8 must-have appliances for university students
Our picks for the best dorm room essentials
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As university students prepare to head back to campus, dorm room essentials are top of mind. You’ll be studying, sleeping, eating, and entertaining in this space, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got all the tools you need to do these things. Sure, posters and LED lights show off your personal style, but they can’t serve you nourishment day to day.
Before you make any purchase, you should check your university’s dorm or residence life policies. Every university differs in what appliances are allowed in on-campus dormitories and residence halls, so you’ll want to make sure you only buy and bring items that are in compliance.
You certainly won’t want to haul a dorm room refrigerator all the way to campus only to have to haul it right back home. As a former Resident Assistant, I can tell you that it’s not fun for anyone to have to confiscate your beloved toaster the first week of school.
We are here to help with our vetted recommendations on what appliances and dorm room essentials are worth making space for. Here’s everything you need.
1. A mini-fridge
There are plenty of non-perishable food items you can store around your room, but owning a dorm room refrigerator gives you the flexibility to store fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, drinks, leftovers, and maybe even some frozen items.
The market is flooded with mini-fridge options, and trust us, they’re not all great. In our U.S. lab, we tested a bunch to find the best one. Sadly, our top pick, the Magic Chef Retro 2-door Mini Fridge isn’t available at a reasonable price in Canada. However, this Costway ranked well in our tests and is a good substitute. It features everything you need including freezer space, smart storage options, and reliable temperature control.
2. A microwave
Microwaves are one of the few self-heating items that some residence halls allow, so it is a top dorm room essentials. It can heat up leftovers, cook pizza rolls, and pop popcorn. You can make eggs in the morning (try poached or scrambled!) or mix up a mug cake.
Of the ones we’ve tested, our top recommendation is another Magic Chef stunner for your countertop. It’s well-priced and sturdy, so it may last you into your post-grad years. Don’t worry If the Magic Chef isn’t available, the same company makes most affordable microwaves under various different brand names. Just look for a microwave at the same price point with similar features and specifications.
Get the Magic Chef Countertop Microwave from Home Depot Canada for $99.99
3. A blender
A blender is a great option when you’re dealing with limited resources. You can use it to put together a quick breakfast smoothie and more.
We recommend opting for a personal-sized blender like the Magic Bullet that is compact enough to tuck away when not in use. You can also easily wash it in a dorm bathroom.
But keep in mind that blenders aren’t just for smoothies. Seek inspiration on the many ways to use it from TikToker and Vlogger Halle Burns who gained nearly 2 million followers while she cooked recipes using her Magic Bullet in her university dorm.
Get the Magic Bullet 11 piece set from Amazon for $60.52
4. A coffee machine
With late nights of studying followed by 8 am classes, a coffee machine quickly becomes your No. 1 dorm room essential.
Many dormitories in Canada only allow coffee makers that automatically switch off. A pod-based machine like the Keurig K-mini Single Serve brews drip coffee in just two minutes. Another perk of this machine is that you can pull out the drip tray, and there’s enough room under the brewer for a taller travel mug.
If you prefer espresso beverages, we recommend our favourite single-serve coffee machine, the Nespresso VertuoPlus. Nespresso machines are the most compact pod-based machines while still offering a water tank and a milk frother.
- Get the Keurig K-Mini from Amazon Canada for $39
- Get the Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Machine from Amazon for $199.99
5. Electric kettle
If coffee isn’t your jam, and you’re a tea drinker instead, then an electric tea kettle will be your best friend.
Our favourite tea kettle is the Cuisinart PerfecTemp electric kettle which offers adjustable temperatures and heats up in just a few minutes.
If you want something just as reliable but on a budget, the Hamilton Beach electric kettle boils faster than the Cuisinart. As long as you don’t need the temperature control, this is a great dorm room essential for making tea, hot cocoa, ramen—you name it!
- Get the Cuisinart PerfecTemp electric kettle from Amazon for $98.98
- Get the Hamilton Beach 1.7 L electric kettle from Amazon Canada for $36.99
6. An airfryer
While it’s unlikely that your residency will allow one in your room, If you’re sharing a suite with fellow students, an air fryer can add a great deal of versatility to the kitchenette.
Our top airfryer is the Philips Premium Airfryer XXL, which we found crisps up food perfectly, although you’ll pay for it. If you’re looking for a more affordable model, the Cosori Air Fryer Max XL is lighter in weight and has a less expensive price tag.
- Get the Philips Premium Airfryer XXL from Amazon Canada for $349.99
- Get the Cosori Air Fryer Max XL from Amazon Canada for $169.99
7. A rice cooker
If you don’t have access to a dorm kitchen or want to avoid sitting over a boiling pot while trying to hit the books, a rice cooker can whip up a quick, healthy meal of whole grains. We’ve tested lots of rice cookers, and the best value cooker is the Panasonic SR-DF101 which not only perfectly cooks rice but also does a great job steaming frozen dumplings (aka your new go-to meal).
Get the Panasonic Rice Cooker from Amazon for $109.99
Dorm buildings' heating and cooling systems vary wildly, and across the board, universities do not allow students to bring A/C units into their residence halls.
Whether in the heat of the summer or sweating through an overheated room in the dead of winter, you’ll need some airflow. A fan provides temperature control to your room and even white noise at night in case your place is noisy while you’re trying to study or sleep.
- Get the Vornado 660 from Amazon Canada for $152.83
- Get the Vornado Pivot Personal Fan from Amazon Canada for $39.99
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.