waiting about four minutes, then pushing down the plunger. The grounds stay below the plunger and the coffee rises to the top. Because there is no filter, a bolder coffee flavor comes through. One downside is that coffee sitting in the pot for any length of time becomes very bitter, so a new pot must be brewed each time fresh servings are desired. The Bodum Chambord 8-Cup French Press is a coffee maker for the aficionado who doesn't mind a bit of fiddling, rather than a guzzler who would rather set it and forget it.
MR. COFFEE IDS57/55
Good Blade Coffee Grinder
Price: $16 | Buy it from Target
The Mr. Coffee IDS57/55 (black/white) is a simple blade grinder with a high quality-to-price ratio. Some users choose it for the iconic brand name, some laud its lifespan, and many praise its convenience. This small countertop appliance yields grinds of a consistent size that are best suited for a drip coffee maker. Reviewers also say it does a nice job on seeds and spices.
Best Blade Coffee Grinder Under $20
Price: $19 | Buy it from Walmart
Coffee drinkers appreciate the low price on the Krups F2034251 blade grinder, along with the simplicity and solid performance. The powerful 200-watt motor grinds beans quickly to uniform consistencies that work well for pour-over, automatic drip, and French press coffee making. Many longtime owners of this reliable product come back for more when a well-worn unit finally gives out.
Best Blade Coffee Grinder Under $30
Price: $29 | Buy it on Amazon
The signature feature of the KitchenAid BCG111 is a removable stainless steel, dishwasher-safe bowl that makes it easy to pour grinds into a coffee filter and clean up afterward. Some users say the look is a bit clunky, but the overall package wins over the vast majority. Experts say this blade grinder works better than some costlier burr grinders, though perhaps not for espresso-size grinds. Shoppers can choose red or onyx black/stainless steel housing.
Best Burr Coffee Grinder Under $50
Price: $35 | Buy it from Walmart
A good low-cost entry into the world of higher-end burr grinders, the Krups GX500050 is easy to use and a solid buy for those eager to step up from blade grinders. This is a reasonably priced model from a well-respected brand, with nine primary grind levels and steps in between, a removable top burr for easy cleaning, and auto shut-off for the desired number of cups. A good choice for medium and coarse grinds, the burrs also do a fine job on nuts and seeds.
HARIO SKERTON MSCS-2TB
Best Hand-Crank Burr Grinder Under $50
Price: $38 | Buy it from Staples
Frugal coffee aficionados consider the Hario Skerton MSCS-2TB the ultimate hand grinder. The grind is slow and beans don't overheat. Plus, its ceramic conical burr beats the flat disk burrs typically found on budget burr grinders, and the glass grind chamber eliminates the annoying static that comes with a plastic chamber. There are no electrical parts to worry about, so it should last a good long time. Just be prepared for a bit of a workout when grinding lots of beans.
Best Hand Mixer Under $20
Price: $18 | Buy it on Amazon
Alone among budget hand mixers, the Oster 2500 features a low speed that is actually fairly slow -- good for gentle mixing and reducing messy mishaps. The strong 240-watt motor supports five speeds and a power burst. The 1.7-pound weight and ergonomic shape make it easy to hold. Two dough hooks and two beaters are included.
HAMILTON BEACH 62650
Best Hand Mixer Under $30
Price: $24 | Buy it on Amazon
The Hamilton Beach 62650 is a sturdier mixer than its price might suggest, with metal housing as opposed to the more common plastic. With a 290-watt motor, six speeds, and a power burst, there's enough oomph to get through all but the stiffest doughs and batters. This model features a bowl rest and comes with traditional and post-free wire beaters, a whisk, and a snap-on storage case.
KITCHENAID ULTRA POWER KHM512ER
KitchenAid Hand Mixer Under $50
Price: $32 and up | Buy it on Amazon
Well-liked by users for its slow start, sturdy build, and quiet operation, the KitchenAid Ultra Power KHM512ER runs like a hand mixer should. It comes in 12 color options with post-free stainless steel beaters that are easier to clean than beaters with a post in the middle. A swivel cord accommodates lefties and righties.
OXO ON ILLUMINATING DIGITAL HAND MIXER
More Bells and Whistles Under $50
Price: $40 | Buy it on Amazon
Consumers who pooh-pooh the idea of a light-up hand mixer and digital controls are pleasantly surprised at the practicality and performance of the Oxo On Illuminating Digital Hand Mixer. An LED display, six distinct speeds, two stainless steel balloon beaters, two dough hooks, and a wrap-around cord add value.
9-Speed Hand Mixer Worth a Splurge
Price: $68 | Buy it on Amazon
Embraced by experts and consumers alike, the Cuisinart HM-90S is a sturdy mixer for the money with enough power even for stiff cookie dough. Comfortable in the hand, this upmarket model boasts nine speeds, including three low speeds for gentle blending, and loads of accessories, including two extra-long stainless steel wire beaters, two dough hooks, a whisk, a spatula, and a snap-on storage case.
HAMILTON BEACH 58148 POWER ELITE
Best Blender Under $40
Price: $27 | Buy it from Walmart
Users warm to the power of this blender's 700-watt motor and blade with four sharp tips. An ice-crush function makes it ideal for all manner of craft cocktails, including those calling for chunks of frozen fruit. The Hamilton Beach Power Elite 58148 comes with a 40-ounce glass pitcher and features 12 blending functions, as well as a pulse action that comes in handy with more solid ingredients. There's a flip-up cap on the lid for easy pouring and cord storage in the base for a neat look. All removable parts are dishwasher-safe.
OSTER 6694 ACCURATE BLEND 200
Best Blender Under $25
Price: $22 | Buy it from Walmart
The Oster 6694 Accurate Blend 200 hits all the right buttons: low price, must-have features, and strong performance. This blender boasts a 700-watt motor that powers 14 speeds and a four-tip blade. According to reviewers, it's as adept at producing purées and smoothies as it is at crushing ice. The large 48-ounce glass container is designed to resist thermal shock, so it can blend frozen drinks straight out of the dishwasher. A removable cap in the lid makes add-ins a no-mess affair and measures up to 2 ounces.
NINJA MASTER PREP QB900B
Blender/Food Processor Combo
Price: $35 | Buy it on Amazon
The unconventional Ninja Master Prep QB900B is a cross between a traditional blender and an immersion blender. There is no base; users set a 400-watt power pod atop a 48-ounce pitcher or 16-ounce work bowl with corresponding blades and pulse away. The Ninja Master Prep makes its mark turning out slushies and frozen party drinks, according to hundreds of reviewers who award it high ratings. It also gets credit for chopping and puréeing, and some users say it performs better than high-end blenders and food processors. The containers are BPA-free plastic, with lids for storage, and all parts except the power pod are dishwasher-safe.
Best Small On/Off Rice Cooker Under $50
Price: $44 | Buy it on Amazon
The problem with making rice for one person in a big rice cooker is that it tends to dry out. For small families, dorm rooms, and even travel, the Panasonic SR-3NA-S is the one to buy. Its 1.5-cup capacity yields 3 cups of cooked rice. This compact countertop appliance is incredibly simple to use: It turns off automatically when cooking is done. Although it lacks a warming feature, the removable glass lid has no vent, so it holds the steam in the pot to keep food heated for short spans between prep and mealtime. A dishwasher-safe lid and nonstick inner pot make cleanup a breeze.
HAMILTON BEACH 37549
Best Mid-Size Programmable Rice Cooker Under $50
Price: $36 | Buy it on Amazon
The Hamilton Beach Digital Simplicity 37549 boasts many of the same capabilities as much more expensive rice cookers. Designed for cooking 2 to 14 cups of rice, this programmable pot sports six functions: white rice, quick rice, whole grain, heat and simmer, steam, and keep warm. It can also cook prepackaged pastas, beans, grains, soups, and stews. Users can toss a few vegetables into the steamer basket for even more meal options. The 15-hour delay setting makes cooking ahead easy, and this cooker keeps food heated for hours.
Best Large Programmable Rice Cooker Under $50
Price: $37 | Buy it on Amazon
A programmable cooker that produces up to 20 cups of rice, the Aroma ARC-150SB features settings for white rice, brown rice, steaming, and slow cooking. Any type of grain, from quinoa to farro, can be made in this rice cooker. A delay-start timer can be set for up to 15 hours -- say, to prep steel-cut oats for the morning meal. It also helps the machine do double duty as a slow cooker for dinner. The nonstick pot cleans up nicely, and a steamer makes vegetables that never get overcooked because the steaming time can be set from 5 to 30 minutes.
'Fuzzy Logic' Rice Cooker Under $75
Price: $74 | Buy it on Amazon
It's hard to find a micro-computerized rice cooker under $75, which makes the Panasonic SR-DF101 a smart buy. The combination of features and performance competes with appliances that cost more than twice as much and suits novices and connoisseurs alike. This rice cooker uses "fuzzy logic" to automatically adjust the internal temperature for different foods, so the final product is always optimally cooked and never burnt or overdone. Four buttons control quick cooking or steaming, white rice, brown rice, and porridge or soup, and the contents can stay warm for up to 12 hours. The cooking pan holds up to 5 cups of uncooked rice.
HAMILTON BEACH 68320
Good Ice Cream Maker Under $50
Price: $31 | Buy it on Amazon
Like many ice cream makers, the Hamilton Beach 68320 uses an insulated bowl that requires a stint in the freezer before preparing a batch. Pre-chill the freezer bowl and serve up 1.5 quarts of sweet, frozen treats including frozen yogurt, sherbet, and gelato in 40 minutes or less. Ice cream fans value the easy cleanup, straightforward process, and savings over store-bought dessert.
VONSHEF ICE CREAM MAKER
Best Small Ice Cream Maker Under $50
Price: $25 | Buy it on Amazon
The VonShef Ice Cream Maker is another 1.5-quart model that produces well-churned ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet. The process is quick, relatively quiet, and easy as pie. An opening in the lid lets users add mix-ins during the last few minutes. Buy an extra freezer bowl for $15 to make a second batch immediately after the first.
HAMILTON BEACH 68330R
Best 4-Quart Ice Cream Maker Under $50
Price: $30 | Buy it from Best Buy
This 4-quart ice cream maker uses rock salt and ice to keep the contents cold and earns raves from consumers, who describe the finished product as "awesome" and "yummy." The price, build quality, and automatic churn further enhance the appeal of the Hamilton Beach 68330R.
Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Under $50
Price: $48 | Buy it on Amazon
Enjoy the fruits of almost no labor or mess with the 1.5-quart Cuisinart ICE-21. After waiting patiently for 16 hours while the churning bowl freezes, users can dig into creamy and refreshing ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt within 20 minutes. This small appliance comes in white, pink, and red.