Here's the best gift for people who suck at cooking

We tested out a smart frying pan to see if it could teach a kitchen newbie how to cook.

Sharon Profis Vice President of Content
Sharon Profis is a vice president of content.
Sharon Profis
2 min read

Counter/Space is a new CNET series that puts kitchen appliances -- smart and "dumb" -- to the test.

Watch this: This normal-looking frying pan teaches you to cook

Before you give up on your spouse or roommate's cooking skills, try getting them a smart cooking pan. Pantelligent, a normal-looking frying pan with heat sensors and Bluetooth, literally teaches you how to cook.

Here's how it works.

First, the frying pan connects to your phone

Once you have the Pantelligent app on your phone, all you have to do is hold it to the pan's handle -- where the Bluetooth sensor is -- and the pan will pair with your phone. Now you can get to cooking!

Then you choose a recipe

The app is packed with a bunch of recipes that are programmed to work with the pan. A lot of them are simple recipes designed to help you learn the basics.

We chose to test the salmon recipe, but you can choose from dozens of recipes like:

  • Steak
  • Mushroom risotto
  • Seared scallops
  • Broccoli-beef
  • Cheeseburgers

The app gives you step-by-step instructions

Here's where the fun begins. Once you start a recipe, the app will begin to give you specific instructions. The first thing you'll accomplish is making sure the pan is heated to the right temperature. But how does it know? There's a heat sensor in the bottom of the pan sending your phone live temperature info over Bluetooth.

Once the pan is heated, you'll hear step-by-step instructions like, "Put the salmon in the pan skin-side up."

And...it's kind of chatty

One thing we noticed while testing the pan is that, essentially, your goal is to maintain the right level of heat. (After all, that's what makes the difference between burnt and perfectly-cooked food.) In order to help you do that, you'll hear a lot of "the heat is a bit too high" and "the heat is a bit too low" coming from your phone.

It can get a little -- okay, seriously -- annoying, but the more you practice with Pantelligent, the better you'll get at maintaining heat levels. And the less you'll hear commands.

In the end, it makes near-perfect food

Our cooking newbie made this salmon using Pantelligent and it was, basically, perfect. That's probably because the pan uses its heat sensor (and commands that shout at you) to make sure the food never overcooks. So, as long as you're listening to the app, your food will come out beautifully.

Just don't call it cheating

Some people might feel like using Pantelligent is "cheating," but we agree to disagree. What you learn using Pantelligent carries over into cooking with dumb pans, too.