There’s a peril with any smart kitchen gadget built for a single purpose – what celebrity chef Alton Brown refers to as “unitaskers”, because they’re typically only good for a single task at a time, while taking up a lot of precious kitchen space.
Sometimes they’re the on-trend item that everyone has to have (yes, I’m looking at you, Air Fryers, Bread Makers and all the rest), and sometimes they just sound like they’re a good idea without necessarily being all that smart.
So how do get your kitchen into the smart home age without buying a bunch of dumb gadgets whose utility is questionable at best?
It’s by matching up your actual cooking needs, skills and budget with the right gadgets and a smarter approach. This will differ depending on so many variables that any list that claims to be definitive is going to fail right out of the starting gate.
However, there are some basic tech-centric gadgets that anyone can pick up to make their kitchen experience easier, faster and above all smarter. Here’s where to start.
Odds are good that you’ve got more than a couple of plug in devices in your kitchen right now with no smart ability at all. While you can buy smart toasters and kettles at fairly serious premium prices, it’s arguably much smarter to start at the plug end instead.
A smart plug makes it easy to start up or shut down any kitchen appliance right from your phone, or in some cases via the voice assistant of your choosing.
It’s like remote control power, whether you want your kettle to start boiling water or simply to save a little power by fully turning off the microwave when not in use. What’s really smart here is that unlike that smart toaster, you’re not limited to making just the one gadget smart. Whatever’s plugged into it can benefit from it, so you can switch it around depending on your needs.
I know what you’re thinking – is an iPad really a kitchen gadget?
It sure is. There’s definitely something to having a written recipe to hand or in a cookbook, right up until you realise that you’ve suddenly got a teeming shelf of recipe books and you can’t quite remember where that neat taco recipe was.
That’s where a tablet like an iPad can be an absolute lifesaver, whether you buy your recipes through Apple’s Books platform, or use any of a wide number of specific recipe or cooking apps. You’ve immediately got a plethora of recipe choices at your fingertips.
Already got an iPad, or worried about it getting greasy or damaged with flour or other ingredients?
Consider a tougher case – a lot of the kid-specific iPad cases are great for this – to protect your iPad while you use it as a handy cooking reference guide.
Of course, there are those times when you don’t want to be taking off the oven gloves to interact with a tablet, or your away from that delicately stirred pot that needs to be treated delicately.
This is where a smart display can be your best cooking friend, and here the Google Nest really does stand out. Not only can you use it to set cooking timers with your voice, but also to search up recipes online and, critically, YouTube videos.
There’s more recipes and cooking guides on YouTube than you could get through in several culinary lifetimes – and probably a few hundred more have landed there just in the time you’ve taken to read this sentence.
And hey, if you then choose to watch a variety of adorable cat videos on the Nest display while the muffins are rising, who’s going to judge you?
Did I slip up and throw in a dreaded unitasker into the kitchen mix somehow by adding a robot vacuum cleaner? Surely that’s a vaccum that just does the one thing, right?
Not so. Most robot vaccums these days are also nicely capable robot mops, and that has very specific appeal for anyone who spends serious time in the kitchen. We’ve all spilled a little flour in our time, or had a splash of milk fly down to the floor when it was meant to end up in that cake mix. Not the finest moment, but also an annoyance when you realise that once you’re done cooking, the cleaning task has to begin.
This is where a robot vacuum cleaner can be your new best friend, because you can focus your energy on making the very best consumables you can, while leaving the messy task of recovering the kitchen tiles to a gadget that lives for that sort of thing.
Most robot vacuums work neatly with voice assistants such as Google’s Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa, so you can often just tell them to clean up the kitchen while you relax with a nice glass of something chilled while the recipe improves.