Kitchen appliances are essential elements that can make meal preparation easier and more enjoyable. With so many options on the market, choosing the right appliances for your needs requires careful consideration. This comprehensive guide provides tips and recommendations to help you select the best kitchen appliances.

Developing a Budget

Before shopping, determine how much you can reasonably spend on kitchen appliances. Appliances vary greatly in terms of features and pricing. Setting a budget helps narrow down choices and avoid overspending.

Consider which appliances you need immediately and which can wait. Prioritize necessities like a refrigerator, stove and dishwasher. Allocate more for workhorses you know you’ll use daily. Be open to spending less on specialty appliances used less often.

Don’t underestimate long-term costs. Durability and energy efficiency affect the lifetime cost of owning an appliance. Well-built models from reputable brands often cost more upfront but can save money over time.

Evaluating Your Needs

Consider what and how you cook to choose appliances suited for your lifestyle and cooking habits. If you:

  • Bake frequently, invest in a powerful oven and convection setting.
  • Cook large meals, choose generous capacity appliances.
  • Make complicated dishes, opt for specialized appliances like pressure cookers.
  • Cook for one or two, compact appliances could suffice.

Take into account your kitchen’s size, layout and venting. Measure spaces appliances will occupy and ensure adequate room for opening doors and drawers. Confirm electrical, gas and plumbing connections meet appliance requirements.

Key Types of Kitchen Appliances


The refrigerator keeps perishable foods safely chilled. Options include:

  • Top freezer – Separate upper freezer atop a lower refrigerator. Affordable, common choice.
  • Bottom freezer – Freezer compartment on the bottom for easier access.
  • Side-by-side – Vertical split with fridge and freezer compartments next to each other. Space-saving fit for narrow kitchens.
  • French door – Upper refrigerated section with two doors. Bottom freezer drawer.
  • Counter-depth – Shallower depth for flush fit with surrounding cabinets. Good for small kitchens but less storage space.
  • Multi-door – Features specialized cooling zones for optimum food preservation. For avid cooks and entertainers.

Key features:

  • Capacity – Measured in cubic feet. Optimal size depends on household.
  • Adjustable shelving/drawers – Customizable configurations to accommodate various foods.
  • Temperature control – Manage cooling temperatures in different compartments.
  • Efficiency rating – Energy efficient models carry ENERGY STAR rating.

Ranges, Cooktops and Ovens

A range combines a cooktop and oven in one appliance. Cooktops and ovens can also be purchased separately.

  • Gas cooktops – Flames heat pots and pans quickly with precise temperature control. Require gas lines.
  • Electric cooktops – Coiled heating elements or smooth glass surface. Tend to have lower maximum heat than gas.
  • Electric ovens – Heat from top and bottom electric coils/elements. Good choice for gas cooktop pairing.
  • Convection ovens – Interior fan circulates hot air for faster, more even baking. Recommended for avid bakers.

Smart features like WiFi connectivity and remote preheating are now available. Size oven capacity to fit standard baking sheets and dishes.

Microwave Ovens

Microwaves use radio waves to quickly heat foods. Time saving option but does not brown or crisp.

Consider wattage – Higher watts heat faster. Optimal size fits normal dinner plates. Over-the-range style can be installed above ranges. Countertop models offer more flexibility.


Take over the chore of washing dishes. Look for:

  • Tub material – Long lasting stainless steel or plastic options.
  • Tub capacity – Accommodate large pots and pans if needed.
  • Wash cycles – Heavy duty and quick/light wash modes.
  • Efficiency rating – Save energy and water with ENERGY STAR models.
  • Noise rating – Quieter operation if open kitchen layout.

Small Kitchen Appliances

Specialized appliances carry out specific cooking tasks. Popular choices:

  • Stand mixers – Thoroughly mix batters and dough. Metal construction withstands heavy use.
  • Food processors – Chop, mix, shred and puree with interchangeable blades.
  • Blenders – Pulverize and liquefy fruits, vegetables and ice. Look for sharp, durable blades.
  • Toasters/toaster ovens – Toast bread or bake/broil small portions. Choose wide enough slots for bagels/thick bread.
  • Coffee maker – Make drip coffee and espresso drinks. Select programmable models or single serve presses.
  • Air fryer – Circulating hot air mimics deep frying for crispy food with less oil.

Match appliance capabilities with your needs. Carefully measure countertop space allotted.

Refrigerator Recommendations

When selecting a refrigerator, first determine the right capacity for your household’s needs. Aim for 5-7 cubic feet per person. Consider these refrigerator types:

  • For families, a side-by-side model optimizes shelf space. The vertical split allows for wide shelves to fit larger items. The narrower overall footprint fits standard kitchen layouts.
  • For small households, a top freezer or bottom freezer unit around 18-21 cubic feet should suffice. Compact mini fridges under 5 cubic feet work for dorms, offices and other small spaces.
  • For entertainers who store lots of food, a spacious multi-door refrigerator provides specialized cooling zones and ample storage. French door models also supply generous capacity.
  • For cooks who value convenience, look for refrigerators with easily accessible through-the-door ice and water dispensers. Models with interior water filtration systems produce cleaner tasting ice and water.

Prioritize efficiency – an ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator uses 10-50% less energy than standard models. Seek quiet operation if keeping the refrigerator in open kitchen areas. Carefully measure dimensions – counter depth models have a flush fit but significantly less interior space.

Oven and Cooktop Recommendations

The oven and cooktop serve as the main appliances for all cooking tasks. For most homes, an electric slide-in range offers the best versatility. Review these points when selecting ranges and built-in ovens:

  • Opt for a 5 to 6 cubic feet oven capacity – large enough for multiple pans with room around dishes for air circulation.
  • Look for both conventional and convection cooking modes – the convection fan speeds up cooking times.
  • Choose a cooktop with at least 4 burners. Gas cooktops heat up and cool down quickest. Electric induction cooktops allow very precise temperature control.
  • For bakers, add a separate wall oven for extra capacity and special modes like bread proofing. Install at waist height for ease of use.
  • Match the oven fuel type with your existing gas or electric hookups. Most ranges come in both gas and electric models.
  • Look for ranges with continuous grates over the cooktop – allows easy sliding of pans between burners.
  • Include food thermometers in your purchases – helps ensure thoroughly cooked and safe foods.

Dishwasher Recommendations

When selecting a dishwasher, pay close attention to:

  • Tub material – Most come with plastic or stainless steel tubs. Stainless holds up better over time but costs more.
  • Capacity – Standard sizes fit 8-12 place settings. Larger models available for big households.
  • Wash cycles – Look for quick washes for lightly soiled dishes and heavy duty cycles for deeper cleaning.
  • Watts used – Higher wattage means faster water heating and drying. 600-1400 watts is typical.
  • Noise rating – Measured in decibels, this indicates how loud operation will be. Opt for quieter models around 40 dB if open kitchen layout.
  • Efficiency rating – Choose an ENERGY STAR model to save on utility bills and water consumption.

Small Appliance Recommendations

Small kitchen appliances provide specialty functions that streamline cooking tasks. Consider adding these recommended models:

  • Stand mixer – A 5-quart bowl capacity mixer like the KitchenAid Artisan series can knead dough, whip cream and mix cakes. The tilt-head design allows easy bowl access.
  • Food processor – An 11-14 cup model like the Cuisinart Custom 14 can handle slicing, shredding, chopping, mixing and pureeing. The feed tube accommodates most fruits and vegetables without pre-cutting.
  • Blender – Opt for a high powered model like the Vitamix 5200 with hardened stainless steel blades that liquefy tough ingredients. Useful for smoothies, sauces, dressings and crushing ice.
  • Toaster oven – A mid-size 0.9 cubic foot oven like the Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven allows baking and broiling small batches. The convection fan provides fast, even heating.
  • Coffee maker – For coffee lovers, a programmable drip coffee maker with thermal carafe like the Cuisinart DCC-3400 keeps coffee hot for extended periods. The strength control dial customizes the flavor.

Prioritizing Key Features

Evaluate which features best fit your needs and priorities when choosing appliances:

Quality and Durability

Well-built appliances from reputable manufacturers hold up better over years of regular use. All-metal construction often denotes quality. Look for solid warranties as an assurance of durability. These brands are known for long-lasting kitchen appliances:

  • Sub-Zero
  • Viking
  • Miele
  • Bosch
  • Thermador
  • GE Monogram series
  • KitchenAid
  • Maytag
  • Whirlpool

Advanced Performance

Sophisticated appliances deliver specialized results through innovative features and technology:

  • Convection baking uses a fan to circulate hot air quickly for crisp, evenly cooked foods.
  • Induction cooktops utilize magnetic technology to directly heat pans, not the surface, allowing precise temperature control.
  • Steam ovens introduce moisture to keep foods tender inside and crisp outside.
  • sous vide cooking immerses vacuum sealed foods in water held at a precise stable temperature.
  • Blast chilling refrigerators quickly chill foods after cooking to prevent bacteria growth.
  • High speed blenders like Vitamix pulverize tough ingredients for super smooth purees.

Smart Appliances

The latest trend is appliances that connect to home WiFi and can be controlled remotely via smartphone:

  • Start the oven, adjust the temperature or turn off from another room.
  • Diagnose technical issues and perform software updates.
  • Monitor energy usage patterns.
  • Voice activation using smart speakers.

Smart technology provides added convenience and quicker access to key functions. WiFi connectivity comes standard on many new upscale appliance models.

User-Friendly Design

Look for appliances designed for simplicity and ease of use:

  • Touchscreen or dial controls that are intuitive to operate.
  • Easy-slide oven racks that glide smoothly in and out.
  • Telescoping faucets on refrigerators for filling water glasses and pitchers.
  • Dishwashers with adjustable/folding tines to fit odd shaped items.
  • Front control panels that tilt upward for easy viewing.
  • Options like pot filler faucets and warming drawers to maximize efficiency.

Energy Efficiency

Many appliances carry an Energy Star rating which indicates meeting strict energy efficiency criteria set by the EPA.

Benefits include:

  • 10-50% energy savings compared to standard models. Lower utility bills.
  • Reduced environmental impact. Less fossil fuel emissions from power generation.
  • Cost savings over the lifetime of the appliance. Higher upfront costs offset by lower operating costs.

Look at the EnergyGuide label providing the energy use and efficiency rating. Units with lower kilowatt usage are more efficient.

Visual Appeal

Kitchen appliances are visually prominent, so aesthetics may guide your selections:

  • Coordinated suite – Matching brands offer a unified look.
  • On-trend colors like black stainless, matte finishes and bold hues.
  • Professional-grade styling fits modern, gourmet kitchens.
  • Retro/vintage designs hearken back to 1950’s kitchens.
  • Unobtrusive or built-in models maintain a streamlined look.

Consider your overall kitchen design and decor style. But don’t sacrifice function for looks alone.

Budget-Friendly Costs

Less expensive appliances offer decent functionality without the premium price tag. Potential options:

  • Basic white finish. More budget friendly than stainless steel or paneled faces.
  • Manual defrost freezers instead of no-frost models.
  • Entry level models of quality brands, usually lacking some upscale features.
  • Past season models frequently discounted.
  • Used appliances in good condition from estate sales, auctions, thrift stores.
  • Scratch and dent items with superficial flaws but intact performance.

Research product reviews and look for good warranties on these budget appliances. Match key features to your needs.

Shopping Recommendations

Use these tips to make smart purchasing decisions as you shop for kitchen appliances:

  • Set your budget cap and make a list of must-have features before shopping. This helps filter choices and avoid overspending on unneeded options.
  • Read product specifications and user reviews to understand real-world performance and potential issues.
  • Take measurements of your existing kitchen spaces. Double check appliance measurements and required cabinet openings.
  • Do not impulse buy. Take time to carefully consider each appliance purchase. Delaying purchases of non-urgent items can allow for higher budgets down the road.
  • If remodeling, install versatile appliances like slide-in ranges that work with evolving decor. Avoid trendy finishes that look dated quickly.
  • Take advantage of seasonal sales, especially around major holidays and Black Friday. October-December tend to offer the steepest discounts.
  • Bundle appliances with kitchen remodels to ask contractors for package discounts. Buying everything from one store also typically earns a discount.
  • Costco, Best Buy and brands’ own websites frequently offer the best deals. Compare their pricing and be prepared to price match.
  • Avoid depending on rebates. Initial promotional pricing with rebates often expires before devices arrive. Rebates also often have lengthy processing delays.

Ordering and Installation

Follow these tips for smooth ordering and installation:

  • For specialty appliances like Sub-Zero, work with a dedicated appliance retailer for ordering, especially if adjustments are needed. Big box stores might not stock premium brands. Local stores can also include installation and removal of old appliances.
  • Take into account delivery lead times, which can run 4 weeks or more on some models. Order early if replacing an existing broken appliance. Rentals can help in the interim if needed.
  • Include matching refrigerator water filters, additional racks,remote controls and other accessories in initial orders to avoid piecemeal shipping costs down the road.
  • Confirm if delivery includes new appliance setup and functioning check, along with disposal of the old unit. Installation and haul away usually cost extra.
  • Have any gas, plumbing, electrical or cabinet modifications completed before delivery. Measure carefully to assure a good fit within the space.
  • Inspect appliances at delivery before signing paperwork. Photograph any exterior damage like scratches or dents. Make notes on the delivery paperwork.
  • Run through basic functioning on all settings. Test refrigerator cooling, oven preheating, cooktop burners, dishwasher cycles, etc.
  • If issues arise, contact the merchant immediately and follow their directions for service calls or replacements.


What are the most essential kitchen appliances?

The most essential kitchen appliances for any home are:

  • Refrigerator – Preserves perishable foods safely. Necessary for proper food storage.
  • Oven and cooktop – Provides means for all types of cooking, baking and heating foods.
  • Sink – Required for food prep work, cleaning dishes and filling water glasses.
  • Trash compactor – Allows convenient space for garbage storage and disposal.

How can I incorporate smart technology into my appliances?

Many new kitchen appliances offer smart technology and WiFi connectivity. Options include:

  • Smart refrigerators – View interior cameras, adjust temperatures and receive notification if doors left open.
  • Smart ovens – Remote start preheating, monitor cook times with food probes.
  • Smart dishwashers – Monitor cycle status and receive notification when complete.
  • Smart microwaves – Voice commands for starting, ability to send cooking instructions from smartphone.

Choose appliances with smart features that simplify routines and provide added convenience for your needs.

Should I splurge on pro-style appliances?

Pro-style appliances offer durability and performance for home cooks. Consider splurging on these:

  • Dual fuel range – With a gas cooktop and electric oven, provides quick heating and even baking.
  • Tradeup refrigerator – Larger capacity and more drawer space than typical home models.
  • Commercial grade vent hood – More powerful fan for efficient smoke and odor removal.
  • Larger dishwasher – To wash big pots and pans without hand washing.

For most home kitchens, pro-style appliances may be overkill. Focus funds on appliances you know you will use regularly.

Should I buy extended warranties on appliances?

Purchasing extended warranties on kitchen appliances involves weighing pros and cons:

Potential benefits:

  • Covers repairs and replacement parts outside manufacturer’s 1 year warranty period. This can equal hundreds in savings on servicing costs.
  • Convenient support from the retailer instead of working directly through manufacturers.
  • May provide some additional perks like food spoilage reimbursement for some refrigerators.


  • Adds significantly to the appliance cost – usually an extra 10-20% of the purchase price.
  • Many issues are covered by manufactures’ warranties. Reliable brands offer warranties of 3 years or longer on major