Zega Intelligent Cookware pitches itself to customers as featuring SmartControl technology which takes care of the cooking for you.
Featuring a patented, double wall thermal insulated design and SmartControl technology, the cookware heats in minutes and continues to cook safely for hours off the stove.
Developed in Australia, Zega intelligent cookware is available in both analogue and digital models. Zega also functions as conventional cookware when required and is compatible with all stove types.
We asked for one to test and see if it lives up to its claims.
In the box, you’ll find the Zega 5L pot, steamer/grater, the crucial SmartControl knob, elevated rack, MicroUSB charging cable and charging dock.
What it’s like to use
There are no buttons or electronics in the pot or the lid. The SmartControl knob has to be charged via MicroUSB cable in its proprietary dock, it then clicks into the lid during cooking and must be removed from the lid during washing.
The smarts are in the blue tooth enabled SmartControl knob. Otherwise, the Zega pot is a 5L double wall thermally insulated pot with an insulated lid, steamer/grater and rack.
The knob tells you how the cooking process is progressing, it won’t tell you the temperature inside the pot. So if you open the lid after taking it off your cooktop the heat will be lost.
Why didn’t they include a live temperature readout on the SmartControl knob display since there’s a thermometer attached to it underneath? Inexplicable.
The idea behind Zega pots is that you save cooking gas/electricity cost because a lot of the cooking process is done after the correct temperature has been reached and the cooktop is switched off.
About 80-85% of the recipes in the Zega app are mostly for carnivores which was a bit disappointing.
Also puzzling was no recipes for cooking legumes. Slow cookers are often used to make batches of things like black beans for Mexican dishes. Or chickpeas for Middle eastern/Mediterranean dishes.
Where the recipes do include beans and chickpeas they are canned (which cook quickly). I was hoping to see recipes for cooking bulk purchased pre soaked beans/legumes.
Any way I pretended that 500 grams of kidney beans were a meat dish just to see how the SmartControl knob worked.
After heating beans to a boil for a few min I put on the lid. After a few minutes the SmartControl knob said to take off the heat and started beeping a lot.
Then it went into “Self Cooking” mode. Every now and then the SmartControl knob beeped for attention as the lid progressed a stage of cooking.
At the end of the 45min my “beef” was done as the SmartControl knob showed all cooking stages had done and started beeping continuously until I pressed the button on its side to stop.
Interestingly the app countdown on my phone had stopped halfway. This matched the time I had connected my Bluetooth headphones to my phone to watch Netflix.
So it looks like the Zega app needs the SmartControl knob to be the only Bluetooth item connected to it in order to show app progress through the cooking stages properly.
Should you buy it?
You shouldn’t have to use a small fixed group of recipes or a uncustomisable quick cook protein option to make Zega work as my friend Leigh Stark at Pickr concurred in his review.
This is not an Instant Pot with lots of buttons to start various recipes automatically and it’s not a superinsulated pot like the Billyboil Thermal Cooker which keeps food hot for up to 12 hours.
Zega is kind of in the middle, it’s somewhat smart and fairly insulated “keeps food above the USDA food safe minimum internal temperature for 4 hours”. That equals about 60-70 degrees Celsius down under.
Unfortunately, that means we can’t recommend it this version of the Zega intelligent pot.
Luckily for Zega they can make the user experience better by adding a lot more recipes including a decent range of vegetarian options and also cooking pre-soaked bulk buy beans/lentils etc.
What would also help a lot is if the Zega SmartControl knob had a temperature display in it and allowed users to control the cooking process more via specific temperatures and timings in the app eg: heat on the stovetop until pot reaches internal temperature XX, then self cook simmer for XYZ minutes and notify user cooking is done.
The Zega Digital is available for $199 including shipping.
Zega allowed Ausdroid to retain their pot as it cannot be resold after use for cooking food