Hestan Cue is a smart cooking system that uses modern technology to help novice cooks prepare foolproof gourmet meals (and more basic dishes, too). With precise temperature control and step-by-step instructions--including detailed videos--Hestan Cue makes cooking a no-brainer.
But who will use it? And is it worth the pretty penny they're asking for it? Find out everything you need to know to decide if the Hestan Cue smart cooking system is right or you.
What Is Hestan Cue?
Appliances keep getting smarter to help make your life easier and more fun. Hestan Cue is one of the smartest systems on the market today because with it, you can make complex gourmet dishes. And it really works.
Hestan Cue is a smart cooking system that uses a portable induction cooktop, "smart" cookware with temperature sensors (you put batteries in the handles), and a free app that controls everything through a WiFi connection. The components work together to allow you to create amazing dishes that would otherwise be beyond your expertise, as well as simple-yet-hard-to-execute dishes like omelets and perfectly seared steaks.
The magic is in the precise temperature control, which is nonexistent in most other kitchen technology: what's "low" heat? "medium" heat? "high" heat? It varies by cooktop, and the variation is built into the cooking process, so much so that you don't even think about it: cooks have to be hyper-vigilant to the heat source and how fast food is cooking to make sure it cooks correctly.
Hestan Cue eliminates those worries. The smart cooking system is in complete control of the temperature and constantly adjusts it so food cooks perfectly every time. As long as food is prepped per recipe instructions, all you have to do is follow the screen prompts to get ideal results.
Hestan Cue is even smart enough to know if you've stepped away from the cooktop, and will automatically lower the temp to "warm" until you're ready to move on to the next step.
You can also use the system with your own recipes, using the app and smart cookware for precise temperature control--so you aren't restricted to using the Hestan Cue recipes.
Finally, you can also use Hestan Cue as a regular induction burner with any induction-compatible cookware. If you don't use the app you have a standard option of 10 power settings (no precision temperature control).
Where Is Hestan Cue Made?
Hestan Culinary headquarters are located in Vallejo, California. In addition to the Hestan Cue, they make cookware, kitchen appliances, outdoor grills, and more. (The Hestan cookware is not the smart cookware used with Hestan Cue.)
The smart Hestan Cue cookware is made in Thailand. (Other Hestan cookware lines are made in Italy.)
The Hestan Cue induction cooktop is made in China.
How Hestan Cue Works
The three components of the Hestan Cue smart cooking system communicate with each other to adjust pan temperatures instantly and precisely and walk the user through the steps of making the dish.
The system is simple to use, although you have to be comfortable with technology and understand (or learn) basics like when to push the "next" arrow to keep moving through the recipe (probably the trickiest aspect of using the app). This can take some practice, and it is important to get right or the timing of the recipe will be off, meaning your food may not be cooked properly. However, Hestan Cue is forgiving, and it can lower the temperature if you fall behind or get distracted.
There are different schools of thought on how experienced a cook you need to be to use the Hestan Cue system successfully. Hestan contends that you can be a complete novice and still produce gourmet-quality dishes. Many users and reviewers say that it helps to have a basic understanding of cooking terminology and techniques.
We actually think that you need very little cooking experience to use the Hestan Cue successfully (and conversely, that Hestan's idiot-proof guide probably won't make you a better cook when not using the system). If you can read a recipe and watch a video, you can use this system. But you should like cooking and technology, or you probably won't enjoy using Hestan Cue.
Is the Hestan Cue System Easy to Use?
The app is thorough and easy to use. It begins with mise en place (a French term that translates as "everything in place" and pronounced "meez on ploss"): preparing all the ingredients and equipment before you start to cook.
The app also has videos of professional chefs (most of them Napa Valley chef Philip Tessier) that show exactly how to slice, chop, and prep everything ahead of time. And it is important to do this, because you won't have time once you start the actual cooking process.
It is also important that you use precise weights and measures of your ingredients. That is, you must do the prepping exactly as Hestan Cue tells you to, or the recipe may not turn out. This makes sense: cooking is controlled via the app and temperature sensors, so you have to start with ingredients that are weighed, cut, and measured as the recipe instructs.
(A good example of this is steak: the cooktop actually comes with a stainless steel ruler so you can measure the thickness of the steak and enter it into the app; thickness determines the times and temperatures the app uses.)
Fortunately, Hestan Cue provides videos of the prep work, so you don't have to guess, for example, how small to dice your onion and garlic. The videos show you exactly how to prep ingredients.
Once you have all the ingredients ready to go, you simply follow the steps in the recipe to create the dish. Instructions are detailed and pretty hard to screw up. Many steps are accompanied by short videos so you can see exactly what you have to do.
When you finish a step, the screen prompts you to go to the Next Step, so you are in complete control of the cooking process.
This can get a little complicated when you start the actual cooking. For example, you must remember to press "Next Step" as soon as you put the food in the pan, or the timing will be off, probably the most finicky aspect of using this device.
On the other hand, the app is forgiving. It knows, for example, if the pan time exceeds what the recipe calls for, and will automatically adjust the temperature to keep food warm until you're ready to go to the next step. Pretty cool.
You can also skip steps if you want to, which is great. You can go back a step before you've started cooking, but once you're cooking, you can't.
Who Will Use the Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System?
The Hestan Cue website says that you should cook four or more meals a week to get the most out of the system. We think the more important criteria are:
- That you enjoy cooking and know basic cooking terminology/techniques
- That you enjoy using technology and are comfortable with it
- That you want to create fancier meals than you are capable of making on your own.
It's probably also obvious, but you should be willing to invest in the system. You can start with the induction burner and one pan (we recommend the chef's pan for the most versatility), but the more smart cookware you have, the more recipes you'll be able to use. (Remember, recipes are pan-specific, so you will only be able to make recipes that use the pan you own.)
If you buy everything--the induction burner, all the cookware, and the smart probe--you can spend close to $1,000, depending on how you buy (many different packages are available). So the person who buys Hestan Cue should also be able to afford high-end kitchen gear.
You can also spend a couple thousand more on a Thermomix, another smart kitchen device that partners with Hestan Cue to expand your smart cooking possibilities. Currently there are only about 10 recipes for the Thermomix on the app, so this shouldn't be a primary focus for using Hestan Cue. On the other hand, if you already own a Thermomix, Hestan Cue may be a fun way to add more recipes to your repertoire.
Note that we didn't say Hestan Cue will make you a better cook. Some will disagree, but we don't think this should be a reason for buying it. The recipe guides are idiot-proof, but they are unlikely to help you learn techniques that improve your cooking skills outside of using the Hestan Cue.
If your goal is to be a better all-around cook, you'd be better off taking a class or buying a detailed cookbook like Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, or the Modernist Cuisine books.
Finally, though some Hestan Cue recipes can be made for up to 6 people, it is really the most fun if you're cooking for two. If your household is bigger than this, you may be frustrated with the recipes. Some of the recipes offer an option of portions, but many don't. Many are set at two people, some are set at four, and a few are more. You may be able to figure out workarounds (we didn't try). As written, the recipes are fairly rigid as to how many people they're for.
How Many Recipes Does the Hestan Cue App Have?
The Hestan Cue app has more than 500 recipes. However, recipes are pan specific--you have to select the pan type before you begin cooking--so unless you have all the cookware, you won't be able to use all of the recipes.
The first generation of the app was more restrictive about pan type, but many recipes now allow you to modify recipes for the piece of cookware you own:
You can also search for recipes that use the piece of smart cookware you own. Read more about this at Hestan Cue support.
We're not sure if recipes for use with the smart probe and Thermomix are counted in the 500+ recipes or not--but if you don't have those devices, you can't make those recipes.
Some users complain about the app being badly organized, but we thought it was pretty good. You can browse recipes by several categories, including pan type, popularity, course, new recipes, main ingredient, healthiness, quick and easy to make, cuisine type, and more.
Or, you can use the search bar to find the recipe you want--similar to using an index in a cookbook, this is probably the way most people will find what they're looking for.
Our one complaint about the app is that it's slow to load recipes, no doubt because it is so image heavy. But once the recipe is loaded, it's loaded, and you can click through the steps without having to wait for them to load.
What You Need to Use Hestan Cue
You need three tools to use the Hestan Cue smart cooking system:
- Smart cookware (or a Smart Probe, but there are fewer recipes--more details below)
- The Hestan Cue smart induction burner
- The free Hestan Cue app on a smart device with Bluetooth.
Since most of the recipes are designed to work with the cookware, we recommend going with the smart cookware--the skillet or the chef's pan are the most versatile pieces--and deciding later if you'd also like to use the smart probe, which is used for three specific tasks: deep frying, making candy, and sous vide.
Hestan Cue Smart Cookware
A number of smart cookware + induction burner packages are available on the Hestan Cue site. You can buy the induction burner and the skillet, the induction burner and the chef's pan, etc.
The best deal is to buy the induction burner with the big cookware package, which is about $600 and includes:
- induction burner
- 11-inch stainless steel smart skillet
- 5.5-quart chef's pan with lid
- 3.5-quart sauce pan with lid.
The only smart cookware not included in the package is the nonstick skillet.
If you buy the cookware individually, the prices range from about $190-$250 per piece. The induction burner alone is about $200--so you see that the cookware package is the most economical way to go. (In fact, the burner + skillet price is the same as buying the burner alone.)
On the other hand, if you're tentative about how much you'll use the Hestan Cue, you may prefer to buy one piece of cookware at a time. In this case, we recommend buying the induction burner + skillet or the induction burner + chef's pan, then expanding to more if you love cooking with Hestan Cue.
You can buy the induction cooktop alone, but there's no reason to do this because it's not usable without the smart cookware. (If you just want an induction burner, you can save money by going with Duxtop.)
Hestan Cue Induction Burner
As we said above, you can buy the induction burner separately but there's no reason to because without the smart cookware and the app, it's just like any other inexpensive induction burner: 10 heat settings, and no way to precisely control the temperature (you need the smart cookware and the app to do that).
If you do want to buy the burner separately, we recommend buying from Hestan Cue, not Amazon, because at the time of this writing (Fall 2021) the price at Hestan Cue is significantly less.
This may change, though, so be sure to check both sites before buying.
Hestan Cue Smart Probe
Hestan also sells a smart cooking probe that allows you to use any induction-compatible cookware. However, the recipes so far are limited to deep frying, making candy, and sous vide. (Yes, without a sous vide circulator.)
If you go the smart probe route, you still need to use the app. You can't use the probe, say, for tracking the temp of a sous vide water bath without the app--which means you are also restricted to the smart probe recipes in the app.
There are fewer recipes for the smart probe than for the cookware--about 25 right now--so we recommend you buy the cookware first and decide later if you like the system enough to expand to recipes that use the smart probe.
Also, Hestan Cue can communicate with the Joule sous vide circulator, so if you own a Joule, you don't need the smart probe to sous vide. You can read more about Joule + Hestan Cue at Chef Steps.
Hestan Cue App on Your Smart Device
You can browse through the recipes on a laptop at the link above, but this is not the app: you need to go to your app store to download the app to your smart device. Search your app store for "Hestan Cue."
Note: You need to have GPS enabled on your smart device to pair the app to the cooktop and cookware.
WiFi Internet Connection
Finally, you need WiFi to use Hestan Cue smart cooking.
If you're reading this, you're probably set.
Does Hestan Cue Have a Manual Mode?
Yes. The "manual" mode is called "Control" mode and you can use it with or without the app and smart cookware.
See the next section on Use to read more details about Control mode.
Hestan Cue Induction Cooktop Use and Specifications
Here we share details about the Hestan Cue induction cooktop.
The Hestan Cue induction burner is designed to be controlled through the app, so it has a minimalist interface. When using it in Smart mode, you control it completely through the app, including turning it on and off. This 1 minute video shows the basics:
Hestan Cue also has a manual mode, which they call Control mode. You select it on the bottom of the app screen (circled):
You can use Control mode a few ways:
- Temp Mode: Use smart cookware with precise temperature control to make your own recipes
- Power Mode: Use smart cookware and use the 10 power settings (no precision temp control)
- Without the App: Use non-smart cookware and control power settings on the burner itself.
If you use Control mode with the app and smart cookware, you use the app to start and stop the burner. You can also set a timer which will turn the burner off when done. The app will maintain the temperature or power setting until you change it or turn off the burner (with the app).
If you use the app in Power mode, you have the 10 power settings to control the cooking process. (We're not sure why you would do this, but it's possible.)
If you use Hestan Cue as a regular, non-smart induction burner, you have only the 10 power settings, which you control on the induction burner itself (you are not using the app).
To use in Control mode without the app, touch the Power button, then the Cue button, then slide the Power control to the desired setting. Slide right to increase power, left to decrease power:
Manual mode is something to take note of, as it is a vastly different experience from the precise temperature control the Hestan Cue has in smart mode. It is closer to using a regular cooktop or, as we said above, an inexpensive portable induction burner; it is not at all a "smart" experience.
This is because the precision temperature controls live in the app, not on the induction cooker or the smart cookware.
Hestan probably designed it this way because digital temperature control via software is considerably cheaper than hard-wired controls in an induction burner. If you've priced sophisticated induction burners (like the Breville Control Freak), then you know that hard-wired temp control adds significantly to the price.
However, it's really cool that you can get precise temp control using your own recipes. This makes the Hestan Cue quite versatile--and the most sophisticated portable induction burner you can buy under $300 (though you do need the smart cookware for this to work, so that can add to the price).
Drawbacks: You can't move a pan off the burner, or the app disconnects immediately. You do not want this to happen in the middle of following a recipe, as it means starting over from the beginning and possibly ruining the dish.
This means you can't shake the pan to move food around; you have to use a spoon or spatula. If you're someone who likes to shake the pan, you'll have to get out of that habit to use the Hestan Cue system.
Overall, the Hestan Cue offers some cool options for guided recipes and for doing your own thing.
Housing: Stainless steel and polycarbonate housing with glass induction cooktop
Power: 1600 Watts/15 amps (standard US 120V, 60 Hz outlet)
Temperature Range: 110-475F
Dimensions (in.): 12.5 (L) x 12.5 (W) x 2 (H)
Burner: Approximately 6" heating ring
Allowable Pan Base (in.): 5 - 10.5"
Weight: 5 pounds
Power Levels (Manual Mode): 10 settings
Child safety lock: No
Voltage warning system: No
Error codes for diagnosing problems: No (no display screen)
Warranty: 2 year limited warranty on all Hestan Cue products (induction burner and cookware).
What Is the Latest Version of Hestan Cue?
The induction cooktop hasn't changed since it was introduced in 2017. The cookware has been updated once, and the app is updated frequently.
The current generation of Hestan Cue cookware is called Gen 2. Gen 2 came out early in 2019 and as far as we know, this is the generation still in use. Gen 2 cookware is dishwasher safe, and the batteries in the handle are easy to swap out--no tools required.
Gen 2 cookware has a black endcap on the handles where you install batteries for the temperature sensors:
The first generation of Hestan Cue, Gen 1, came out in 2017. The Gen 1 cookware was not dishwasher safe and had a few quirky issues that made it a little hard to use.
If you're buying new Hestan Cue products, you can be confident you're getting Gen 2 cookware. If you're looking at used Hestan Cue products, be sure you're buying Gen 2 and not Gen 1 cookware. The black endcap is the easiest way to tell that you're getting Gen 2 cookware.
Like most popular apps, the Hestan Cue app has frequent updates. Updates are to add new recipes, fix bugs, and improve usability.
The app and all updates to it are free. Currently, it has more than 500 recipes, however, they are cookware specific, so you will only be able to use the recipes for the cookware you own.
Is Hestan Cue a High Quality System?
Overall, the Hestan Cue cookware and induction cooker have a solid feel and are well made.
Induction cooktop: The gray ring that contains the controls is plastic, the cooktop area is glass, and the remaining housing is stainless steel.
We would prefer that the induction cooktop had no plastic on it--at this price, you should get an all-stainless/glass housing. But this is a minor complaint.
The fan is a little noisy, too, but if you've used portable induction cooktops, this probably won't bother you.
Cookware: The cookware has a nice heft, and the handles which contain the batteries (for the temperature sensors) are waterproof, so you can put them in the dishwasher--a huge improvement over the first generation of Hestan Cue cookware. The pans heat evenly and are surprisingly easy to wash for stainless steel (probably because of the precision temperatures used in cooking, which make a huge difference in food sticking to the pan).
App: The app is a little slow to load, but once you have a recipe loaded, you can go through the steps without waiting (unless you're having connectivity issues beyond the app). It is extremely detailed and does a great job guiding you through a recipe.
New recipes are added frequently.
One common complaint about the app is that it doesn't work in landscape mode, so you can't turn your device 90 degrees to get a longer screen (which is typically a better view for video). There are so many comments about this in the app reviews that Hestan will probably fix this in the near future (but they haven't yet).
Is the Hestan Cue System Easy to Clean?
Yes, the Hestan Cue induction burner and cookware are easy to clean.
The induction burner needs to simply be wiped off; because the burner doesn't get all that hot--the cookware does--you won't have cooked-on food to scrape off the burner, ever.
As for the cookware, you'll be surprised how easy the clad stainless pans come clean. Maybe it's because you're always using the right temperature, but food doesn't really stick to these pans, so they clean up easily most of the time.
For those occasional boo-boos where food sticks, you can use abrasive scrubby pads, Barkeeper's Friend cleaner, or let the pans soak.
Overall, the system is easy to maintain.
Hestan Cue Pros and Cons
Is Hestan Cue Worth It?
Hestan Cue is worth it if you:
- Enjoy and are comfortable with technology
- Are a novice or better cook who wants to create better (or fancier) meals
- Don't mind carefully weighing and measuring ingredients
- Don't care about actually learning the techniques you use (using techniques and learning them are not the same when you're simply following steps in a recipe)
- Cook at home several times per week
- Cook mostly for small groups of 2-4 people (2 is best)
- Can afford to invest in the Hestan Cue system.
Does Hestan Cue make a Good Gift?
As cool as Hestan Cue is, it is not for everybody.
Hestan Cue is geared toward novice cooks who want better skills. However, it could be a lot of fun for experienced cooks, if they enjoy technology or are into smart appliances. If you're not sure, you should probably keep looking. (Check out our Gift Guides for more fun ideas.)
Also, Hestan Cue will probably not make cooking fun for someone who doesn't enjoy it. The exception might be someone who's really into technology--but even then, you should be sure they're interested in using Hestan Cue.
Our best recommendation is to only get Hestan Cue for someone who knows what it is and wants it. In this case, it's an excellent, thoughtful gift. But if you surprise someone with it, that may not be the case.
The Future of Hestan Cue
The Hestan Cue smart cookware is no longer limited to use with the Hestan Cue portable induction cooktop. Hestan Culinary's full-sized induction cooktops are also "smart" enough to work with the cookware, and Hestan has partnered with several appliance manufacturers which now also are able to use the Hestan Smart Cooking System.
Appliance makers include:
As we already mentioned, you can also use the Hestan Cue app with the smart devices Thermomix and Joule, as well.
As both smart appliances and Hestan Cue become more popular, this list is likely to grow.
If your goal is to become a better all-around cook, there are probably better ways to do it than the Hestan Cue.
However, if your goal is to produce perfectly cooked gourmet meals and to have fun doing it, then the Hestan Cue is an excellent tool. If you have the budget, love gadgets and technology, and want to cook gourmet meals without having to understand professional techniques, then the Hestan Cue is for you.
Thanks for reading!
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