4 small appliances that have changed the way we cook food (for the better)

Brava Oven

Remember when the microwave was the coolest cooking gadget in your kitchen? You young’uns may not even remember life before microwaves became the norm in American households.

At the risk of dating myself, I remember when my family first brought a microwave home. It was life-changing for all of us. My Mom nuked those hot dogs for 45 seconds or so instead of boiling them on the stove for several minutes, and even my cooking-averse Dad learned the time-saving value of throwing leftover chili in the microwave for a minute or two versus dirtying up a sauce pot and standing over our electric oven stirring. The microwave may not have made our food taste better, but it definitely made life easier.

Fast-forward a couple of decades, and we’ve got all kinds of things to help us in the kitchen: Toaster ovens, blenders, food processors, and slow cookers sitting on our counters or in our cupboards. All have contributed to a better home cooking experience.

But in the past few years, several small kitchen appliances have become available to home cooks who either desire to make better food or make food more quickly. These devices have changed the way we cook food for the better.

Want to cook great food like a pro? Here are four kitchen appliances that will change your life in the kitchen. Literally. If you haven’t heard of them yet, it’s time to educate yourself.

Sous vide machines

The very first time I saw someone cook using the sous vide method was on the show Top Chef a few years ago, and my mind was blown. Basically, sous vide cooking is a method in which food is put in a bag that is submerged in water and cooked at a set temperature until it’s done. And the results are delicious (if you’ve added the right ingredients into the bag, of course). If you haven’t had sous vide prime rib or salmon, you’re missing out on a fantastic way to cook meat, vegetables — heck, even cheesecake — to perfection.

marijuana tech for home anova sous vide precision cooker wi fi lifestyle 1500x1000

You can choose between sous vide baths, which are larger and typically cost more but provide more consistent results, or (typically) lower-cost immersion circulators, which attach to a sauce pot you already own. Check out our best sous vide machines here. The good news is that you can buy a sous vide machine for under $100, which is a steal for the promise of never overcooking a steak again.

Pressure cookers (see: Instant Pot)

While pressure cookers have been around forever (my Mom had an old green one long before the microwave ever showed up at my house), it wasn’t until the Instant Pot came on the scene that a huge resurgence and interest in pressure cooking was sparked.

instant pot post christmas sales duo mini 3 qt 7 in 1 multi  use programmable pressure cooker

Pressure cooking basically uses steam to cook food at a high temperature. But the Instant Pot does much more, from browning, to slow cooking, to steaming, to cooking rice and yogurt. Yes, yogurt. Instant Pot owners are steadfast in their love for the device with good reason: The thing does just about everything except refrigerate your food.

There’s even an Instant Pot model that works as a sous vide machine and another that also functions as a blender. And if you’re thinking, man, I wish it was an air fryer, too, good news: Ninja has successfully rolled a pressure cooker and air fryer into one with the Ninja Foodi. Other competitors on the market include models from Gourmia, Krups, T-Fal, and more.

If you buy an Instant Pot, be prepared to enjoy the cult following that comes with it: There are Facebook groups galore devoted to tips, tricks, and recipes. The biggest appeal is how these devices save time in the kitchen: You can literally throw frozen meat, some seasonings, water, and veggies into the pot and have yourself a decent meal in no time.

Regardless of whether you’re seeking an Instant Pot or just a general pressure cooker, we’ve got a list of the best to help you in your search, ranging from smart to dumb (as in, not connected). This will shave lots of minutes from your nightly cooking routine. It definitely has in my household.

Air fryers

Remember when deep fryers were all the rage a couple decades ago? Or was that just at my house? My mom used to make this yummy batter for fish, turn on the deep fryer, and drop the fillets into the popping, crackling oil. Once finished, she’d drop the sizzling fish on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the grease. Man, they were good, but required a buttload of extra napkins.

1229517 autosave v1 philips air fryer deal  2

As we’ve become more health conscious, there are fewer deep fryers to be found in homes these days. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fried foods, now that air fryers are all the rage.

What, you say? You haven’t heard of air fryers? Let me educate you, dear friend.

Air fryers came on the scene as a small appliance a few years ago and are a healthier alternative to deep fryers. Essentially, they use extremely high heat to crisp up foods like french fries or fried chicken but without the excessive oil. They’re similar to the broil function on your oven, except much more consistent.

Air fryers are becoming extremely popular and can change the calorie count of your meal tremendously over a traditional deep fryer. Considering one? We have a list of best air fryers to help you out. Again, you can get some models for under $100. Look for a multifunctional small appliance to save counter space, like a toaster oven that air fries, or a multicooker with a built-in air fryer. Regardless, you’ll be feeling less guilty about those crunchy, delicious fried foods.

Countertop ovens

When I say “countertop ovens,” I don’t mean toaster ovens, although those devices are pretty nifty by themselves. I’m talking about a brand-new style of oven that sits on your counter and elevates the cooking experience in interesting and time-saving ways. They still might be a little out of reach for many consumers due to price and availability, at least for now, but they might just be what you’re looking for if you want to make cooking easier.

Brava Oven

I’m talking about devices like the Brava oven, which uses light to cook a multiple-course meal perfectly, or Suvie, an oven, steamer, sous vide, and baking machine that can cook a three-course meal. It also features a built-in refrigeration system to keep food cold before it cooks. The Tovala Steam Oven uses — you guessed it — steam to cook foods.

Many of these devices have innovative technology and are very Jetsons-like, giving you a way to cook an entire meal at once evenly. So instead of baking your salmon and sautéing your veggies separately, you toss all of it into one of these ovens and end up with evenly cooked food. The appeal of some these devices is that they come with food, too, sort of like meal kits. Tovala, for example, lets you buy entire meals to cook in the oven for extremely easy cooking and prep.

While these countertop appliances are still very new (and in the case of the Suvie, not yet available to buy), they could be game-changers when it comes to meal prep, eliminating the multiple cooking steps necessary to prepare a meal.

Regardless of whether you’re seeking a way to make cooking easier or are looking to elevate your food, these four appliances are making life easier in the kitchen.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Smeg Dolce and Gabbana small appliances make an art gallery of your kitchen

Spice up your kitchen with Smeg's Dolce and Gabbana-styled Sicily Is My Love collection. Following its introduction of Sicilian-themed major appliances, the Italian collaborators added countertop devices with traditional icons and images.
Smart Home

Thermomix introduces a small appliance that can do it all

The Thermomix TM6 just might be what you're looking for. This all-in-one appliance can perform 20 unique tasks that will cut down on the work of meal preparation and will help you cook just about anything.
Smart Home

Which Instant Pot is best? Whether cooking for 1 or 9, here are the best options

Instant Pots are perfect home cooks who love versatility in the kitchen, and for those who like to prepare quick and easy meals. Check out our picks for the best Instant Pots.
Smart Home

Ikea isn’t throwing shade with the delayed release of its smart blinds

Ikea planned to release is Tradfri-compatible smart blinds in April 2019, but the products have been delayed until later in the year for a firmware update that promises better functionality.
Smart Home

Whatever happened to those dumb smart products we wrote about in 2017?

A smart salt dispenser? As manufacturers rush to get the next new smart item out there, we wonder if all these new inventions are really necessary. Here’s a list of 10 of the quirkiest home smart gadgets available, and where they are now.
Smart Home

Lutron’s Fan Control makes ceiling fans smart, but has some turnoffs

Lutron recently came out with a smart switch that controls ceiling fans, the Lutron Caseta Fan Speed Control Switch. How does it stack up? Here's a first-hand review of the Lutron Fan Control switch.
Cars

Amazon and Kia team up to simplify EV home-charging station installs

Kia Motors announced a new program with Amazon for electric vehicles. Customers planning to purchase a new Kia EV or PHEV can check out recommended Level 2 240-volt home charging stations and arrange installation in their homes.
Smart Home

Traeger’s latest wood-pellet grills are smoky, smart, and spacious

Traeger is famous in the world of barbecue and heavy-duty grills for its signature pellet grills and now the company is expanding this year by adding three new brands of redesigned
Smart Home

The five best teeth-whitening kits you can buy on Amazon

Teeth whitening can have a major impact on a person’s smile and overall appearance. You don't necessarily have to go to the dentist to get your teeth whitened though. Here are the best teeth-whitening kits you can buy.
Smart Home

Is your Keurig making gross coffee? Might be time for a cleaning

No one likes a dirty, scaled, or smelly Keurig, but how are you supposed to clean them? Before you throw yours out the window, here is a quick guide on cleaning your machine out thoroughly.
Smart Home

Which is better, the original Echo or the Echo Dot? We compare them

Amazon Echo vs. Dot: Having Alexa answer your questions is nothing short of futuristic, but which device should you get? There are some big differences between the two, especially in size, sound, and cost.
Product Review

Gate’s Smart Lock is locked and loaded but ultimately lacks important basics

In a world of video cameras and doorbells comes the Gate Smart Lock, a lock with a video camera embedded. It’s a great idea, but lacks some crucial functionality to make it a top-notch product.
Smart Home

Viral porch pirate videos freak people out, cause unrealistic concern

Viral porch pirate videos convince others crime is more prevalent than facts indicate. According to polls, even though FBI reports show property crime rates are at historic lows, more people worry about crime today than ever before.