Creating a Smart Kitchen
If there’s one room in your home that can benefit from a smart makeover, it’s probably the kitchen. With the right smart kitchen appliances you can do things like preheat your oven from your smartphone or have freshly brewed coffee waiting for you when you wake up. Even popular smart home devices, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, come into their own in the kitchen, where you can use them to set timers, convert measurements, manage your shopping list—and blast your cooking tunes.
What to expect from smart kitchen devices
“Smart” is a popular marketing buzzword, and there are no hard standards on what makes something a smart device. It’s used to sell everything from cheap battery-powered pot stirrers to expensive refrigerators that monitor exactly which groceries are inside.
When it comes to smart kitchen devices (and fantasizing about your as-yet-unrealized smart kitchen), battery operated is not enough to make the cut. Expect more from the future! So with that said, all the things explored here are going to be held to a higher standard. They’ve got features like:
- Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections so you can control them with an app
- Automation and automatic timers, so they can do the work when you’re not about
- Voice controls and integration with other smart home devices
Not all smart devices play nice together or use the same standards, so when you’re putting together your smart kitchen, keep this in mind when choosing which devices will make the cut.
What kind of smart kitchen devices can you get?
Kitchen appliances lend themselves well to smart features. Who doesn’t want a voice-activated microwave? If you can imagine it, there’s a good chance you can get it. Here are some of the best smart kitchen appliances available now:
A smart refrigerator, like any of Samsung’s Family Hub line, is a delightfully functional smart upgrade for your kitchen. Instead of scraps of paper and magnets, you get to use a great big touchscreen to leave notes and make shopping lists. You can browse recipes, and you can even use the built-in cameras to check if you’ve got your favorite flavor of yogurt—while you’re at the store. That’s a feature that’s hard to beat.
Smart coffee makers
Yes, timers on coffee makers have been around for years, but if you set it the night before for 8 a.m. and you decide to sleep in, you miss that fresh-brewed flavor. A coffee maker that takes its commands from a smart speaker is a whole new ball game. This one from Hamilton Beach that’s compatible with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant might be exactly what you need. You can program it to have your coffee ready in the morning, or order up a fresh pot a little later in the day with a quick voice command.
Smart kitchen faucets
A smart faucet, like the U by Moen, is one of those devices that sounds a bit silly when you first hear about it, but then you realize just how useful it could be. If you’re baking, you can have it pour out exactly two cups of 100ºF water just by asking. If you’re preparing chicken, you don’t need to touch anything to wash your hands. And you never have to worry about overfilling anything again when you can just tell your faucet to stop. This is one smart upgrade.
Smart ovens come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from smaller countertop models, like the Breville Smart Oven with Element IQ, to full-size wall-mounted ovens, like this line from Samsung. What they all have in common is that they make cooking easier.
How they do it, though, varies from smart oven to smart oven. Breville’s approach is to use built-in temperature sensors and algorithmically optimized presets to remove the guesswork from cooking. Want to roast a chicken? Pop it in, pick the right option and, in an hour or so, you’ll be good to dig in.
Samsung, on the other hand, still leaves the cooking up to you. Instead, you can control your oven using a smartphone app, so you can start it preheating when you’re on your way home, or you can turn down the temperature mid-bake without leaving your sofa.
Smart toasters, microwaves and other cookers
Ovens aren’t the only cooking appliances that have been given the smart treatment.
You can get app-controlled induction burners, Wi-Fi-enabled sous vide machines, voice-controlled microwaves and toasters with touchscreens. There’s even the Instant Pot Smart WiFi, which takes one of the most convenient cookers around—and makes it even more convenient by adding a smartphone app.
Other smart devices to add to your kitchen
Smart devices don’t just cook food. Some of the other smart things you can use in your kitchen are:
- Smart screens, like the Amazon Echo Show and Google Nest Hub Max. They’re great for setting timers, controlling all your other integrated smart devices, watching a show while you cook and browsing recipes.
- Smart kitchen scales, if you’re counting your macros, can tell you the exact nutritional content of thousands of different foods.
- Smart plugs enable you to turn plug sockets (and anything that’s plugged into them) on and off with a voice command or on a schedule.
- And, of course, smart lights are never not awesome, whatever room they’re in.
How to start smartening up your kitchen
Like any home upgrade project, it’s best to make a plan and start slow when it comes to creating a smart kitchen.
Before you run out and buy brand-new smart appliances, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind:
- Refrigerators and ovens last a lot longer than smartphones and tablets. With any smart appliance you buy, you need to make sure you’re not locking yourself into an old or awkward user interface for a decade. Check that the manufacturer intends to provide any technology upgrades going forward.
- Smart devices are a rapidly developing market. If you’re not in a hurry, it might be worth watching the products you like to see if they’re updated and what new features get added.
- If you’re hooking every light bulb and plug socket to the internet, you’ll need a fast, stable connection. If you can get it, fiber is best.
No doubt about it, smart kitchen products are pretty exciting. And you can easily start small: Make the most of a smart speaker, which can turn into a great cooking assistant, and after that, a smart faucet and an app-controllable oven would make a pretty fantastic smart kitchen.
Product features may have changed and are subject to change.