We’re not ones for gimmicky gear, so it takes more than a shiny display and a bunch of buttons to win us over when we’re testing equipment. But when it comes to frills we’ll fawn over, smart appliances—which can sync with a phone and be monitored or controlled through an app—can prove extremely useful and worthy of a spot on our “best of” lists.
Whether you’re an Apple devotee or an Android enthusiast, smart equipment can link up with your phone (or tablet) and make it easy to keep an eye on timing and temperatures from another room. Here are 12 of our favorite smart pieces of gear, tried-and-true from our equipment reviews.
When we tested sous vide immersion circulators, this no-nonsense model from Breville came out on top. We love its sleek, streamlined design, a clever magnetic base that keeps it standing firm in most pots, and its quick-heating performance.
The only downside is that the Joule circulator may be too smart—there’s no display on the tool itself, and the only way to operate this immersion circulator is with a phone or tablet. We’re willing to overlook this thanks to its quality and efficiency (and the fact our phones are always within reach anyway), but it may not be for everyone.
If smart connectivity-only isn’t for you, then we’re happy to recommend the Anova Culinary immersion circulator instead. This one does have smart functionality, but it also has an onboard display so you can skip all the tech. This sous vide cooker is fast, ultra-consistent, and user-friendly thanks to a big, straightforward display right on top of the wand.
We spent more than a month testing the Breville Joule Oven to see if it commands its price tag, and, honestly? It really does. This is the appliance to buy if you want an air fryer, a toaster oven, a dehydrator, and a convection oven all in one. The Joule Oven turned out crispy fries, juicy chicken wings, and just-right toast—and it was easy to use. Sometimes multipurpose appliances can be anything but intuitive, but the Joule Oven’s pleasant display and straightforward control panel make it a pleasure to work with.
And yes, this oven is smart, otherwise, it wouldn’t be on this list! While we preferred the Joule app for finding recipes more than for controlling the oven, it’s a fun feature that adds extra value.
This is a smart oven with an extra perk: Steam injection! Not only can you use the Anova Precision Oven to roast a chicken or vegetables like a normal oven, but you can also bake fantastically crusty bread. You can even get a little sous vide action going—replacing the vat of water with a warm, steamy environment—that works surprisingly well.
The Anova app is useful and straightforward, a feature which proved, well, useful during our tests because there’s a bit of a learning curve; especially if you’re not familiar with steam injection ovens. All told, this is a cool (hot?) smart kitchen appliance that we’re happy to recommend.
You might wonder why you’d need an intelligent thermometer, but barbecue aficionados can certainly attest to the importance of keeping an eye on the temperature. We tested loads of probe thermometers and the FireBoard FBX2 was the smartest of them all, with super-long cables, ports for six probes, and Bluetooth and wireless connectivity. You can easily keep an eye on ambient temperature and meat temperature, and even chart and store your cooking sessions in the FireBoard app. This thermometer doesn’t come cheap, but does come ready to work. (Note: We have a couple more smart, wireless grill thermometer picks here—including ones from ThermoWorks and Meater.)
Aside from its high price, we can’t find much to complain about with this Weber grill, and we’ve tested plenty of them. The Genesis Smart EX-325s has a generous 787 square-inch cooking surface with an excellent sear zone, and the grill’s smart functionality is actually worth using. Right from your phone, you can monitor food temperature and set alerts for doneness or flip reminders, and it’s all super easy to figure out and use.
Sure, you don’t need a smart grill to barbecue effectively, but if you can eliminate some of the guesswork—why not?
There are lots of Instant Pots to choose from, and the Pro Plus Smart version is a great choice thanks to its user-friendly interface, locking handles on the inner pot that prevent slippage, and an automatic steam release. Oh, and its smart connectivity doesn’t hurt either, though we’re willing to admit it’s not a strictly necessary feature.
If you’re going to splash out on a fancy travel mug this year, make it the Ember Travel Mug 2 (which bested six other models in our tests). This was a top pick when our editors were asked to shout out their favorite coffee gear, because, let’s face it, controlling the precise temperature of your coffee mug with an app is pretty nifty. It’s easy to use and the Ember will keep your coffee (or other hot beverage of choice) perfectly steamy for hours.
We’ve tested many pellet grills, and the Traeger Timberline is our hands-down favorite. Not only does this thing grill and smoke like a pro, but it also functions like a whole outdoor kitchen. Under the hood, you’ll find an induction cooktop, touchscreen operation, a slew of handy accessories, and—oh yeah—smart connectivity. It’s never been easier (or more fun) to fire up the grill, make some delicious food, and not worry about what’s happening with the temperature when you step away to grab another beer.
This smoker is expensive, so we tested 20 pounds of meat to make sure it’s actually worth the investment. Spoiler alert: It is. While the Ironwood XL isn’t going to be a fit for anyone’s apartment balcony or townhouse patio, if you’ve got a yard with space to spare, this is an excellent pick. Now, the Ironwood XL made it onto this list because it’s a smart appliance, but we’ll admit it took some convincing to get the app and the grill interface to play nicely. You definitely can use the smart features, but you’ll also be fine to operate this Traeger the good old-fashioned way—with your fingers instead of your phone.
The Konnected Joe is the first smart, kamado cooker out there—and we really like it. In our tests (we made vegetables, steak, burnt ends, and more), we found it to be a total powerhouse and capable of high-heat cooking and low-and-slow smoking. The app allowed us to easily adjust and monitor temperatures and provided real-time cooking alerts.
If you’ve ever wished your coffee maker were more like a salad spinner, well, the Spinn Coffee Maker Pro just might make your day. In all seriousness, we tested this innovative coffee machine—which utilizes centrifugal brewing rather than traditional drip or immersion methods—and we thought it turned out some of the best-tasting coffee we’ve had from an entirely automated brewer. It’s pricey, but it’s a super-smart machine with a user-friendly app that offers lots of different drink recipes and turns out a great cup of coffee.
What is a smart cooking device?
Just like your smart TV or smart watch or smart anything else around your home, a smart cooking device has connectivity—usually through WiFi, sometimes through Bluetooth—that will allow it to connect to your phone or tablet so you can make adjustments through a relevant app. Smart appliances and cooking tools let you keep an eye on timings and temperatures, and the apps often include helpful tips and recipes.
Why We’re the Experts
- We rigorously test all of the kitchen gear we recommend, putting them through a series of tests to best evaluate their performance, usability, and more.
- Summer Rylander is a freelance writer who’s been contributing to Serious Eats for almost two years. Her work has also appeared in Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, and more.