Must-have kitchen appliances for quicker and easier cooking
Sort it: From the Ninja air fryer to the self-cleaning oven, here are the essentials
The Ninja air fryer has been the star performer of kitchen appliances over the last 12 months.
Cooking is something we’ve all had to do a lot more of over the last 12 months. So much so that the seemingly-innocent question of “what’s for dinner?” brings a sense of dread to even the most accomplished cooks. Whether you’re cooking for one or feeding a family, here are some of the kitchen appliances that make cooking so easy that even the most reluctant chef will be tempted to have a go.
Say goodbye to the double oven
“There are not as many double ovens available anymore,” says Karen Finnerty from the KAL advisory centre. The top oven tends to be very small. Double ovens take up a lot of space if you’re trying to incorporate a second appliance like a microwave or steam oven above them.
A much better and efficient option is to go with a single oven and a small, compact appliance over it. This appliance could either be a combi-oven steamer or a combi-oven microwave. These two appliances combined will take up only a bit more space than the traditional double oven. But they will give you much more functionality and flexibility when it comes to cooking.
The combi-oven steamer has three appliances in one: an oven, a grill and a steam oven. The combi-oven microwave is an oven, a grill and a microwave. The beauty of these appliances is that you have the option to combine all three functions at the same time for quicker cooking. For example, you could cook a chicken in a combi-oven microwave in 35-40 minutes.
Many modern ovens will have pre-programmed settings that work out the perfect length of time to cook whatever you are planning. “They are so easy to use that anyone can be a chef,” says Finnerty.
Whatever oven you choose, make sure it is self-cleaning. Many ovens have a Piro or Pyrolytic function. Piro-clean is a method of using heat to clean the oven. The inside of the oven is heated to 400 degrees turning all of the grease and food residues to ash. Once the oven cools down, the ash can be wiped away, leaving your oven looking like new.
If you are looking to minimise the amount of time you spend standing at your hob then I’d highly recommend investing in a steam oven. Virtually anything that can be cooked in a pot can be done in a steam oven. Everything can be prepared together, eliminating the use of pots, making dinner preparation a much cleaner and less chaotic process. And means there is a lot less washing up to do too.
Like modern ovens, steam ovens are smart appliances and will prompt you to add food or take food out of the oven. So you won’t need to stand over the hob or keep an eye on anything. There is also a self-cleaning setting making maintenance easy.
Warming drawers come in two sizes, 29cm or 14cm so they can be incorporated into either a stacked or linear appliance arrangement.
When you are planning the layout of your kitchen appliances, the tower or stacked arrangement is the most popular. A nice alternative is to go with an in-line look. This is where you either have two single ovens side by side or one single oven and a small compact appliance with a slim warming drawer underneath.
Warming drawers are much more than simply a way to heat plates or keep food warm, they are also slow cookers, making them a great addition to a busy household. “They are great for melting chocolate, making yogurt and granola as well as slow cooking meat and casseroles,” says Finnerty.
“We sell far more induction hobs now than we do gas,” says Finnerty. Induction hobs have the same benefits as cooking with gas but are more energy efficient. Induction hobs work by magnetic coil making them very safe. Unless there is a pot on the hob, it won’t generate heat. The ring will only heat the area directly under the pot so if something boils over it won’t stick to the hob, making it easy to keep clean. They only work with stainless steel bottomed pots and pans.
Hobs come in three sizes, 60cm, 80cm and 90cm. The cut-out size for your countertop is the same regardless of the size of the hob, so you could replace a 60cm with a 90cm hob.
Some hobs come with a flex zone which allows you to turn two rings into one large ring. “This is brilliant for making gravy for example,” says Finnerty. You can take the roasting tray out of the oven and put it on to the hob, avoiding the need to use an additional pot.
Small domestic appliances
One of the star appliances of the last 12 months has been the air fryer, with the Ninja representing the upper end of the market. “We’ve had customers say they haven’t used their oven since buying the Ninja air fryer,” says Finnerty.
The Ninja air fryer has three appliances in one. It’s an air fryer, a slow cooker and a pressure cooker. There is no pre-heating required, and it cooks food quickly. It’s also a healthy way to cook anything that would otherwise have to be deep-fried.