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8 must-have appliances for university students

Our picks for the best dorm room essentials

Girl sitting in dorm room with microwave and coffee maker Credit: Getty Images / James Woodson

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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

A person reaching into a black mini fridge.
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

A good pint-sized refrigerator should have everything you need from freezer space, smart storage options, and reliable temperature control.

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.

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Get the Costway Mini Fridge at Amazon Canada for $389.99

2. A microwave

A picture of Magic Chef 1.1 Cubic-Foot Countertop Microwave sitting upon a countertop
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The Magic Chef countertop microwave is a well-priced and sturdy model that will last you into your post-grad years.

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

Magic bullet personal sized blender with smoothie ingredients.
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

This blender is compact enough to tuck away when not in use. You can also easily wash it in a dorm bathroom.

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

Nespresso coffee machine brewing a fresh cup of coffee.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Nespresso machines are the most compact pod-based machines, while still offering a water tank and a milk frother.

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.

5. Electric kettle

Cuisinart PerfecTemp electric pouring water into a mug
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

An electric kettle is a great dorm room essential for making tea, hot cocoa, ramen—you name it!.

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!

6. An airfryer

Cosori air fryer pictured among variety of air fried foods
Credit: Cosori

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.

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

Panasonic rice cooker making freshly steamed rice
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The Panasonic SR-DF101 not only perfectly cooks rice but also does a great job steaming frozen dumpling.

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

8. Fans

Vornado desk fan sitting amongst a cluttered desk.
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

A desk fan can help keep you cool while studying.

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.

We’ve tested the best options of both full sized fans and desk fans, and Vornado is the hands-down favourite across both categories.

You can enjoy the Vornado 660, powerful enough to cool down your whole dorm room even at a distance, or the Vornado pivot personal fan at your desk or bedside.

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Visit Reviewed Canada for all the latest reviews, recommendations, buying guides, and coverage of all the best products available in Canada.

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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