If being quarantined has taught us anything, it’s the value of being able to cook at home. As it turns out, living off cereal and anything from the freezer section of Trader Joe’s is not a sustainable option. Luckily, there’s a new kitchen gadget that can help with that: meet the CHEF iQ Smart Cooker, a new pressure cooker that not only provides a wide range of cooking options within a single machine, but also a library of recipes with visual directions.
The new Smart Cooker promises a 70 percent faster method of pressure cooking, searing, sautéing, steaming and even slow cooking. And while you’re generally looking to kill time during quarantine, it seems that CHEF iQ understands that when you’re hungry, you want to eat now—not in two hours. To that end, the over 100 preset cooking functions can help you get dinner (or breakfast or lunch) on the table in as little time as possible.
The key to this smart pressure cooker is an integrated cooking scale, which means that you no longer have to measure out ingredients. For example, if you’re looking to cook non-presoaked beans and aren’t entirely sure how best to measure the liquid to dry ingredient ratio, all you need to do is zero the scale with the removable inner pot in place, add your dry beans, and tell your Smart Cooker what you’re trying to cook. A plan will then appear on the built-in 2.83-inch LCD display, which includes how much liquid to add, how long to anticipate your cook time, and an automatic pressure valve release. In effect, this cooker does all the hard work for you. If, for some reason, you don’t trust the built-in smarts of the device (which I sometimes don’t), you can use the knob beneath the display to make some manual adjustments— this can be useful if you’re trying to make your pasta or grains more al dente than usual.
Because the device is Wi-Fi connected, it pairs directly with the CHEF iQ app, which sends cooking data straight from your smartphone to the cooker for a seamless experience. That said, the app doesn’t have the most robust library of recipes at the moment, but you can always input your own preferred cooking literature. I, personally, am most impressed by CHEF iQ’s ability to release its pressure based on the recipe you’ve selected at the necessary pace and time, which has led to some of the most tender pot roast I’ve ever had.
But my actual favorite feature of the Smart Cooker is its nonstick interior. This truly sets it apart from some other fancier pressure cookers on the market, which do require quite a bit of scrubbing and soaking after each meal. Whether you’re making rice or a chocolate cake, CHEF iQ customers happily reported that you won’t have any burnt bits sticking to the bottom of the inner chamber, making cleanup a total breeze.
That said, when push comes to shove, it’s not entirely clear that the Smart Cooker is decidedly better at the actual cooking process than other devices on the market. For example, if you’re a tried and true Instapot user, it’s not clear that you’ll have much more success with the Smart Cooker, and at $200 for the six-quart device, it’s not as though you’re getting a ton of bang for your buck. Still, given how distinctly user-friendly this smart pressure cooker is (honestly, I’m a sucker for anything that lets me throw away my measuring cups), this may just be worth the investment if you’re planning on cooking at home (and skipping takeout) for the foreseeable future.