I love to cook. It’s not only relaxing and fun, but it’s also a great skill to have, mastering tried and true recipes and experimenting with new ones. And while any good cook needs to have the basics, like a mixer, immersion blender, utensils, measuring cups, pots and pans, and more, there are some smart tech gifts that can enhance the cooking experience, and help you do better, and/or work more efficiently, in the kitchen.
Some of these smart tech gifts might actually be used in the cooking process, while others simply help you through it, like by providing guidance and entertainment.
Smart tech for guidance and entertainment in the kitchen
A smart speaker is a great addition to the kitchen. Not only can you use it to play background music and bop to tunes as you knead dough, chop vegetables, or prepare meats and poultry, but you can also control playback using only your voice. This is especially useful while cooking and your hands are dirty and otherwise occupied.
Smart speakers also come in handy for converting measurements (I often use mine to get a quick converstion from grams to ounces, for example, when following a recipe), and for setting timers. Set multiple timers, all using your voice, to keep an eye on the roast in the oven, the sauce or soup on the stove, and the dessert chilling in the freezer.
Opt for something small like an Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home Mini, or something bigger if you have the counter space, like a Google Home, Amazon Echo, or even a Sonos One.
Speaking of bigger, adding another useful element to the equation is a smart display, which functions just like a smart speaker but with one major difference: it has a screen. This adds a visual element to your queries, and you can also play videos to follow along with your favourite celebrity chef as he shows you how to make delicious pepper-crusted rack of lamb, or follow a YouTube video to learn how to properly form pasta, chop an onion, or French that lamb.
Two of the most popular smart displays are the Amazon Echo Show and its variants like the Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8 that add privacy shutters and are slightly smaller in design, and the Google Nest Hub.
A fun alternative option is a device like the XPRIT Portable Smart Cube Projector, which, instead of displaying cooking instructions on a small screen, can project a large video onto the wall in front of you. Use it to follow cooking videos or play a movie or TV show to keep you entertained while you tend to slow cooking risotto or continually stirring and monitoring your pasta sauce and prepping other menu items in the kitchen.
Smart tech for cooking
I love my Instant Pot, a smart multi-cooker that allows you to make everything from slow cooked flank steak to pressure cooked Korean short ribs, chocolate lava cakes, cheesecake, rice, potatoes, steamed vegetables, and even, with some models, homemade yogurt; all in a fraction of the time it might take with another cooker or device. But one model in particular, the Smart Wi-Fi Pressure Cooker, is super smart with the addition of the ability to control it and monitor cooking progress from your smartphone.
If the cook on your holiday gift list is more of the aspiring kind who’s still trying to figure things out, a meat probe is a handy gift that can help them along until they’re able to use a finger press and their intuition and timing to ensure that meat is cooked just right. The ThermoPro TP-O6S Digital Meat Probe Cooking Thermometer can be used for grilling, barbecuing, smoking, and cooking meat in the oven. It comes programmed with preset temperatures for everything from ground beef to poultry and fish, as well as different doneness levels, from rare to well done. Set it up and an alarm will sound once the food has cooked to your desired temperature.
A great safety device for cooks is the iGuardFire Wi-Fi Smart Plug-In Electric Stove Shut Off Device, which can connect to most electric stoves and provides alerts if you forget to turn off the stove, or can be set to turn it off automatically if you’ve left things warming. It also has a child lock to prevent kids from turning the stove knobs on and off, which is great for parents of young children or grandparents who have grandkids visiting often.
Smart tech small appliances
You can help avid cooks simplify tasks in the kitchen with some smart tech small appliances.
Breville, for example, has a smart toaster that contains a smart chip that will adjust the browning cycle if the toaster has already been used, and a motorized lever that automatically lowers, centres, and lifts the toast once done. With different levels, everyone in the family can have toast just as they like it.
If comfort and indulgent breakfasts are more this cook’s thing, especially on weekends, they can whip up a batch of waffle batter and make their own in the Breville Smart Waffle Maker, which can make four small waffles at a time. It automatically calculates the cooking time and colour selection, and lets you select among five types of waffles: Belgium, classic, chocolate, buttermilk, and custom. Waffles, by the way, don’t just have to be for breakfast or dessert: every once in a while, my family enjoys a southern-style dinner of chicken and waffles, too.
For cooking things like soups, salsas, and sauces, the Ninja Intelli-Sense Kitchen System is a smart (literally) option that can also be used for drinks like smoothies. It features Smart Vessel Recognition that can automatically recognize which vessel is attached to the base and display a customized menu of preset programs on the touchscreen so you can select the appropriate one. In addition to mixing and pureeing ingredients, it can also be used for slicing and shredding, with the appropriate accessories, making prep work a breeze for your latest recipe.
Great for those with limited space, or who are looking for a secondary grill option for indoor cooking, the T-Fal Optigrill Non-Stick Smart Grill with Bluetooth lets you monitor the cook from an app on your smartphone and ensure that each cut of speak or burger is cooked to the desired doneness level. When it’s ready, the unit will alert you.
Smart large appliances
There are also large appliances that are super smart, like the GE Profile 30” Self-Clean True Convection 5-Burner Slide-In Dual Fuel Range that is Wi-Fi connected so you can control it from your smartphone. I own a dual fuel range and love the ability to cook using gas on the stovetop and electric in the oven, including having a convection setting for crisper pastries and breads, and faster cooking when needed.
Samsung’s 30” 5-Element Freestanding Smooth Top Electric Range, which comes in sleek black, is also Wi-Fi connected so you can remotely control a cook if you have to step out for a second, or are folding laundry in the basement and hear the timer go off.
Go all out if it’s a gift for the family and get a smart refrigerator like the LG 36” French Door Refrigerator, that has smart technology for controlling it from your phone or using a voiced assistant like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, adjusting the temperature or ice maker, and receiving notifications, like if someone forgot to close the fridge door.
When you think about gifts for the cook on your list, they don’t always have to be devices to help them chop, mix, and prepare food. Sometimes, it’s tech gear that can add to the right ambiance, and make the cooking experience more comfortable and fun. And with a wide breadth of smart tech for cooks, there are lots of ways to help a special cook on your list smarten up their kitchen.