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Cooking was the original technology and the modern kitchen owes everything to continued invention. Gas stoves have made schlepping logs a thing of the past. Dishwashers have (kind of) automated a chore. Microwaves steam Hot Pockets with ferocious efficiency. Now, the next generation of technology has arrived. Smart kitchen appliances are altering how home cooking works and it is all – if you ignore the gimmicky TKs – for the better.
The Jetsons kitchen hasn’t arrived, but early adopters are building out efficiencies using smart devices that reduce the effort associated with cooking and cleaning. The challenge, as with any relatively nascent product category, is knowing which products work and which products represent nothing more than a good concept with some VC money behind it.
The Best Smart Kitchen Appliances: At a Glance
De’Longhi Dinamica Plus Fully Automatic Machine Coffee Maker & Espresso Machine
What the Experts Say
“Make sure you purchase smart kitchen devices that actually provide value to you — either solving a specific problem or enhancing your current cooking experience in some way,” says Akshita Iyer, the CEO and founder of Ome, which makes a smart stove knob.
Habits are everything. And while that often means finding more efficient ways to create the same culinary outcomes, it sometimes means finding ways to establish new habits. The connected sous vide is the classic example of this. Kevin Turner, founder and CEO of The Grilling Master, points out that they give time-constrained cooks access to a mode of preparation that would otherwise be impractical. Wifi allows for a longer cooking process, which leads to a better result.
But there’s another bulky issue to consider: Smart appliances tend to be large and finicky. Not all devices play well together – or with Alexa.
“Consider the compatibility of your appliances with other devices in your home so they can communicate with one another,” recommends Joel Comino, the founder and CEO of turnkey homebuilding company Next Modular. “If you’ve already committed to the Google, Apple, or Amazon ecosystem, then it’s probably worth sticking with appliances that connect to that ecosystem, other factors being equal.
Instant Pot Pro Plus 6-Quart Multi-Cooker
One of the few complaints about the Instant Pot, the multi-cooker that defined/redefined the category, is that its control panel wasn’t exactly intuitive to operate. The updated Instant Pot Pro Plus has a better panel, but you’ll find yourself using the much more powerful app, which finally gives the 10-in-1 cooker an interface worthy of its abilities.
The app allows you to adjust the settings to your liking, which is great because each of its many functions has its own suite of settings to tweak. It also gives you access to a massive library of recipes that you can automatically run from your phone, meaning that the days of googling “(dish name) instant pot” can finally end. And with guided cooking, which shows step by step instructions as cards within the app with a live-updating timer, it’s easy to get delicious results even if your culinary skills are lacking.
Iyer says that the app control is a great feature, but she also points to its compatibility with Alexa as another touch she appreciates.
Samsung Bespoke French Door Refrigerator with Family Hub
The front of a refrigerator is a big, shiny place to slap a touchscreen, which is probably why there are more smart fridges than there are smart versions of other large appliances. Where the Samsung Bespoke line sets itself apart, besides the customizable panels that come in a variety of colors, is the Family Hub software that lets you see inside your refrigerator and functions as a smart display to do things like manage your family schedule and monitor compatible security cameras.
LG Smart Over-the-Range Microwave
This over-the-range microwave from LG is, first and foremost, a great microwave. It has humidity-sensing technology that automatically stops cooking when food is ready to go, a smart feature even if it isn’t a “smart” feature. Google Assistant and Alexa compatibility is in the works, but in the meantime you can use the companion app to scan microwaveable meals to automatically load the proper settings as well as adjusting settings, including clever touches like syncing your microwave lights with those on other LG appliances.
iRobot Braava Jet 240 Superior Robot Mop
Cooking can be a messy business, which is why this smart cleaning robot is so handy to have puttering around. From the people behind the Roomba, it automatically knows what kind of cleaning to do based on the pad you attach: wet mopping, damp sweeping, or dry sweeping. It sprays the appropriate amount of cleaning solution and follows an efficient pattern, including edges, corners, and hard-to-reach places. Counters are still up to you, but letting a robot clean your floors can cut your cleanup time in half.
Breville Joule Oven Air Fryer Pro
Noted fancy small appliance maker Breville really upped their game with this countertop oven. In addition to the requisite suite of 13 specially calibrated presets, it has wifi that allows you to control it with an app that offers guided recipes, mobile monitoring, and connection to your digital assistant of choice. The killer feature, however, is Joule Autopilot, an automated “multi-event cooking experience” that enables the oven to adjust itself throughout the cooking process so you don’t have to.
Anova Precision Cooker Nano 3.0
Sous vide cooking has been a mainstay of fancy restaurants for years, and this compact, wifi-enabled sous vide machine lets consumers enjoy the automatic precision of sous vide cooking in their own homes. You can preheat the water bath according to recipe specifications and, once you put in your vacuum-sealed or plastic bag-encased food to start cooking, you can monitor and adjust your settings from anywhere. As Comino said, that’s a particularly useful feature in sous vide cooking, where cooking times can stretch into the double-digit hours.
Bosch 800 Series 24″ Top Control Smart Built-In Dishwasher
Even a dumb dishwasher is a minor miracle, saving hard work and dried out hands every time you don’t have to hand wash a sink full of dishes. You can remotely monitor this smart dishwasher from the companion app, which will do things like ping you when your dishes are done so you can unload it and get on with your day.
De’Longhi Dinamica Plus Fully Automatic Machine Coffee Maker & Espresso Machine
The De’Longhi Coffee Link app allows you to connect to this full-featured espresso machine, which comes complete with a burr grinder and milk steamer, to create the fancy coffee drinks of your dreams. You can save custom recipes to your specifications and, crucially for a piece of equipment this pricey and complex, receive reminders and instructions for machine maintenance. Imagine waking up on a Sunday morning, tapping a button on your phone, and coming downstairs to a cappuccino or macchiato made to your exact tastes. This machine makes it possible.
Google Nest Hub Max
While it’s not a kitchen device per se, the supersized edition of Google’s smart display deserves a place on your kitchen counter. In addition to the video calls, photo display, and ability to stream music and videos, it has some great features just for cooks. You can find a recipe (or load one from Google results on your computer or phone) and speak your way through it, a valuable feature for those dishes that require you to get your hands dirty.
Frequently Asked Questions About Smart Kitchen Appliances
What makes a kitchen appliance a smart kitchen appliance?
For our purposes, any device that connects to the internet is a smart device.
What kinds of smart kitchen appliances are available?
There are smart versions of all large appliances and most if not all small appliances. Not all of them are useful, but the smart home trend is powerful and there’s no shortage of companies trying to capitalize.
Why should I invest in a smart kitchen?
The smarter the kitchen, the dumber the human who can operate it and still produce delicious food. None of these devices will make you a good cook, but they can help hide your lack of skill from the friends and family who eat your food. And, in the end, isn’t that almost as good?