Not ready to spring for a new range or refrigerator, or simply want to spice up your countertop? Our exhaustive tests of 264 kitchen products yielded a selection of top-scoring small appliances that cost $200 or less. Months of slicing, searing, and simmering in our test labs also helped us separate the best-performing knives and cookware from a rack of pricey competitors.
|Hamilton Beach |
Set 'N Forget 33967
Slow cookers for fast-paced lives
Slow cookers let you drop in some chicken wings or other favorites in the morning, serve the finished entrée that evening, and do other things in between. The $50 6-quart Hamilton Beach Set 'N Forget 33967 offers a good combination of features and performance for the money. Like other programmable models, it switches automatically to "warm" when cooking is done. Other fine 6-quart choices: the $60 Rival Crock-Pot SCVC604H-SS, a CR Best Buy, and the $40 Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 33162, which must be turned manually to the warm mode.
|Michael Graves 40304|
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Coffeemakers that make your day
You can spend hundreds to make a great cup of coffee. Or you can pay just $45 for the Michael Graves 40304, a CR Best Buy. Like our other picks below, it brews into a carafe and makes 8 to 12 cups at a time. Prefer to fill your mug right from the machine? The Hamilton Beach BrewStation 47454, $80, topped that category. Also consider the Black & Decker Brew 'N Go DCM18S, $25, for just a cup or two at a time, and the Emerson CCM901, $90, if you also want espresso.
A toaster you can count on
Cuisinart's CPT-170, $70, produced batch after batch of evenly toasted bread in our extensive tests. This two-slice model is made of metal and includes the usual bagel setting and even a digital countdown that shows seconds remaining until your toast is ready. Also consider the plastic T-Fal Digital TL6802002, $40, our top pick among four-slice toasters.
Knives that make our cut
Added sturdiness and resistance to bending helped forged-steel knives slice, dice, and chop their way ahead of stamped-steel versions overall. Superb cutting and a comfortable handle for just $100 make the eight-piece Ginsu Chikara a CR Best Buy. But the stamped-steel Oxo Good Grip Professional, $80, and Chicago Cutlery Walnut Tradition, $60, came close for even less.
|KitchenAid's Classic |
A classic for your counter
Superb whipping, mixing, and kneading put KitchenAid's Classic K45SS, $200, at the top of our ratings. Classic design and colors that include Green Apple and Persimmon also make it a style statement. Also consider the quieter Hamilton Beach Eclectrics 6322, $180, if kneading is less critical.
Smoothies for less
The Oster BCBG08, a CR Best Buy, still scored Very Good for smoothies and excelled at puréeing and ice-crushing for a cool $40.
|10-piece EarthPan |
with Sand Flow
Even cooking and easy cleaning make the 10-piece EarthPan with Sand Flow, left, a CR Best Buy at $190, a winner among nonstick cookware.
Cuisinart's TOB-195 toaster oven, $180, bakes and broils impressively, holds a 4-pound chicken, and toasts bread as evenly as some top toasters. Also consider the Black & Decker CTO4500S, a CR Best Buy at $70, if you're a bit less picky about toasting and baking.
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