As technology advances, ovens, stovetops, pots and pans, and other kitchen appliances and gadgets are making it easier to whip together any recipe. One such system that promises to deliver perfectly cooked meals—even for those who don’t have much culinary experience—is the Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System. It comes in two different versions: a 2-piece set and a 6-piece set. The 2-piece set includes an induction burner and an 11-inch smart frying pan, while the 6-piece set also includes a 5.5-quart chef’s pot and a 3.5-quart sauce pot.
I love tech and I love cookware, so I was pretty excited when the 2-piece Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System arrived, complete with its induction burner and an 11-inch smart frying pan. I downloaded the app, perused recipes that used the pan, checked my pantry to see what I could make immediately, and compiled a shopping list for further testing. From breakfast to candy to supper, I let the app tell me what to do, and now I know exactly what the system is good for. Read on for my thoughts.
Design: Sleek and modern
The induction burner is rather minimalist, and aside from the power cord, it would make a good stand-in for a flying saucer in a sci-fi movie. The burner top is black, surrounded by a silver-colored ring. Below the ring is another black area with air vents. The controls are on the silver area. When unlit, there’s just a small circle, a long bar with rounded ends, and a small triangle. The round circle is the on/off button, the bar is the manual heat control, and the triangle is used when cooking with the app.
For a smart device, this was simple to set up.
The pan looks much like any other stainless steel frying pan, except for the plastic end on the long handle. That plastic piece unscrews and a single AAA battery (included with the pan) powers the pan’s smart functions. The other available cookware on the Hestan Cue site looks just as attractive.
Surprisingly, the cookware is dishwasher safe, with the caveat to make sure the end piece is tight to prevent water from seeping into the battery compartment. I opted to hand wash my pan, but I was pleased to know that I wasn’t going to damage anything by getting water on the handle.
Since some of the recipes ask how thick food is, this includes a small stainless steel ruler. It’s the most low-tech piece in the entire system.
Setup Process: Simple
For a smart device, this was simple to set up. When I plugged the burner in, I was able to manually control it right away, and when I installed the app it prompted me to set my cookware on the burner so it could be recognized. Connecting to my wifi was also simple, and then I was ready to start cooking.
Performance: Flawless grilled cheese
Smart appliances are slowly making their way into kitchens, from pressure cookers to countertop ovens. Now, there’s smart “stovetop” cooking with the Hestan Cue Cooking System. Although in this case, the stovetop is a single induction burner that pairs with smart cookware to create a smart…well, a smart system, since both components are required. There are currently four different pans available. I tested the 11-inch frying pan.
For some of the recipes, I could choose different numbers of servings, and of course, I could choose the doneness of things like steak, which I appreciated. I started with something simple that’s easy to do wrong—fried eggs. I typically don’t use stainless steel cookware to cook eggs because they tend to stick, so it almost seemed like an unfair test. The first step after putting the pan on the burner was to choose how well done I wanted my eggs.
Another part of the system is the app that includes step-by-step recipes. Some recipes require one specific pan while other recipes can work in two different pans. If a recipe is chosen and the wrong pan is on the burner, the recipe won’t continue. I found plenty of recipes for the pan I received, so I was ready to cook.
Next, the app walked me through each step of the recipe, setting the temperature, telling me when to add the butter, when to add the eggs, and when to flip them. The result was a well-cooked egg, the temperature I asked for, and just a little sticking in the pan. I followed up with a country omelet, which was also successful.
Then I found a French omelet that was listed under recipes for the nonstick pan. The system let me cook the recipe in my stainless steel pan, but it wasn’t quite as wonderful. While there currently aren’t a lot of recipes listed for the nonstick pan, I can’t argue that things like eggs would likely be easier in nonstick than plain stainless steel.
While I liked the recipes I tried and I’ve got more bookmarked, there were some that average cooks may never make. American Wagyu Prime Rib, for example, isn’t something that’s readily available at the grocery store. I’d be willing to give that one a try with a regular rib roast, though. Besides following complete recipes, there are “mix and match” recipes in the app that pair proteins with sauces, so the cook can choose flavors they like.
Another option in the app is “Control Mode,” which is different from manual control on the burner itself. Temperature can be set precisely or can be set using power mode, which just turns the heat up or down like stove controls. Then, the timer controls how long the heat stays on. When the time is up, the burner goes to a low temperature to keep food warm.
While I generally don’t have a clue what temperature a pan on a stove is, I do like the idea of controlling the temperature precisely for things like melting chocolate without burning it, or for making custard, pudding, or even yogurt.
Without ever measuring the temperature, I ended up with a perfect brittle. Wow.
When I wanted to cook some fajitas, I wasn’t sure how long I wanted to cook them, so I set the timer to one hour and then turned the burner off when I was done. While the timer is great when a recipe needs precise timing, it’s just as easy to bypass it.
Extra Features: Using the induction burner solo
If I’m being honest here, this entire system is a feature. Aside from the ruler, there’s nothing mundane about this burner or cookware. While the available smart pots and pans can’t be used on the stovetop or in the oven, the induction burner can be used with almost any cookware that’s induction compatible. I grabbed a few pieces of cookware and gave it a test.
While it certainly worked, I found that controlling the burner through the app was easier, but the app only works with the smart cookware. But still, if an extra burner is needed, it’s good to know that this induction burner can fill in, or it can keep the gravy warm on the buffet.
Heat is controlled by running a finger along the bar between the circle and the triangle, and lines light up on the bar to show how hot the burner is. While that’s a nice visual, there’s no suggestion of the actual temperature, much like turning the heat up or down on a stove.
Unfortunately, this burner shouldn’t be used with cast iron cookware, which can overheat, and it shouldn’t be used for deep frying. Also, the glass could crack from too much weight, so it shouldn’t be used with cookware (plus food) that weighs more than 16 pounds.
The Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System was ridiculously fun to use, every recipe I tried worked well, and it’s particularly great for cooking recipes that are temperature sensitive like candy, eggs, chocolate, or even homemade yogurt or cheese.
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