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13 kitchen gadgets you need for your first apartment

Upon moving into your first apartment or house, you'll quickly learn your kitchen is devoid of all the useful gadgets and devices that make cooking and meal prep so much easier.

Here are 13 gadgets every first kitchen should have.

Photo by: Chris Monroe/CNET

Microwave

If you're moving into an apartment or a new house, there's no guarantee a microwave will be installed over the range. Fortunately, countertop microwaves are fairly affordable these days. You can pick up a new microwave for anywhere between $50 and $200.

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Toaster

A toaster is another given. A slotted toaster is very affordable and convenient for toasting a quick breakfast in the morning. You can find them for as little as $15.

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Or a toaster oven

If your budget allows, consider springing for a toaster oven instead. It's far more versatile in what it can do, from making personal pizzas to reheating leftovers. We love Pansonic's FlashXpress toaster oven for its small-space design and ability to make a grilled cheese in 2 minutes, flat

Photo by: Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Panini press or indoor grill

If you're in an apartment, you may have restrictions on whether you can own a gas or charcoal grill. The next best thing is an indoor grill or a panini press. As a plus, you can cook just about anything on an indoor grill with less cleanup.

You can buy an indoor grill or panini press for as little as $20. We like this space-conscious one from DeLonghi

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Slow cooker

Hate coming home from work to spend hours cooking a meal? A slow cooker will quickly become your most cherished kitchen appliance.

There is an endless supply of "set-it-and-forget-it" slow-cooker recipes that you can start before you leave for work. When you get home that evening, you should have a piping hot meal ready to be eaten.

Slow cookers can be bought for as little as $15, but you can also purchase what is referred to as a multicooker (a combination of a pressure cooker and a slow cooker) for around $50. (We love the Instant Pot Smart!)

Waffle iron

A waffle iron might seem like an oddly specific gadget to want in your first kitchen, but don't be fooled by the name. While its primary function is to cook up perfectly formed waffles, a waffle iron is far more versatile. You can use it to make omelets, hash browns, quesadillas, paninis, cookies and so much more.

Best of all, you can find them for as little as $15, and they're generally small enough to store in a cabinet when not in use.

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Blender

A blender is an indispensable tool in the kitchen. They can also vary wildly in price and quality.

For instance, some blenders are geared more toward individuals who just want a smoothie to throw back in the morning, while others come with larger carafes, more power and better blades for heavier workloads, such as making your own nut butter. And if you want to skip getting a coffee grinder, a blender will certainly work as a substitute -- just don't tell your coffee snob friends.

Depending on your needs, you can spend as little as $50 or upward of $700 for a quality blender.

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Food processor

If you're less into smoothies and more into chopping veggies or making your own hummus, veggie burgers, or hash browns, skip the blender and get a nice food processor. 

They can run anywhere from $20 to upwards of $300. Here's a best-seller from Amazon

Photo by: Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Mixer

If you're into baking, you shouldn't go without a stand mixer. It will significantly decrease the prep time for mixing batter, making your own frosting, kneading dough, making mashed potatoes and much more.

Stand mixers might start at just $20, but a high-end one will cost you around $250 or more.

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Automatic coffee maker

If you're a nonstarter without your morning coffee, you'll definitely want to pick up one for your new kitchen. It's a great way to save money (in the long run), and depending on what type of coffee maker you buy, you can do more than just make coffee with it. Cup-based coffee makers can often make tea, hot chocolate and even meals.

The price of Keurigs have dropped over the years, and you can now buy one for under $100. However, if you want an SCAA-approved coffee maker, like the Oxo Barista Brain or Bonavita 1900TS, expect to pay between $130 and $200. Here are our favorite coffee makers

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Or a manual coffee maker

The biggest bang for your buck when it comes to coffee made at home will come from a manual coffee maker, like an AeroPress, French press or a pour-over.

While they require a little more labor, the coffee they produce is often revered as some of the best you can get by coffee enthusiasts around the world. Of course, that also depends on the coffee you buy.

You can find press pots and pour-over cones for as little as $5, but even some of the most expensive manual coffee makers are still cheaper than midrange automatic brewers at only $40.

If you don't want to spend money on a coffee maker, here's how to make coffee without one

Photo by: Taylor Martin/CNET

Coffee grinder

If you decide to brew coffee at home and you want to enjoy that coffee, you'll also want a coffee grinder.

While a conical burr grinder is typically recommended for a consistent grind size, a blade grinder is both cheaper and has multiple uses. You can use a blade grinder to chop up nuts and spices. A decent burr grinder will set you back $90 and up, while a blade grinder can be had for as little as $10.

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Or a manual coffee grinder

If you're on a budget, you can still get the quality of a burr coffee grinder without the hefty price tag by purchasing a manual hand mill. These typically come with a fine adjustment screw and a hopper for beans on the top. When you turn the handle, the coffee falls between the conical burrs, just like with an automatic grinder -- it just takes a little more time and elbow grease.

You can buy a great hand-mill grinder for as little as $30 or as much as $200.

Photo by: Chris Monroe/CNET

Electric kettle

From making coffee to whipping up a quick oatmeal breakfast, having boiling hot water in an instant is a nice luxury to have. Of course, you can just throw a kettle on the stove, but electric kettles have become extremely affordable, and they tend to heat water quickly and efficiently.

You can usually find electric kettles for between $12 and $80.

Smart speaker

It may seem silly, but smart speakers are ruling the kitchen. They can provide measurement conversions, operate as timers, help walk you through recipes, provide drink pairings or cocktail suggestions and, most importantly, keep you entertained while you cook.

Best of all, with the Echo Dot from Amazon, you can get a smart speaker in the kitchen for as little as $50.

Photo by: Chris Monroe/CNET

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