8 Small Appliance All-Stars
The top-performing countertop appliances from CR's tests
While matching small appliances might look good on your counter, choosing this kitchen gear by brand and looks alone could backfire when it comes to performance. You might, for instance, end up with a top-performing coffee maker but a subpar blender.
“Over years of testing, we’ve found that no one brand dominates every small-appliance category,” says Emilio Gonzalez, the engineer who oversees CR’s small-appliance tests.
So if you want the best-performing small appliances, you’ll have to mix and match across multiple manufacturers.
To streamline that process, CR has pulled together the winners from our latest tests of blenders, coffee makers, stand mixers, toaster ovens, and more.
Cost wasn’t a factor in our selection of these high-performing small appliances—some of these gadgets are pricey. But know that our ratings of small appliances will help you find top-notch gear for hundreds less than the all-star lineup shown here.
Go to Consumer Reports' 2018 Holiday Central for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.
CR’s take: Vitamix holds the top few spots in our blender ratings, and the Vitamix Professional Series 750 is the crème de la crème. It whips up superb smoothies and icy drinks, and is also great at puréeing sauces, soups, and more. It can even make soups hot, if you want. The 8-cup blender is shorter than the original Vitamix, so it will fit under the upper cabinets in most kitchens. If you want to include an immersion blender in your lineup, the Breville Control Grip BSB510XL, $100, is our current ratings champ.
CR’s take: The Cuisinart PerfecTemp 14 Cup Programmable DCC-3200 delivers the closest thing to a perfect cup of drip coffee. Standout brew performance is matched by an easy-to-handle carafe. It’s also programmable, with both a small-batch setting and a brew-strength setting, so you can have your coffee waiting for you each morning, just the way you like it. But even if you forget, the regular brewing time is only 10 minutes.
CR’s take: The Essenza Mini earns high marks for first-cup speed, repeat-cup speed, and cup-size consistency, as well as a brewing range rating of Excellent, which means you have plenty of control over the strength of your brew. It has a removable water reservoir, a height-adjustable drip tray, and an auto-off function. Like the Nescafé brewer, the Nespresso Essenza Mini is simple to use, but it has the added ability to brew three different types of coffee—lungo (an Italian coffee), espresso, and ristretto (a more concentrated espresso)—depending on the capsules you buy. A deep red, it adds a pop of color to your kitchen.
CR’s take: Cuisinart might have the most name recognition in the food processor category, but the Breville Sous Chef BFP800XL/A is by far the best model in our tests. The 16-cup Sous Chef does everything well, including slicing, shredding, and grating. For all its power and performance, it’s also surprisingly quiet. Added features include an adjustable slicing disk, mini-bowl attachment, and whipping blade. You can spend about half as much on some of the other models we’ve tested, but you’ll give up some performance.
CR’s take: From the manufacturer that invented the device, the 10-speed KitchenAid Professional 6500 Design Series stand mixer will take care of all your baking needs. The stylish machine is superb at whipping cream and has no trouble folding chocolate chips into stiff cookie dough or kneading bread dough. Like other KitchenAid mixers, it can accommodate a variety of helpful accessories, including a meat grinder and pasta press—so it’s good for a lot more than dough. Want a hand mixer for smaller jobs? The Cuisinart Power Advantage HM-50, $40, outperforms all other models in our tests.
CR’s take: Stylish and stainless, the 2-slice Breville Bit More BTA720XL garnered an Excellent rating in our ease-of-use tests, meaning the controls are clearly presented and easy to set. This top-scoring toaster has wide slots and settings for cut bagels and frozen bread, which defrosts the bread then toasts. And if your toast turns out too light? Press the button labeled "A Bit More," and it will toast a little longer.
CR’s take: Australian manufacturer Breville gets a second all-star selection with the Breville Smart Oven Pro. It scores a Very Good at baking and broiling, and unlike some models, it’s adept at making toast. It’s also quite roomy inside, with space for a 4-pound chicken or six slices of toast, and its stainless steel housing and beefy controls combine for a sleek, professional look.
CR’s take: With a usable capacity of 1.4 cubic feet, the Panasonic NN-SD945S is one of the roomier countertop microwaves in our tests. It aces our defrosting test, in which we defrost 1 pound of ground chuck, and our testers found that the controls were intuitive and a cinch to use. It’s relatively speedy at heating a container of water, and it operates quietly. Our only knock: It wasn’t the best at heating a dish of mashed potatoes evenly throughout.