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Coffee maker is a small appliance.

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.

1
Blender
Vitamix Professional Series 750

Vitamix Professional Series 750

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.

    2
    Drip Coffee Maker
    Cuisinart PerfecTemp 14 Cup Programmable DCC-3200

    Cuisinart PerfecTemp 14 Cup...

    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.

      3
      Single-Serve Coffee Maker
      Starbucks Verismo 600

      Starbucks Verismo 600

      CR’s take: The Starbucks Verismo 600 quickly turns out single servings of coffee one cup after another, so if you’re not first in line in the morning, you won’t have to wait long for your cup of joe. We found that the second cup wasn’t quite as steaming as the first but was still hot enough to satisfy. As with all pod coffee makers, this one gets so-so marks in our taste tests. If you like a stronger brew, use less water.

        4
        Food Processor
        Breville Sous Chef BFP800XL/A

        Breville Sous Chef BFP800XL/A

        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.

          5
          Stand Mixer
          KitchenAid Professional 6500 Design Series

          KitchenAid Professional 6500...

          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.

            6
            Toaster
            Krups 2-Slice KH732D50

            Krups 2-Slice KH732D50

            CR’s take: The Krups 2-Slice KH732D50 wasted no time taking over the top spot in our ratings, thanks to its ability to produce evenly browned toast batch after batch—a difficult task for many toasters. Convenient features include defrost, reheat, and bagel settings, as well as a removable crumb tray and easy-to-clean push-button controls. The blue LED indicators and brushed-and-chrome stainless steel housing add a touch of style to the countertop and integrate nicely with the other appliances on this list.

              7
              Toaster Oven
              Breville Smart Oven Pro BOV845BSS

              Breville Smart Oven Pro BOV845BSS

              CR’s take: Australian manufacturer Breville gets a second all-star selection with the Breville Smart Oven Pro. It delivers very good baking and broiling, plus, 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.

                8
                Microwave
                Panasonic NN-SD945S

                Panasonic NN-SD945S

                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.

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                  Mary H.J. Farrell

                  Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.