If you haven’t been blessed with a big kitchen, you’ll need to make the most of every last square foot. To help, we’ve rounded up the compact kitchen appliances that should mean you can claw back some space.
There’s more choice than ever of useful kitchen appliances designed to make dinnertime easier. But how do you squeeze all the latest kitchen kit into a room that’s not bigger than a rabbit hutch?
The products you choose can make all the difference. For appliances like fridges, dishwashers and microwaves, some products give you much more capacity for the same floorspace than others, making them a savvier choice if you’re squeezed for centimetres.
See our picks of the top space-saving gadgets below, plus tips for using your space wisely.
Tips on getting the best small products for your kitchen
- Decide which appliances you really need. Look for multi-tasking gadgets such as food processors or hand blenders that have attachments for whisking, whipping and kneading, so they can tackle baking jobs too.
- Consider a scaled-down version. If you live alone, or with one other person, you probably don’t need a full-sized food processor or coffee machine colonising your countertop. Opt for a model with a smaller capacity instead.
- Make sure it earns its place. Choose products that do the job properly by using our independent kitchen appliance reviews.
Best compact kitchen appliances
Read on to get the lowdown on the best compact fridges, dishwashers, microwaves, coffee machines, bread makers, food processors, blenders and slow cookers.
Space-saving fridge freezers
If you’re short on square-footage, you’ll have already worked out that a great, hulking, full-sized fridge freezer isn’t for you. But a tall and narrow combined fridge freezer can be a savvy choice compared with two separate appliances.
You’ll need one that makes the best use of the space it takes up, though. We’ve found models with similar external dimensions that have three shopping bags-worth difference in capacity.
Manufacturers’ claimed volumes measure internal space with all the drawers taken out, but we check how much you can realistically fit in each fridge we test. The Samsung RB41J7859S4 (£1,039) is the roomiest fridge freezer with a width of less than 65cm that we’ve tested. It measures 202x60x65cm (including hinges) and has a total usable volume of 310 litres.
By contrast, the Bosch KGN39VL3AG fridge freezer (£464), which is a similar size, has just 256 litres of usable space.
See all our fridge freezer reviews to find the best combination of capacity and size for your budget.
Slimline dishwashers for smaller gaps
Slimline dishwashers are typically about 15cm thinner than full-size models, so they’re great if you’re desperate for a hand with the dishes but short on under-counter kitchen space. They’re good for smaller households, too, as one to two people will struggle to regularly fill a standard-sized dishwasher.
As with fridge freezers, make sure you choose a model that uses space efficiently. The Siemens SR256I00TE slimline dishwasher (£569) has a generous capacity of 10 place settings (100 items of crockery, cutlery and glassware). That’s the maximum capacity you’ll get with a slimline.
You could also consider a compact dishwasher, which is like a pull-out dishwashing drawer.
Unfortunately, slimline and compact dishwashers tend to be more expensive than full-sized versions, so it’s even more essential to buy one that helps rather than hinders. Check our slimline and compact dishwasher reviews to ensure you get a model that leaves dishes squeaky clean and doesn’t waste water.
Miniature microwaves for cramped worktops
Microwaves can take up a fair chunk of worktop space, but there are compact versions around. At 45x26x30cm, the Panasonic NN-K18JMMBPQ (£89) is the smallest microwave we’ve tested.
It offers plenty of features despite its small footprint. You’ll get nine auto-cook settings, including multi-stage cooking. This means you can set it to first defrost and then cook your food, without you needing to be in the room to switch cooking modes. It also has a grill function.
It fits a relatively small 27cm-diameter plate, which is the entry-level internal size for microwaves. If this won’t accommodate your dinner set, check our microwave reviews where you can filter by minimum plate size.
Compact coffee machines
Coffee machines can be countertop hogs, but there’s a good selection that have a tiny footprint for those who won’t consider a jar of Nescafé.
Capsule or pod machines by brands such as Nespresso tend to be the smallest options. One of the smallest, the Krups Nespresso Essenza Mini coffee machine (£77, above right), measures just 21x8x33cm.
The water tank holds just 0.6 litres – less than most capsule machines – but you’ll still get several shots from it. The Magimix Nespresso Essenza Mini (£75) is almost identical, but a different shape and a tad larger.
If you prefer to use ground coffee or ESE pods, the DeLonghi Dedica EC685.M coffee machine (£149) is a super-compact option.
Compare bean-to-cup, ground coffee and pod machines with our coffee machine reviews
Mini bread makers for homemade loaves
Bread makers can take up a surprisingly large amount of worktop space, but the ultra-compact Lakeland Bread Maker (£65, 25x29x23cm) is a better bet for smaller kitchens. It can make a 500g loaf – which, if there’s only one or two of you, might be as much as you’re going to get through before it goes stale anyway.
It can make the usual range of breads, including gluten-free loaves. It’s also lightweight (3.6 kg), meaning that, if it needs to live in a cupboard between uses, you’ll be able to lift it in and out pretty easily.
Does it make delicious, crusty loaves, and will the paddle leave an unsightly hole in the bottom? Read the full Lakeland Compact Bread Maker 16147 review to find out.
Small yet stylish stand mixers
If you’ve always wanted a KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer – as seen on this year’s Bake Off – you don’t have to miss out if your kitchen is bijou. KitchenAid makes a mini version, which is 20% smaller and 25% lighter than the classic model.
It has 10 speed settings and three metal attachments – a whisk, beater and dough hook. Most of the removable parts are dishwasher-safe, too, which is great if you’ve also managed to squeeze a dishwasher into your kitchen.
At £400, it’s by no means cheap, though. Find out whether the KitchenAid Artisan Mini 5KSM3311XBHT is tiny but mighty.
Mini food processors for speedy slicing
Food processors can be bulky, and often come with armfuls of accessories that take up almost as much space as the appliance itself. There are compact versions available, though. The Bosch MCM3501MGB (£89, above left) is designed so that you can store all the blades inside the bowl when you’re not using it, and there’s space to store the cable away neatly, too.
If you’re only going to be doing quick little tasks – slicing an onion or a handful of herbs, for example – then a mini chopper is a better bet. While the Bosch measures 38x25x23cm (good to average for a food processor), at 24x14x18cm, the Magimix Le Micro 18112 is minuscule in comparison. It can’t do as much as a full-sized model, but can chop food either coarsely or finely, and purée and emulsify ingredients for dressings or dips.
See which food processors we recommend in our round-up of the Best Buy food processors.
Compact blenders for single-serve smoothies
A blender can help you blitz your way to delicious smoothies, milkshakes and soups. Choose a personal blender rather than a jug blender if you’re making single portions. As an added bonus, personal blenders are also usually simpler to use – and the blending cup often doubles up as a travel mug.
Sometimes called mini blenders, we’ve found that some personal blenders are anything but. The Nutri Ninja BL450UK (£60, above left), for example, measures 37x15x15cm. The Nutri Ninja Slim Blender QB3001 (£30, above right) is somewhat more svelte, at 33x11x12cm, and will still blend enough for one big – or two smaller – smoothie portions in one go.
Can you rely on it to blend soup, smoothies and pesto to a lump-free mix? Read the full Nutri Ninja Slim Blender QB3001 review to find out.
Small slow cookers for hearty stews
A slow cooker can help you make delicious mid-week meals without too much effort. You can get away with cheaper cuts of meat, too, as they are tenderised during the cooking process.
If you’re catering for one or two people, the Crock-Pot Two Person Slow Cooker CSC046 (£25, 24x24x29cm) should be plenty big enough. It can hold 1.6 litres of stew, and it’s smaller round shape won’t hog space on your worktops.
Noisy gadgets getting you down? See our pick of the best quiet appliances for a peaceful home
Prices correct as of 28 September 2018.