Treat Yourself: Use Your Gift Cards on These Top Home Products

Mary Beth Quirk

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The presents have all been unwrapped, the guests have gone home, and you find that you're the proud owner of a whole bunch of gift cards. So what should you spend those holidays bucks on? From a new Dutch oven to a trusty air fryer, we think you should treat yourself, starting with these top-performing home products from Consumer Reports' tests.

Go to Consumer Reports' 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more.

GoWISE GW22731

CR’s take: If you had an air fryer on your list but Santa didn’t deliver, consider this model: A CR Best Buy, the GoWise GW22731 has a measured capacity of 4.9 quarts. Its touch buttons and programmed settings are among the easiest to see and use, earning an Excellent rating in our assessment. And this is one of the quietest air fryers we've tested. The exterior’s crevices and the basket’s nooks and crannies take some effort to clean, however. It comes with a one-year warranty.

For more options: Best Air Fryers of the Year

Instant Pot DUO60 7-in-1 6 Quart

CR’s take: The Duo 7-in-1 is Instant Pot’s oldest model that’s still on the market. Even though there are several newer versions out with more functions—the Max, for instance—this comparatively basic model is more than enough for most home cooks. It also usually retails for half the price of the Max and performs similarly in our tests. It earns an Excellent score for pressure cooking and a Very Good rating for rice cooking and sautéing. It does only a so-so job at slow cooking, taking a really long time to get meats and beans tender.

For more options: Best Multi-Cookers of 2019

Cuisinart Burr Grind & Brew DGB-700BC

CR’s take: The Cuisinart Burr Grind & Brew takes whole coffee beans and grinds them fresh for each pot. It features programming, brew-strength control, a water filter, a permanent coffee filter, and auto-shutoff. This stainless steel model earns a great rating for carafe handling. Cuisinart brewers also receive an Excellent rating for owner satisfaction.

For more options: Best Drip Coffee Makers From Consumer Reports' Tests

Cuisinart Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker DCB-10

CR’s take: In our cold-brew tests, the Cuisinart Automatic Cold Brew Coffeemaker DCB-10 performed better than automatic models that cost nearly twice as much. It does well across all our tests, and it’s the only model to receive a Very Good rating for ease of cleaning. Most parts are dishwasher-safe, unlike the other models in its class. This Cuisinart comes with a glass carafe (not plastic, like some competing models) and brews in 25 to 45 minutes. 

For more options: Best Cold Brew Coffee Makers of 2019

Calphalon CKCLWF1

CR’s take: Prepare for breakfast in bed—for yourself. Calphalon’s scaled-down waffle maker is ideal for small households. It will reliably turn out waffles, but you won't be able to feed an army efficiently. The Calphalon CKCLWF1 earns a Very Good rating for even browning but loses some points in our test for color range. That means there's less variation between the dark and light settings; waffles cooked on the light setting still come out pretty brown. A countdown timer indicates how much cooking time remains, and an alarm will sound once your waffles are ready so you can tend to other tasks while making breakfast. This model aces our assessment for ease of use, too. It stays cool on the outside throughout the cooking process, has a wraparound moat to collect excess batter for easy cleanup, and can be stored on its side to save space.

For more options: Best Waffle Makers From Consumer Reports' Tests

Breville BOV650XL Oven

CR’s take: The Breville BOV650XL toaster oven earns a Very Good rating in our baking tests, turning out sugar cookies and corn muffins that are done in the center and golden on top and bottom. Functions include bake, broil, and roast, and settings for pizza and toasting bagels. This toaster oven has three rack positions and offers a temperature range of 120° F to 450° F. Models in our ratings range from 800 to 1,875 watts, so this 1,800-watt model is near the top in terms of power. (The higher the wattage, the more energy is delivered.)

For more options: Best Toaster Ovens From Consumer Reports' Tests

Lodge Cast Iron Pre-seasoned

CR’s take: Lodge has been making cast-iron frying pans in its Tennessee foundry since 1896. It's one of the few surviving iconic American brands. This 12-inch Lodge cast-iron pan is top-notch at browning scallops and earns an Excellent rating for searing a steak. Baking is only so-so, though. Heating evenness is also mediocre. It weighs 7.8 pounds, which is about average.

For more options: Best Cast-Iron Frying Pans From Consumer Reports' Tests

Cuisinart Green Gourmet Hard Anodized GG-12

CR’s take: The 12-piece Cuisinart Green Gourmet nonstick set aces all our key cooking tests. Pancakes brown evenly in the frying pan, and eggs slide out one after another without sticking. We were able to easily maintain sauce at a low simmer, and the 6-quart Dutch oven quickly brings water to a near-boil. This top-scoring set is made of anodized aluminum, a process that hardens the surface. One of the pieces is a steamer insert.

For more options: Best Cookware Sets of 2019

Le Creuset Signature Dutch Oven

CR’s take: The 5.5-quart Le Creuset Signature tops our ratings for this category. It earns an Excellent rating in our browning tests, the only Dutch oven to do so, and is a cinch to clean. It weighs 12 pounds, less than most, and has an 8-inch cooking diameter. We found that the loop handles are nice and wide (not always a given on Dutch ovens).

For more options: Best Dutch Ovens From Consumer Reports’ Tests

Hamilton Beach Eclectrics 6322[1]

CR’s take: The Hamilton Beach Eclectrics 63221 is top-notch at whipping and mixing, and almost as good at kneading. It has the distinction of being the quietest model in our tests, earning an Excellent rating for noise. Whipping cream in this mixer is much quieter than making a smoothie in a blender. The 12-speed mixer comes with a 4.5-quart stainless steel bowl, flat beater, dough hook, and wire whisk. At 17 pounds, it’s the lightest of our recommended stand mixers, but you can’t use it with power attachments. It comes in white, black, red, and stainless steel. 

For more options: Best Stand Mixers From Consumer Reports' Tests

Vitamix 5200

CR’s take: Vitamix earns an Excellent rating in predicted brand reliability, according to our survey of CR members. That means this blender will produce thirst-quenching icy drinks for years to come. It’s also terrific at blending soups and can even heat them using the friction created by the fast-whirring blades. In our test, raw ingredients went from cold chunks to steaming soup in 5 minutes.

For more options: Most and Least Reliable Blender Brands

Eufy 30C

CR’s take: The Eufy 30C is an extremely quiet vacuum. Our testers note that they couldn’t even tell it was on or running, which makes it a great choice for those who might need to run a robotic vac while they’re home. This is one of the cheaper vacuums that really does the job: It earns an Excellent rating for bare floors. Like the LG Hom-Bot, this vacuum is compatible with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa; you can also program the robot through the manufacturer’s app.

For more options: Best Robotic Vacuums of 2019

Bissell Air Ram 1984

CR’s take: For an affordable price you get a top-notch and self-standing cordless stick vacuum. The Bissell Air Ram 1984 scores an Excellent rating on our carpet cleaning test and is just as good at bare floors. It has the longest run time among the cordless vacuums in our labs, with a charge that lasts 47 minutes. Even though it’s a basic model, the Bissell Air Ram has held its place near the top of our ratings for some time. But unlike other stick vacs, it doesn’t convert to a hand vacuum or come with any accessories.

For more options: Best Stick Vacuums of 2019

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