No doubt about it, cooking can be a chore. Three meals a day, week in and week out — it does get old. But it doesn't have to be that way. There's plenty of joy to be had in the kitchen. It's all about prepping the place to function with maximum ease. And there's never been a more ideal time to do that: Smart kitchen gadgets are better — and more affordable — than ever.
Instant Pot Pro Plus Wi-Fi Smart 10-in-1 Multi-Cooker
Tovala Smart Steam WiFi Oven
Anova Culinary Precision Smart Oven
Anova Culinary Nano Sous Vide Precision Cooker
Meater Smart Meat Thermometer
We're not just talking high-tech blenders and toasters. We mean internet-connected small appliances that absolutely transform the task of getting dinner on the table. We're willing to bet you'll find something in the list below that will totally change your relationship to food prep. And some might even ship in time for the holidays (especially if you opt for expedited shipping).
Use the Pro Plus's app to remotely start or stop cooking, check the timer and monitor your meal's progress from anywhere. This 10-in-1 wonder can pressure cook, slow cook, steam, saute and more. Choose from over 1,500 “smart” recipes, where the timing, pressure levels and venting preferences are already pre-programmed!
"I've loved all of my Instant Pots,but I always like to upgrade when possible," said one enthusiastic five-star reviewer. "This Pro Plus Smart Instant Pot is OUTSTANDING! It cooks the same as the last two, but the Wi-Fi functionality allows me to vent from my smart phone, turn the pot to warm, set the temperatures, etc.... If you are looking for an upgrade, this is it!"
Follow the recipe instructions in the connected app and Tovala’s automated cooking will take care of the meal for you. And get this: You can use it to scan the barcode of hundreds of Trader Joe’s frozen food items and it’ll cook them perfectly at a touch of a button! This oven is even more valuable if you subscribe to the company’s meals subscription — all you have to do is scan the code to cook chef-crafted meals!
One shopper said it's made a dramatic impact in their life: "Tovala saved my sanity. Picky eaters, demanding schedules, long hours, slow steady weight gain caused by too much takeout, perpetual guilt of not eating healthier meals lead to the daily anxiety of figuring out 'what’s for dinner'? Enter Tovala!!! We find these meals delicious, filling and best of all very easy to make. Pick a meal from the fridge, scan the QR code and go find something to do for 15 minutes. Voila! Enjoy a great meal made by a chef. Love it!"
This all-in-one oven does everything from air frying to steaming (you can make bagels without boiling, and freshly baked French bread from start to finish). You can also use it to cook sous vide without the bag! If you’re at a loss as to how to get started, don’t worry; the companion app will guide you through it all.
"We bought this for use in our tiny house, as it was very difficult to find an electric oven in the dimensions we needed that had great reviews," said one thrilled shopper. "Our main concern was: Can we make bread in this? And the answer is absolutely yes. But that was just the beginning of our excitement. We discovered you can make the perfect cookie by adjusting humidity and heat, whereas in a traditional oven you are left to the whims of your machine. We made delicious salmon that never dried out. Breadcrumbs for panko seasoning. Baked fries. Granola. The list goes on...."
For more details about this amazing all-in-one oven, you can read the full review on Engadget, where I wrote about how I used it to make bagels, bread and more.
The Nano helps you do that easily; just clip it onto a pot, fill it with water and away you go. The on-board controls are easy to use and the Wi-Fi app will let you monitor your cooking progress from anywhere in your home.
"This thing is amazing!" said one five-star reviewer. "I had never used the sous vide method before. The control is amazing. First time out I ran two New York strips up to 130° for 1 hour, then seared them off in a pan. I seasoned simply with simple seasoned salt, and pepper. The wife was more than pleased. Amazed even... The app is simple to use, easy to connect, but completely unnecessary if you aren’t into that sort of thing. But, it does make it easy to check in on the operation from the sofa. You can also send preloaded recipes from the phone to the circulator with a click. If you are interested in trying this style of cooking, this seems like a great entry point."
You can start and stop it remotely, and it’s even compatible with Alexa! The app has lots of helpful recipes as well, which will help you on your air-frying journey.
"I have used this every day since getting it," said one five-star reviewer. "The 11 presets are convenient in automatically setting temperatures and times to cook food crisply and evenly. I have made fried chicken, fries, steak, vegetables and more in this handy machine... The nonstick basket is easy to clean. As all the oil and excess water drips to the bottom basket, you can cook your proteins, then sides without using multiple pans or watching over the time like you would with a stovetop. You can even defrost. I chose this model as there is an app with recipes for inspiration, and also a way to start cooking from your phone, and get notified on when to shake or flip halfway. It also looks modern in my kitchen and makes a nice futuristic humming sound to boot."
Whether you’re cooking steak or chicken, you’ll want to keep an eye on the temperature so that you don’t overcook or undercook your meat. The best way to do so is with a thermometer, but having to check it all the time is a pain. Enter the Meater, which can sense both the internal meat temperature as well as the ambient temp. That means it can tell the temperature of the food as well as the temperature of the oven or grill, so it can estimate how long the cook will take. Plus, the companion app will alert you when the food is at the right temp regardless of where you are in your home.
One reviewer said it takes the guesswork out of cooking: "This is one of those things in life you stumble on and think, Where have you been my whole life? It just makes sense, and it works. I'm not going to claim I'm a chef just yet, but I just cooked the best ribeye steak I've ever done. Instead of stressing out and sticking a thermometer into the steak every few minutes waiting for it to hit 160 degrees, I let my iPhone tell me when to remove it from the grill. Cooking steak has gone from becoming this black-magic crapshoot to a simple repeatable procedure."
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The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.