Although there is, in fact, such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen, most people can admit when they need an extra set of hands.
Enter Amazon Alexa, the voice-controlled assistant Amazon's Echo and Tap speakers. The device is the perfect companion, providing all sorts of hands-free assistance—particularly when yours are caked with raw meat or flour—and none of the back talk.
Here are six things Alexa can do in the kitchen:
① It can keep a running shopping list.
While you're cooking, you probably mutter all sorts of things aloud—to yourself. Alexa is actually listening.
Alexa keeps a running shopping list and can order things directly from Amazon with one command. When we tested it, we shouted out needs for eggs, butter, hummus—even Entenmann's chocolate doughnuts; these items magically appeared in list form in the Alexa app, and in our Amazon shopping cart. And if you do end up finding that half-full bottle of vanilla extract in the way back of the cupboard, Alexa can read the list back and delete stuff, too.
② It can walk you through recipes.
Need a few dinner ideas? When paired with recipe websites, Alexa can spout them off.
After enabling the Allrecipes skill in the Alexa app—akin to adding a feature—we asked the device for recipe suggestions based on ingredients and got a near-overwhelming volume of options in return. Thankfully, Alexa will read reviews and filter results. Once we settled on a chili recipe, the device offered to send the recipe to our phone and even walk us through cooking directions step-by-step.
③ It can keep track of time.
Alexa keeps track of what's happening with its built-in timer; it's as simple as saying, "Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes." The device can run multiple timers simultaneously—we started counting but stopped at six, figuring that was more than most cooks would ever need to run simultaneously.
There's also an alarm that will alert you with different sounds, including greetings from celebrities like Alec Baldwin and Missy Elliott.
④ It can convert measurements.
When recipes call for converting cups to milliliters or when you've got to adjust for serving sizes, Alexa is like that geeky kid in math class.
When asked how many liters equals three-quarters of a gallon, the number of teaspoons in half a cup and how much a cup of flour weighs, Alexa responded immediately—and precisely.
⑤ It can play music.
Every chef needs some righteous tunes to inspire culinary magic. Alexa integrates with Amazon Music Unlimited, Spotify Premium, iHeartRadio, Pandora and the subscription-based Prime Music, which also offers on-demand songs, albums and playlists.
It was easy to call up existing Pandora stations and create new ones by saying, "Alexa, create a Dinner Party channel."
⑥ It can order takeout.
To use any of these skills, you need to have an existing online account with a history of actual orders. Once we created that through Domino's, Alexa had pizza ordered and delivered within 25 minutes—and let's face it, that probably wouldn't have been the case had we left the task up to a spouse.