I've been doing a lot of things at home now that I'm here so much more often. I open the curtains every morning and just stare longingly out at the world. I talk to my mom and dad on the phone way more often; literally, I've never been so connected. And I've done So. Many. Home projects. I even painted my entryway on a whim (goodbye security deposit and hello gorgeous black door). The most surprising thing is, though, that I find myself cooking way more. I think everyone is since dining out just isn't the most viable option at the moment.
But the thing is, I am not a home cook or anything close to it. I microwave things so much that my nuker is smack dab in the middle of the living room. But when I got the opportunity to try a CHEF iQ Smart Cooker, I figured I could potentially change my ways.
This gadget is not your regular pressure cooker, though. It's high-tech. I'm talking a touch screen with a complimentary app that tells you new recipes and exactly how much water you need to boil for the perfect pasta because yes, you can boil pasta in a pressure cooker (did everyone but me know that?). In addition to that function, you can use the CHEF iQ as a slow cooker, a steamer, a fermenter, and a mini stovetop of sorts. There's a sauté and sear feature that feels next level even for a lazy meal-prepper like me. AND there are a bunch of cooking presets loaded directly into the device. It doesn't take long for the pressure to build and release, either, which I'm told is the norm (and potential con) for other brands like the Instant Pot. This actually cooks things super quickly.
But what do I really love about the CHEF iQ?
This gadget (which if I'm being honest also resides on the table in my living room) isn't confusing at all, despite the many tech features. You plug it in, you wash the removable pot (hopefully), you download the app and sync the pressure cooker to your phone. Then you're pretty good to start cooking. It might be a pain to add yet another program to your phone if you're short on space, but my parents still pay for my phone bill and storage plan. So no complaints on that.
Moreover, if you want to go off the rails, you can ignore the CHEF iQ's smarter features. When I wanted recipes that matched my level of laziness, I sourced a few from The Kitchn. Apart from having to chop onions and the like, it was such a breeze. I steamed rice in minutes and felt very impressed with myself for making carbonara and "cacio e pepe" pasta (from the app recipes).
I don't know if I was supposed to do this, but I was also able to open the device occasionally during cooking to stir things and add seasoning when I made a meatless bolognese. The ease of cleanup was probably my favorite part, though. It seems like the pot is nonstick, so nothing clings to the bottom or sides. I just had to be wary of using metal utensils that could potentially scratch the inner surface.
What did I not love so much?
I can't say there were many hiccups with the CHEF iQ Smart Cooker at all. But the first few times I used it, I did get alert messages saying that I needed to check the contents of the pot. I had to open the lid, wait for the steam to release, and then restart the pressure cooker feature. However, I think that was my fault for not adding enough water or liquid to whatever I was cooking (three different types of pasta, I'm talking about you). Once I realized I could up the fluid amount, though, I stopped getting alerts.
And will I continue using this kitchen (aka living room) gadget?
I totally will. Overall, I think the smart features are really fun. And if you're like me, they'll encourage you to cook more. The CHEF iQ handles all of the guesswork, making your job as a home chef way less complicated. I've never used any other pressure cookers, but this one makes me feel confident that I won't over or under cook anything. It even tells me, repeatedly, if I'm in danger of burning my moods, which is appreciated.
I do think it's worth mentioning the cost, too. One of these will run you $199.99 at Target. The price feels worth it if you're cooking a lot more now and/or you don't have access to a typical stovetop situation. I'd also recommend it for someone who needs a little extra push in the kitchen. I doubt using a basic pressure cooker or Instant Pot is this much fun.