Arranging kitchen counter space is like playing a game of organizational Tetris — make the wrong move and things stack up all wrong.
Keeping a space functional and uncluttered is the goal and small appliances that serve multiple purposes can help with that.
There are questions to consider: what exactly do I need out of this appliance? Can it do more than I need — or too much? How does it fit around my existing pieces? How many times a week will I use it?
Take stock, then shop.
GRILL GRIDDLE AND WAFFLE MAKERS
This Dash mini grill has a four-inch surface for grilled cheese sandwiches, ham, and little desserts (like individual cookies). It has a non-stick surface, pre-heat indicator light, and comes with a recipe book for ideas. (Dash also makes a matching mini waffle maker and mini griddle for pancakes; both are more expensive than the grill.)
Who it's ideal for: Cooks who like to make sandwiches, sliders, desserts and veggies quickly.
Why we're endorsing it: Lots of positive reviews; safety and usability.
Where it could use improvements: No on/off switch or temperature control.
Size/weight/dimensions: 12.7 x 15.24 x 7.11 cm.
COUNTERTOP OVENS THAT DO IT ALL
Convection ovens are a very underrated kitchen appliance that even professional chefs use because it can reduce cooking time. The newest Cuisinart convection oven, air fryer and toaster oven can make crisp potatoes and roast a three-pound chicken with heat up to 450 degrees. The dial has six settings (warm, broil, bake, air fry, toast, bagel), a timer, and a setting for light/medium/dark for toast.
Who it's ideal for: Anyone who wants extra oven space without taking up too much counter space.
Why we're endorsing it: Brand trust, hundreds of five-star reviews, multiple cooking functions.
Where it could use improvements: Dials are manual, not electronic; this is a newer appliance and frequently sold out.
Size/weight/dimensions: 40.64 x 35.56 x 39.37 cm.
For those who already have an air fryer and don’t want to double-up on the same appliance, this KitchenAid Digital Countertop Oven has nine functions (cook, bake, broil, defrost, toast, pizza, reheat, cookies and roast) and is great for those who don’t have (or want) a microwave.
Who it's ideal for: Someone who wants a multi-purpose cooking appliance for everyday use.
Why we're endorsing it: Brand trust, hundreds of five-star reviews, removable trays, non-stick surfaces.
Where it could use improvements: This is not a convection oven, but a countertop oven.
Size/weight/dimensions: 40.64 x 43.18 x 28.7 cm.
AN ICE MAKER WORTH TALKING ABOUT
Ice makers are a word-of-mouth appliance: find someone who has one and they will never stop talking about it. There's something about never having to refill an ice tray that gets people very excited and this Frigidaire Countertop Compact Ice Maker takes six minutes to make ice, stores up to 2.6 pounds of ice and can produce over 26 pounds a day.
Who it's ideal for: Anyone who doesn’t have a lot of freezer space or ice maker attached to their fridge.
Why we're endorsing it: Brand trust; makes a large amount of ice for a small size; basket and shovel.
Where it could use improvements: Makes one-size cubes and only comes in white.
Size/weight/dimensions: 13”H x 12”L x 10” W.
There is a three-cup version of the Zojirushi rice maker, but we are recommending the six-cup version because it has a “keep warm” function and can also steam vegetables. Those two features make up for the slightly bigger design (about three inches all around).
Who it's ideal for: Anyone who wants consistent and perfectly cooked rice.
Why we're endorsing it: Excellent user reviews, simplicity of use.
Where it could use improvements: For those unfamiliar with rice cookers, following instructions is key.
Size/weight/dimensions: 13”H x 12”L x 10” W.
SOUPS, SMOOTHIES, SAUCES
Ever since Vitamix shot to popularity, it seems like most blenders are super-powered and super-sized. We compared the Vitamix A2300’s capabilities and reviews to similar-sized models and the few extra centimetres are worth it for the 2.2 horsepower. Vitamixes aren’t just for smoothies; they can blend sauces, dips, batter and soups (which heat up in the blender). This one is wireless, comes with a digital timer and can pair with an app.
Who it's ideal for: Someone who wants an appliance workhorse.
Why we're endorsing it: Brand trust, power, warranty.
Where it could use improvements: Vitamixes are loud; price is premium.
Size/weight/dimensions: 11" x 8" x 17".
For more must-have kitchen appliances (including a mini food processor we’re wild about), check out our recommendations.