In recent years, companies have turned to small appliances as a vehicle to introduce new cooking concepts to our home cooking. The results include barcode scanning, automated cooking and meal kits.
The $995 Brava countertop oven, which is available for preorder, uses a mix of visible and non-visible light, or infrared energy, to cook food. The company says its Pure Light Cooking system will cook food faster than conventional ovens.
There are several ways you'll be able to cook with the Brava. For example, you'll be able to select basic ingredients you want to cook (pictured here) and it will cook automatically. The oven will also include a built-in camera that lets you watch your cooking process from your smartphone.
GE Smart Countertop Microwave
With this $140 GE microwave, you use an app on your phone to scan packaged foods, and the app will send appropriate cooking times and power levels to your microwave. The microwave will also work with Alexa, Amazon's digital voice-activated assistant. Whirlpool also has a scan-to-cook microwave, but it's an over-the-range model.
The $1,495 June Intelligent Oven uses a built-in camera and software similar to what we see with facial recognition technology to identify a limited number of foods and cook them automatically. (There's also a built-in version called the Pro.)
To use the food recognition feature in the June, you put your dish on the June's cooking tray and put it into the oven. The camera built into the roof of the June (pictured here) looks at the food and gives you two options of what it thinks the food could be (for example, it will ask if the dish you placed in the oven is asparagus or bacon). Once you select the correct food, the oven will automatically start to cook it.
You can use the $300 Tovala Smart Oven as a standalone countertop steam oven, but it's most innovative feature is what the oven can do with Tovala's prepackaged, refrigerated meals. There's a bar code scanner on the oven that scans the packaging of each meal and automatically starts cooking it based on instructions it downloads from the cloud.
Each Tovala Meal costs $12. The company sends the raw ingredients in labeled, individual containers with instructions on how to combine everything after you're finished cooking. You can use the Tovala to cook your own food manually.
The Suvie Kitchen Robot is a countertop cooker that uses water to both refrigerate your food and cook an entire meal. It debuted on Kickstarter in February 2018 with prices starting at $429. The company expects to ship Suvie units in March 2019.
The Suvie is designed for meals that contain a protein, a starch, a vegetable and a sauce. The top two compartments for your protein and vegetable are surrounded by a metal jacket that holds water. You place your food in the appropriate containers at the beginning of the day, and fill the water reservoir. You schedule the time you want your meal to be ready on the appliance's touchscreen or on its app. The water from the reservoir transfers to the jacket and cools it down, which refrigerates the food.
When it's time to cook your meal, the water in the jacket heats up and cooks the protein and vegetable at the top of the Suvie using sous vide and steam, respectively. The water then it fills the starch compartment to cook what's in there (It'll also drain itself when your starch is finished cooking.) The sauce heats up while the rest of the meal cooks.
Like the Tovala, Suvie will have a meal plan in which the company will ship you prepackaged, uncooked meals that you cook in the oven. Each Suvie Smart Meal will have a near-field communication (NFC) tag, and the appliance will read that information and adjust to the specific cook settings for the various elements of that meal.