No, you don’t need an AI-powered appliance to whip up the most delicious meals in the kitchen. They can, however, help a lot in making the work just a little bit easier. At times, the right smart kitchen appliance can even turn an erstwhile laborious cooking session into a set-and-forget affair. If you spend time in the kitchen, then you know just how much work can go into preparing just a single meal, not to mention all the cleanup you have to do after it. And if there’s an appliance out there that can cut down that work, hasten the waiting time, or let you stride off into the living room to catch up on the new season of The Witcher while dinner cooks, taking advantage of any convenience it can offer is the only sensible thing to do.
Here are some of our favorite smart and connected kitchen appliances.
Chef iQ Smart Cooker
Yes, it’s a pressure multi-cooker in the vein of everyone’s favorite Instant Pot. And it’s not even as versatile as the popular trendsetter of the category. However, it delivers way more smarts than other electric pressure cookers by giving you access to over 600 guided cooking recipes from the companion app, which gives you step-by-step instructions about which ingredient to put in next, all while managing the heat and time settings all on its own. There’s also a built-in scale, so it can weigh ingredients as you add them, allowing it to inform you during those times you put in too much or too little. If you put in too much of something, it can even adjust its recipe to compensate. In case you’re not following the built-in recipes, you can use any of the 2,000 available presets (1,000 on the device, 1,000 on the app), with the option to make manual adjustments at any point.
It supports pressure cooking, searing, sauteing, steaming, and slow-cooking, with automatic pressure release, so it’s completely a set-and-forget affair. Cooking capacity is six quarts, so it’s big enough for a family-sized meal without taking up too much countertop space.
There was a time when sous vide was reserved for commercial kitchens and wealthy households, with machines that cost way more than the average household budget can afford. That began changing over a decade ago with the introduction of the Sous Vide Supreme, which finally brought the price down to under $500. Nomiku, though, eventually turned the category on its head, with a portable device that you can use with any pot. That form factor has become the modern standard for sous video circulators and the Breville Joule is our hands-down favorite among the current crop.
The device can be controlled from a companion app, allowing you to set and control everything from your phone. If you’re inexperienced in the kitchen, it’s not a problem, either, as the app has multiple presets for time and temperature based on the type and size of whatever food you’re cooking. It’s as precise as most any modern immersion circulator, all while coming in a size that’s probably more compact than anything else in the market. If there’s any downside, it’s the fact that there’s no physical controls, so you’ll have to do everything from the app.
A toaster is so simple, surely, nobody needs a smarter version, right? Apparently not, as this toaster lets you set more than the level of browning, allowing you to choose the type of bread and the condition it’s currently in. After all, a frozen bagel will require different heat settings from fresh sliced bread you just bought an hour ago at the baker’s and this device knows how to compensate for those differences. It has a large touchscreen for adjusting the settings, auto-lift and auto-lower platforms, and even an alert system that lets you know when the crumb tray is getting a little too full.
One of the more unique smart kitchen solutions out there, this system combines a 1600W induction burner that will adjust its own heat settings automatically, a smart cookware with embedded temperature sensors, and an app that coordinates what happens between the two. Basically, you choose you recipes from the app, input details (e.g. exact thickness of your meat), and follow the instructions. The app will tell you when to add every ingredient, when to stir, when to turn, and all that, all while controlling the heat setting all on its own by monitoring the temperature on the cookware and the amount of time that has passed. Yeah, it’s an induction burner for people who don’t know how to cook and it’s amazing. Once you learn your way around the kitchen, you can use the burner manually even with other cookware, although you’ll always need to use the outfit’s own pots and pans with embedded sensors to properly cook with the app.
While Anova is best known for their immersion circulator, the Precision Oven has to be our favorite offering from the outfit. A versatile countertop oven, it cooks using dry heat like any standard convection oven, but reinforces it with moist heat via a 1200W steam boiler that draws from a water reservoir on the right side. Like many modern convection ovens, it can roast, broil, bake, and air fry. Unlike them, the inclusion of moist heat allows it to cook food exclusively with steam and even allows you to sous vide dishes without the need to wrap your meats in a vacuum-sealed bag.
The combo of dry and wet heat allows it to stabilize temperatures better than conventional ovens while cooking the same dishes at lower temperatures, as water conducts heat a lot better than air, apart from being able to keep food moist by circulating water while cooking. Of course, it’s connected, allowing you to set cooking temperature and time remotely from an app, with plenty of guidance available from the recipe library.
This smart oven has a camera built-in that can identify the food you place inside, then suggest the best settings to cook it. It can only recognize 50 or so food items right now, so don’t expect it to correctly identify that exotic sausage you had shipped from a Southeast Asian website. That’s just pushing it. A touchscreen panel right on the door allows you to choose cooking settings and look up recipes, with numerous cooking modes, including baking, roasting, toasting, grilling, broiling, air frying, slow cooking, and pizza. Do note, some of the modes will require different accessories, so you’ll have to buy some optional items.
You can control it remotely from the companion app, where you can adjust settings and monitor progress, complete with the option to get a live video feed of the food inside. It can even record a timelapse video of the entire cooking process, in case you need more content for your social media pages.
This infrared countertop oven has a touchscreen panel on top, where you can choose recipes, adjust settings, and, basically, tinker with the cooking process. It also has a camera inside, the feed from which can be viewed both on the touchscreen and the accompanying app. This is particularly useful, since the oven’s door is not see through, so it, at least, gives you a way to check that your food hasn’t burned yet.
Because it uses infrared heating elements, it reaches desired temperatures fast, allowing you to cook the same dishes faster compared to a regular convection oven. It’s also probably the best smart oven for cooking pizza, as those infrared heating elements do a really fine job of emulating those wood-fire crusts. Even better, the individual heating elements can be controlled individually, so you can have two different food items cooking inside and the oven can manage the heat applied to each one separately. It’s brilliant. Granted, the food will have to sit on the same tray, so their juices and flavors will mix, so make sure you combine dishes that actually go well together.
If you prefer a built-in oven over a countertop unit, you’ll want to check out KitchenAid’s take on the modern smart oven, which comes with a 4.5-inch full-color touchscreen panel where you can adjust settings, choose preset recipes (the oven will handle the rest), or monitor how much longer you’ll have to wait before dinner. You can do all that remotely from the companion app as well, complete with an alert system to let you know as soon as the food is done, while support for Google Assistant and Alexa lets you interact with it using your preferred voice assistant.
The 30-inch combi oven can accommodate two racks during cooking that you can place at any of six levels, so you can cook a good amount of food in one go, with the ability to do, pretty much, anything you can do on a traditional convection oven. To expand its functionality, you can use individual attachments, namely a baking stone, a steamer, and a grill, as well as a microwave on top that can accommodate the included crisper pan that you can use to fry food items right on the oven.