Simple kitchen gadgets for cooks who like things hassle-free

Right now, it feels like there’s a never-ending array of kitchen gadgets making their way to the market. 

If you’re shopping for something new, it’s important to be sure it’s a gadget that’s reliable and easy to operate, as well as being something you’ll actually use.

While gadgets with lots of buttons and multiple settings might work for some, they’re not for everyone – particularly if you have a busy lifestyle or want to focus on recipes rather than an instruction manual.

At Which?, our tests cover how simple a product is to use, meaning our experts are well-placed to recommend straightforward kitchen gadgets to help you master delicious, uncomplicated cooking.

Below, we’ve picked out some kitchen products with features designed for ease of use – but how well did they fare in our tests? Joining Which? gives you access to all our lab-tested reviews to help you find the gadgets that are right for you.

Eat well, live better and stay healthy. Sign up for our Food & Health newsletter, it’s free monthly

Simple air fryers

Air fryers are still wildly popular. To help you find the best of the bunch, our lab test includes an ease of use measure – it makes up 20% of an air fryer’s total score.

To help you grab an air fryer that’s a breeze to operate, we assess how user-friendly the controls and instructions are, plus how easy it is to open and close the lid to add or get to your food.

Our expert says:

Manca Virant

‘Consumers love air fryers simply because they’re really handy kitchen appliances. They take barely any time to preheat, there’s no fuss with too many settings and they’re usually quiet and fairly easy to clean, plus they can fry pretty much anything. What’s not to love?’

Manca Virant, air fryers expert, Which?

We’ve tested a selection of air fryers with features designed to be easy to use, including:

  • Tefal EasyFry 9in1 FW501827 – an oven-type air fryer that comes with a grill plate and rotisserie instead of a drawer for ingredients. Each of the nine auto programs has its own button.
  • Ninja Foodi MAX AG551UK – this model has six cooking functions: air fry, bake, roast, reheat, dehydrate, and grill. You can detach components for convenient cleaning.

To see which air fryers score top marks in our tests, see our guide to the best air fryers.

Simple multi cookers

The best multi cookers can tackle the same jobs that an air fryer can, plus take care of other specialist forms of cooking, such as pressure cooking and slow cooking.

Using a multi cooker

To uncover the best multi cookers, we asked a panel of testers to follow the instruction and recipe booklets provided. The testers rated their experience on instruction clarity and usefulness of any recipes and cooking suggestions.

When testing a multi cooker, we also check how easy it is to operate, program and view food while cooking.

Our expert says:

Sam Morris

‘Multi cookers can pack the versatility of a Master Chef kitchen into one machine. The best have lots of useful functions (some upwards of 10 different modes), including automated cooking programs and even handy temperature probes to reduce the guesswork involved in making healthy, appetising meals.

‘Some combine types of cooking to make balanced meals (carbohydrate, vegetables, and protein) with just a single click. Plus, most multi cookers come with suggested recipes and cooking times for common foods, with intuitive controls to make cooking easier.’

Sam Morris, multi cooker expert, Which?

We’ve tested a selection of multi cookers with features designed to be easy to use, including:

  • Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 multi cooker OL750UK – this model has a smart lid, which means you don’t need to swap out the lids to air fry, roast or bake.
  • Tefal Cook4me Touch CY912840 smart multi cooker with Extra Crisp lid – features 250 built-in recipes that guide you through the cooking process.
  • Ninja Speedi 10in1 Rapid Cooker ON400UK – has a ‘Speedi meal’ program, where you cook grains or pasta plus protein and steam vegetables at the same time.

Find out which multi cookers are Best Buys with our guide to the best multi cookers.

Simple rice cookers

A rice cooker for the kitchen could be a savvy investment if you’re looking for a simple way to cook fluffy rice.

Some models enable you to prepare up to 3.5 cups of rice (enough for three people) with ease, meaning you can turn your attention to the other dishes.

Our expert says:

Joel Bates

‘Rice cookers can be really handy for serving up consistently good rice – as long as you get your ratios right.

‘Every rice cooker is different, so when you first start using one you’ll need to experiment a little to find the right balance of water and rice. Once you’ve cracked it, though, cooking perfect rice will be a simple case of loading up the right amounts and hitting go. In fact, most rice cookers are so simple that most of them just have the one button.

‘Once you hit go, you can focus all of your attention on cooking what you’ll be serving up alongside your rice.’

Joel Bates, rice cooker expert, Which?

We’ve tested a selection of rice cookers with features designed to be easy to use, including:

  • Yum Asia Panda Mini Advanced Fuzzy Logic Ceramic Rice Cooker – this model has dedicated controls for setting a delay-start timer, slow cooking, steaming and baking cakes.
  • Tefal Cool Touch RK1568UK Rice Cooker – a rice cooker that comes bundled with a plastic serving spoon, measuring cup, steamer tray and non-stick cooking pot. It has large cooking and keep-warm lights.
  • Lakeland 2 Portion Mini Electric Rice Cooker – features a digital timer with a delay-start feature. Its compact size means this model could be well-suited to a single or two-person household.

Before you part with your money, explore our in-depth guide to the best rice cookers.

Simple bread maker

It’s certainly not hard to get your hands on a loaf of bread, yet few supermarkets stock loaves that taste quite as delicious as your own fresh-baked variety.

But while baking bread isn’t difficult, the kneading, proving and baking process can be time consuming.

Using a bread maker

If you’re a fan of a fresh, crusty loaf, a bread maker might be a good investment – and most machines come with detailed instructions and recipes.

Some bread makers can also make cakes, jams, yoghurts, dough mixtures and even cheese.

Our expert says:

Joel Bates

‘Supermarket bread has come under fire because it contains emulsifiers and preservatives, making it ultra-processed. And while some loaves are better than others – as detailed in our piece is all ultra-processed food bad for you – a home-baked loaf gives you more control over what’s in your bread.

‘Bread makers are especially handy if you don’t like the idea of kneading, folding and proving homemade bread yourself. Bread makers have recipes that just require you to pop the ingredients in and press go – the machine takes care of the rest.

‘As a bonus you’ll regularly have the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through your home. The hardest thing is waiting for the bread to cool down enough before eating it!’

Joel Bates, bread maker expert, Which?

We’ve tested a selection of bread makers with features designed to be easy to use, including:

  • Panasonic SD-B2510WXC Bread Maker – this model features a delay timer (up to 13 hours) and has dedicated Fast Bake and Gluten Free programs.
  • Sage The Custom Loaf Pro BBM800BSS – has an automatic dispenser for nuts and raisins. It has a bright LCD display and you can silence the machine’s beeps using the mute button.
  • Lakeland White Compact 1lb Daily Loaf Bread Maker –a compact bread maker with a viewing window and bundled instructions crammed with tips.

Discover our top-scoring bread makers with our guide to the best bread makers.

Simple coffee makers

The ability to make barista-quality coffee in your own home is as irresistible to many as the aroma of roasting beans. But some coffee machines are more tear-your-hair-out than touch-of-a-button.

Using a coffee machine

Our expert tests prove a higher price isn’t always an indication of quality. For example, we’ve uncovered some impressive-looking, high-end machines that cost £900 – but they’re very tricky to use and clean.

On the plus side, we’ve also spotted coffee machines under £30 that are a breeze to set up.

Our expert says:

Patrick Gallagher

‘Regularly cleaning and descaling your coffee machine can be a laborious chore, but is essential for keeping it working well for longer.

‘Look for automatic cleaning programs to make it less of a hassle. If it needs to be cleaned manually, check to see if the parts can be removed easily for cleaning and whether they’re dishwasher safe.’

Patrick Gallagher, coffee machine expert, Which?

We’ve tested a selection of coffee machines with features designed to be easy to use, including:

  • DeLonghi Piccolo XS EDG210.R – a compact pod coffee machine that takes Dolce Gusto pods. To dispense a drink, you flick the lever to the right for hot water or to the left for cold.
  • Melitta Avanza F270-100 Mystic Titanium – this bean-to-cup coffee machine has automatic cleaning and descaling programs.
  • Sage The Bambino Plus SES500BSS4GUK1 – a ground coffee machine with five clearly labelled buttons. The milk temperature and foam level can be adjusted.

For help finding the perfect coffee machine for you, see our guide to the best coffee machines.

Simple soup makers

Preparing soup isn’t that hard – but soup makers make it even easier. They can make soup as chunky or smooth as you like and you don’t need to bother transferring your ingredients into a liquidiser.

Some even come with self-clean functions, saving you the hassle of washing up pots and pans.

However, our testing found some of the instruction manuals for soup makers were poor, while others lacked the self cleaning option that made rivals so convenient.

Our expert says:

Sabrina Sahota

‘If you regularly make soup, a soup maker is a handy appliance to help you save on time and washing up. Most are super simple to use – just add your raw, chopped veg to the soup maker with some stock and then press the smooth or chunky soup button.

‘The heating element and blender does all the work for you so you don’t need to worry about frying and constantly stirring your ingredients. For a quick, easy clean-up, look for a soup maker with a self-clean function too.’

Sabrina Sahota, soup maker expert, Which?

We’ve tested a selection of soup makers with features designed to be easy to use, including:

  • Morphy Richards Total Control Soup Maker 501020 – has minimum-to-maximum volumes of 800ml and 1,600ml, which is a wider range than most soup makers.
  • Daewoo SDA1714 – features a large countdown timer and beeps loudly when cooking is complete.
  • Lakeland Sauté Soup Maker – this Lakeland has a self-clean function and one of the lightest jugs we’ve tested.

Our guide to the best soup makers reveals which models are truly worth your money.

Simple food processors

Food processors are renowned for taking the strain out of food preparation, whether chopping vegetables, kneading doughs or whizzing stale bread into useful breadcrumbs.

Using a food processor

But, as our reviews show, they vary massively in terms of price, size and what they can do, with some struggling to perform the most basic tasks, such as grating cheese and dicing onions.

The numerous parts that come with a food processor can make some of them tough to store and to clean – something our testers factor in when putting them through their paces.

Our expert says:

Rebecca Jakeman

‘It might feel like you need a food processor with all of the bells and whistles, but the reality is you only need to look for a few key features to ensure great results.

‘Firstly, make sure you’ll have the accessories you need – all models come with a knife blade, but keen bakers will want to look out for things like dough hooks, whisks and beaters.

‘You can get a variety of different sized mixing bowls too, so pick one that’s large enough for everyone in your household. It’s also worth considering cleaning, so dishwasher-safe attachments are an added bonus.’

Rebecca Jakeman, food processor expert, Which?

We’ve tested a selection of food processors with features designed to be easy to use, including:

  • Nutribullet Magic Bullet Kitchen Express MB09200 – a machine with just one speed and a pulse function, this model also includes single-serve blender cups for smoothies on the go.
  • Kenwood Multipro Express FDP65.860WH – it comes with two bowls, a vast array of attachments and an ‘Express Serve’ accessory to channel food directly from the processor to your plate.
  • Tefal DO821840 – this food processor offers a choice of power settings, plus it comes with more accessories than you can shake a stick at. There’s a storage box to keep everything in one place, too.

Pick the perfect food processor for your kitchen countertop with our guide to the best food processors.