Even the best chefs know how helpful it can be to have an extra hand in the kitchen. After all, once all the prep work is done and the cooking begins, there can be a lot to keep track of and tend to, especially when preparing a larger meal for bigger gatherings.
Fortunately for modern culinary enthusiasts, the cooking help doesn’t necessarily have to have hands or even a heartbeat. With the advent of the internet and smart technology, a range of kitchen-focused smart devices can offer a digital assist.
Cooks looking for some extra help in the kitchen should consider these five smart devices that can ease their burden and help them serve up the perfect flavors — each for under $150:
- Smart coffee maker: Morning person or not, it’s easy to appreciate the value of a piping-hot cup of coffee in the early hours as there’s nothing quite like the shot of caffeine it provides to get the eyes open wide and the juices flowing. But a number of coffee makers require the java drinker to get out of bed to make such choices as brew strength or the size of cup to brew. WiFi-connected coffee makers, on the other hand, allow users to control such coffee characteristics using an app on their smartphones. They can even start the brewing process with a few clicks and swipes from their bed or even via voice command.
There are a number of strong choices on the market, but a leading one that works with Amazon’s Alexa for voice control is the Hamilton Beach Smart Coffee Maker, which retails for just under $90.
- WiFi slow cooker: Slow cooking has long been a breeze because the heated electric pots used for this meal-prep method generally allows cooks to add their ingredients, set their chosen time and temperature, and then walk away — only to return later to enjoy their hot, home-cooked meal. But slow cooking gets even smarter with a WiFi-enabled slow cooker, which lets users program, monitor and control their slow cooking remotely via their mobile devices. One popular choice that integrates with Alexa for voice control is the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Slow Cooker With Amazon Alexa, which retails for just under $120. For those who prefer to prepare their pot-cooked meals a bit faster using pressure cooking, the Instant Pot Smart WiFi allows for control via smart devices with its associated app and retails for just under $150.
- Smart scale: For baking enthusiasts, the kitchen scale is a must-have because precisely measuring ingredients is critical to the success of the final product. And with a smart scale like the Drop Scale, modern bakers can simply dial up their recipe of choice from the scale’s associated Drop Recipes app, add all of the ingredients (in a single bowl!) while viewing their weights on a phone or tablet that’s wirelessly connected to the scale. Then the cook would mix the ingredients up as needed and get cooking. The app can even recommend substitute ingredients for those running low on supplies or with dietary limitations. The Drop Scale retails for just under $80.
- Voice-controlled microwave: The microwave, of course, is a huge time-saver in the kitchen as it allows cooks to hit a few buttons to heat and cook their foods, all without having to wait for an oven or stovetop to heat up. And this small appliance’s simplicity gets even simpler with a WiFi connection and Alexa integration to allow voice control because cooks literally do not have to lift a finger to make it work. For those who already have an Amazon Echo device, the AmazonBasics Microwave is a great choice for easy cooking, and it retails for just under $60.
- Smart thermometer: A staple in every kitchen, the thermometer is often more a safety device than a cooking utensil as anyone who has ever accidentally poisoned their party guests with undercooked meat can attest. And, on the flip side of that coin, it prevents overcooking, allowing chefs to serve up their steaks, poultry, fish and other meats as juicy and tasty as possible. With a smart thermometer like the MEATER, which retails for just under $70, cooks can attain meat perfection with the help of the wireless device and its associated app. Together they relay the meat’s current internal temperature, the ambient temperature and the target temperature, all while providing alerts and step-by-step instructions along the way.
- Honorable mention — automatic pan stirrer: OK, so this one might not technically be a smart device, but it’s certainly a smart addition to the modern kitchen. With the Automatic Pan Stirrer With Timer from Uncommon Goods, cooks can free up their arms for other tasks when cooking a stovetop dish that requires constant stirring. The device rotates back and forth for one to 10 minutes (as set on the integrated timer) and the handle pulses when the set time has expired. This clever device retails for $25.
Looking for recipes to cook up in your newly smart kitchen? Check out the long list of recipes available from our FTC Now cooking-show hosts! How about a fast and reliable internet connection to keep your smart devices in the kitchen (and everywhere else in the house) up to speed? Visit ftc.net to explore the range of rates and blazing-fast internet packages available from FTC Internet.