10 Small Appliances for $50 or Less
Affordable and top-performing toasters, coffee makers, humidifiers, and more worth a look—for yourself or as a gift
With the holidays fast approaching, stores and online retailers are offering discounts and free shipping, so there are plenty of bargains to be found.
Fortunately, the experts in Consumer Reports' labs are on the lookout for good deals all year long and have found some top-performing small appliances that cost $50 or less. Below, 10 solid options, from toasters and coffee makers to handheld vacuums and space heaters.
This Crane tabletop was excellent in overall performance and is intended to humidify areas up to 250 square feet. In our humidifier tests, this ultrasonic model earned Excellent scores for moisture output, noise level, and energy efficiency, and its output with hard water, and it earned a score of Very Good for convenience. Daily output is 1.4 gallons. The Crane comes in many other colorful child-friendly shapes.
The 10-inch Cuisinart CastLite Nonstick pan turns out evenly browned pancakes, and fried eggs slide out like silk when done, without any scraping or sticking. The handle stays cool to the touch, too, so with all hassles removed, the only thing left is to eat and enjoy.
It could be mistaken for a Grecian urn and will blend in with your décor. The Lasko Designer Series space heater is excellent at room heating and very good at bathing a person in direct heat. Despite its high style, the heater is simple to operate and pretty quiet, too. It rests in a metal stand, oscillates, and can be turned on and off with a remote.
The least expensive Rowenta steam iron in our tests, this was also the best of that brand. It earned a score of Excellent overall and delivered superb ironing and lots of steam. The surge button provides a burst of steam when trying to remove stubborn wrinkles, and the vertical steam feature lets you remove wrinkles from hanging garments and drapes. The sole plate is stainless steel, and the ready light indicates that the iron is hot enough to use. There's a self-clean feature and auto-shutoff, which turns off the iron when left stationary for a short time.
This two-slice toaster from Cuisinart is one of the least expensive in our toaster ratings, but it managed to achieve a fairly high overall score. Toast popped up evenly brown in almost every batch, and the toaster offers very good control over color range, in case some in your household like toast dark and some like it light. Special features include a bagel setting and slide-out crumb tray for easy cleanup. Its retro metal housing looks good on the countertop.
A Sam’s Club exclusive, this nonstick aluminum pan scored Excellent overall, and the nonstick coating withstood all 2,000 strokes in our durability test. Food cooks evenly and easily slides out of this 10-inch pan, but it needs nudging once the nonstick coating begins to wear.
This 12-cup machine delivers great value and an even better cup of joe. The automatic drip machine gets the water hot enough to bring out the coffee’s full flavor, and we found it fairly easy to set up, operate, and clean in our coffee maker tests. Plus the spill-free carafe is helpful if you’re a bit clumsy before that first morning cup.
Cuisinart’s five-speed hand mixer had no trouble powering through stiff cookie dough in our mixer tests, and it was very quick at whipping. We also like the well-priced mixer’s wire beaters, which are easier to clean than the traditional center-post variety. Worth noting: This mixer is louder than other recommended models.
Eureka's corded hand vacuum was best suited for pickup on bare floors and at edges, where the floor meets the wall. But in our vacuum tests, it was impressive overall and fairly quiet. Pluses include a spacious dust bin, onboard tool storage, and an electric rotating brush that adapts for vertical surfaces. As for minuses, the exhaust from the powerful motor can blow debris around before it can be picked up. This model is also a bit on the heavy side for a hand vacuum.
This colorful immersion blender aced our soup purée test and was very good at all other tasks, including blending yogurt, and chopping veggies and grating cheese using the chopper accessory. It comes with a handy beaker and has two speeds for smooth transitions.