I’ve owned an Amazon Echo since December 2015. For almost three years, that little black smart speaker has changed the way I live in my apartment.
But while the Echo has tons of features and skills for all types of needs and situations, I’d argue that Amazon’s line of smart speakers are actually best used in the kitchen.
Whether you treat meals like business or you love cooking, here are five ways the Amazon Echo can make cooking better, easier, and more fun:
1. Amazon Echo can actually suggest recipes! Just say “What should I cook tonight?” or “What should I make with [insert your favourite foods here]?
If I say “What should I cook tonight?”, Echo will start listing off names of dishes you can make. You can say “learn more” to get the full recipe, or say “next” to get another suggestion of what to cook.
In the past, Alexa has recommended all sorts of interesting dishes, including caramel corn, ham and potato soup, Dad’s leftover turkey pot pie, sugarcoated pecans, scones, and more.
But if you have specific ingredients you want to cook with – like chicken, or potatoes – Alexa can offer specific “top” recipes with those ingredients. And you can also ask to get recipes that use multiple ingredients: If you want to cook with both chicken and ground beef, for example, just say, “Alexa, what should I cook with chicken and ground beef?” and your Echo might recommend a recipe for an Italian wedding soup.
2. Setting multiple timers and forgetting about them is the best.
If you’re ever wondering how much time you have left, just say “Alexa, how much time is left on my timers?” and it will tell you the time that’s left on all your various timers.
What makes setting timers superior on the Echo is that you can name them, which is incredibly helpful when you’re multitasking – and in the kitchen, that’s often the case.
For example, you can set different timers for foods that are cooking at different speeds: Just say “Alexa, set a broccoli timer for 10 minutes” and “Alexa, set a chicken timer for 25 minutes.” When those timers go off, Alexa will say “your chicken timer is done” and “your broccoli timer is done.” Being able to set and name your timers, all hands-free, makes it much easier to keep track of everything you’re cooking.
3. Amazon Echo can also manage your shopping list.
Did you just run out of garlic? Maybe you need more butter? Just say, “Alexa, add [insert food here] to the shopping list” and Echo will add that item to your shopping list, which you can access in the Alexa app on your phone.
4. You can’t cook without some tunes in the background — and the Echo is perfect for playing music hands-free.
People get into arguments about the sound quality of the Echo all the time.
As someone who’s owned an Echo for almost three years, and as someone who regularly reviews high-end audio equipment as part of my job, let me tell you: The audio on the Echo is perfectly fine, and more importantly, can get much louder than your sizzling pans or stove hood fans.
You might find better-sounding Bluetooth speakers out there, but Echo’s ease of use, and the fact that you can change songs on the fly and all hands-free, is what puts the Echo over the top for me – especially when you’re in the kitchen. If you’re washing dishes, or prepping ingredients, or cooking, it’s incredibly annoying to repeatedly wash your hands just so you can change the song playing from your phone. The Echo can connect to Amazon Music or your Spotify account, and playing music or changing songs is quick and effortless.
5. Maybe your dinner just went bust. Don’t sweat it: Amazon Echo can recommend good restaurants nearby.
This is just scratching the surface.
The Amazon Echo has a ton of built-in smarts that are perfect for the kitchen – like if you ever need to convert units of measurement, you don’t have to look at a chart; you can just ask Alexa. But if you visit the “Skills & Games” section of the Alexa app, you’ll find thousands of available skills that can add new abilities to your Echo – and there’s an entire section dedicated to “Food & Drink.”
There, you’ll find hundreds of apps – over 800 of them in the Food & Drink category, as of July 2018 – that can help you learn more about foods, spirits like wine and tequila, or get easy meal ideas.