A buyer's guide to small appliances
As every budding chef, cake maker or family cook knows, the key to great cooking is having the right kitchen kit. These days, if a job needs doing, chances are there’s something with blades and a plug that can do it for you. Kneading, pulsing, pulverising, rubbing in and juicing all can get done in minutes at the flick of a switch. Confused about what you need? Read on…
Purists might prefer a knife, but ask a busy chef or pestered parent and they’ll both agree the food processor is an absolute essential. These multipurpose slicing, dicing and chopping machines come with all manner of attachments, from circular blades, graters and blenders to kneaders, beaters and whisks.
Hotpoint Multifunctional Food Processor £139, Amazon
Multiple attachments, variable speed, good bowl size, reasonably priced, a great all rounder.
Make sure your choice comes with a slicing blade, dicing blade and grating disc. Most also have whisk, kneading hooks and emulsifying paddles (for mayonnaise). To complete the set, look for a removable blender jug for mixing soup and smoothies.
MagimixLe Micro, £59.99, Amazon
Don’t let the cute looks fool you, this is an exceptional kitchen tool which makes up for
its compact size by packing a punch on the chopping front. From herbs to
nuts to baby food…
Prices vary considerably. A simple £50-£75 plastic design is ideal for casual use, but for long lasting professional grade performance budget around £250.
- Additional attachments are available to buy direct from the manufacturer and as a rule, the more expensive the model the greater the choice.
- Most models won’t switch on unless the lid is in place, but look for wide-feed chutes so you can add ingredients without risking your fingers.
- Look for the most powerful motor possible (shown in watts) while a ‘pulse’ setting lets you monitor how fine you’re chopping. One-speed induction motors are found on the highest quality machines and provide the most consistent power.
- Always look for dishwasher-safe parts; it makes cleaning quicker and a whole lot safer.
- Multi-attachments are extremely useful, but choose a model with decent storage – either on board or separate container – to keep sharp items safe.
You want a strong centrifugal operating system, a beefy motor, and good quality steel blades that will pulversize effortlessly without overheating while extracting every last drop out of your fruit and veg. Check for noise levels as well – a key factor when making those early morning revivatives!
Nutribullet Graphite, £79.99 Lakeland
The essential piece of kit for anyone doing the plant-based thing. Maximum goodness, minimium fuss, and all in ten seconds per drink.
Vitamix Professional Series 750, £650, Vitamix
but this all-in one number, widely demonstrated, has legion fans, who
swear by its myriad uses and ability to make light work of everything
from soup-making to ice cream, hoummous to smoothies. On a cost-for-use
basis, along with its 7-year warranty, the cost actually makes sense.
A must-have in the productive kitchen. Generally supplied with a stainless-steel bowl, balloon whisk, dough hook and beater, the attachments are slotted into the motor and then lowered into the bowl of ingredients. Mixers are not designed to crush or slice, but make quick work of kneading, whisking and beating.
KitchenAid Artisan, £429, Lakeland
Many designs, such as the iconic Artisan from KitchenAid, have barely changed in decades, but there are hi-tech options – the Kenwood Cooking Chef, for instance, features an induction heater for cooking and mixing.
kMix Stand Mixer, from
Too big to hide, but with 11 colours (including stripes) to choose from, it makes the perfect hard-working, dough-kneading, egg-whisking, worktop accessory.
Invest wisely and you’ll have a kitchen gadget built to last a lifetime. Look for long guarantees as a sign the manufacturer has faith in their product.
- Mixers aren’t cheap; the best value designs cost £200, but budget at least £300-£400.
- Stand mixers don’t need much power to fold and beat, but variable speed control is vital to avoid over-kneading and -mixing.
Look for models with ‘soft start’ which build up speed slowly to avoid spraying ingredients all over the kitchen.
Bodum Bistro 11381-294UK Food Mixer, £350, Bodum
Coated in rubberised plastic, it comes with a 4.7-litre stainless-steel bowl and storage space in the top for dough hook, flat mixer and egg-beater.******