11 Essential Small Kitchen Appliances for Your First Home

I recall the panic when I first moved out and got my first home. I wondered what small kitchen appliances to get for my first home. It took me a while to figure out what appliances to buy and what was a waste of money.

Here’s what I learned in that process:

The essential small appliances you need for your first home include a toaster, a toaster oven, a coffee maker, a microwave, an immersion blender, a regular blender & a food processor since they will get the most use. 

Having been around the block a few times, I’ve bought lots of small kitchen appliances, so I’m in a good place to know what you need, what you don’t need, which brands are better, and the best places to buy them.

So let’s review the small appliances for your first home, and we’ll answer some of the top questions that go with that.

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.

What appliances do you need for a new house?

When you’re setting up a new house, especially your first house, there’s a ton of stuff to buy.

Thus, it’s important to figure out what the most important things are and buy them in order of priority. After all, unless you nailed that 6 figure job right out of college you’re going to be on a tight budget too.

So let’s take a look at the basic appliances you need for a new house by room.

KITCHEN APPLIANCES

    • Microwave – pretty essential for reheating leftovers
    • Toaster – Perfect for morning toast or bagels
    • Toaster oven – Great for reheating pizza or other things that would take longer in the big oven
    • Blender – Such a wide variety of uses from smoothies, to making creamy soups or sauces
    • Food processor – Easily chop, grind, grate or (with a different blade) make bread dough


HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES

    • Washer & Dryer – Pretty essential unless you have a laundromat around the corner
    • Vacuum cleaner – Arguably not necessary if you have no carpet, but even on solid floors they are helpful, especially with pets
    • Small hand vac – Unlike the big rolling vacuum cleaner, a small hand-held dustbuster-type hand vac is great for cleaning crumbs off a coach or getting into small nooks and crannies

Yes, you could get fancier with things like a humidifier or dehumidifier, or air and water purifiers. But to just get a basic starter home off the ground, those are probably unnecessary.

If your new house doesn’t have central air conditioning and heat then you’d obviously want to add window units and space heaters depending on what part of the country and world you live in.

What appliances do you need in a kitchen?

The kitchen is often the heart of the house.

I couldn’t tell you how many parties I’ve held or been to where everyone eventually ends up in the kitchen. If you know nothing about cooking, that’s fine, you can start with the basic list of small kitchen appliances I listed above: microwave, toaster, toaster oven, blender, food processor.

But a fully set up kitchen that’s ready to host dinner parties or your parents will need a few more items as well. So in addition to those, let’s consider:

An Immersion Blender

This is a small handheld blender. Unlike a counter-top blender you pour stuff into, this one goes with you to where you are cooking or preparing. Essentially it’s a long handle with a blade on the end.

The blade is partially covered to protect you and to keep splatter to a minimum. The blade is usually removable so it can go right in the dishwasher when you’re done.

Cooking broth and veggies on the stove? Just dip the immersion blender in and purée until you have a smooth, creamy soup!

But it works wonders on sauces too! Turn whole peeled tomatoes into tomato sauce in seconds!

Check out a lot more about them and especially How to Use an Immersion Blender for Soup (click to read my detailed guide) for more great tips.

Crock-Pot or other slow cookers

Don’t be afraid of the Crock-Pot! For years my wife would see me cooking meal after meal in our slow cookers but she was petrified to ever try and use it.

They are so simple to use, so once you get started you’ll wonder how you ever did without one!

While most recipes are a little more complex than just throwing the ingredients in and turning it on, it isn’t much more complicated than that.

Whether soups, perfectly pulled pork, chile, or even lasagne (which my kids LOVE), the slow cooker is the perfect one pot meal solution, so you’ll definitely want one.

There are some right ways and wrong ways to use a slow cooker, though, so definitely make sure to learn Why Do Slow Cookers Crack (click to read my ultimate safety guide)?

Coffee Grinder

This one is so simple and they are cheap, so why not?

Of course, if you’re not a coffee lover then you can probably skip this. But for the rest of us, there’s just no substitute for fresh ground coffee.

Buy whole beans (never stick them in the freezer) and grind fresh every morning and you’ll never use instant coffee ever again.

Even if you have a Keurig or other pod-based coffee maker, just get a refillable cup (the landfill will thank you too) and grind and fill each morning.

Check out all my coffee product recommendations (click to see my list) including great, but inexpensive coffee grinders! 

What are the most useless small kitchen appliances you can skip?

There are a few things that really just aren’t necessary unless you’re the kind of person that just likes cool gadgets and wants to have everything.

So personally, especially on a small budget, I would steer clear of the following small kitchen appliances and gadgets, at least when you’re setting up your first house.

  • Electric can opener – Really? You can’t turn a hand can opener?
  • Espresso Maker – I love espresso, but when I had one of these do you know how often I used it? About twice in a year’s time. Go to Starbucks when you need this fix.
  • Bread machine – I had one of these too. And make no mistake, freshly baked bread is AWESOME! But guess what? You can make it in your oven pretty easily too and at least my machine was constantly popping the lid open during baking which ruins the bread.
  • Egg Cooker – Really? How hard is it to boil an egg? Plop one in cold water in a pot on the stove and turn on high. In about 12-14 minutes it’s ready to peel. ’nuff said. Check out my complete article on How to Hard Boil Eggs (click to read my step-by-step guide) so they peel easily.
  • Pasta Maker – Like fresh bread, fresh pasta is awesome too! But let’s be real. Unless you’re Martha Stewart how much time are you actually going to spend making pasta by hand when you can buy a great box of organic bronze-dye extruded penne for under three bucks?
  • An electric knife sharpener – Most of them don’t work well, if at all. I have a simple sharpening stone and I drag the blade of my non-serrated knives across it at an angle holding it at about 45°. I do one side and then the other, pressing down firmly as I pass. Depending on how dull your knife is, it may take 10-20 passes. Then use a sharpening steel to align the tines on the blade of the knife.
  • Ice Cream Maker – Again, this sounds like a great idea, as most of these do. But the reality is you’ll likely rarely use it and most of the time in my house when we do eat ice cream it’s at a restaurant.

What should I buy for my first kitchen?

Aside from the tools, gadgets and small kitchen appliances we’ve discussed, the other basics of your starter home kitchen would include:

  • Utensils (basic knife, fork, spoon sets) to serve 8 people
  • Plates, bowls, and cups (enough for 8 people)
  • Cooking utensils (wooden spoons, slotted spoons, ladles, spatulas, tongs)
  • Kitchen towels
  • Heating pads (to both grab hot things from the oven and also to set on the counter so your hot pot doesn’t burn the counter)
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups

What does every home chef need?

So if you know a little bit about cooking and are ready to take your skills and your tools to the next level, here’s what I like.

Bear in mind, I’m not a professional chef, but I did work at Whole Foods Market for over 20 years and I’ve taken cooking classes with experts like Stephan Pyles, so I’m not a total novice either.

1. A great chef’s knife

There’s just no substitute for a great chef’s knife. You’ll want one that’s about 10″ and if you’re serious about cooking, you’ll want a really good one.

I have 3, but I really only use 2 of them and they are exactly the same. They are made by Global and at the time, they cost me close to $100 each. That was almost 20 years ago!

I sharpen them monthly and I use a sharpening steel (poorly named as it just aligns the tines, but can’t actually sharpen a dull knife) before each use.

I have a detailed expert guide covering EVERYTHING you might want to know about Chef’s Knives (click to read on my site), so definitely check that out! 

2. A zester or microplane

Many recipes call for things like lemon zest (finely grated lemon peel).

Thus, a zester or microplane (handheld grater with very small grates) accomplishes this easily. I have both, but if I were just picking one, I’d go with the microplane because it can also grate parmesan easily and has many other uses too.

3. A hand squeeze juicer

Sometimes a recipe calls for the juice of a lemon, lime, or orange.

While you can just cut them in half and squeeze with your hand, you’ll get more yield from a hand squeezer. Plus it has the added bonus of not causing you to shriek in pain if you have any cuts on your squeezing hand.

They make these in 3 sizes typically (conveniently color-coded in green (limes), yellow (lemons) and orange (oranges). But I find the yellow one works pretty well for all 3 and lemons are also what I tend to squeeze the most.

Nothing is better than fresh squeezed orange juice, so to find out how many oranges you need for a glass and which oranges are sweeter, make sure to review my article on How to Use a Juicer to Make Orange Juice (click to read now on my site).

4. A hand chopper

Yes, if you’re Gordon Ramsey your knife skills can probably fly through mincing garlic and onions in no time.

But for the rest of us, a hand chopper is great for chopping garlic, onion, carrots, etc quickly, evenly, and efficiently.

I had the same one for 10 years from Zyliss that broke last month. Many of them don’t hold up well, so make sure and read reviews.

Unfortunately, Zyliss no longer makes the model I had, so I’m back to the drawing board. But I do know they make some great products.

5. Teapot

No need to get fancy or electric.

While you can, of course, boil water in a pot, if you’re making tea or need to be able to pour the water into a cup or anything else with a small opening, an inexpensive teapot should definitely make the list.

What are the top 10 kitchen utensils?

A utensil is basically any hand tool you use to cook, bake, or prep with.

For our purposes, I’m also going to just list things that are NOT electric. I’ve already gone over a few of the kitchen utensils that I think are essential for a good kitchen, so here’s a quick recap:

  1. Hand chopper
  2. Hand squeeze juicer
  3. Microplane
  4. Peeler – great for potatoes, carrots, ginger, and loads of other things
  5. Cheese grater – for larger pieces the microplane can’t produce
  6. Wire mesh strainer – great for removing solids or sediment from liquids
  7. Whisk – A far better way to whip something than just stirring with a spoon
  8. Wooden spoons – Ideal for stirring sauces, tossing salad, or sauteing in a pan. You’ll want several of these.
  9. Spatulas – Nothing flips a pancake or an omelet quite like a good spatula. You may want a few sizes of these too. I prefer non-metal ones so they don’t scratch your cookware
  10. Tongs – Great for picking food out of hot oil or grabbing hot food to set on a plate.

What is the best kitchen gadget?

Best kitchen gadget is VERY subjective.

Plus, it’s hard to compare apples or oranges as each kitchen gadget and appliance has a different purpose.

That being said, aside from basics like knives, cutting boards, etc., if I had to pick just 1 small kitchen appliance to use over all others, it would definitely be a food processor.

I’ve had the same food processor (Cuisinart) for well over a decade. I love small kitchen appliances that just last and last, and this is one of those.

I have used it for so many different things, from:

  • Salad dressing – Just throw in some garlic cloves, some vinegar or lemon juice, some fresh herbs, maybe a tablespoon of dijon mustard and pulse while you drizzle in extra virgin olive oil slowly.
  • Dough for tortillas – With the non-sharp dough blade, it’s easy to make dough for tortillas, chapatis, empanadas, and lots of other things.
  • Pesto – Nothing is better than fresh pesto. My wife loves to grab jarred pesto because it’s easy, but this is so easy it’s criminal. Add some fresh garlic cloves, a bunch of fresh basil leaves, some grated parmesan cheese, and some pine nuts and pulse while you drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil. No jarred pesto compares!
  • Masa for tamales – Tamales are so easy to make and most people will never know. Yes, they take an hour to cook, but the prep is not complicated at all! Just get some masa flour from the store and mix in some non-hydrogenated shortening or butter and pulse with the dough blade and it’s done. Then just spread onto corn husks or banana leaves with your favorite toppings and steam for outstanding tamales. But actually my favorite variation is a recipe from Stephan Pyles (who I had the honor of taking a cooking class from) so check out his Tamale Tart with Crabmeat recipe and be prepared to drool a little.
  • Indian food – from naan bread dough, to chutneys to perfect curry sauces, the food processor is amazing for Cooking and Preparing Indian Food (click to read my article on all the ways).

And that’s just scratching the surface of what they can do.  Multiple purposes, easy to clean, dishwasher safe, and designed to save you lots of time.

So let’s recap those . . . 

17 Essential Small Kitchen Appliances for Your First Home

1. Blender

A great way to make a quick smoothie or blend a soup or sauce to a silky smooth consistency.

2. Food processor

The easiest way to make sauces, dressings, bread dough, chop nuts, or a whole host of other food preparations.

3. Coffee Maker

Essential for my morning and likely yours too. While the occasional treat at a coffee shop is great, financially it just makes sense to make your own most of the time.

One other question people have with specifically with their Keurig coffee makers is whether you can leave them on all day or if you should turn them off after using.

But the question and my answer apply to virtually any coffee maker.

I answer the question Can a Keurig Be Left on All Day (click to read my article), including how much energy that uses and whether it poses a fire hazard. So check it out if you leave yours on for long periods of time.

4. Coffee grinder

As cheap as coffee grinders are, there’s just no excuse not to have and use a coffee grinder. It makes infinitely better coffee and the whole bean coffee will stay fresher longer.

5. Immersion Blender

Indispensable for quickly puréeing a sauce or soup.

6. Microwave

I probably don’t have to explain just how convenient a microwave is for reheating most leftovers or quickly boiling water.

7. Toaster

For making bagels or toast there’s just no substitute for a basic toaster.  Even the awesome toaster oven doesn’t do them as well (which is why I recommend both).

8. Toaster Oven

Simply the best way to reheat some pizza, cook a small entree or reheat anything too big to fit in a regular toaster. It heats up much quicker than a regular oven plus when it’s a scorching hot summer day, it doesn’t turn your kitchen into a furnace-like your oven can.

9. Crock-Pot (or other slow cookers)

When you work all day and come home dog tired, sometimes the last thing you want to do is fix a big meal and it breaks the bank to eat out every night. Enter the slow cooker.  Just load it up in the morning before work and let it work it’s magic while you’re gone. Walk in after work and dinner is waiting for you.

10. Hand mixer

If you need to beat some eggs, make homemade whipped cream, or if you’re a baker, a hand mixer is indispensable. While you can get the little guy with the 2 removable beaters, if it fits in your budget, go for gold with a KitchenAid mixer.

11. Pressure cooker

Like your Crock-pot, a pressure cooker can be the busy working person’s savior when it comes to one-pot meals and quick meal solutions.

I hope my article helped answer some of those questions you had about what small appliances you need for your first home.

As the name implies, a pressure cooker seals in the pressure and remains airtight, greatly speeding up the cooking process and shaving a significant amount of time off your cook time.

Virtually any foods that could be cooked with steam or by boiling or braising can be cooked with a pressure cooker. But steer clear of using it for things like pasta.

Did we cover all the small kitchen appliances for your first home you were expecting?

Moving into your first home can be a bit nervewracking as no matter how much we prepare or how excited we are, you just don’t know what you don’t know.

But this list of essential small kitchen appliances was designed to help you get started on setting up a basic kitchen that will be functional and not have you panicked every time someone new comes over for dinner.

If you found this guide helpful, why not share it on your favorite social sites?

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.


Photo credits:

Making Waffles Uses A Lot of Dishes by merri is licensed by CC2.0

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with his wife & 3 daughters, he can usually be found practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

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