Life wasn't meant to be easy – but that doesn't mean you should have to settle for kitchen appliances that are difficult to use.
Whether you have mobility issues, you're a novice cook who's not confident in the kitchen yet, or you live in a household with teenagers learning to cook, having easy-to-use appliances can make your time in the kitchen faster and less stressful.
Whatever your motivation, we know that easy-to-use appliances make for happier cooks. So whenever we test an appliance, our experts rate it on how easy it is to use and clean – and this score makes up a portion of the overall CHOICE Expert Rating for that product.
Here are five kitchen appliances that our experts rated highly for ease of use.
1. DeLonghi MULTICUISINE FH 1396.BK air fryer
- Ease of use score: 70%
- Price: $499
One of the biggest drawcards of an air fryer is the convenience – there's no preheating an oven, they're quick and efficient, they're great for frozen foods and they're easy to use. To get cooking, all you need to do is select the temperature and cooking time or choose from the pre-programmed settings.
They're also perfect for small households, solo cooks and those who don't have the room (or need) for a conventional oven – or rental properties with sub-par ovens. And since they don't heat up the kitchen like an oven does, they're particularly useful for hot weather and houses without air conditioning.
Reheating foods is another area where air fryers shine. Whereas a microwave will leave pastry and pizza bases soggy, an air fryer will deliver a nice crispy base.
"They're great for teenagers who can be trusted with appliances to make themselves an afternoon snack, or to reheat meals," says CHOICE kitchen expert Fiona Mair.
It's important to remember that air fryers aren't completely 'set and forget' though. You'll still need to turn or shake the food every five minutes or so to make sure it's cooking evenly, and if your air fryer doesn't have a timer, you'll need to set one yourself.
Our expert testers gave the DeLonghi MULTICUISINE a score of 70% for ease of use. They were impressed by its comprehensive instructions, automatic shut-off function, pre-set cooking functions, easy-open lid, dishwasher-safe bowl, and ease of cleaning.
2. LG MS4296OBC microwave
- Ease of use score: 79%
- Price: $347
Another easy-to-use alternative to a conventional oven, a microwave is a must-have for the nervous cook's kitchen. With pre-programmed settings like auto defrost, sensor cooking, quick boost/start, and multi-stage programming, a good microwave can do far more than just reheat leftovers.
But this is where ease of use is important. A microwave can have all the settings in the world, but if it's more complicated than the Hadron Collider, you're never going to do more with it than warm up last night's dinner. To get the most out of your microwave, look for one that comes with clear instructions and functions that are easy to comprehend.
This LG microwave ticks all the boxes for ease of use: comprehensive instructions with guidelines, a bright and clear digital display, written functions that are easy to comprehend, an auto- and sensor-cook guide written inside above the door for easy reference, and excellent visibility through the door.
It's not perfect, though: our experts found that you may need to refer to the instruction booklet initially when using the controls, and the screen shows some symbols that may not be easy to comprehend. But this microwave received one of the highest scores for ease of use in our test, so it's a safe bet if you're looking for something that's straightforward and simple to use.
Read the full LG MS4296OBC review.
3. Magimix Compact 3200XL food processor
- Price: $695
- Ease of use score: 77%
With all those little cracks and crevices that catch food and the endless number of (sharp!) attachments, food processors are notoriously a nightmare to clean. And some can be so complicated, with so many bits and pieces that it can feel like you need a degree to be able to assemble them.
So, if you want one that involves the least fuss possible, try this compact food processor from Magimix, which scored relatively high for ease of use in our tests.
It comes with a separate storage container for its attachments along with very comprehensive instructions, including photos and recipes. And the best thing is, its parts are dishwasher safe (using a low-temperature cycle), which means you won't need to wash all the fiddly little bits by hand.
Read the full Magimix Compact 3200XL review.
4. Kmart Anko pie maker
- Ease of use rating: Very good
- Price: $20
It's a great way to use up leftovers: pop the pastry in, add some leftover casserole or braised meat, close the lid, and wait as the delicious smell of cooking pastry comes wafting out.
Our kitchen expert Fiona Mair says: "It's a really simple way to make snack pies in minutes, even if you're not a confident cook."
If you have your pastry and fillings ready to go, you can have four snack-sized pies on your plate in around 13 minutes (that's five minutes to preheat and eight minutes' cooking time). It doesn't have a timer, so you'll need to set one yourself.
We also found that the plastic pastry cutter that comes with the pie maker is quite tricky to use, especially if you have limited mobility in your hands, so ditch it and use a paring knife instead.
5. KitchenAid Artisan Diamond Blender KSB1585
- Ease of use score: 78%
- Price: $299
If you're short on time, a smoothie is one way to keep the hunger pangs at bay until you can make yourself a proper meal. You can also blend yourself up a warming soup in less time than it'd take on the stovetop. And a blender makes pancake mixing a cinch – no more stirring to get the lumps out!
This KitchenAid blender performed well blending soup, green smoothies and kale, and handled crushing ice and chopping carrots, which means it'll handle most things you can throw at (or in) it.
The easy-to-use push button controls with clear written labelling all have indicator lights, so you're less likely to hit the wrong button when you're using it. And the good-sized chute will make it easier to add ingredients to the jug.
The large, lightweight plastic jug is dishwasher safe, and the wide blade area means it's easier to remove material from around the blade, making cleaning up less of an onerous task. The jug could be a bit tricky to wash in a domestic sink, however, due to its large size.
To make cleaning even easier, Fiona suggests this hack: put warm water into the jug with a drop of detergent and turn it on for a few seconds.
Read the full KitchenAid blender review.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.