There are ways to cook with your phone that don’t involve ordering delivery through an app. If you love cooking and technology, connected appliances and kitchen devices are the ideal gadgets for your smart home. They can automate parts of the cooking process, keep you updated on the progress of your food, or simply make sure you’re following a recipe correctly.
Smart kitchen gadgets are as varied as any kitchen appliance. There are broad, multi-purpose devices like ovens. There are specific but common tools like coffee makers. And there are unique but incredibly useful appliances you might not have heard of before but won’t know how you lived without, like immersion circulators. Whether you live in the kitchen or just brew coffee and toast bagels, there’s an appliance that can make your culinary life easier.
You don’t need to replace your appliances to make your kitchen smarter. Inexpensive, easy-to-store devices can improve your cooking and help you out with cleanup. They’re usually under $100, and tuck into kitchen drawers and cabinets when you’re not using them.
For baking and mixing drinks, the Perfect Bake Pro and Perfect Drink Pro are equal parts fun and useful. They’re connected scales that work with an app on your smartphone or tablet to make sure you use the right proportions of ingredients. The scale monitors your mixing bowl or shaker in real time, telling you how much to pour and even make adjustments on the fly if you accidentally dump in too much of one thing. The apps come filled with recipes, and you can add your own.
The Weber Kitchen Thermometer, meanwhile, is a Bluetooth-connected monitor that uses wired probes to measure the temperature of up to two different dishes as they’re cooking. You don’t need even need to stick around the whole time to watch the numbers rise, since it connects with an app on your mobile device to let you know that something has reached its desired temperature.
Sous vide is a relatively new cooking technique (at least, new in the timespan of the culinary sciences) that has become particularly popular in the last few years, so it’s only appropriate that multiple connected sous vide devices have popped up lately.
Cooking sous vide involves vacuum sealing food (though a carefully pressed freezer bag will do in a pinch) and immersing it in a water bath kept at a very precise temperature. The sealing process ensures that no moisture is lost, and the water temperature ensures the food can’t overcook. The result is tender, perfectly cooked food, often then quickly seared on a pan to provide a crisp outer texture.
You can cook sous vide using a big sous vide machine with its own water bath, or you can simply put an immersion circulator on the side of a stock pot or large plastic box. We’ve tested several immersion circulators, all available for $200 or less. Their designs and controls are different, but they all do exactly what they have to: heat the water to your desired temperature, down to the degree.
If you have the space on your counter, you can get high-tech cooking devices that do all the work for you. The June Intelligent Oven is literally a smart oven. It uses a camera to look at the food you’re cooking and determine exactly how to cook it best. You don’t need to set the temperature or time. You just confirm the type of food you want to cook and let it do the rest. You can even use the camera inside to watch your food bake or roast through an app.
While not quite as high-tech, Gourmia’s connected air fryer is less than a third of the price of the June and adds another tool to your culinary toolbox: air frying. Air frying uses heated, circulating air to cook food quickly while producing a crisp exterior similar to frying. It isn’t quite the same as deep frying, but it comes close while using a fraction of the oil, and can totally change your chicken game.
If you have the money to spend, you can get smart versions of large appliances, too. Companies like LG and Samsung have been working on connected refrigerators and ovens for a few years now. Some, like LG’s SmartThinQ fridge, let you check their status through your phone so you can make sure things are working properly and that you have enough ice. Others, like Samsung’s Family Hub fridge, have their own touch screen and can function as a communication center for your home, and even have cameras inside so you see what you’re low on while you’re out shopping. We’ve yet to test either of these refrigerators, but they look very promising based on what we saw at CES.
These larger smart appliances carry a significant premium, and you can expect to spend several thousand dollars on each. On the bright side, they tend to be equivalent to the highest-end non-smart appliances from manufacturers, in terms of design, build quality, and features. You can expect stainless steel finishes and other very nice touches you won’t find on cheaper options.