I’ve loved cooking for a long time, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend all day in the kitchen. Cooking and cleaning up also took less time when it was just my husband and me. Now, with 5 kids, I want to save as much time as I can when I’m cooking dinner. I’ve started using a couple of small appliances that have helped me spend less time in the kitchen and more with my family.
Though none of these small appliances are brand-new technology, I’d still like to give my review after owning them for several years. I’ve provided links to the ones I own. Nobody is paying me to write these reviews; I’m just a happy customer.
Electric Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)
A couple months after having a baby, my husband bought me an Instant Pot on Prime Day. At first, I was skeptical. The user manual looked really long and complicated. I finally worked up the courage to use the pot for the first time, and I was immediately hooked. I’ve since adapted many recipes to use in the Instant Pot, and I use it several times a week.
Aside from saving time, one of my favorite things about the pot is leaving it unattended. I was especially grateful for this when I was nursing a baby. (No more forgotten pots on the stove to boil over!) It also makes much better-tasting rice than I ever did, and it’s big enough to make full meals for my family of 7.
Disadvantages are few, mostly the space it takes up on the counter and the initial price tag. I think it’s completely worth it, though. I laugh when I think of my initial hesitation.
I get asked all the time what an air fryer’s good for. In short, it excels at making things crispy since it works just like a convection oven. I originally owned a cheaper model, but it didn’t hold up after several years, so I replaced it with this one. I use my air fryer several times a week, as with these recipes, plus frozen French fries, tater tots, asparagus, chicken nuggets, etc. Anything that can be deep fried can be air fried.
The air fryer saves me lots of time since my oven preheats very slowly. It also crisps things more quickly and effectively than my oven without heating the whole house.
The only real downside is that it takes up a lot of counter space and doesn’t cook an entire meal like my pressure cooker can. That’s okay, though because I often use the pressure cooker for the rest of the meal.
Sous Vide Stick (Immersion Circulator)
I’d heard about sous vide cooking about 10 years ago, but the cookbook described a process involving a cooler full of hot water and Ziploc bags. Since that sounded annoying to do and unsafe, I never attempted it at home. We were also way too poor to ever buy steaks, which I think is the first thing everyone tries cooking with this method.
I got my own immersion circulator for my birthday very recently. We cooked petite sirloin steaks, which are a very cheap cut. After 2 hours, plus 60 seconds of searing, we bit into the most tender, juicy steaks we’ve ever eaten. Like I said, these were very cheap steaks, but they tasted amazing.
An immersion circulator doesn’t necessarily save time, but it certainly improves the flavor of meats and eggs by cooking them evenly throughout. Like the Instant Pot and air fryer, it’s also a very hands-off appliance. I especially like that I can click on recipes in the app, which then starts cooking without my ever having to touch the buttons on the appliance. There is also no cleanup involved since it’s just circulating water. It’s also very small and doesn’t have to stay on the counter.
The cooking time is very different from other cooking methods, so there’s a learning curve, but the app makes it incredibly easy to learn. It’s a little pricey, as with other small appliances, but it’s completely worth the cost.
Small appliances can save lots of time and make life easier. If you have a little cash and counter space to spare, why not try something new?