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For students and those with hectic schedules, maintaining a balanced diet is a huge challenge. Choices can be limited, and the quickest meals are often pricey or nutrient-poor. Those who live alone and choose to cook at home also shoulder the cost of purchasing cookware and small appliances on their own.
Bonbowl wants to change that. The induction cookware is a straightforward, all-in-one system for cooking on a small scale. When I was a college student living on a tight budget, I would have loved a tool like this—but is it as good as it seems? I got my hands on a Bonbowl and ran it through some micro-cooking tests to find out.
What’s a Bonbowl?
The Bonbowl ($149) is a lightweight, compact piece of cookware that uses induction technology to boil, pan-fry, and sauté in a cooking bowl that doubles as a serving bowl. The bowl can hold up to 550 grams, which is equivalent to about two cups of water. The size of the bowl is suitable for one person, but you can buy a pack of two additional bowls for $40.
There are three heat settings: High (H) for quickly heating up foods and boiling water, Medium (M) for less rapid cooking, and Low (L) for slow heating, typically used for reheating leftover foods.
How does the Bonbowl work?
As someone who’s familiar with induction multicookers, I found cooking with the Bonbowl to be a breeze. You just fit the cooking bowl on the induction rod to stabilize the bowl, add ingredients, set the heat (Low, Medium, or High) and cooking time, and then hit Start.
The Bonbowl comes with a recipe guide that gives you instructions for many easy meals, as well as a list of Trader Joe’s-compatible recipes on Bonbowl’s website. If you’re not following a recipe, keep in mind that the Bonbowl will automatically shuts off after 10 minutes of heating.
If you’re cooking foods at different heat levels over time, you can switch the settings without interrupting cooking by selecting the options on the pad on the base plate. I found the pad to be responsive and intuitive.
I cooked some quick meals in the Bonbowl—here’s what happened
To test out Bonbowl’s ability to quickly whip up breakfast, lunch, and dinner for myself, I used it to fry eggs, make instant ramen, and reheat leftovers.
In the frying test, I made a fried egg with a splash of oil. Within less than a minute of setting the heat to High, the fried egg was cooked and came out cleanly, thanks to the Bonbowl’s PFOA-free nonstick cooking surface.
Later that day, I was impressed by how quickly it brought water to a boil for my ramen fix, thanks to its induction heating plate. For pasta lovers, the Bonbowl comes with a lid that doubles as a strainer, which makes draining excess pasta water easy. The lid can also speed up the heating process for boiling water or cooking rice.
I’ve also found Bonbowl to be a better way of reheating leftovers than my old, beat-up microwave. The Bonbowl heats up food the way you might in a pot on the stovetop. Additionally, it requires zero hand-washing, as the cooking bowl is dishwasher-safe.
My only problem with the Bonbowl? The cooking bowl isn’t big enough to fit my favorite Shin instant ramen without breaking the uncooked noodles apart.
Is Bonbowl safe for college dorms?
According to Bonbowl’s founder Mike Kobida, the induction hot plate is safe to use in dorm rooms.
Typically, school dorms have a 1000W limit per appliance, and Bonbowl requires 500W to operate. There’s a built-in timer that automatically shuts off after 10 minutes of heating, and it doesn’t have an exposed heating element as some hot plates do. The cooking bowl is also insulated, which retains the heat in the bowl—when I accidentally touched the side of the bowl during cooking, it didn’t burn my fingers.
Is a Bonbowl right for you?
If you’re a student or someone with limited time (and space) in the kitchen, the Bonbowl might be the right kitchen tool for you. For $129, the Bonbowl can replace pots and pans for anyone who doesn't do a ton of cooking—all you need is an electrical cord. It certainly can't do everything, but it can achieve the basics like frying eggs and rice, boiling water, and making mini stir-fry dinners without a stove or additional heating element.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.