Do you love cooking or baking? Then, you already know stores that sell cookware, kitchen supplies, and small appliances offer plenty of temptation. Juicers, crepe makers, egg poachers — the list goes on. (And we’re not even out of brunch yet.) You’ll find plenty of things that can take up space on your countertop. And each one promises to make a specific task effortless. But while every chef needs pots, pans, and versatile cooking utensils, many of those shiny kitchen appliances are actually a waste of your money.
Check out some of the appliances and kitchen gadgets you should think twice about before purchasing. Although these expensive appliances promise to do something novel, most will end up collecting dust on your countertop before you find a way to put them to use.
Food bloggers love the idea of the spiralizer. This gadget can turn veggies, such as zucchini, into spaghetti-shaped noodles (or “zoodles,” in the case of zucchini). The appliance appears on the kitchen counters of many gluten-free bloggers. But you’ll need to spend a lot of time cleaning the spiralizer after each use. And you can get the same effect with a simple vegetable peeler, which takes up little space in a drawer and can accomplish other tasks, as well.
2. Electric pasta maker
If you prefer noodles of the gluten-containing variety, don’t run out to buy an electric pasta maker. You don’t need to forgo those fresh noodles. But you should buy a manual pasta roller instead. An electric pasta maker is pretty expensive. It also isn’t nearly as easy to use as the manual version. And it takes up a lot of space on your countertop or in your pantry. A manual pasta roller costs very little. You’ll also have a much easier time cleaning it. That often means it will get more use than its more complicated electric counterpart.
3. Food processor
Not everybody has lightning-speed knife skills. But in an age of juices and smoothies, almost everyone has a high-speed blender. A shiny new food processor won’t do anything your Vitamix can’t. When you need to chop a ton of veggies, you can use the appropriate setting on your blender to hasten the job. But you don’t need to have another appliance taking up space on the counter — especially when your blender can help not only with chopping veggies, but also with making soup, preparing hummus, mixing dressing, and perhaps even mixing dough.
Do you drink juice everyday? Then, a juicer might be worth the space it takes up on your counter and the time it takes to clean it. But if you don’t drink juice more than occasionally, or if you primarily make juice from fruits that are easy to juice by hand, think twice before investing. Cleaning up after juicing often takes much longer than the process of actually making (or enjoying) the juice. Just buy an old-fashioned handheld juicer instead.
5. Vacuum sealer
Think a vacuum sealer would help you store more food and waste less? Think again. The appliance takes up a lot of space on your counter or in a cabinet. It sounds like a great idea to create custom, sealed enclosures for raw meats you want to freeze or leftovers you want to store. But they don’t do a better job than regular zip-lock freezer bags.
6. Ice cream maker
Unless you make ice cream weekly — which we doubt your doctor or nutritionist would recommend — you probably don’t need an ice cream maker. These appliances get pricey, and they take up a lot of space in your kitchen. Plus, you can make just about any ice cream recipe without an ice cream maker. It’ll just take a little more work. But that will probably make the fruits of your labor taste even sweeter.
7. Bread machine
Another one-trick appliance most people don’t need in their kitchens? The bread machine. It might save you time if you make bread every day or every week. But for the most part, baking bread at home requires relatively little hands-on time anyway. You still need to spend some prep time with a bread machine. So you might as well save the money — and the space — and knead your bread by hand.
On the topic of bread, a toaster likely isn’t as essential as you assume. Although it takes up a small amount of space on your countertop, all it can do is toast bread. Want to get more bang for your buck? Go for a toaster oven instead of a regular toaster. You can use it to toast bread, of course. But it can also roast veggies and bake sweet potatoes — items you’d never be able to cram into a standard toaster.
9. Egg poacher
Poaching eggs seems complicated. But with a little practice, you can easily master this useful skill. Don’t sell yourself short, and buy an egg poacher. All you need to poach eggs is a pot and a slotted spoon. Both of those items can multitask in your kitchen — unlike an egg poacher, which will take up a lot of real estate on your counter or in your cabinets in exchange for very little benefit.
10. Crepe maker
Unless you make crepes every day, you probably don’t need a dedicated crepe maker taking up space on your kitchen counter. A crepe maker is composed of a hot, round, nonstick surface. That sounds an awful lot like the array of nonstick skillets you probably already own. Want to try out making crepes? You don’t need any specialized equipment.
11. Kitchen Aid mixer
Everybody wants a Kitchen Aid mixer. But think carefully before you invest in one, particularly if you don’t do a lot of baking. These mixers make everything easier if you’re whipping up cookies or preparing pie dough. But if you’re just cooking foods that don’t involve dough? Probably not so much. While many chefs — both home cooks and pros — love their Kitchen Aid, yours will just be a waste of money and space if you don’t really use it. Plus, a smaller hand mixer will be a lot cheaper.
Another controversial entry? The microwave. Many people swear by their microwave, particularly for heating up leftovers or nuking frozen dinners. But if you want to get the best taste and texture out of your food, the microwave is rarely the way to go. If you really want a countertop appliance that can cook your food, look into a convection oven with steam instead.
13. Keurig coffee machine
A Keurig, or any other machine that lets you brew a cup of coffee from a single-serving pod, won’t make the best use of your money. If you care about the taste of your coffee, you’ll likely be disappointed by the quality of the single-serving cups. You’re much better off buying a pour-over coffee maker, which you can find in single-cup varieties, if you really want the best cup of coffee each morning.
14. Electric can opener
An electric can opener might look appealing if you find yourself constantly wrestling with your standard can opener. But you really don’t need the space-hogging appliance to open your peaches or black beans for you. If your existing can opener isn’t working for you, just upgrade to a slightly better one. Don’t waste your money on an electric can opener.
15. Margarita maker
No matter how many margaritas you prepare for yourself and your friends each week (or how many tropical-themed parties you throw) we can assure you that you don’t need a margarita maker. Almost any blender — even an inexpensive one — has a setting that enables it to crush ice for your favorite frozen drink. Save your money, and invest in a good blender instead of a margarita maker.
16. Immersion blender
An immersion blender sounds like a good investment. After all, it helps you blend sauces and soups without hauling out your full-sized blender. But if you thought your standard blender was messy, you haven’t seen anything yet. An immersion blender splatters food all over your kitchen, no matter how careful you are. So you probably won’t save any time when you opt to use an immersion blender.
17. Electric knife
Sure, an electric knife might come in handy if you regularly slice tons of meat. But most people don’t actually need that option and only bring out the electric knife on Thanksgiving. An electric knife requires a lot of cleanup and includes several pieces you’ll need to keep track of and store. A better investment? A set of sharp, good-quality knives. You’ll need those knives not only to cut meat, but to prepare many other foods you cook in your kitchen. Just keep them sharp, and they’ll last you for years.
Do you prepare tons of jerky? How about lots of dried fruit? If so, then it might be worth your while to invest in a dehydrator. Otherwise, this is a small kitchen appliance you should probably skip at the cooking supply store. A dehydrator takes up too much space (and costs too much money) to purchase if you won’t use it regularly.
19. Garbage disposal
Thinking of installing a garbage disposal in your sink? Don’t bother. A garbage disposal might make it easier to wash your dishes. But putting all of that food waste into the water makes the waste harder to break down. Just scrape plates into the garbage, and peel your veggies into a container you can dump onto your compost pile. That’s a much more environmentally-friendly solution than a garbage disposal.