Top 10 Pointless Single-Purpose Appliances That Are Cluttering Your Kitchen

From hot dog cookers to doughnut makers, we're easily talked into buying kitchen appliances that perform just one task, or grabbing a novelty gadget for someone else as a gift. Chances are they'll be wasting space in cupboards before the month is out. Here are 10 of the worst offenders, and what you should be using instead.

Picture from OKOKChina

I was inspired to post on this topic by this weekend's ALDI special offers, which include several examples of pointless kitchen clutter. Wasted space is the most obvious reason for not buying appliances you don't need, but there's also an environmental element: why buy something to perform a task you can already do with your existing kitchen equipment? Note: the word 'maker' is often a dead giveaway that the product isn't actually needed, as is anything for a specialised food item you won't eat every day.



Clutter: Pizza Maker

Better: Oven. (If you want a crisper crust, get a pizza stone.)

Clutter: Hot Dog Maker

Better: Saucepan/Kettle


Clutter: Baby Food Maker


Better: Food Processor/Saucepan


Clutter: Popcorn Maker


Better: Saucepan/Microwave


Clutter: Potato Masher


Better: Fork


Clutter: Egg Cooker


Better: Saucepan/Microwave


Clutter: Crepe Maker


Better: Frypan


Clutter: Burger Cooker


Better: Oven/Grill


Clutter: Cupcake Maker


Better: Oven (plus cupcake moulds)


Clutter: Fairy Floss Maker


Better: Just don't eat pure sugar. Your teeth will thank you.

Got a single-use appliance you can't live without and want to defend? Know other examples we've missed? Tell us in the comments.

Pictures: Michele M F, George Nemeth, Ross Catrow, Flying Puffin, Veggiefrog, Grannies Kitchen, DVS, Selena NBH, Robert Couse-Baker, Dan Zen, kennymfk, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Joy, eperales, manufacturer PR shots


    There's no way a fork is better than a potato masher

      Agreed. Plus a fork is going to scratch the hell out of a non-stick saucepan as well as not get mash smooth. Silicone masher all the way.

      couldn't agree more - having tried to mash potato with a fork on a number of occasions there is simply no substitute for a quality potato masher.

      get a potato ricer.

        seconded on the ricer>masher/fork

      Seconded on the masher>fork

      You're right, Sam (and Ryan below) and Lifehacker is just plain wrong on that one. Masher is better for spuds than a fork any day: just think about how the force is applied
      With a masher, you can lean down with your body weight... but with a fork, you either hurt your arm, or bend the fork..
      I know, I'm Irish.

      100% agree. The rest of the items are fair enough, but mashing with a fork blows.

        Not to mention the fact that a masher takes up nowhere near as much room as the other items on this list.

      I agree. My masher is probably one of my most used kitchen items after the toaster, kettle and coffee machine.

      Doesn't exactly take up a mountain of space either.

      Actually the cooks go one better - Put it in a blender. You get super smooth mash that way.

        No real 'cook' would use a blender - it ruptures the swollen cells and spills starch all over the place and turns your mash into a gooey pile of crap.

        Unless you want to make glue, I guess. Do you want to make glue?

          we use a cake mixer to make mash at work

          >Unless you want to make glue, I guess. Do you want to make glue?
          I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Thanks you and happy Friday

      I prefer a fork! It's handier than rummaging about for the masher, and I actually find it easier to use (and to wash). I get better results with the fork.

    Apart from the potato masher who has any of those things. The only appliance you need is a good quality hooded gas BBQ you can do anything from biscuits to pasta to roast and Steaks!!

      When you are ready to step up, a wood fired pizza oven does all that, and more!

    This is by far the most pointless article I have seen on this website. How about some real "life hacking" posts.

    A fork?!?
    you can go get forked. I'll keep my masher thank you.

    oh and, There is such a thing as a "purpose built burger cooker???"

    had a toaster for several years can not recall the last time i used that.

    No way I'm using a fork over a masher. I wouldn't say a masher clutters up the kitchen either for that matter.

    My popcorn maker is also quicker and cleaner than having to use a pan and oil. Cost under $10 and is small enough to stash away in the cupboard.

    Everything else on the list, sure..

      I use a paper bag and a microwave. No oil, no mess, no space taken in the cupboard and better still, no dishes.

    I will defend the popcorn maker.

    My wife and I use ours at least once a fortnight. Just get a good recipe for caramel popcorn and you'll find yourself making it for every movie you watch.

    And it is a lot easier to use than saucepan method.

      You sir are a bad influence. 10 seconds on Google and I now have this weekend's indulgence planned. Now, can you recommend a good movie? :)

      secondoned! No burnt popcorn, it's healthier as it's air popped, not oil popped - best 20 bucks I ever spent. Though I don't add caramel to mine, which may offset the health benifits.

        Thirded. Except I don't currently have an air popper and have been oil popping in the interim. I fear I am beginning to enjoy the oil flavour too much.

      I'd argue the microwave method is better than both a maker & a saucepan.

      Gave popcorn maker to 4 yo old daughter, best present ever. Kids can pop own corn, healthy snack (until they were corrupted by outside influences and learn about butter).

      +1 on the popcorn maker. Let me explain for those lifehacker eds who are not overly concerned with kilojoules and those sorts of things. An air-popped popcorn maker makes popcorn WITHOUT BUTTER and WITHOUT FAKE BUTTER SEASONING. It tastes like... corn! Go figure that! Neither a saucepan nor a microwave (at least not with prepackaged microwave corn kernels) will do that. I've had a popcorn maker since the late 1980's and swear by it for a quick, relatively cheap, treat.

        I must admit that I like to use a handful of popcorn and the brown paper bag from my bottle of Scotch to cook popcorn in the microwave. That way you get to have your drunkie snacks while recycling.

    My oven at home is rubbish, the cupcake maker we have makes them perfect in 10 minutes - good for making tons quickly to take to people's houses.

      i like having a pop corn machine but a brown paper bag, sicky tape and 1/8 cup corn in the microwave works well

    Yeah I also call bullshit on the Fork instead of Potato Masher

    I'm not sure how a Saucepan/Kettle can toast the inside of a hotdog roll either

    and cupcake moulds could be counted as a single use appliance that clutters your kitchen

    Saying a fork replaces a potato masher is provocatively stupid.

    I'd also argue that the baby food maker could be useful if you were concerned about sterilising the food, and/or you didn't have a stove.

    I have a family member that gives all this pointless crap for birthdays and christmas every year. I have it hidden up a top shelf in a spare bedroom. But whenever they visit I have to get the (now 15) devices they've gifted out and place around kitchen.

      If you didn't display them maybe they would get the hint and stop giving them to you.

        "honey, why do you keep buying Anthony all those crappy single use kitchen appliances?"
        "He clearly uses them, they're all on his bench whenever we go around"

    +1 to Potato and Popcorn fans!

    Potato Masher: so much easier, quicker and more consistent than using a fork, plus it doesn't use much space at all.

    Popcorn maker: makes popcorn faster, cleaner and is lot better for you than the oil-soaked results of a pan; or butter+salt drenched results of microwave popcorn. And it's more efficient: almost every single kernel is edible (even if not popped fully). Less than one inedible kernel per batch in my experience.

      +1 to both.

      Prefer my popcorn with no oil, butter, salt or sugar.

      I'ved wondered about popcorn machines before. How does the popcorn maker work differently than putting kernels in a container in the microwave? There's no mess or butter/salt.

        I found it was too easy to get burnt popcorn in the microwave (even slightly, and the whole batch tasted bad) The popcorn maker throws them out into a bowl as soon as they're popped so no chance of burning..

        Its pretty much a hairdryer with a spin cycle. Theres basically just an aluminium cup inside, with little vents that blow in hot air. The kernals are constantly in motion so they never settle on the edges and burn. The real beauty of the design is that once one pops, it gets bumped up into the chute above and is thus immediately removed from the process but still kept warm from the dispersed, escaping heat. If you overfill it, just stick a bowl under the chute and it'll fill itself up. Some models have a little plastic tray on top large enough to fit in a small smidge of butter or margarine which will take just about as long to melt as a full batch of popcorn will to cook. Once you stop hearing the clicking sound of kernals bouncing off the raised sides of the vents, then you know the batch is 100% complete.

    Besides the potato masher (pretty standard item in kitchens) i have none of those items

    because i don't live in the 90's and am not an infomercial hungry housewife.

      +1. How about those steak knives?!

    youll never take my hotdog maker! seriously cooking the dogs in a saucepan of water doesnt compare to steam cooking and no saucepan can put a whole through my bun and toast sed hole

    No one has mentioned the rice cooker - which I will also defend. Set and forget. It's alot better then the saucepan method.

      Rice cookers are a gift from the heavens.

        As are slow cookers.

        I'll agree with that. They're also multipurpose in that its possible to bake a cake in one.

        In much the same way, cheap kettles are superior to kettles (you can hard boil an egg in it) and those Asian toaster-ovens are far superior to a plain old toaster (I've managed to bake all manner of Italian goodies in one, from medium sized pizzas to lasagna, cannelloni and pasta bake; trick is finding the perfect baking tin).

      I'll play devil's advocate here. 2:3 rice to water ratio. Rice in pot with small splash of oil, heat. Add boiled water. Lid on, lowest heat. 12 mins. Perfect rice every time.

        You only need to mess about with such methods if you fail to thoroughly wash your rice prior to use.

    Cupcake makers cook cupcake mix in perfect shapes in like 2 minutes, no word of a lie! I've used mine thousands of times, especially if you're in a hurry!

    I have a donut maker. Some gift from a million years ago. I've used it once and carted it around whenever I moved house. So useless. (It looks a lot like the muffin maker up there)

    Kill the pie maker and the hot chocolate machine.

    My wife uses a fork, but it's masher all the way for me.

      Whoa, KILL THE PIE MAKER? Oh, you will NOT take my pie maker from me! It gets use every weekend during footy season.

    Espresso machine - 1 use, but one awesome use. You shall not take this from me.
    Toaster - 1 use, but use it at least once a week. But I could use a grill! won't someone think of the clutter!
    Kettle - microwave is better. But my family kept asking where the kettle was when they visit, and then my mum bought me one. *sigh*
    Crepe maker - This I have, and don't prefer a frypan. the crepe maker has the bevelled edge at just the right height to spin the crepe leveller around on for perfect thin crepes.
    Waffle maker - ok, I shouldn't have bought this. only used it a few times. but nothing else can make deep-holed belgian style waffles. and sometimes I get a craving.
    Mini-donut maker. bought from one of those super cheap online stores. didn't even work properly (not hot enough), got a refund and threw it out.
    Rice cooker - set and forget, and keeps warm. much better than microwave or stove.
    Electric teriyaki grill - this was also a mistake. Damn you, Aldi.

      Microwave is better than a kettle??! This is almost as bad as the fork suggestion!

        Indeed. Heating water in a microwave is extremely dangerous.

          I think the risk of superheating water tends to be overexaggerated. As long as you don't go nuts with the microwaving time there's little risk of superheating.
          I would also agree that for single cups, boiling water in the microwave is more efficient and faster. Granted, for larger amounts a kettle is better.
          Personally I use a Kambrook One Cup

          Microwave heats only as much water as you need, using heaps less energy for the same amount of water, and warms your cup while you're at it. The superheating thing is not a real issue. it's very hard to achieve.

          I did manage it once, when reheating some coffee many years back (before I knew what good coffee was). I kept trying to reheat it to a boil, it kept refusing to boil even after about 5-8 minutes on high. I eventually took it out of the microwave, it was plenty hot. I dropped a teaspoon of sugar into it and....sploosh. it just instantly bubbled up all over the bench. no explosion or anything. superheating is superstition.

    Masher is a utensil not an appliance. Perhaps you could do the 10 most useless utensils next.

    People think Mashers are cluttering the kitchen? They belong in the junk draw with other oddly shaped utensils.

      I have a utensil jar where all things utensilly and oddly shaped live. Doesn't bother me, but endears me when I mash potatoes, whisk an egg or anything else like that.

    soda stream could be classed as pointless although i do love mine (though havent used it for 12 months due to not buying a replacement co2 tank) and also what about the ice maker (father had one for a while but continuously broke down) and also the slushee maker surely they can be classed as useless

      The slushee makers are not useless! My mates & I went and and bought one of the Sunbeam ones for a friend for Christmas last year and she loves it, used it all throughout summer and it's used heavily at every barbecue we have at hers!

    My parents had an egg cooker that turned out perfect poached eggs every time. It was bought in the 80's, and I have not been able to find another one like it. I would trade all of my kitchen appliances (including the toaster and kettle) to have one of these. Moral of the story? If it really, really, REALLY works - it's not clutter.

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