How to Choose Kitchen Appliances Article -
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How to Choose Kitchen Appliances

Want to have a satisfying relationship with your kitchen appliances? Here's what to look for in your most important kitchen workhorses.


  • Look for an energy-rating label with the most stars and the least kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. Check for space-maximizing features such as split shelves, adjustable shelf height and pull-out shelves.
  • Door compartments can be large enough for gallon jugs of milk. A built-in ice maker or water filter is great for families, but listen to it--you want the refrigerator to be as quiet as possible.
  • A freezer-on-top model is the most common, and the most affordable. A side-by-side model works well in smaller kitchens with little room for door clearance, but there is less room for wider items like frozen pizza boxes. A freezer-on-the-bottom model is convenient because the fresh food compartment is at eye level.
  • A built-in model can be customized, but is expensive. A cabinet-depth model is an affordable alternative to built-in.

Cooktop and wall oven or range

  • If your cooktop and oven are separate pieces, you can install them anywhere in the kitchen.
  • Many cooks like to pair the responsiveness of a gas cooktop with the temperature control of an electric oven.
  • An electric cooktop with a smooth surface and touchpad is easiest to clean.
  • Other cooktop options are magnetic-induction, radiant and halogen systems that heat a glass ceramic surface. Although the flat plane makes for easy cleanup, you might not know if the surface is still hot after you turn off the power. Also, only stainless steel and cast iron cookware will work on magnetic-induction cooktops.
  • Electric wall ovens usually have larger capacity than gas ovens.
  • Convection ovens are pricier, but are perfect for when you have many dishes cooking in the oven at the same time.
  • If your range is the showpiece of your kitchen, you may want to consider installing a free-standing model.


  • Check out the number of spray levels and directions; the greater the number, the cleaner your dishes will get. 
  • Look for a light cycle for china or crystal, a heavy cycle for pots and pans, and a rinse and hold cycle if the dishes will be in the washer for a while.
  • Also handy are adjustable racks, removable tines for large pots and removable racks so you can load dishes outside of the dishwasher.
  • Touchpad controls are the easiest to clean.
  • Some models offer a sound-reduction package. This is especially important if your kitchen is part of your family room.

Microwave oven

  • Countertop models are the cheapest, but you need to have 1 to 2 feet of counter space.
  • An over-the-range model saves on counter space, but may not provide a powerful enough fan.
  • Avoid models with pre-programmed settings for foods you don't eat.
  • Make sure you can fit a large platter inside.
  • Some microwaves include a safety sensor that automatically shuts off the oven when food gets hot.

Food processor

  • A mid-sized 7-cup model is great for most people's needs, but if you entertain, consider a larger capacity 14-cup model.
  • A mini-processor for small chopping jobs is handy, and easier to clean than a full-sized processor.


  • A hand-mixer works well for batters, whipping cream and egg whites.
  • A stand mixer is a real labor-saver if you bake breads, cookies and pizza dough.

Additional considerations include finishes, warranty, delivery fees, and of course, price. But if you choose your appliances well, your work in the kitchen can be easier and more enjoyable.

Jan. 20, 2010 9:33 pm
I wish someone could please put a list of temp. and time to convert reg. recipe for oven to convection oven.
Feb. 18, 2010 5:56 am
This has been very helpful for me, i cant cook, but im doing my best to learn; thank you!
May 8, 2010 7:03 pm
I would like to know about using an electric skillet ... substituting for a dutch oven, etc
Sep. 13, 2010 6:55 am
Phyllis, I was looking for the same thing and I found a converter at:
Mar. 11, 2011 5:30 pm
Hi, great article on choosing appliances. For those in Australia, check out for really good kitchen appliances at really cheap prices.
Jul. 30, 2011 7:15 pm
I'm getting marriaged and I was wondering what you all thought was essential kitchen appliances and tools. Brands?
Jan. 11, 2012 12:02 pm
Convection oven or Double oven? I have a budget for a new range/oven. If you had to choose between a double oven and single oven with the convection option, which would it be and why? Does the convection oven dry out food (cookies, baked chicken)? Various salesmen have told me "that one isn't a *true* convection system even though it has a fan. I can't find any decent info on the web.
Jan. 11, 2012 12:11 pm
Sammy, Definitely put a quality set of knives & quality set of pots, skillets on your registry--don't want to skimp there. I love a slow cooker for busy days. Get a large roasting pan. One of those hand choppers is nice for small jobs--I hate washing the food processor. Several pancake turners of various sizes and materials. I also think a wedding registry is a nice place to include some nice serving dishes/ platters--that's what your dinner guests will see.
Ruth Minton 
May 1, 2012 12:19 pm
Sammy, the very best advice I can give you is this -- spend the money now for a Vit-a-mixer. It cost $300-400, but you will thank me over and over again for this advice. It crushes ice, makes blended drinks, cooks soups, mixes pies and way tOo many other things, mashes potatoes, makes homemade ice cream, etc. I am sorry I waited until I was nearly 70 to buy this. It states on my counter. Be sure you get the larger top for liquids. They also sell another top as well (about $100 for grinding coffee, flour and other dry mixes. My daughter bought the dry mix container with her base and it will blend, but is designed for dry smaller jobs. Shop around for this online or at Costco. My second suggestion is a "mandolin" sold online at QVC. Make sure you don't buy the "mini" -- it is too small. It will slice tomatoes, potatoes, etc and has a dial that lets you select the thickness you want prior to slicing. It is a manual slicer that is easy to clean and dishwasher safe. It is one of my f
Jun. 29, 2012 9:53 am
We are currently in the process of building our first home. I've found that one of the hardest decisions is choosing the best kitchen appliances. I want appliances that will last and look nice. Thanks for sharing!
Aug. 12, 2015 3:27 am
Thanks for sharing your great ideas with us about kitchen appliances,i am waiting for this type of information up to now
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