Colorful Cooking Gear to Brighten Mom's Day

CR's picks for cookware and appliances that perform brilliantly

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The kitchen may be the last place your mom wants to be on Mother’s Day. But if she enjoys cooking on days that aren’t quite so special, you can brighten her day—not to mention the kitchen countertop—with a gift of colorful appliances and kitchen gear that perform well in Consumer Reports' tests.

CR’s take: This eye-catching Russell Hobbs Retro Style two-slice toaster has dial and push-button controls, a bagel toasting setting, and an option, called “A Bit More,” to dunk your toast. It performs admirably in our tests for toasting, color range, and ease of use. And a major bonus: It’s easy to clean.

CR’s take: We bought and tested a set of Ree Drummond's Pioneer Woman Vintage Speckle in turquoise, but the pots and pans also come in red, black, and linen. The flat-bottomed aluminum cookware makes good contact on an electric smoothtop range and generally earns high marks in our tests, including an Excellent score for cooking evenness. But we think the handles could be sturdier.

CR’s take: If you keep just one nonstick frying pan on hand, the 10-inch Cuisinart CastLite Nonstick is the one to have. The cast-iron pan is covered in red porcelain enamel. It aces our cooking tests and is sturdy, to boot, surviving 2,000 swipes with steel wool and earning an Excellent score in our durability test. Some testers found the handle uncomfortable, but it stays cool to the touch.

CR’s take: The 6-quart Ayesha Curry Dutch Oven is among the easiest to clean of the Dutch ovens we've tested, garnering an Excellent rating in that test. Worth noting: Weighing in at 15 pounds, this Dutch oven is the heaviest of the tested models. The cooking surface measures 7 inches in diameter. (For more, read about cookware from Ayesha Curry and Rachael Ray.)

CR’s take: This lavender immersion blender also comes in Cuisinart's signature red. This type of blender is great for puréeing soup right in the pot and earned an Excellent score on that test. The Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-75 can also make a proper smoothie right in your single-serve container, without dirtying a full-sized blender jar.

CR’s take: Smeg makes a line of vintage-inspired countertop appliances in a variety of colors, including this blazing red. (Other options include ivory, sky blue, pale green, and pink.) If you like the look, you can buy a matching toaster, blender, and tea kettle. In our tests, the Smeg 5-Quart SMF01RDUS stand mixer almost knocked off the highly rated classic KitchenAid stand mixer. The 10-speed Smeg whips and mixes with the best of them, earning Excellent scores, and kneads a respectable batch of dough.

CR’s take: If you don’t want to sacrifice counter space to a stand mixer, try this KitchenAid hand mixer that you can stash in a drawer between batches of cake batter. It earns a Very Good rating at whipping and mixing, and does both without making a racket. Available colors include bright blue, cranberry, boysenberry, silver, and white.

CR’s take: The Dash in the name might as well mean a dash of color. In addition to red, the Dash Chef Series Digital blender comes in vivid chartreuse. It earns an Excellent score in our smoothie test, and puréeing was just as good. The blades stood up to our durability test, in which we repeat our ice-crush test 45 times. It’s a bit noisy, like much of the competition. The Dash Chef is 22 inches tall, so make sure you have enough clearance under your cabinets.

CR’s take: The snazzy Nespresso Essenza Mini is one of our top pod coffee makers. It’s speedy at turning out the first and second cups in consistent sizes, although the temperature of the second cup may not be as hot. This model earns an Excellent rating for brewing, so you can get the precise strength of coffee you like. It’s a cinch to operate and clean, but as with all the single-serve pod machines in our tests, our professional coffee tasters found the flavor of the coffee to be only so-so.

CR’s take: The Weber Spirit II E-210 packs a lot of performance into a compact, colorful package. It earns a Very Good rating for evenness, which means if you're making burgers and bratwursts for a crowd, everything will finish in the same amount of time. (Many grills cook hotter near the center, and food at the edges will take longer to finish.) The open cart on the Weber Spirit II E-210 makes it easy to swap out a propane tank, and the grill has a built-in fuel gauge.

CR’s take: If your mom is still using an analog meat thermometer, now’s the time to go digital. The handy, waterproof Comark PDT300 has a digital readout that’s easy to read, and the thermometer slides into a plastic sheath, so it won’t get banged up in your gadget drawer. It earns a Very Good score for accuracy.

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.