This intelligent cooking set includes an induction burner that wirelessly communicates with specialized cookware, promising that you'll “cook better food, more often.” Does it live up to that promise?
Published Sept. 1, 2018.
Hestan has made a few changes to this product since we tested, including making the cookware dishwasher-safe by changing the way the electronics are embedded in the pans. We will test the new version in the coming months and update this review.
In the future of home cooking, you won't have to worry about getting the temperature of your burner just right or setting a timer—your cookware will automatically do it for you. At least this is the idea behind the Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System, which is composed of three Bluetooth-enabled items: a 1,600-watt induction burner; an 11-inch tri-ply skillet; and a 5.5-quart saucier pan with lid. All three are connected to an app that has step-by-step recipes peppered with photos and short explanatory videos. As you make these recipes, the app automatically controls the burner's heat based on temperature sensors in the pan and burner. At the time of this writing, there are upwards of 100 recipes, but as with all “smart,” connected products, updates and additional recipes are forthcoming. You can also use the Hestan Cue to cook manually, without the app, by adjusting the heat of the burner (which is compatible with other induction cookware) using a swipe-style control panel set into its rim.
So can this smart cooking system really help you navigate meal preparation and make it easier? To find out, we purchased each component (the skillet and burner are bundled as a set for about $500.00; the saucier pan is sold separately for about $300.00), downloaded the free app onto a smartphone (and a tablet), and followed the step-by-step instructions to prepare a variety of recipes. In the skillet, we pan-seared chicken breasts and prepared tomato-balsamic vinaigrette, fried breaded eggplant slices and made a thick marinara to top them, and finished by making salted almond brittle for dessert. We tried three additional recipes in the pot: cacio e pepe, chicken noodle soup, and fried chicken wings. During our testing, Hestan (a Napa Valley–based company that bears no relation to the famous chef Heston Blumenthal) announced that it had partnered with ChefSteps, the maker of our favorite sous vide immersion circulator, so we fired up the app to try a recipe for New York strip steak that started using sous vide (in a separate container) and finished in the skillet. We also tested the skillet and burner without the app, manually cooking fried and scrambled eggs.
All the food we prepared looked and tasted fresh and flavorful (recipes tended to call for generous quantities of fat and salt), and we liked that the step-by-step videos often included widely applicable techniques, such as prepping garlic or herbs. However, using the Hestan Cue didn't always feel like we were learning to cook: One tester turned out perfect corn pancakes but said she didn't feel that she had personally cooked them, a common remark from te...
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Lisa is an executive editor for ATK Reviews, cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube, and gadget expert on TV's America's Test Kitchen.