Off Grid Small Kitchen Appliances Worth Owning

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In the past few years, as we’ve reduced our need for electricity, I’ve bought and used many different non-electric small kitchen appliances in my home. Here’s what is worth owning and what should be left on the shelf.

In the past few years, as we've reduced our need for electricity, I've bought and used many different non0-electric small kitchen appliances in my home. Here's what is worth owning and what should be left on the shelf.

Off Grid Small Kitchen Appliances

Over the past few years, our family has been conscientious about what we buy and how much power it will use. No, we aren’t off the grid at the moment, but we would like to be at some point. Since we moved into the home we built, I’ve been very careful about certain purchases, especially those that might be for an electric-using item.

Today I want to talk about small appliances. You might know them as the small kitchen electronics that clutter your counters or pantry. They can be a little bit of a pain, but they are something we often use if not every day.

Blenders, toaster ovens, stand mixers, waffle makers, ice cream makers, coffee makers, microwaves, air fryers, food processors, and more have entered our kitchens. While they can be helpful tools, they can also be a hindrance for those looking to cut down their electricity usage and bills.

This article will focus on items that would typically use electricity, not all small kitchen appliances. I hope you find it helpful as you build and organize your kitchen!

Shredder

Slicer Shredder Drum Grater

While you can use a basic cheese grater for grating, I’ve learned over the years that me and the cheese grater do not get along very well. Out of all of the kitchen accidents I’ve had, most of them have involved the cheese grater, and I have literal scars on my fingers from cutting off parts of them with it.

When I found this Cuisinart Drum Grater, I was skeptical because it’s almost fully plastic, but I needed a solution to my issue. I don’t grate much cheese but grate up many veggies, especially zucchini. I’ve had this Grater for two years, and it’s been wonderful. I love that it suctions onto my countertop and is easy to clean.

I use this Drum Grater instead of a cheese grater and a food processor (the shredder attachment). It can grate, slice, and grind, and I have to say, it does a great job at it.

Shredded Beef Recipe

Pressure Cooker

At the moment, I own an Instant Pot, but when that goes out, I’m switching to this Pressure Cooker. I do own a pressure canner, but it’s so huge that I wouldn’t use it for a pressure cooker. This 8 Quart Pressure Cooker is made by the same company as my canner and is the same size as my current Instant Pot, but for much less initial investment!

Plus, with a little care, a pressure cooker can last a long time since it doesn’t contain any electric parts.

I occasionally use my pressure cooker for meals and recipes, but mostly for making chicken broth.

Coffee Maker

Hand Crank Coffee Grinder

As I’m not a coffee drinker, I’m deferring to my husband’s area of expertise in the field of coffee. Having owned our own coffee shop for several years, I would say he’s an expert in this area. While we used to own both an electric grinder and an espresso machine, we now have both non-electric hand-powered appliances.

There are many styles of hand-powered coffee grinders.

Hand-Powered Espresso Machine

If you can’t imagine your life without cappuccinos, lattes, and other yummy coffee treats, you might not have to!

Hand-powered Espresso Machines are a little hard to find, but if you find yourself wanting to live off the grid but still find comfort in your daily coffee, it might be worth looking for one.

And if you aren’t as picky about your coffee, a French Press will work just fine!

Old Fashioned Egg Beaters

Hand Mixer

This is another one on my “to buy soon” list. I currently mix foods by hand or use my Wondermill Artiste Mixer. When that goes out, I may replace it with these beaters or Non-Electric Hand Mixers. There are several to choose from on Amazon, but I will choose the one with the most metal parts.

These are not only for beating eggs but could be used for mixing up and smoothing out jam when you are canning, whipping up a batch of muffins, or any other ingredients that need a little extra mixing or whipping. It’s not going to be the same as your Kitchenaid of course and can’t mix up a thick bread dough or cookie dough but is a good off-grid alternative.

3 Ingredient Banana Waffles

Waffle Iron

I don’t think a waffle iron or waffle maker is a must-have product since pancakes are just as tasty, but if your family likes waffles as much as mine, a waffle maker is probably something you have in your kitchen.

You can get a waffle iron that is made to be used on the stovetop instead of having another electric appliance. It works the same, pour in the batter, cook it over a heat source (gas stoves would work best with this), and you’ve got a waffle! I would not recommend a cast iron waffle maker unless you are certain you can season it well. We had one in the past, and everything stuck to it. A non-stick version might be a better option in this case.

Butter Churn

Butter Churn

This is another one on my “to buy soon” list…a butter churn. We’ve made butter in a variety of different appliances, including the blender, and we’ve also made the “shaken in a jar” kind which my kids had fun with. But for regular butter making, having a butter churn can be a lifesaver.

You don’t need a big churn that takes up a lot of space in your kitchen; you can get a small one that attaches to a mason jar. These make it very easy to make butter; if you have a dairy animal, it will be worth having.

Kitchen scale

Kitchen Scale

Because I do gluten-free baking, I always use my kitchen scale! I have a digital scale but recently picked up an old-fashioned scale at a thrift store.

If you use a scale a lot in the kitchen, consider one that doesn’t use electricity or batteries, so it costs nothing to maintain. I like the ones that have the bowl on the top. They are pretty enough to sit right on your counter!

Finished Kettle Corn

Popcorn Popper

We don’t own a special machine for popping popcorn (even though we do it constantly!). We use our Dutch Oven. (Which I highly recommend for many reasons…you can even bake bread in it!) I feel like it’s always made wonderful popcorn, but I’ve also seen others use a Whirley Pop and been very happy with the results.

If you currently have a popcorn maker, next time, try your dutch oven and make popcorn on the stovetop. See what you think!

Tea Pot

Tea Kettle

My tea kettle never leaves my stovetop because it’s used that often! I picked mine up from an Amish store a few years ago. It’s this 7 Quart Lindy’s Stainless Steel Tea Kettle. A smaller one would do, but I use mine to brew the tea for kombucha so I like having a big kettle.

A tea kettle isn’t just for heating up water for tea; we also use it to heat up water for coffee or any other kitchen need! In the summer, I use it to heat up boiling water to fill my canning jars. It works MUCH better than just heating up water in a stock pot.

Pantry

Can Opener

We’ve always owned a manual can opener, but electric can openers are very popular. I recommend a manual can opener that can be re-sharpened and something with as few plastic parts as possible.

I believe my can opener came from a restaurant supply store, but it’s been so long since I got it that I don’t remember! I found this All Metal Can Opener on Amazon when I looked.

Using the Berkey Water Filter

Water Filtration System

Being able to filter your water properly is a big deal in most situations, especially when looking at off-grid situations. Our Berkey water filter has filtered out major hard minerals, rust, and even e.coli from a contaminated well. (Yes, for real…we tested!)

I wrote a long post about my Berkey here if you are interested in checking it out. The Berkey is a gravity-fed water filtration system so you don’t need any electricity or batteries to run it.

Timer

Timer

We don’t think about having a timer because we normally use one on our phones or on the oven, but in an off-grid setting, neither of those things would be working!

My mom used to have one of these Old Fashioned Timers when I was growing up. They don’t need batteries, so they can potentially keep working for a very long time without any cost if you take care of them.

Bonus item…not an appliance, but still important in the kitchen is a meat thermometer. Make sure you have one that works without batteries if you want to have something off-grid! I have this one.

Apple Peeler

Apple Peeler

I’ve had my Johnny Apple Peeler since 2014, and I have sure put it to good use! I use it mostly during canning season, but since it’s great at peeling apples and potatoes, it can have many different uses at different times of the year.

My peeler has the suction base because the clamp wouldn’t fit on my countertops, but you can also get a clamp model, which can last a very long time. Make sure to dry it off well after washing because I’ve found that it can rust easily if left wet.

Canner

Pressure Canner and Water Bath Canner

This is a given since most pressure canners and water bath canners do not require electricity. However, some of the newer models are electric and have started to become popular. A regular, non-electric canner can ensure that you can can up your foods no matter what kind of situation you find yourself in.

I have a 23 Quart Presto Pressure Canner and this Amish Water Bath Canner. I love them both!

Banana Blueberry Raspberry Smoothie Recipe

Hand Blender

While I don’t currently have a non-electric blender, I’ve looked into them quite a bit to find something to replace mine when I need to. I feel like blenders are one kitchen appliance that often breaks so having a non-electric version sounds pretty appealing!

You can use the hand blender to make soups, smoothies, or other purees.

Food Processor

Food Processor

I wanted a food processor for a long time but was reluctant to buy a regular electric one since I’m trying not to collect kitchen electrics. I ended up finding a manual food processor at a thrift store and it works great!

A manual food processor is great for chopping, dicing, and prep. It’s a nice time saver to have.

Fresh Tomato BBQ Sauce

Sauce Maker

I bought my Sauce Maker in 2014 and I’m not sure how I managed without it before. Apart from my canner, it’s become the most valuable tool that I have for canning season. I have a suction style but I believe a clamp style is available.

You can use this to make puree from just about anything! I use it for peach puree, tomato sauce for salsa, ketchup, bbq, applesauce, etc. It also disassembles, so it takes up less storage space.

Toast

Toaster

Out of all the small cooking appliances, I think almost all kitchens have a toaster! We are the rare one that doesn’t. I’ve cooked our toast on my Lodge Cast Iron Griddle for years. It’s not as quick or convenient, but it works well for us. Usually, when we have toast for breakfast, we have eggs, too, so I can cook all of it at the same time on the same pan!

I will mention that we have also owned the camp-style Toasters for the stovetop and found that they burned the food, so I wouldn’t recommend those as an option.

Grain Mill

Non-Electric Flour Mill

If you are storing grains for long term, you need to have a flour mill on hand to actually do anything with it! When we started doing more long-term storage we purchased this Wonder Junior Deluxe + Hand Crank Mill. It was one of the few non-electric grain mills I could find for a reasonable price that also processed gluten-free grains.

Meat Grinder

Off-Grid Small Appliances That Aren’t Worth Owning

Here are a few “honorable mention” small kitchen appliances that I don’t feel are worth owning. I’ve seen these on a few other lists, but unless you have a special use, they can probably be left on the shelf.

  • Meat Grinder – Unless you have a specific purpose for this (if you butcher your own meat), a meat grinder isn’t something I’d recommend having.
  • Juicer/Juice Press – A juicer could be useful if you grow your own citrus. For the rest of us, it’s just going to collect dust.
  • Solar Oven – Yes, I’ve tried these before and have found them inefficient and expensive. Use propane or wood fire in an off-grid situation instead.
  • Pasta Maker – I don’t even own one of these in my “regular life” so I wouldn’t own one in an off grid life. If you make a LOT of homemade pasta and you truly want the pasta to be perfect, this might be a good fit for you. Otherwise, pasta can be rolled out by hand.
  • Mortar and Pestle – Yes they look pretty on the countertop but I can usually do the job in my manual food processor or in the blender.

As you can see, many alternatives exist for our traditional countertop appliances! We also don’t need to fill our homes with cheap gadgets to take advantage of off-grid appliances. These can be used in any kitchen at anytime and not just saved for emergency situations.

I’m sure you have more ideas to add too! Share your favorite off-grid small kitchen appliances in the comments section.

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Me and KadyMerissa has been blogging about and living the simple life since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to the 100-acre farm and ministry on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.


This post on Off Grid Small Kitchen Appliances was originally published on Little House Living in March 2023.

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18 Comments

  1. Lots of great information, I don’t see us living off grid any time soon, but living in MN we get lots of crazy weather. I love having these ideas in case we lose power. Thank you!

  2. I appreciate your information about non-electric kitchen appliances. I do, however, disagree with you about solar cookers.

    First off, I must say that I live in the Sacramento Valley in Northern California. Our sunny season is about 9 months of the year, so using solar just makes sense.

    It can be pricey to purchase a solar cooker, but it is an investment. You can also make your own quite easily.

    I use my solar cooker as an oven to bake bread, cakes, cookies, casseroles, lasagna, etc…. I also use it as a slow cooker for beans, stews, chicken, roasts, etc…

    If the food I’m cooking requires a long cook time, someone needs to turn the cooker to keep it facing the sun, every 2 hours or so. I can leave to run an errand or tend to other things in between without worrying about food burning or leaving an appliance on unattended.

    A solar cooker can be included on camping trips and can also be a part of emergency kits.

    While I live in an ideal location for solar use, there are many YouTube videos of people cooking roasts to perfection in a solar cooker sitting in the snow with shorter hours of sunlight.

    Just my opinion

  3. I love my Vortex Hand Crank Blender. They’ve become harder to find, but as of today, I did find several available online.

  4. My nemesis is the apple peeler gizmo. I practically cut my thumb off with one and refuse to ever use one again! It is not electricity free but I have a Kitchen Aid cordless rechargeable hand mixer and it will run for about three months on a charge. I absolutely love it because it can be used anywhere in the kitchen and it is very powerful.

  5. What a great article! While electric appliances are so convenient, it certainly would be helpful to have a few of these non-electric options, in case we have a power outage. Thank you for sharing!

  6. I have to add that, in lieu of a box grater, I’ve gotten more use out of my 1980s-era Salad Shooter for grating foods. It works great on zucchini for making zucchini bread, and for grating carrots and other veggies. It does have other blades for slicing, etc., but I’ve only used the grater blade, and it is perfect!

  7. We use a combination of electric and hand option tools in our kitchen. I do own a water bath canner and pressure canner and use them to can at the end of gardening season. Things like a blender and toaster I don’t worry about non-electric options. If the power is out I just make something different to eat. It is not a life threatening situation to go without toast. We’d just eat bread instead. We have a good stock of batteries, candles, water, matches, canned heat to put in our cast iron Asian non-electric cooker. I do need to invest in a new camping lantern and battery operated radio. We keep a propane BBQ outside to cook on in any kind of weather. I do have two veggie beds in the back yard. While it is not enough space to grow enough for year round consumption, we do get enough to enjoy some fresh and with the right planning I can or freeze any extra.
    If I was younger, with the way things are in the world right now, I’d be looking for ways to go off grid as much as possible and would potentially look into buying property outside the city. However age and health needs dictate that I remain near health care centers so I’m probably an urbanite for life. My hubby is a city boy through and through and loves his conveniences so off grid living is a no go with him. My second son is heading in the off grid direction. He is working on putting funds together to buy property outside city limits so he can start growing his own food. He is also working on getting trained in the use of a rifle so that he can start hunting some of his own meat. At some point in the future I can easily see him and his future spouse living the homesteading lifestyle.

  8. Nice list! I do have a solar oven and I love it! I have also made some for less than $10 and they worked well enough that I used them several times a summer. We use the 6 qt pot with a lid to make popcorn. But otherwise, great list! Looking into the grain mill you recommend. Thanks!

  9. Hi Merissa,
    This was ‘AWESOME’ looking at some of my parents – old off the grid appliances. A lot I still own in my ANTIQUE collection. I could take pictures of them for u sometime. U have so many GREAT ideas to write about here, Merissa. U have the BEST ideas, I know.
    Love u Merissa for all u do on this site.

    Your 🇨🇦 friend, Darlene Driedger…. 🇨🇦

  10. I disagree about the mortar and pestle. I use mine all of the time! It’s much easier to grab and then clean than hauling out the blender to crush herbs for tea or a blend.

  11. Hi Merissa, your lambies are SO CUTE! And a lot of work! I always read your posts as soon as they pop up! I’m 83YO, so actually acting on your suggestions is another matter but I do take to heart all those that can keep me eating healthy. And I love saying “Oh yah, I used to do that!” – I was raised on a farm in the Chadron area and I raised five kids so your post has a lot of familiarity.
    Regarding your recommendations for non-electrical appliances, I absolutely get it; I live in Metro Denver and our energy prices have skyrocketed. I just want to temper enthusiasm by noting that having the power of electricity is in some cases a life saver. Many years ago I had both shoulders severely injured in a split-second accident. Having certain electric appliances was the difference between being able to care for myself for many months and is still important today. Most noteably my KitchenAid mixer which has other attachments. And my electric coffee maker – programmed to give me a reason to get up in the morning! So even though moving away from electricity is a necessity these days, keeping one or two of your most useful appliances on the back burner may be a good thing! Blessings and thanks for your post!

  12. This article is very helpful. I love that you explained your reasoning for each appliance.
    After weathering Hurricane Sandy in 2012 we went without power for several weeks. We were well-prepared, but there’s always room for improvement. For a long time I weighed getting the Little Dutch Maid Off-Grid Hand Crank Mixer/Food processor; it seemed like it would be a versatile labor and time saver should the power go out again for an extended time. I finally purchased it in 2017. It was expensive and is significantly more expensive today. The workmanship that went into this product cannot be debated; it was originally Amish-designed for processing of large amounts of food for large Amish families and gatherings. Parts are made by the German company Bosch. I believe it won’t break for 100 years. However, I may have been just as well served with a few of the incredibly cheaper appliances you listed here. I’ll be pondering that for a long time.

  13. As someone that grew up before name electric gadgets (that makes me seem old), a couple of thoughts. Manual kitchen scales after just not that accurate, and hand cranked beaters are not a patch on the electric version. You will soon get fed up of the amount of time it takes to beat anything and they are literally a pain!

  14. We love our cast iron stove top waffle iron…despite it is heavier than a load of bricks. I do use a short spray of non-stick oil before putting my sourdough starter into the pre heated waffle iron. It works as well if lightly oiled with cooking oil, I use EVOO. My dogs will wake from sleeping when they notice the fragrance of that sourdough waffle…yes I spoil them with one or two bites..

  15. Merissa,
    We just celebrated our 3 year of living off-grid and would never go back! I’m so interested in everything off-grid living, because there is so much to learn from other more inventive people than I am. I love Jeanie’s dollar store plunger and 5 gallon bucket washer (what a fabulous cheap idea). As I was reading the blog, I was proud of myself that we are utilizing so many of your top non-electrical appliances; but there were some that I’m not using and will begin another ‘rabbit hole’ on finding them at thrift stores. Funny story: When my husband and I first began dating (age 16- a long time ago) we were at his cabin in the middle of nowhere Eastern Oregon and everyone wanted popcorn. I said “I’ll make some”, so into the pantry I went trying to find the air-popper and couldn’t find it. I came out and told them so and they all laughed (good-natured) at me and said they made it in a pot on the stove. They then laughed at the look on my face. As an adult, I have never owned a powered popcorn maker, although my husband is the one who makes it as I tend to burn it.

  16. It’s fascinating to see how non-electric small kitchen appliances can still be so effective and useful in the modern kitchen. It’s not just about reducing electricity usage but also about the simplicity and reliability of these tools. Have you found any good deals or discounts on non-electric kitchen appliances? I’m curious about the cost-effectiveness of these alternatives compared to their electric counterparts.

  17. Last winter, we had a county-wide power outage; we were without powers for 56 hours. Not a lifetime, true, but no furnace, no water (we have a well, with a pump!), no stove, microwave, no power, period. We had a friend lend us a power generator which was enough to power the furnace, but not the well, so we were melting snow to flush toilets. I quickly realized that reliance on electricity is NOT the way to go, out in the country as we are!! 1. We bought a generator that can power the well (for sanitary purposes, if nothing else! Ugh!). 2. I learned that, for example, home-canned beans will actually reheat well if left in the dashboard window of your vehicle (1); I would never recommend pre-cooked rice but, in a power outage that, too, reheats reasonably well. Pair rice and beans in a few tortillas, and you have dinner! 3. Pressure canner and water-bath canners ROCK! 4. Honestly, I do NOT use a hand-crank eggbeater (my daughter used it for bubbles in the bathtub, but that’s it) – I do as well with a fork. 5. Toast can be made stovetop or under a broiler. 6. Anything that can be microwaved can be reheated on a stove if your microwave dies or you have a power outage, as long as you have lp or natural gas. Even burners can be lit by a match, so you don’t need the electric ignition to light. Our friends were all lamenting, “We could never go Amish.” The irony? The power outage didn’t affect our Amish neighbors one iota! They’re NOT ON THE GRID!!! Take a lesson!! ~Chrissie