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The Instant Pot stands as one of the most revolutionary kitchen devices in recent memory. In fact, we even named the 2010-released smart cooker one of the most decade-defining tech products of the 2010s.
With over 10 years passing since its initial release, a few smart cooker competitors have launched. Shoppers say one of the newest and most technologically advanced smart cookers, the Chef iQ, has the Instant Pot beat — and, after trying it myself, I’d have to agree.
I had my Instant Pot Duo for at least three years now, and it was, by far, my favorite and most-used kitchen gadget. As a Caribbean home cook and an occasional guilt-free meat-eater, I often relied on my smart cooker to speed up the cooking process while preparing tougher meats that require more time to tenderize. The meats I made the most were oxtails, goat and even turkey wings and legs. Also, I often used my Instant Pot to soften dried split peas and lentils for soup and sauce-based dishes as it took half the time to cook versus on the stovetop.
While the Instant Pot was definitely my kitchen gem, there were a few features I didn’t enjoy and some that I honestly didn’t bother utilizing at all. For instance, pressure cooking — the feature I most used — I always dreaded toggling the lid switch to release the pressure as it can be a bit of a burning hazard if you’re not careful.
So when entertaining the idea of exploring another smart cooker option that releases steam, hands-free, and features over 300 smart cooking presents, I figured, “Why not?” And, in the end, I ended up donating my Instant Pot to a friend and using the Chef iQ as my primary smart cooker of choice.
What is the Chef iQ, and how is it more advanced than the Instant Pot?
So, here’s the deal. Like the Instant Pot, the Chef iQ smart cooker is a genius multi-purpose countertop kitchen gadget that’s perfect for preparing one-pot meals in small-to-large portions. While both products are similar in design and function, I’ve found through using both devices that the Chef iQ has more features that put it ahead of the Instant Pot.
Firstly, one of the key components making the Chef iQ a joy to use is its complimentary app – that actually works! So many other smart home devices feature messy, unintuitive and unnecessary app integration, while the Chef iQ app actually elevates and simplifies the cooking process.
In addition to providing hundreds of free recipes and tutorials, the Chef iQ app actually guides you throughout the cooking process, if you choose. This feature, called Guided Cooking, comprised of how-to videos and step-by-step directions that appear on both the app and device’s screen, ensure that nothing is overdone or undercooked.
Also, with the app, the device only gets smarter each time you use it, thanks to firmware updates pushed through the app.
Another feature that puts the Chef iQ ahead of the Instant Pot is its hands-free auto pressure release function. If you use your smart cooker for all your pressure cooking needs, this function may be your favorite, by far. Here’s what I noticed: Just as the cooking time has elapsed (which you can follow on the app or on the device’s screen), the pressure nozzle at the top of the lid automatically switches from “sealed” to “venting.” This completely eliminates the need for you physically touching the device and potentially getting burned.
Also, you can choose to have the steam release quickly, naturally or in pulses.
The Chef iQ also has a built-in scale and several safety features to ensure that your cooking experience is as safe as possible. Also, it’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled, with over 300 presets stored on the device and over 1,000 presets built into the Cooking Calculator in the Chef iQ app. This last feature comes in handy – just input your ingredient, and the app will provide the exact cooking time and temperature setting you need — no guessing!
My experience using the Chef iQ smart cooker?
For my first time using the Chef iQ smart cooker, I decided to put its pressure cooking skills to the test with some turkey wings and drums.
Anyone who’s prepared dark meat turkey pieces bone-in knows that they take a while to cook. Because of this, most people choose to braise them low and slow in the oven or on the stovetop. Since I wanted to see if the Chef iQ lived up to its shining reputation (and because I was a bit impatient), I browned the meat directly in the smart cooker with my personal blend of spices and topped it off with a bit of chicken stock.
Once the meat reached the depth of color I wanted, I tossed in a couple of thyme sprigs and a Scotch Bonnet pepper in there for flavor (my Caribbean folks know the drill) before popping the lid on. After locking the lid into place, I set the nozzle at the top to the “sealed” position and pressed the “pressure Cook” option on the Chef iQ control panel.
From this screen, using the dial, I selected my cook time, pressure level, adjusted the “keep warm” setting and chose my preferred pressure release method — that’s it!
After pressing start, I let the smart cooker do its thing, and I followed the cooking time progress from the app on my phone from my couch. Once completed, the steam released on its own, and I opened the lid (after the smart cooker instructed me to) to see perfectly tender turkey wings and drums.
What do reviewers think of the Chef iQ smart cooker?
Boasting an overall customer rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon and the coveted “Amazon’s Choice” label, the Chef iQ smart cooker is already a star kitchen product. In fact, one shopper confidently said it “wins out over the Instant Pot.”
After buying this gadget over the holiday season, one reviewer said she instantly loved it because of its stunning matte black finish, its easy to use and easy to clean functions and its guided cooking feature.
“My food actually looks like the recipe picture!” the shopper wrote. “The smart features are a major plus [and] the ability to check on this cooker through my app wherever I am in the house is really convenient, so I can be more present and worry less about burning or undercooking dinner.”
Shoppers who find cooking to be a bit of a challenge also love the Chef iQ, with one gushing that it “cooks food perfectly even if you’re not a chef or a ‘foody person.'”
“I sautéed some meat with mushrooms, onions and celery, then poured some chicken stock into the mixture, added rice and pressed the pressure cooker rice function,” the reviewer said. “And boom! A meal that was amazing!”
The same reviewer pointed out, though, that he found it a bit of a pain to update the firmware via Wi-Fi connection and had to try a few times before it was successful. However, he added that “Besides that, everything is great with this product.”
My final thoughts
As a former dedicated Instant Pot user, I can confidently say that the device will always be the OG in the smart cooker space. It gets the job done and is pretty affordable — and those are two elements that home cooks, especially, value.
However, after using the Chef iQ, I learned that there are so many more possibilities in “smart cooking,” and each function can actually serve a real purpose. There’s no fluff here, which I love, especially as a home cook with limited counter space. Everything I use must serve a purpose and should make the process as stress-free as possible. I’ve found that the Chef iQ checked all of these boxes — and then some.
So, if you’re on the hunt for one smart kitchen gadget that truly encompasses the “all-in-one” verbiage that so many other devices fail to live up to, I can confidently say that the Chef iQ will not disappoint.
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