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The digital sous chef: Five devices that will lend a hand in the kitchen

Do you ever need an extra hand in the kitchen? Someone to check a recipe, set a timer, or measure ingredients? If you aren’t working at a restaurant, then there’s a good chance that you don’t have your own sous chef. Thankfully, there are plenty of smart gadgets available that can make the task of cooking a little easier. A good sous chef takes care of most of the arduous work in the kitchen on your behalf, so you — the chef — can focus on what’s important: making excellent dishes.

Related: Not a chef? Make good food anyway with 7 kitchen gadgets smarter than you are

While these kitchen appliances certainly won’t replace a real sous chef anytime soon, they can help you measure ingredients, monitor temperatures, and perform a melange of other basic tasks.

Hello Egg

hello-egg

Can your egg timer display a video a tutorial that shows you how to make roast beef? The Hello Egg can. The egg timer has been a staple in home kitchens for decades, but the Hello Egg is a noteworthy upgrade. The device is essentially a combination of an old-fashioned timer and a sophisticated AI assistant, full of helpful features.

Tell the Hello Egg what ingredients you have and it will suggest a recipe. Ask it how to make french onion soup, and it will show you a video that provides step-by-step instructions. The Hello Egg was designed to respond to casual conversation, too, so you don’t have to ask it any specific commands. And after you’ve finished all your kitchen tasks, the Egg can play music for you from a streaming service. Read more here.

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Hello Egg

Drop Connected Scale ($79)

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How much flour did you add? Did you already put in the salt? An entire recipe can be ruined by a brief lapse in memory. In addition to precisely measuring your ingredients, the Drop Connected Scale can also provide step-by-step instructions so that you never lose your place in a recipe again.

The device turns just about anyone into a capable of chef. Simply select a recipe from the Drop app and follow the instructions. The Drop Scale will tell you how much of a certain ingredient to add, will weigh that ingredient, and offer substitutions if you’re missing something. The coolest feature of the Drop Scale is that it will adjust recipes on the fly. For instance, if you want to make a recipe that calls for six cups of flour, but you only have four, the scale will automatically adjust the other ingredients so you have the right proportions. Read our full review.

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Amazon Drop

Amazon Echo ($180)

echo-kitchen

The Amazon Echo is capable of doing thousands of tasks thanks to its smart assistant, Alexa, so it isn’t too surprising that many home cooks use the device in the kitchen. While the Echo can’t dice up vegetables or stir ingredients, Alexa has access an incredible amount of information. Not sure how to convert cups to ounces? Alexa has you covered. Need to set a timer? Just ask.

Alexa hasn’t quite conquered the cooking world just yet — its recipe selection is still limited —  but you’ll soon be able to control smart gadgets like ChefSteps’ Joule sous vide appliance with Amazon’s voice assistant. Of course, if your meal turns out to be inedible, you can always use Alexa to order a pizza.

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Amazon

OneCook ($100)

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Hello Egg, Amazon Echo, and the Drop Connected Scale may provide some assistance in the kitchen, but they certainly don’t eliminate all the work. That’s where TNL’s OneCook is different. Just about the only thing you have to do with the OneCook is decide what you want to eat. After ordering your meal from the OneCook app, you’ll receive a box of ingredients. Simply place the ingredients in the appropriate compartments, and let the OneCook take care of the rest.

The forthcoming device is a cooking robot that combines, heats, and stirs ingredients until they’re ready for consumption. You can cook pre-measured meals with the OneCook app or select a recipe and add the ingredients yourself. This cooking gadget may bring us one step closer to a Jetsons-like future, but it still has its limitations. For one, while the device is capable of boiling, steaming, and sauteing, it isn’t big enough to flip a steak or bake a turkey.

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Kickstarter

Souschef

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Souschef is another product that isn’t quite ready for your home kitchen. Still, it shows what a digital sous chef may look like in the near future. The device is a combination of a cutting board, digital scale, recipe book, and a spice cabinet. The large wooden surface provides ample room for chopping vegetables, and, with a push of a button, it can transform into a digital scale. The most innovative aspect of this smart kitchen appliance, however, is that it provides dry ingredients on demand. The Souschef has room to store up to eight dry ingredients.

If you’re working your way through a recipe that calls for a tablespoon of salt, for instance, the Souschef will automatically measure out the salt and dump it into a little cup for you to use. An early prototype of the device made it to the finals of the James Dyson Awards, but the company has struggled to find financing. It’s unclear when, or if, the Souschef will find its way to your kitchen.

Souschef