During the various lockdowns of the past 3 years, interest in homewares and particularly kitchen appliances has rocketed. The most popular lockdown homewares purchases in the USA, for instance, were air fryers – of course – juicers and Sodastream-style fizzy drink makers. If you've discovered or rediscovered your love for home-cooked food in this period, you may now want to step it up to the next level. These powerful kitchen upgrades will all be on sale in 2022, with 2 of them available now. Their combination of innovation, versatility, usefulness and high-tone swankiness are hard to resist, if you ask me.
Haier Series 6 Chef@Home oven
Haier has been trying to find ways to make its H.On – H(aier) On; get it?! – connected kitchen products truly useful in recent years. That's included innovations such as a fridge that knows from your phone that you are on your way home from the supermarket, so it lowers its temperature ready for you to open the door and stash your new food purchases.
This year, it's taking things to the next level with this Series 6 Chef@Home oven. Modern ovens at the more expensive end of the scale feature touchscreen controls instead of knobs and buttons. That looks great but can make them hard to control. Haier wants to overcome this in several ways.
First there is a HUGE touchscreen instead of a small touch panel – it takes up the entire front of the oven, as you can see. Then there's a built-in mic, so you can control key settings via Alexa.
Most significantly, there is also a camera built into the cavity itself. This isn't just to monitor the rise of your latest sourdough loaf or batch of cupcakes, although it can do that as well. Haier intends to use the camera and advanced AI to actually recognise what you are putting in the oven and cook it according to its database of cooking settings and recipes. This can be further refined by selecting options such as cooking meat rare, medium rare, medium or well done. The next time you cook a similar joint of meat, the oven will know what your preference is and adjust without needing to be told.
- Find out more about H.On. Haier Series 6 Chef@Home oven will be out later in 2022, price TBC
NEFF I88WMM1S7 N 90 Glass Draft downdraft hood
A massive trend in kitchens right now is extraction done at worktop level rather than from above. Usually this involves recirculating the air, since it involves sucking it into a unit below the hob, although if your kitchen layout is right, air can also be extracted instead. It also usually involves pulling the steam, smoke, particles and smells through a grate in the hob itself. NEFF's I88WMM1S7 N 90 is different. It can be added to any island or worktop and comprises a stylish glass 'hood' that rises out from behind your hob at the touch of a button.
Turning your cooking into a piece of theatre, the hood includes LED lighting with 25 million colour options, available via a smartphone app. That's great if you're entertaining, but it also helps make even the most mundane evening meal more fun.
Maximum air extraction is 775 m³/h and even in Boost mode, the I88WMM1S7 N 90 is surprisingly quiet – just 70dB. In non-boost mode it tops out at an even quieter 65dB. The steel grease filter can easily be popped out for cleaning in the dishwasher. A 'Filter Saturation Indicator' actually tells you when to do this!
Ninja SmartLid Multi-Cookers
There's no doubt that the biggest kitchen success stories of recent years have been pressure cookers with various other functions packed in – Instant Pot being the best known – and air fryers. There have been a few small appliances that combine the two, but they've required you to keep two lids at the ready – one for pressure and multi-cooking and one for air frying duties. Ninja Foodi SmartLid cookers, by comparison have just one lid, which houses a heating element and fan for air frying, baking and roasting and is a sealed pressure cooker lid. It's a real game changer.
As we said in our Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 SmartLid Multi-Cooker OL550UK review, this miracle pot has most of what any aspiring chef wants – it's currently one of the biggest sellers at Amazon. However, if you really want to step it up, the Ninja Foodi MAX 15-in-1 SmartLid Multi-Cooker OL750UK adds even more cooking functions and a temperature probe. This monitors the internal temperature of anything you cook – cakes and meats are the most obvious uses – and shuts off when your meal is perfectly done to your liking.
As the names suggest, these SmartLid pots are not just Instant Pot-style pressure cookers and with an air fryer thrown in. You can do everything from baking to grilling, searing and roasting. This is a device that could easily replace your oven on hob for most purposes.