5 kitchen appliance trends that live up to the hype

These innovations have true staying power in the kitchen

Published: May 13, 2014 04:45 PM
Wolf CS024 Convection Steam Oven

If you're remodeling the kitchen, or just swapping out an old dishwasher, range, or refrigerator, you're probably hearing about a lot of innovations as you comparison shop. After testing hundreds of new appliances, we can tell you that some of the claims are little more than marketing mumbo jumbo. But there have been several legitimate leaps forward in the field of appliance design. Here are five to consider as you shop around.

Steam-assist ovens. Promising speed, versatility, and healthful meal prep, combination steam/convection ovens have been making their way from restaurants into the home. This new type of cooker doesn't replace your main oven, so it's a luxury upgrade. But if there's room in the budget, we were impressed by the Wolf CS024 Convection Steam Oven, $3,800, which cooked a nicely browned 4-pound chicken in about 40 minutes. Or consider the affordable Cuisinart CSO-300, a $300 countertop model that also delivered solid results.

Four-door refrigerators. This new spin on the French-door refrigerator provides an additional easy-access storage compartment, often with separate temperature controls. When it first came out a few years back, none of the models made our recommended list, raising doubts about its longevity. But more manufacturers have since come out with well-built four-door models, including Samsung, which leads the category with two recommended models. A newly-tested four-door Whirlpool narrowly missed our refrigerator picks list.    

KitchenAid KDRS505XSS

Double ovens. This innovation has followed a similar slow-building trajectory to four-door fridges. Double ovens now have their own category in our Ratings for gas and electric ranges, with many top scoring models. The beauty of a double oven is its versatility, since it lets you cook two dishes at two different temperatures at the same time. LGMaytag, and Frigidaire, are among the standout electric brands and LG, KitchenAid and GE scored well for gas models.       

Third-rack dishwashers. Dishwashers have always had a utensil basket in the bottom rack. But we're seeing more models with a third rack designed to handle cutlery, as well as larger utensils like whisks and tongs. Bosch claims that the innovation expands the main dish loading area by 30 percent. The Bosch 800 Series SHE68T55UC, $950, is among the high-scoring models in our dishwasher Ratings with the feature.               

High-end blenders. Even costing $400 and up, sales of these blenders have been climbing steadily, driven by health-conscious consumers who want to ply their diet with smoothies and whole-fruit juices. Among high-end blenders, Vitamix is the clear winner in Consumer Reports ratings, with four models making our picks list. Best of the bunch is the Vitamix 5200 for $450. Breville, L'Equip, and Waring are also worth a look.

—Daniel DiClerico (@dandiclerico)  

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