This sleek infusion machine is perfect for culinary experiments
But be prepared for a lot of trial and error.
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I’ll admit it: I take extreme joy in collecting quirky kitchen gadgets. Much to my boyfriend’s dismay, I regularly bring home items like rotisserie carousels and specialty waffle makers, so it should come as no surprise that I am the proud owner of the original Levo oil infuser.
However, I recently learned that the brand released a new version of its infuser, the Levo II, which boasts a variety of cool features, including herb-drying cycles and smartphone controls. Needless to say, I wanted to test it out for myself, so I got my hands on it and dove right into the world of culinary infusions.
What is the Levo II, exactly?
The Levo II, which costs $249 and comes in five colors, is an infusion machine that you can use to make both culinary ingredients and wellness products. If you’ve ever created an infusion manually, you know the process is fairly tedious and can get messy, but the Levo makes it incredibly easy and hands-off. Using the machine, you can precisely infuse herbs (and other ingredients) into oil, butter, and more, with no solvents, additives, or emulsifiers necessary.
There are a few key differences between the original Levo I, available for $129 in three colors, and the new model. The Levo II includes two new settings: Dry and Activate. The Dry setting is meant to help dry fresh herbs, while the Activate setting is targeted at people looking to cook with marijuana. (If you’re not familiar with the process, flower needs to be decarboxylated or "activated" before being infused into butter or oil. LEVO offers an in-depth explanation of this process, if you're interested in the science behind it.)
Additionally, the Levo II can be connected to your smartphone, which allows you to control it and monitor its progress remotely. The Levo app also tracks your infusion history, offers a calculator to help you set infusion times, and contains a collection of recipes for you to try.
How does it work?
As mentioned, the Levo II makes infusions incredibly easy. To start, you place whichever ingredient you want to infuse—things like basil, thyme, garlic, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon, and for those so inclined, weed—into the unit’s metal “Power Pod,” which attaches magnetically to the side of the unit’s reservoir. There’s also a magnetic silicone stirrer that you place in the bottom of the reservoir.
Next, you add the ingredient you want to use as a base—the reservoir can hold up to 19 ounces or around 2⅓ cups at a time. Butter and cooking oils are the most popular choices, but you can also create infusions with MCT, glycerine, and honey. (If you’re into making your own personal care products, you can use infused glycerine in soap or even hand sanitizer!)
From here, it’s just a matter of selecting the time and temperature for your infusion. The ideal settings will vary depending on your ingredients, which is why Levo has an easy-to-use calculator to help you program the machine.
That’s really all it takes to start making your very own infusions! The Levo II will maintain a precise temperature so it doesn't burn your ingredients, and you can monitor its progress via the unit's control panel or the Levo app. When your infusion is done, you simply dispense the liquid out of the machine, and then empty the Power Pod into the trash—no straining necessary.
Here’s everything we made using the Levo II
As I mentioned, I actually own an original Levo, but I haven’t used it in a while, so I was excited to get back into the infusion game by testing out the Levo II. Historically, I’ve used the infuser to create simple things like garlic butter, so I wanted to try out a few more complicated recipes this time around, as well as the new Dry cycle.
The first thing I decided to make was Cinna-Honey Butter, a recipe that I found on the Levo website. As someone who loves fall, the combination of cinnamon and honey really spoke to me, and the recipe seemed straightforward enough. All you have to do is infuse cinnamon sticks into butter, then mix the final infusion with honey (according to their directions, at least).
Unfortunately, these instructions weren’t entirely accurate. You see, if you simply pour melted butter into honey, the two ingredients are going to separate, even if you do your best to mix them up. I ended up researching a different honey butter recipe online, which explains that the butter needs to be solid. You can then cream the two ingredients together.
Once I finally got the honey and butter to live together in harmony, the final product was delicious. It reminds me quite a bit of monkey bread, thanks to its delightful buttery cinnamon flavor, and I’ve been spreading it on English muffins every morning.
Spice-infused pumpkin bread
Having learned my lesson about recipes on the Levo website, I decided to freestyle my next infusion. As I mentioned, I’m a sucker for all things fall, and as soon as there was a slight hint of chill in the New England air, I started craving pumpkin bread.
To make my spice-infused bread, I filled the Power Pod with a mixture of cinnamon sticks, chopped nutmeg, and whole cloves, which I infused into butter. When it came out of the Levo, it truly smelled like autumn in a jar. I used the infused butter to make the top-rated Pumpkin Bread recipe from Once Upon a Chef.
Let me tell you: The batter for this pumpkin bread tasted downright amazing. Unfortunately, some of the spice flavor was lost during baking. Don’t get me wrong: The bread was still good, but it doesn’t taste any better than if you'd just prepared it the normal way.
If anything, the pumpkin bread had a more distinctly orange color, as opposed to the speckled brown you’d expect. This is probably because it didn’t have any ground spices in it—the spiced flavor came from the butter—and it got me thinking that the Levo would be useful for creating something like a pure white spice cake while still using real spices.
Finally, I wanted to try the new Dry setting on the Levo II, so I decided to make Honey Ginger Lemonade, another Levo recipe. Honestly, the recipe is quite poorly written and confusing, so I mainly used it as a general guideline.
To start, I peeled and chopped some fresh ginger, which I loaded into the Power Pod. I couldn’t find any information on how to prep ingredients for the drying cycle—should they be sliced? Roughly chopped? Minced?—so I chose uniform slices and hoped for the best. The Dry cycle on the Levo II automatically defaults to three hours at 115°F. After this time, the ginger was drier but definitely not completely dehydrated. I decided to just roll with it, because I didn’t want to wait several more hours, but in the future, I’ll definitely cut ingredients into smaller pieces to hopefully encourage complete drying.
Next, I added the semi-dried ginger to the Power Pod with 3/4 cup of honey, and I ran the infusion cycle for an hour at 105°F. Levo explains that infusing honey is tricky because it’s fairly thick and can burn, so it’s better to keep the temperature low for a longer infusion time. I didn’t have any problems dispensing the honey from the reservoir—it came out slower than other liquids—but I didn’t think it had much of a gingery taste. Whether this was because the ginger didn’t dry or I needed a longer infusion cycle, I’m not sure.
Determined to make the best of a less-than-ideal outcome, I whipped up some lemonade using freshly squeezed lemon juice, the ginger honey, and water. It was good, but definitely not worth the hours of labor that went into the recipe.
Everything we liked… and a few things we didn’t
After making these recipes, there were a lot of things I liked about the Levo II compared to its predecessor, but there are also a few areas I think could improve.
The Levo II is great because:
- It’s quick and easy to program.
- It comes with a large "Power Pod," which was sold separately for the Levo I.
- It’s quiet during operation.
- The new cycle options make it more versatile.
- Its components are dishwasher-safe.
- The app contains useful information.
- The overall design is sleek and looks good on the counter.
Here are the aspects I wasn’t sold on:
- The time and temperature buttons make an annoying chime noise.
- A lot of the recipes on the Levo website are inaccurate, and there aren’t many alternative recipes online.
- There isn’t a lot of information available on how to use the machine to its fullest potential.
- The app doesn’t work well to control the device—the machine wouldn’t start the one time I tried to program it remotely.
- I had problems creating an account on the app.
Is the Levo II worth it?
Overall, I really liked the Levo II and was impressed by both performance and aesthetic. I have a mental list of other “experiments” I’d like to try, including making homemade hand sanitizer and a white spice cake.
That said, is the Levo II a must-have kitchen appliance? No. Not only is this gadget pricey, but it’s fairly niche in its appeal. If you like creating homemade infusions, such as flavored butter or oil, this machine would be a worthwhile investment for you. Alternatively, if you're looking to streamline the process of cooking or baking with THC, the Levo II seems like it would be a good purchase.
However, for your average home chef, this appliance may not get a whole lot of use. I think this is especially true since, in my opinion, the brand hasn’t put enough time into creating resources for general culinary use. I’d like to see a lot more non-cannibis recipes, as well as more in-depth instructions and guides for its various settings. Because these two things are lacking, you’ll probably rely quite a bit on trial and error—which can definitely be fun, but isn’t necessarily something everyone wants to do.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.