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Would you buy a $1,900 stand mixer hand-painted with zebra print? While KitchenAid is sure someone will (you can buy six different custom-made stand mixers on their site), I’m betting you wouldn’t spend that kind of dough just to make your own dough.
But you could still be overpaying for some of your small kitchen appliances.
As a foodie, I’ve been guilty of overpaying for a small appliance or two. But when I realized I couldn’t afford to outfit my kitchen with the top-of-the-line, I began purchasing what I considered the “cheap brands.” I expected them to disappoint me, but they didn’t. Turns out, there are some great gadgets out there that won’t empty your wallet.
We scoured reviews, ratings, and factored in our opinions after test-driving appliances to compare some expensive gadgets with their cheaper – but just as competent – cousins. Here’s what we found:
Both stand mixers have an average 4-star rating on Amazon, and having owned both, I agree with the reviews. The KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer does a near-perfect job mixing ingredients and kneading dough and the different speed settings come in handy. But it is also a large and heavy appliance. I sold mine after a year because it took up too much space in my kitchen and was too heavy to move in and out of storage between uses.
The Hamilton Beach stand mixer also works great for basic jobs like churning cookie dough or kneading bread dough. It’s also a bit smaller, lighter, and a lot cheaper ($206 less) than the KitchenAid.
If you’re not looking to slice your own French fries (the Breville has a slicing disc for that) or need that huge container for extra-large meals, the Cuisinart might be your best bet. It has enough options to slice and shred food and is powerful enough to make your own peanut butter.
The Breville has some awesome bells and whistles, but keep in mind that this product is marketed for more than the casual cook; I mean, it does say “Sous Chef” in the name. Unless you love to often cook a variety of meals for a packed dining room, the Cuisinart will suit you just fine.
The Cuisinart is slightly lighter and a lot smaller and cheaper than the Breville. You won’t be getting five quartz heating elements to help cook your food, but you will be saving $186 and a decent amount of counter space if you opt for the Cuisinart. The Breville might have an edge with customer satisfaction with a 4.5-star average review at Amazon but only by half a star. At 4 stars and $63.99, the Cuisinart should be all you need for a toaster oven. Just remember to use your main oven for the main courses.
I saved about $111 on my coffee machine, and ended up getting more features than I’ll actually use. For example, the brew strength selector has come in handy when I have guests over who prefer a stronger coffee than I do, and the self-cleaning feature frees up a lot of my time. Brew-wise, I don’t taste any difference between a K-Cup brewed in a Keurig and a cup of special-blend coffee brewed in my cheaper machine.
Vitamix’s advertising hook is the blender’s ability to do almost anything, from making hot soups to blending a smoothie, and it does it quickly. The manual claimed I could process most foods in two minutes or less – but who really needs to do all of that? I use my blender to chop up fruit and make the occasional frozen drink. In my case, the Oster blender does everything I need. Sure it doesn’t have features like an online recipe database, but there are plenty of foodie sites for that. In the end, saving $400 was a way better deal.
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