Kit out your kitchen with the seven most appealing (and useful!) small appliances on the market
There are dozens of gadgets and gizmos out there, all promising to make food prep easier, quicker or more healthy. But which ones are worth splashing the cash for. Here are our seven picks - from water filters to epic sandwich toaster - to accessorise your kitchen to perfection and make life better...
1. espresso machine
You can splash out anything from $150 to $20,000 on a coffee machine (yes, really!), but if all you need is a delicious, fresh brew in the morning, then you don’t need to go crazy.
Pod or capsule machines are among the cheapest – although the coffee itself is pricey, and they’re not particularly environmentally friendly, even if they do recycle the pods.
Also, if you have friends who are coffee connoisseurs, they might turn their noses up at the very idea of not using freshly ground beans!
The Sunbeam Barista Max Coffee Machine was voted the best for under $500 by Coffeewise in 2021 and makes a damned fine caffeine hit.
A good tip is to fill it with filtered and purified water for flavour perfection.
2. BIBO Water Bar
Talking of filtered water, you’ll get an unlimited supply of instant boiling or chilled water at the touch of a button with a beautiful looking BIBO Water Bar. Available in 10 vibrant colours, it instantly becomes the focal point in any kitchen and means no untidy kettle cords on your work surface, no filter jugs cluttering the fridge and no need to waste money on bottled water.
The unique filtration system includes a multi-stage carbon water filter and UV lamp to kill any bugs and remove the unpleasant taste of chlorine, while the touch screen display lets you dispense fresh, clean water at whatever temperature you need. And the water tastes great too!
SALE ON NOW: Buy a BIBO Water Bar before April 18 and save $300!
3. toaster oven
These simple gadgets are very on-trend and have multiple uses including making toast, baking bread and steaming veg. They're compact, so heat up much more quickly than a conventional oven and are highly energy efficient… as long as you don’t want to cook a 4kg shoulder of ham!
Casseroles and pies cooked in toaster ovens taste far better than microwave meals as you get that lovely crispiness as well as an equal distribution of heat.
There are plenty to choose from, though the Cuisinart Combo Steam & Convention Oven has been rated highly by a few sites, ahead of some of its pricier rivals.
You’ll have seen these advertised all over the TV, and with good reason. We all need to consume more fruit and veg, and juicing is a great way to achieve that. Best of all you can whiz up nutritious raw vegetables like carrots, cucumber and celery to mix with fruit smoothies or fresh juice.
Juicers cost around $500, but the Breville Juice Fountain Max is half the price and has a bunch of 5-star reviews and strong write-ups by comparison sites.
5. slow cooker
A joint of lamb or beef gently cooks over eight or more hours so that it’s so succulent and tender it literally falls off the bone, every mouthful imbued with rich, satisfying flavours.
Best of all, the mouth-watering smells gradually permeate the house giving off a satisfying warmth as the hours tick by.
And it’s not just for meat. Believe it or not you can use your slow cooker for mulled wine, hot cross buns, Christmas pud, jam, bread and even pavlova! If you look hard enough, you can find a 'recipe' for making soap in one!
6. air fryer
How did we all survive before Philips introduced the first ever Airfryer at a Berlin electronics fair in 2011?
Cook food faster than in an oven and get that crisp, cooked-in-oil taste with very little if any actual oil. Instead, hot air circulates at very high speed until your chips, banana muffins, fish or steak are nicely browned. You can even cook pizza and cakes in it.
For a seriously top of the range, deluxe model that cooks a whole chicken you can pay $600, but Taste.com.au says the Tefal Easy Fry Classic Air Fryer is excellent for less than $200.
7. sandwich toaster
All sandwich toasters are the same, right? You plop your BLT onto the hot surface, close it down and voila – your breaded snack is seared to perfection.
Well, actually, no. It turns out things have moved on. Enter the Breville Smart Grill Pro, a 10kg brushed stainless steel mega-toaster with an integrated probe & rest indicator, removable ribbed plates with embedded elements for rapid heat recovery and something called ‘element IQ’ for consistent heat. Yours for a mere $549 at Myer.
At the other end of the scale is the Russell Hobbs Sandwich Press for $58 from Catch.com.au, which will still toast your sandwich.
Read more: Why the new BIBO is the ultimate water bar