The 6 biggest kitchen tech trends to watch in 2020
From vegan meat to smart thermometers, here's what's coming.
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While it can be challenging for even the most knowledgeable tech experts to predict what products are going to take off any given year, looking at the trends coming out of CES is a good place for anyone to start. The massive tech conference in Las Vegas hosts the latest and greatest in laptops, smart home products, and even kitchen devices each year, and 2020’s show didn’t disappoint.
Although a few major kitchen brands like Breville and KitchenAid were notably missing from this year’s CES, we still saw a slew of innovative and useful products that will be finding their way into homes this year, including our CES Editors' Choice winners. Here are six major trends from the show that will be shaping the kitchen of 2020.
1. Sustainable eating
Not all the products to come out of CES are consumer gadgets designed for kicks—some actually aim to target global issues like climate change and shrinking biodiversity. We noticed multiple food and kitchen brands at this year’s show face these threats head-on with sustainable eating solutions, which will only become more popular.
Impossible Pork, an entirely plant-based substitute for the most popular meat worldwide, is a prime example. Vegan, kosher, halal, and made of the same soy proteins and “bleeding” heme found in the Impossible Burger, Impossible Pork tastes remarkably like the real thing—and it demonstrates a real achievement toward preserving biodiversity and reducing the environmental footprint of animal agriculture. If you can’t wait until it’s sold in grocery stores, you’ll find it available in a sausage croissant breakfast sandwich at Burger King later this year.
GE also announced HomeGrown, a kitchen-based gardening system designed to maximize energy and water efficiency and reduce food waste. Water, nutrient and even light delivery is controlled through the company’s user interface, which also guides the user through seeding, harvesting and even preparing crops. It might sound like some kitchen-of-the-future technology that you’d see in a sci-fi movie, but it’s a real product that speaks to a big trend in sustainability.
2. Cooking with steam
Countertop smart ovens had a really big year in 2019, and things don’t look to be slowing down in 2020. But one long-forgotten cooking method is getting reincorporated into some of these new devices: steam. Brands like Anova have finally recognized the power of steam for precise temperature control, faster cooking speeds, and traditional baking techniques, all things that European chefs have understood for a long time.
Anova’s Precision Oven, launched at this year’s CES, is an attractive countertop appliance for the home chef without a degree from Le Cordon Bleu. Following Tovala, Anova is the second major brand to introduce a steam oven to the American market. While we don’t have a price just yet, we think it’s going to be competitive with Tovala’s $300 oven, and we expect steam to keep heating up the kitchen sphere this year.
3. Multicookers, multiplied
2019 was the year of the Instant Pot. Well, so was 2018. And 2017. The multicooking trend doesn’t show signs of stopping, as we saw at least a dozen different devices boasting their multifunctionality on the showroom floor. One of the most interesting was the Julia from CookingPal, a smart kitchen hub that can measure, chop, mix, blend, knead, steam, and cook your ingredients all with the same base.
The Julia is reminiscent of the popular European multicookers from Thermomix, as well as the KitchenAid Cook Processor Connect, which launched at least year’s CES. Is it too complicated and advanced for most kitchens? Probably. And for around $1,000, it’s a pretty hard sell—you could spend half the money on a good blender and an Instant Pot. But the fact that multicookers are still so popular means they’re only going to keep evolving and getting smarter in the coming years.
4. Smart connected everything
If you’re a smart home fan, you’re probably excited about how more and more devices in your kitchen are becoming smart-compatible. And if you’re not a fan, well, you’re out of luck—2020 will see even more interconnectivity between your kitchen appliances and the rest of your home. While we saw a lot of duds, one sincerely useful smart kitchen tool we found at this year’s CES is the Yummly Smart Thermometer.
Unlike most thermometers, Yummly’s new device uses dual temperature sensors to monitor food and oven temperatures simultaneously. It’s also completely wireless, can be remotely tracked via Bluetooth, and will even be able to adjust the temperature settings on compatible Whirlpool ovens by the end of 2020. Even if you don’t opt to pair the thermometer with a Whirlpool range, it can provide you with remote temperature monitoring you’d only get from investing in a smart oven.
We were also impressed by the GE Kitchen Hub, which first caught our eye at CES 2019 with its boldness—the over-the-range hood with a 27-inch tablet attached to it is anything but subtle. However, it’s obviousness disguised some pretty convenient technology, including a downward-facing camera that gives you a better look at what you’re cooking, a forward-facing camera for video chatting, and smart connectivity for streaming music, TV, and cooking videos.
This year’s updates to the Kitchen Hub include an entire microwave disguised behind the screen, and compatibility with a third camera built into certain GE oven models for food sensing and monitoring. The newest model still includes our favorite feature: a low-powered vent that prevents oily smoke from touching the pristine screen.
5. Ovens with air fryers
Love them or hate them, air fryers are going to continue to be wildly popular into 2020. But rather than the bulky black boxes that were first being introduced a couple of years ago, newer air fryers are sleek, subtle, and often directly integrated into existing appliances. We reviewed the first ovens with air fryers from Frigidaire in 2019, and this year’s CES saw brands like LG hopping on the trend and offering their own solutions to the air fry question.
The LG InstaView ThinQ Range with Air Fry incorporates LG’s smart compatibility and InstaView technology into a sophisticated true convection oven. The range syncs with LG’s ThinQ app and gives users access to thousands of recipes from their smart cooking partners such as SideChef, Innit and Tovala. While the “air fry” capability is little more than a branding term for existing convection technology, we expect to see even more brands incorporating air fry settings and terminology into their ranges and ovens.
6. Cocktails without the bartender
Digitizing the drink-making experience is a horrifying prospect for professional bartenders and cocktail aficionados, but for regular consumers, what’s so bad about a drink at the press of a button? Brands like Keurig and Bartesian seem to have had those consumers in mind when developing the latest cocktail gadgets to premiere at CES.
Bartesian has been around since 2014, and the latest version of their proprietary machine works with cocktail pods to make you drinks on demand. Simply add the spirits of your choice to the reservoir in advance, and Bartesian does the mixing and pouring. The Drinkworks Home Bar by Keurig, first launched in 2018, expands on the same technology from Bartesian but uses alcoholic pods, so you don’t have to add any of your own liquor. Yes, Keurig wants you to have a cocktail machine right next to your coffee machine—just don’t mix them up.