Smart kitchen appliances give home cooks an edge in a number of ways. First, when you connect a kitchen gadget to your smartphone, you can more easily schedule when something should start cooking and monitor its progress remotely. For example, if you have a smart coffee maker, you can set it to start brewing a cup when you say "Alexa, good morning." Another advantage is that many smart kitchen gadgets, like the Anova sous vide, have recipes built into its app, which takes the guesswork out of knowing how long you need to cook a steak to make sure it's perfectly medium rare.
From Instant Pots to coffee makers to home beer-brewing machines, here are our favorite smart kitchen gadgets.
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- Traeger has released two new smart smokers: The Ironwood 650 ($1,199) and Ironwood 885 ($1,399) use a motor-driven auger to feed wood pellets into their combustion chambers, and a variable-speed fan to help keep the temperature consistent. Both grills have Wi-Fi built in, and connect to an app that lets you remotely monitor and control the grills' temperature, which can range from 165 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Looking for a new refrigerator? Check out our picks for the best refrigerators for every style and budget.
- June's new Smart Oven costs less than half that of the original, but still has almost all the functionality. An internal camera can recognize more than 50 food types, and will recommend a cooking program based on what you insert into the oven. A five-inch touchscreen lets you select various cooking programs, which include baking, broiling, dehydrating, toasting, and slow cooking. And, you can control everything from your smartphone, too. The June Oven is available for $600.
"Sous vide" is a process in which you vacuum-seal something — say, a steak — in a plastic bag, then immerse it in a hot water bath for a long time. This low-and-slow cooking method results in amazingly tender and juicy meat. Anova's Nano Precision Cooker takes the guesswork out by connecting to your smartphone via an app, and alerting you when your food is ready. Plus, the app has recipes and tips from Serious Eats, one of the better cooking sites online. The Bluetooth-only Nano, Anova's newest model, is smaller than the original, yet has better on-device controls, and heats water and cooks your food just as fast.
Instant Pot has almost single-handedly popularized the pressure cooker market, and with good reason. Its programmable device can not only make 5-minute risotto, but can also be used to cook eggs, cakes, yogurt, and more in the fraction of the time it takes traditionally. After testing all of Instant Pot's models, our favorite is the Instant Pot Duo. It was the best at making eggs, chicken, rice, pork, and more, and it's reasonably priced. too. This model is available in 3-, 6- and 8-quart sizes.
How do you know if the turkey is done? You could keep opening the oven and sticking a thermometer in the bird, but what if you could simply sit back and watch the football game and get an alert on your smartphone when the bird is cooked? That's where the iGrill2 comes in handy. The Master Kit comes with three meat probes as well as an ambient temperature probe, which makes it great not just for grilling, but smoking meat as well, too. The iGrill2 works over Bluetooth (it has a 150-foot range), and its app has recommended temperatures for all sorts of meats and doneness levels (rare, medium rare, etc.), and can send you alerts when what you're cooking hits a preset temperature.
A smartphone app (Android and iOS) lets you customize your brews when using Illy's Y5 Espresso and Coffee Machine. This stylish but pricey machine uses coffee pods which are recyclable, but you have to ship them back to Illy. The Y5 also has Amazon's Dash Replenishment system built in, so it can automatically order you new coffee pods when it senses you're running out. Oh, and it makes a great-tasting espresso, too.
If you want to make coffee for a crowd, the Smarter 12-cup Coffee Maker ($249) is the way to go. It both grinds beans and brews, and its companion app lets you customize the strength of your brews, the grind, and more. It also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can have it activate using voice commands. We just wish it was a bit easier to schedule.
If you don't use exact measurements when baking, your pie or cake could turn out to be a disaster, which is why a kitchen scale is essential. Drop's connected scale makes baking easy for newbies, guiding you through recipes on your iPhone or iPad, ingredient by ingredient. If you want to double the recipe, a clever feature in the app will automatically change the amount of ingredients proportionally.
If you're using your iPad or some other tablet to look up a recipe, you don't want to take up valuable counter space or risk splashing your tablet with your bouillabaisse. This stand can either mount to the underside of your cabinet, or sit on a desk, and fits tablets from 7 to 13 inches in size. It has a flexible arm and a rotating head, so you can position the tablet just the way you want.
The one thing that will mess up a brisket, or any smoked meat, are spikes in temperature inside the smoker. CyberQ Cloud is a Wi-Fi-enabled device that not only monitors, but regulates the temperature inside your smoker. You can also control the temperature of your smoke using an app, or with CyberQ's Alexa skill. The CyberQ can be purchased individually through BBQ Guru's site, or as part of a temperature control kit that includes a fan and adaptor to fit a wide range of smokers such as the Big Green Egg. We used it to smoke a variety of meats, and everything came out juicy and tender.
Brewing your own beer can be a messy and inexact process. The PicoBrew looks to make doing so as easy as pressing a button. All that you need to do with this Kickstarter-backed device is insert packets of hops, yeast and grain, and the machine does the rest. A few weeks later, and you've got 5 liters of beer. PicoBrew also partnered with more than 50 breweries, so you can replicate that awesome IPA that you can't find in any store.
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