It's messy and involves a whole lot of cheese and imagination - this is your guide to snacking unabashedly. Image Credit: Pexels/Thiago Lazaro

In 2023, we're leaving behind charcuterie boards and meticulously decorated oatmeal bowls. Sometimes, hunger pangs call for scraps scavenged from the kitchen, hurriedly piled onto a plate and, then, gorged in jammies. It's the year of owning up to guilty-pleasure snacks that see us through a rough day.

Everyone's got their own rendition of a 'rat snack', one that earns a raised eyebrow or two from a family member in the middle of the night. Over at TikTok, thousands have dished out and tried each other's odd nibble recipes. We're bonding over feeling humanely peckish for something grubby, and not an elaborate meal.

Think biting into a crispy roll of fried cheese with a heart of crunchy, sour pickle. TikTok users have fondly called this rat snack 'pickle in a blanket'. Similar combinations have followed suit, like the popular food trend of wrapping a scoop of ice cream in a fruit roll-up. The essence of a true rat snack is in the conflicting flavours, but cheese is consistently a star ingredient for many a scavenger.

Feeling inspired? Remember, inelegant snacking and minimal effort go hand-in-hand. You'll need easy countertop kitchen appliances to recreate most of the trending cheesy munches. With just one of these gadgets in your arsenal, you can experiment to your stomach's content.

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1. Best Air Fryer: Nutricook Air Fryer 2


  • Decent 5.5-litre capacity
  • Preheat option
  • Shake reminders for an even fry
  • 10 customisable presets - bake, fry and roast


  • Preset timings may not be ideal

The air fryer is an amateur cook's best friend. It fries whatever you can throw into it without using much (or any) oil, so rat snacking can now be a healthy affair. While cheese melts are an obvious option, TikTok's food community offers cheese-stuffed bell peppers, cream cheese rolls dusted in cinnamon sugar and fried pickles as air fryer-approved nibbles. You can do all this and more in the Nutricook 5.5-litre Air Fryer 2. The 1.2kg capacity can prepare up to 1.2kg fries, a six-inch pizza, and a whole chicken. You're presented with 10 food settings for anything you're planning to munch on, and it even lets you preheat to get a faster cooking time. Reviewers have tried several air fryers but none of them come with a shake reminder like the Nutricook, which is essential for an even fry. Once you're done snacking, clean-up is a breeze, too.

Warranty: The manufacturer offers a two-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh23 and two years for Dh33.

2. Best Toaster Oven: Hamilton Beach 2200W Convection Toaster Oven


  • Large 55-litre capacity
  • Five adjustable rack positions
  • Comes with six oven accessories
  • 60-minute timer
  • Includes rotisserie grill


  • Exterior gets hot

If you're wary of firing up the cooking range oven at two o'clock in the morning, get yourself a mini toaster oven. This is where you can finally try out cheese and pickle baked bites in a muffin tray. Some TikTok foodies have resorted to a sweet and savoury combination of chicken nuggets drizzled in honey, instead. The Hamilton Beach convection toaster oven takes care of toasting, baking, broiling and grilling on five adjustable rack positions. The 55-litre capacity toasts about eight slices of bread at a time, perfect for when you're craving bread pizza rolls. Don't worry - the oven heats up to highs of 230 degrees Celsius and comes with six accessories, including a baking tray. According to reviews, besides toasting bread, baking pizzas and cooking steaks to perfection, the toaster oven warms up leftovers well. You may find a dedicated convection countertop oven a better option.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh29 and two years for Dh41.

3. Best Popcorn Machine: Dash SmartStore Stirring Popcorn Maker


  • Makes 12 cups of popcorn
  • Simple stir function
  • Butter tray on top
  • Cover doubles as a serving bowl


  • No timer

Ever tried popcorn tossed in pickle juice? How about popcorn covered in lemon zest? Give your movie night a twist with these tasty rat snack ideas, by using your very own popcorn maker. Dash's 12-cup unit prepares fresh, movie theatre-style popcorn at home. Simply add in the kernels and some oil, and press the power button to get started. If you want to add butter, let it sit on top of the cover and watch it melt into your popcorn. The cover also doubles as a serving bowl, so you can flip it and dig right in. Reviewers love having access to this convenience but advise keeping a close eye on your popcorn maker as it doesn't come with a timer. Still, it's well-ventilated to give you non-soggy results every time.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh18 and two years for Dh25.

4. Best Ice Cream Machine: Ninja NC301 CREAMi Ice Cream Maker


  • Custom ice cream on demand
  • Seven programmes, from sorbet to milkshake
  • Mix-in option for toppings
  • Transforms any ingredient into a creamy ice cream


  • Can be as loud as a blender
  • Ingredients need to be frozen

We've heard of ice cream in a fruit roll-up, but there's a stranger combination out there attested by snack enthusiasts: ice cream with olive oil. Apparently, any topping and side with ice cream goes, so all you need is a reliable machine to churn out homemade frozen desserts. Whip up gelato, smoothie bowls, milkshakes and more in the viral Ninja Creami Ice Cream Maker. Press one of the seven programme buttons to let the unit do all the work for you. Add in nuts, candy, fruit and other toppings to upgrade your scoop during the mix-in stage. Like most ice cream machines, you will need to pre-freeze your ingredients for 24 hours to achieve the right consistency. Reviewers mention having made low-calorie ice cream, from strawberry cheesecake and crackers to non-dairy fruit sorbet. They do find it loud, however. Browse more ice cream makers here.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh140.02 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh97 and two years for Dh138.

5. Best Air Fryer Oven: Tefal 9-in-1 Easy Fry Oven and Grill


  • Air fry, grill, bake, dehydrate and broil
  • Eight automatic programmes
  • Makes food for up to eight people
  • Comes with seven accessories


  • Only fits a small chicken for rotisserie

More healthy snacking options come in a genius fusion of an air fryer oven. Here's an idea: Try air-frying cauliflower or broccoli florets topped with cheese and hot chili sauce. It's a TikTok recipe for a low-calorie snack when dinner is still hours away. We're ending our list with Tefal's nine-in-one Easy Fry Oven and Grill appliance that wears many hats in the kitchen. Not only can you reheat, air fry, roast, grill, bake and broil, but you can also dehydrate fruit for a chewy leather snack. There are eight automatic programmes to choose from for quick results. Expect to make up to six servings at a time for the entire family in the 11-litre capacity. Reviewers find it more convenient than a regular oven since it cooks food in no time. Plus, it doesn't dry out protein and locks in all the flavours.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh49.92 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh35 and two years for Dh49.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.