When it comes to cooking at home, we often rely very heavily on our ovens. They are considered an essential part of your kitchen, and many recipes will depend on the oven as the only heat source needed for cooking your food.
However, for various reasons, you may look for an alternative to an oven (either as an addition to your kitchen or as a replacement to your main appliance). My favourite oven alternatives include; an air fryer, an instant pot, a grill, microwave and a slow cooker.
In this post, we’ll be looking in detail as to which appliance(s) might be right for your kitchen based on the purchase price and versatile.
Air fryers are a cross between an oven and fryer. It works like a convection oven and is most commonly used as an alternative to traditional deep frying. Through hot air circulation, air fryers can make food crispy with only a tiny spoon of oil and can be quite versatile in what you can cook in them.
Air fryers aren’t that compact and so will need a good bit of space on your kitchen counter.
Despite being quite bulky, they tend to have quite a small cooking compartment; you may have to cook meals in small batches if cooking for more than two people.
Traditionally, air fryers are used for cooking things like french fries, or anything with a dry batter such as mozzarella sticks or fish fingers. It will not work with anything that’s liquid before cooking.
For creating home-cooked meals, air fryers are great for cooking most vegetables, meat such as breaded fish or chicken as well as reheating and cooking any frozen items.
Price can range from $50 – $200; it is best to do some research to find what model would work best for you.
A very conventional piece of kitchen equipment but often only used to reheat food, warm up milk or to make popcorn. Nowadays, people are finding more creative ways to create some great home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients using just a microwave.
Here are some essential tips when it comes to cooking in the microwave. The most important one is not to put anything metal inside. Other useful tricks like covering your dishes with cling film or cooking in increments will help you to cook your food thoroughly.
Overall, the best advice is to understand and know how your microwave works. There are so many variations to models of microwaves and so using and experimenting with it will help you find the perfect temperature and setting for cooking your meals.
There is such a wide range of dishes that can be cooked in a microwave: for example, egg dishes, pasta dishes, chilli, stews, casseroles and even brownies and cakes. You can now find a lot of microwave specific recipes online.
Depending on what functions you want from your microwave, they can cost anywhere between $40 – $400. Have a think about what you will use your microwave for and what kind of meals you would like to cook so you can choose the best one to suit you.
The Instant Pot is a brand of multi-cooker. The brand is so well known that it has become by far the most popular multi-cooker available. As the name suggests, the Instant Pot multi-cooker can be used for a wide range of uses and cooking methods with minimal effort and time.
It works as a pressure cooker by cooking with water and steam. Meals such as stews, soups, casseroles, pasta, rice, beans, curries work great in the Instant Pot. You can also choose from a range of sizes so you can buy the right one that will feed your household.
It can also come with a steam rack and so could be used to steam vegetables or meats if desired.
Though versatile, Instant Pots do have to be treated with care. They can often malfunction or stop working mid-way through cooking your dinner if used incorrectly.
The best practice is to follow recipes that are specific for the Instant Pot and to ensure you are cooking with enough water; then it should work perfectly for you.
There’s a number of Instant Model makes and sizes available. Have a look on their website and see what functions you would find useful in your kitchen. The prices range from $70 – $130 but do check Amazon or other retail stockists for any deals they might have.
You can also look into other brands of multi-cookers. The price can start from $50 upwards but again do some research about what other people think of different brands and have a think about what you want from a multi-cooker.
Countertop grills became famous for creating toasted sandwiches at home and a great way to cook lean meat. But grills are also a great alternative if you don’t have access to a stove-top or if you don’t have a grill setting on your oven.
Anything that needs frying, sautees or grilling can be done on a countertop grill. You can buy versions that have groves to help with the signature charred lines on your meat or vegetables, or the flat grills are great for even cooking or making pancakes and fritters.
They are often easy to clean and commonly are non-stick, which helps with limiting the amount of fat required. Prices start from around $25, making it an incredibly affordable cooking appliance.
Slow cookers are ideal for anyone who struggles to find time to cook. You can take 10 minutes to put a load of ingredients into the slow cooker and let it cook for anything between 4 – 12 hours depending on what you are cooking.
This means you can leave food to cook overnight or have some hot dinner to come home to after a day of work.
Similar to the Instant Pot it is best to follow recipes designed precisely for a slow cooker so that it has enough water and seasoning to cook. It works great for soups, stews, rice, pasta or any one-pot dish. You can also use it to saute and fry any ingredients before adding in the liquid.
You can buy different sizes of slow cookers depending on the quantity of food you need to produce for your household. Prices range from $20-$100, making it a very accessible item to have in your home.
When considering buying any small kitchen appliance as an alternative to an oven, it is best to have a think about what kind of food you want to cook and whether the appliance will be handy for you. We recommend buying something that has many uses and can produce enough food for your household.
Have a look at reviews online and don’t always buy with just the price in mind. You may find the cheapest version doesn’t last or that the more expensive one is far too complicated to use regularly. Do some research and buy what is right for you and your home.