The 10 Most Useless Kitchen Appliances

We talk a lot on this blog about eating. We talk a lot about cooking. We also talk a lot about booze, food porn and the "less polite" bodily functions (in case you're wondering, the "more polite" bodily functions include yawning and sneezing, but only if it's a cute sneeze). But what we don't talk about often is the actual mechanics behind cooking, baking and general food-making.

And that's where this series of posts comes in. Over the next few weeks, we'll discuss pivotal issues here such as why you don't need a bread maker, how you burned out the motor on your stand mixer and what the difference is between a Microplane grater and a citrus zester (answer: pretty much zero).

We're starting off gently today by discussing which kitchen appliances you don't need to put on your wedding registry, get suckered into at Sur La Table, or buy from late-night infomercials. Your kitchen -- as long as it has an oven, stove and refrigerator -- can function quite well on its own without the addition of these cumbersome items. That fondue pot you received from a well-meaning aunt ten Christmases ago and has collected dust above your fridge ever since? That's an obvious answer, as are any appliances that are predominately suited to a singular, specialized task. If something is going to take up precious counterspace, it should be a multitasker.

Below are ten other kitchen appliances that you honestly do not need, ever, for pretty much any reason.

10. Blender

WHAT? We can hear the screeching now. WHO DOESN'T NEED A BLENDER? A lot of people don't need blenders. You're probably one of them. Unless you're making large batches of healthy smoothies for your family on a daily basis (and let's face it, you aren't) or churning out daiquiris by the pool (you aren't doing that either), you don't need a giant blender taking up counter or cabinet space. Join the rest of the modern world and get a far more efficient, far easier to clean and far less bulky immersion blender.

9. Bread Machine

Yes, we realize that Robb Walsh bakes fresh loaves of bread for his lucky household every morning. But most of us aren't food writers / living with food writers and therefore have no occasion to bake fresh loaves of bread on a daily or even monthly basis. Also, have you seen the size of those things? They're as big as a Smart Car. Instead, bake bread that doesn't require a dough hook or excessive kneading, such as beer bread, or give cookbooks such as Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day a try. Our friends swear by it. You don't need a Smart machine to make your own bread at home.

8. Rotisserie

The hell? Are you running a restaurant? Of course not. So you don't need a rotisserie anything in your house. Yes, the rotisserie chicken at Vincent's looks (and tastes) mouthwatering. Yes, that man from the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie infomercial -- while a poor actor -- makes a convincing pitch. Yes, we all miss Rotisserie for Beef & Bird (which is now, sadly, a funeral home). But none of these are reasons that you need a $350 oven with spindly rotating bits. Unless you're serving up rotisserie chicken every night, spend your money elsewhere.

7. Deep Fryer

Look, fat ass: Enough of the food we eat out in the world on a daily basis is deep-fried as it is. If you're going to the trouble to cook at home, then take that extra step and cook healthy food for your family. What in God's name would you possibly need to deep-fry at home? Unless you're experimenting with the next deep-fried food to hit state fairs and rodeos across the land, use a cast iron skillet with some oil in it if you need to fry something up. Besides, who wants a giant vat of used oil sitting on their countertop, slowly congealing and making your house smell like a McDonald's? No one.

6. Egg Cooker

For the love... If you can't boil eggs, then you have greater issues at hand and probably don't need to spend that $40 at Williams-Sonoma. Put that $40 to good use and take a cooking class. Leisure Learning, Green Plum, Central Market -- all viable options. Step away from the egg cooker.

5. Baby Food Maker

Our mother made baby food for us when we were young. That was many moons ago when ridiculous appliances like the Beaba didn't exist, which is proof in and of itself that you don't need this. Throw some pears and apples into a food processor -- bam! Instant baby food. This works with nearly every foodstuff that you can (and should) feed to infants, i.e., don't put Cheetos and Red Bull in there, Britney. Cheaper than buying a Beaba and even cheaper than buying jars of Gerber.

4. Electric Can Opener

You lazy son of a bitch. Seriously. Just because they make these doesn't mean you need to buy one. Aside from the general waste of electricity and counter space, do you know what a sissy punk you look like sticking your can of Campbell's tomato soup into one of these things? Unless you have arthritis or some other debilitating, degenerative condition that makes opening a can difficult for you, take five seconds of your time to open it yourself with a regular can opener.

3. Pasta Maker

Once again, since we've pretty well established the fact that you don't run a restaurant out of your kitchen and therefore aren't churning out dozens of bowls of pasta each night, this is another extravagant and expensive waste of space. Even our own mother, who is a chef by trade, has never once used the pasta maker we got her for Christmas many years ago (thanks, Mom). People made pasta for years without fancy pasta machines, which means that you can too.

2. Electric Cheese Grater

See number four.

1. Popcorn Machine

Are you the creepy dude in the neighborhood who's turned his basement into a "rec room" complete with beanbag chairs and olde-timey popcorn machine, inviting the kids over to watch Disney movies? Or perhaps you're that douchebag living in a stucco McMansion with a "media room" that features a lame attempt at stadium seating and red velvet curtains alongside your popcorn maker? Or maybe you just have too much money and not enough to do with it? These are the people who own popcorn machines. If you don't fall into one of these categories, pop a bag of Orville Redenbacher in the microwave -- or hell, put some Jiffy Pop on the stove -- and enjoy the fact that you are not a complete and total tool.

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Katharine Shilcutt