The Best and Worst Kitchen Appliances

Here's our review of the top-performing products for your home's exterior and interior, for your kitchen, and for laundry and cleaning from more than a thousand tested over the last year.

In the Best & Worst sections we've included many of our best-value everyday products, such as lightbulbs and laundry detergents, so you'll know what to buy and what to avoid.


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Kitchen

Whether you're interested in everyday products, need some new small appliances, or are planning a kitchen remodel and need new major appliance, our review of the top kitchen products will come in handy. And take a trip back through time with our 75th-anniversary looks at coffeemakers and French-door refrigerators.

Blenders

Most blenders can whip up a smoothie, but these models will also crush ice for frozen cocktails, purée vegetables into hearty soups, and even grate cheese. Don't be swayed by blenders with high watts or umpteen speeds.

Coffeemakers

If you're a coffee connoisseur, you'll appreciate the superior brewing performance these models offer. Programmable units let you wake up and smell the coffee, while a small-batch setting adjusts water flow to maintain flavor.

Cooktops

A cooktop/wall oven combination allows greater design flexibility than a range. Placing the cooktops in an island countertop, alongside a prep sink and storage, is popular with busy chefs.

Dishwashers

This is a tale of two types. These conventional models stand out for their shorter cycle times, quiet operation, or features such as adjustable racks that streamline loading. Dishwasher drawers didn't clean as well and don't necessarily use less water than regular dishwashers did in our tests.

Freezers

Chest freezers offer the most storage for the money, but retrieving food can be a dive into the great unknown (hanging bins help). Uprights offer better access and organization in a smaller footprint, in exchange for less usable capacity. If you don't mind de-icing on your own, manual-defrost freezers are quieter and use less energy than self-defrosting units. But upright versions had trouble keeping door shelves as cool as the interior.

Microwaves

Whether you're cooking from scratch, heating leftovers, or defrosting meat, these are able multitaskers. Midsized or large countertop models need at least 3 square feet of counter space. Over-the-range units don't deliver powerful venting.

Ranges

Starved for time? Manufacturers have added timesaving technologies such as high-powered burners and elements to speed up cooktop heating. In the oven, convection fans trim roasting and baking times.

Refrigerators

The French-door revolution continues: Those once-pricey models (featuring two refrigerator doors on top and a freezer drawer below) can now outperform many top-freezers and side-by-sides, often for the same money. Regardless of type, the following models combine precise temperature control, efficiency, and convenience, distinguishing themselves among the hundred-plus units we've tested.

Toasters

The best toasters brown evenly from light to dark with almost every batch. And they do the job in about half the time as the fastest toaster ovens, unless you're feeding a crowd. Then a toaster oven's six-slice capacity will save time.

Wall ovens

Many electric wall ovens offer convection. Bakers will appreciate the Kenmore Elite's superb baking, and like the Bosch, it was very good at removing baked-on food in our oven-cleaning test.

Water filters

A first-rate water filter will not only improve the taste and clarity of water but also remove lead and other contaminants without clogging quickly. Carafes are inexpensive and portable, faucet-mounts install easily, and countertop and undersink units filter larger volumes of water.

 

The Best & Worst

KitchenAid
Architect Series KHM920A[CS]
Hamilton Beach 6-Speed 62695V
Hand mixers

The KitchenAid Architect Series KHM920A[CS] (left), $80, produced fluffy meringues, whipped cream quickly, and even made short work of cookie dough. The Hamilton Beach 6-Speed 62695V cost just $20, but it made a racket and was the slowest model we tested, making for tired arms.



Hamilton Beach
Big Mouth Pro
Jack LaLanne's
Power Juicer Pro

Juicers

The Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Pro 67650, $80, extracted up to a quarter-cup more juice than most other models we tested. Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer Pro E-1189, $150, was so-so in performance, jammed if we fed the produce too quickly, and was a pain to clear and clean.



Breville Smart Oven
BOV800XL
Kalorik OV-32091

Toaster ovens

The Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL (left), $250, offers impressive baking, broiling, and toasting. And it can hold a 4-pound chicken. The bird would also fit in the Kalorik OV-32091, $100. But you probably wouldn't be pleased with the results because that model scored only fair at baking.



Copyright © 2006-2011 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

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