As college 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 college’s residence life policies. Every college and 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 lab here at Reviewed, we tested a bunch to find the best one and it turns out it’s the Magic Chef Retro 2-door Mini Fridge. This adorable, pint-sized refrigerator features everything you need including freezer space, smart storage options, and reliable temperature control. This fridge’s separate freezer compartment can fit frozen veggies and pints of ice cream.
Get the Magic Chef Retro 2-door Mini Fridge at Home Depot for $249.99
2. A microwave
Microwaves are one of the few self-heating items that 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, 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.
Get the Magic Chef Countertop Microwave from Home Depot for $59.98
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 own college dorm.
Get the Magic Bullet 11 piece set from Amazon for $29.04
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.
A pod-based machine like the Keurig K-mini Plus 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 favorite 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
If coffee isn’t your jam, and you’re a tea drinker instead, then an electric tea kettle will be your best friend.
Our favorite 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
Dorm room cooking can be tough, even if your residence hall has a common room kitchen, which is likely to be overcrowded or far away.
In this case, air fryers are a smart option for those who like to cook, but have limited access to appliances. 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 for $249.99
– Get the Cosori Air Fryer Max XL from Amazon for $99.98
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 upa 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 $79.55
Dorm buildings’ heating and cooling systems vary wildly, and across the board, colleges 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 air flow. 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 favorite across both categories.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.