The Best Smart Cookers and Instant Pots to Buy Right Now

Don't fear our robot overlords. Some of them are good cooks.

Eating at home is easier when the machines do the cooking.

I love a home cooked meal. A dirty kitchen after two hours of prep, though? Not so much. Fortunately, we live in an era where smart cooking robots are readily available. Maybe they don’t wear an apron and hold a spatula while they do it. But they do an excellent job. And most of them are tidy, inexpensive, and do things to your food you just can’t accomplish on your own. I say, “Bring on the cooking robots!” (And I say this from my comfy spot on the couch, fork and wine glass in hand.)

The Instant Pot

This machine will get dinner ready while you chill
This machine will get dinner ready while you chill

At my house, we live a totally Jetson’s life since we got this thing. We arrive at home, hungry. He drops a pork shoulder and a jar of our favorite salsa in the One Pot and pushes some buttons. I make cocktails. We both kick back, have a drink, and pet the cat. Twenty minutes later, dinner is ready. A similar scene plays out with risotto, whole chicken, chili, and many other delicious meals on other nights of the week. It’s – I’m serious – easier than eating out.

Anova Souse Vide

The Anova Souse Vide is a pro-level cooking assistant
The Anova Souse Vide is a pro-level cooking assistant

We put the Anova Souse Vide to the ultimate test. We threw two dinner parties, each with the same guests. At the first party, we served Prime Rib, roasted in the oven. This fine cut of grass-fed beef set us back nearly $150 and had to be timed perfectly. The meal was fantastic.

For the next party, we cheaped out and got a rump roast ($45). This time, we cooked it for many hours in the controlled water bath of the Anova Souse Vide (the meat is sealed in a plastic bag for this). Then we roasted it for a few minutes in a hot oven. No one could tell the difference between the two meals. But the Souse Vide meal cost us a fraction of the money and was much easier to cook. The Souse Vide holds the meat at the perfect temperature for a long time, improving the meat as it does it. So we took the meat out of the Souse Vide and put it in the oven when it suited us.

Cuisinart Programmable Slow Cooker

A slow cooker that preps dinner while you are out
A slow cooker that preps dinner while you are out

Making coffee and dinner at the same time takes some getting used to. But after you come home to cooked meal, you’ll get up to speed. This Cuisinart lets you brown meats and saute vegetables right in the slow cooker, so you don’t dirty any pans. Even better, though, it will stop cooking at the time you tell it, and keep the food warm, so even if your plans change, dinner will be fine.

Blendtec Total Classic Original Blender with FourSide Jar

A powerful blender is necessary
A powerful blender is necessary 

Throw greens, frozen fruit, and juice in here. Hit the “Smoothie” button. Sip. Everyone covets the Vitamix blender. I prefer the Blendtec. It’s prettier, cheaper, and smarter. Toss that weak-ass blender you have and get something that can handle everything you want to pulverize.