Clever Cooking Gadgets That Are Safe To Use In Dorms And Other Very Small Spaces

A mini microwave, coffee maker, Instant Pot and more appliances made with small spaces in mind.
A Bodum French Press, Nutribullet smoothie maker and Dash mini toaster oven.

When it comes to tiny cooking spaces like studio apartments or even dorm rooms, simplicity is key. A lack of storage and countertop space makes it imperative that all cooking items be compact, multifunctional and aesthetically pleasing (no one wants to have to look at ugly gadgets on display 24/7). And while some people may eschew small-space cooking tools altogether, I am of the belief that there are a few truly fantastic core gadgets that are worth the investment and precious kitchen space. It’s easier than you might think to get creative in the kitchen with just a few versatile items.

Whether you’re a gourmet home cook or a beginner who wants a few essential tools at your disposal, there’s something for you. Below, I’ve rounded up a selection of must-have cooking gadgets for small spaces, from retailers like Amazon and Target. They come at a range of price points and are a must for recent grads, newlyweds and people looking to add to their cookware collection without taking up a ton of space.

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Nutribullet personal blender
Don't sleep on the iconic OG Nutribullet. The compact size of this personal blender makes it ideal for a dorm room. You can make smoothies, soups, salsas and (ahem) margaritas with just a push and a twist. It's easy to clean and dishwasher-safe, though it can also be easily rinsed and washed in a sink. It includes a motor base, extractor blade, 24-ounce cup, to-go lid, lip ring and a recipe book.

Promising review: "Most [used] device in my kitchen. Fast, super easy to use, super easy to clean. Makes health shakes in 30 seconds…way better than cheap blenders I had before. So happy I bought this." — Amazon customer
Elite Gourmet electric quesadilla and grilled cheese maker
I'm usually on the fence about gadgets that only make one or two things, but this press is ideal for the cheese-lover in your life. It couldn't be easier to use and would be a welcome cooking accessory in a dorm room. Who doesn't want to be known for slinging the best quesadillas and grilled cheeses on their floor? If you've only got space for one quirky gadget, this might be the best one. It is only 8 inches in diameter but makes six quesadilla wedges on its nonstick surface. It has two indicator lights so you know when the unit is turned on and when it's preheated, and best of all, it can be stored vertically to save space. It's also easy to clean, which is a must when you're working with a limited kitchen.

Promising review: "Amazing. I use this almost daily. It cooks a quesadilla in minutes. The cheese is perfectly melted, with the outside lightly crispy. So worth it. It’s also very nice looking and giftable." — Heather
Crate & Barrel
Haden Dorchester compact microwave
Available in four colors, this mini microwave is a must for your recent grad's dorm room. Not only is it as cute as can be, but it has all the functionality of a full-sized microwave, using 700 watts of power and eight different cooking menu options.

Promising review: "I moved in to my condo with no built in microwave, but also limited counter space. This little microwave is super stylish but also gets the job done. I don’t know that it would be the best for someone who does the majority of their cooking in the microwave but works great for reheating and daily use!" — allison867
Elite Gourmet cast iron burner
Not all dorms allow hot plates, but if yours does, or you're working with a tiny stove-less apartment, this highly-rated cast iron cooking plate is an absolute must. It's nonstick and easy to clean, has an adjustable temperature control that distributes heat evenly and a power indicator light to help keep you safe. It's small and portable, so you can even take it with you on camping trips.

Promising review: "I love this little hot plate; I have ordered two if them. My range stopped working - not that I was utilizing it- yet I find that two of these items are enough for us. Boils water, steams veggies, cooks soup, rice, pasta (using a lid always); then I use them to fry or sauté; pudding or krispy treats… these cover my needs. ( Also, using silicone pads to protect counter from heat or spills)" — Bcase
Dash mini countertop grill
Available in three colors, this mini grill can take care of all your favorite dishes without taking up a ton of space. Use it to make paninis, burgers and breakfast sandwiches; reviewers even noted that it can be used to grill protein like chicken and salmon on its own. You can create a full gourmet meal without an actual kitchen. It has a compact four-inch nonstick cooktop that evenly distributes heat and couldn't be easier to use or clean.

Promising review: "I love this! I use it almost every other day. It’s super easy to clean and very compact. — Eunice R.
Our Place
Our Place Mini Home Cook duo
If you've got space for cookware, then add these two tiny options from Our Place to your lineup. The mini Always Pan and mini Perfect Pot are all you need to whip up just about every meal you can conceive of in your tiny kitchen. They come in eight colors and are oven safe up to 450 degrees, making them as versatile and multifunctional as they are lovely.
Instant Pot Duo
This 7-in-1 cooking gadget is a cult favorite with good reason. It can be used as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, warmer and sterilizer and even sauté veggies and protein. The three-quart size is ideal for small spaces, making it possible to enjoy everything from stews and soups to your favorite traditional family recipes. It's made with stainless-steel construction and several safety features including a safe-locking lid. It doesn't get much more versatile than this must-have gadget, and it's a high-quality investment that you will be able to enjoy for a long time.

Promising review: "I am quite the home cook, but I never used a pressure cooker. Nobody in my family used one, and they seemed just dangerous to me. However, the Instant Pot has been a sensation for quite awhile now, and there are so many wonderful recipes that call for the Instant Pot, that I did my research and decided to buy this one. I bought a smaller one because there are only two of us, sometimes three, but I didn't want something too big... I've had it three days and used it every day so far! I made chicken chili, which is to die for. The cooking time is so short, but the flavors melded better than if I had cooked it for hours! The next day, I made pulled pork, and, chef's kiss! So tender and juicy. I have never cooked such a great pork loin before. As I write this, I have just made teriyaki chicken thighs. I thickened the sauce and put it on the chicken, and now I'm waiting for the rice to cook. In less than fifteen minutes total, I will have perfect rice! This is the best thing ever! I thought I was the queen of the air fryer, but I think now I will hardly touch the thing. I will be cooking everything in my wonderful new instant pot! If you are on the fence, as I was, I suggest you jump in and get one." — Frances Brunner
Dezin electric hot pot
Available in four colors with or without a steamer insert, this hot pot is a must for people who love cozy foods like soups, noodles, oatmeal, ramen and rice, though you can also use it to cook protein on its own. It includes a silicone spatula and egg rack, has a temperature control function and heats food quickly and evenly. Think of the many ways you'll be able to elevate your instant noodles and boxed mac 'n cheese with this little gadget by your side!

Promising review: "Gave this to a friends daughter that will be leaving for College soon. She loves to cook so I also gave her a one pot cookbook to go with it. She absolutely loves it!!" — elidobie
Bodum Chambord French Press
Make coffee and tea from the comfort of home with this elegant, useful and simple French press. I've had one of these for years and love the simple, compact silhouette that makes it easy to tuck away and hide. It's a breeze to clean and makes seriously tasty coffee. It's made with durable, heat-resistant borosilicate glass that is strong and safe to use with boiling water, and a three-part stainless steel plunger with a mesh filter. If you're into a fresh brew, this is for you.

Promising review: "I had never used a French press until recently traveling in the Netherlands where they had one in our apartment. I always heard people rave about the coffee and the easy process. I loved it! ... Instead of saving a cup from the morning and microwaving it (I know, I know, that's a sin!), I decided to get this smallest version of the Bodum French press. It works just like the larger version and makes delicious coffee. Note that they refer to a 'cup' of coffee as 4 oz, where I drink a 'mug' of 8 oz. It will brew a full measuring cup, which is 8 oz. You get a little less after you press it. Advantages are that your one cup is always hot, clean up is easy, and my husband who drinks decaf can brew a cup whenever he likes. I did find the glass to be a bit thinner than the larger version, and even though I used boiling water, my coffee was not extremely hot. ...This would be great for travel too. I'm glad I got it." — JRM
Amazon Basics electric tea kettle
If you need your nightly cup of tea or want to quickly make coffee using a French Press or pour-over method, then you could really use an electric kettle. This sleek stainless steel kettle holds up to a liter of water that quickly comes to a boil, a long power cord so you can use it wherever you need to regardless of where your outlet is located, and a cord wrap underneath the base so you can store it discreetly. The automatic boil shut-off keeps you safe.

Promising review: "I've used this multiple times every day for nearly a year and am completely satisfied. It will boil up to a liter (4 cups) of water in no time at all. The pouring spout doesn't easily spill over so all the boiling water goes where it's supposed to and not on the kitchen counter or floor. Heating element is in the base so the bottom of the pitcher never gets too hot. I use this mostly to make pour-over coffee and while I initially thought a gooseneck spout would have been better after using this a few times I learned how easy it is to control pouring the water. Worth the money." — Tim Gier
Nespresso Essenza mini espresso machine by Breville
But if you can't part ways with your Nespresso, this mini version is here to save the day. Use it to make a single serving of coffee or espresso and get the coffee shop experience from the comfort of home. It's easy to use and has a super-compact design that makes it ideal for dorm rooms, studio kitchens, offices and more.

Promising review: "My espresso machine broke and had to be shipped off for repair. It took weeks. To fill the gap, I bought the Essenza mini. I had used Nespresso when traveling and was pretty impressed. The Essenza was perfect for my needs. It is seductively convenient to use -- I found that I frequently went back for a second double espresso. Later, my kitchen was being painted and I was unable to use my espresso machine again. I had the Essenza out quickly, set up in my office, and I was happily continuing with my morning espresso. It is the perfect office or bedroom coffee maker. It is easy to use and takes up a small space. And, the coffee is good!" — SuzieQmom
Hamilton Beach breakfast sandwich maker
Available in two cute colors, this breakfast sandwich maker is everything you never knew you always wanted. It's the perfect addition to a college dorm room and is bound to make you the most popular cook in your building. it comes with an egg cooker ring and can be used for anything from English muffins to mini waffles. It's dishwasher-safe and all surfaces have a durable nonstick coating that makes sink washing a breeze. Just utilize the many layers to make delicious custom sandwiches for yourself and your friends.

Promising review: "These buys always seem gimmicky, but this one of those things that are just awesome. I had one just like it 10yrs ago, and had been accidentally thrown away during a move. And I hadn't stopped thinking about it till I bought this one (in a much prettier color). Works just like I remembered, easy to clean, and I adore these little sammiches that it makes. Use English muffins, add cheese to the bottom Muffin first, then Canadian Bacon or sausage patty add onion on top if you're into that. Then slide the disc closed, add butter for the egg, the fill that part just a little under half way with scrambled eggs. Add whatever seasonings prior. And then when it starts steaming, slide the top half of English Muffin on top of that egg fluff and close it again so it gets toasted. It won't burn the rest of it. Sounds silly but this thing I'd awesome." — Lauren McGowan
Dash mini toaster oven
Aside from the fact that this toaster oven is devastatingly adorable, it's ideal for tiny kitchens with limited counter space. Use it to heat up everything from a bagel and toast to mini pizza and leftovers of any kind. It has a temperature dial and an auto shut-off feature to prevent overcooking, burning and other disasters. It also has a removable backing tray, oven rack and crumb tray.

Promising review: "I was immediately impressed with the overall look & rich vibrant color just pulling it out of the box. Knowing its light weight and half the size & price of a typical toaster oven, I expected the quality to be somewhat cheap & it to be more of a cool novelty item. I was amazed when I figured out its sturdy, just as powerful as a full sized toaster oven, & cooks faster too. I'm so happy with it, I replaced the full sized with it & now have room for a coffee station!!!"— Jayme A.
Instant Pot Vortex air fryer and oven combo
Even those with tiny kitchens can hop on the air fryer train with this versatile gadget from Instant Pot. It allows you to air fry, bake, roast and reheat everything from wings and french fries to veggies, potatoes, desserts and more. It has customizable one-touch programs, preheats quickly and is easy to clean thanks to the nonstick dishwasher-safe air fry basket and tray. The compact size makes it ideal for individual servings. Like all of Instant Pot's offerings, it's wildly popular and beloved by home cooks, hence its super-high ratings.

Promising review: "I love the size which works well for me. I’ve prepared chicken wings, pork chops, tenders, etc. Takes up very little room and is really easy to clean. Nice addition to my kitchen." – Rena C.
Dash mini two-cup rice cooker
This multifunctional rice cooker can also be used to steam foods or make soup, stews and tasty oatmeal. The cute design and punchy colors add a bit of fun to your home, while the portable and compact two-cup size couldn't be more convenient. It comes with a rice paddle and measuring cup, and the removable pot has a non-stick coating that makes cleanup a breeze. Get it in one of eight lovely colors and find out why it's so highly rated for yourself.

Promising review: "My husband and I are empty nesters and bought the Mini Dash Steamer as a small rice steamer for two. We also own a small Dash Air Fryer and love it for many things (french fries, crispy Asian beans, crispy brussell sprouts, roast potatoes, etc.). In the steamer, we made perfect sushi rice in the inauguaral run, but I tried a few things the next day from the included recipe book. I'm in love with the Dutch baby, a kind of Yorkshire Pudding pancake, and made two perfect versions. Next I tried Eric Kim's steamed Korean eggs, which he formulated for the microwave. Works just as well in the Mini Dash Steamer! Next up is herbed polenta." — BethM

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