Best countertop kitchen appliance for the space?

I have a friend who is moving out of a house and into a small apartment. She loves to cook and is looking forward to having her own kitchen again. I want to get her a countertop appliance as a housewarming gift. Because her space is at a premium, I want to get one that will be useful and used. I am thinking of either an instant pot/multi-cooker, a countertop oven or an air fryer. My budget is ~$75. What do you think is the most useful in a small space?

  Topic Food and Drink Subtopic Cooking
5 Months 2 Answers 395 views
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Jennifer Franklin

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Answers ( 2 )

  1. Instant Pot, hands down. I bought one two years ago and use it 3-4 times every week. It's great for stews, soups, gravies, and meat, but I've used mine for so much more. It can cook rice, boil eggs, steam vegetables, bake potatoes, make yogurt, hydrate dried beans, cook casseroles, and even thaw foods or keep them warm. I was shocked, but it actually made a pretty good one-pot pasta dish. I've heard that it can make cheesecake or even popcorn, but I haven't tried those. My favorite recipe for the Instant Pot is steamed tamales! Aside from the coffee maker, the Instant Pot is my most-loved countertop kitchen appliance. 

    Instant Pots take up a relatively small footprint and have a very reasonable price tag. A 6-quart model can be purchased for around $50. It's my experience that the fancy ones with multiple specialized settings are not any better than the more basic models. Most recipes can be executed without special cooking settings. There are other brands that can do the same tricks as the name brand, some of which can include accessories and extra settings at a discount.

    If you're looking for accessories, I recommend buying additional silicone sealing rings and a steam diverter. The silicone rings will lose integrity over time, and if too much pressure builds up against an imperfect ring, the lid may pop off. It's a startling and messy situation! If your friend's counterspace is really tight, the steam diverter will keep her kitchen cabinets from being cooked alongside dinner. It looks silly, but it makes a world of difference.

    Accepted UTC 2020-10-06 03:52 PM 0 Comments
  2. Thank you, Sarah, for such an informative answer! I have an instant pot that I had for almost a year before using it because I was intimidated. I use it a fair amount now but have only "scratched the surface" of what it can do. I mostly make meat, soups, beans and sauces. I want to try lasagna. Good to know the basic models are just as useful because that is what I have and all I can afford to buy for my friend.

    For what it is worth, I purchased a glass lid as an extra for mine, for keeping it warm or reheating in the pot, which I would recommend. I will look into the silicone rings and steam diverter, and will tell my friend! 

    Thanks again.

    UTC 2020-10-07 10:56 AM 0 Comments

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