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If the Instant Pot had a cousin and that cousin were, let’s say, less complicated and less capable but incredibly reliable and eager to help, you might have the Bonbowl.

The Bonbowl is essentially a semi-portable (you need to plug it in, but it’s small in size) induction plate with a removable bowl that serves as the vessel you’ll cook with and eat from. The compact kitchen gadget is multipurpose: It can boil, pan-fry, reheat and saute, making it a few notches above a glorified microwave.

How the Bonbowl works

Something nice about the Bonbowl is how simple it is to use. I have neglected to learn how to work the Instant Pot out of a mix of stubbornness and distaste for needlessly complicating processes (like, you can cook rice on the stove); unlike a pressure cooker, though, the Bonbowl is intuitive.

On the left of the tempered-glass induction plate there are buttons for three heat settings (low, medium and high); on the right, there are buttons to stop and start cooking. Below these settings are numbers zero through nine, which are the cook time in minutes. Certain foods require different heat settings and cook times — for example, scrambled eggs cook best at medium heat, while you’ll use high heat for hard-boiled — but the Bonbowl also has an auto shutoff function that works with its heat sensor so you can set it and forget it (this function is probably better for tasks like heating rather than cooking).

The Bonbowl comes with a plastic lid that some recipes will benefit from, as will any leftovers if you decide to store them in the fridge. And this lid also doubles as a strainer — smart!

What the Bonbowl can cook


The Bonbowl is adept at cooking single servings of frozen meals (a whole section on its recipe page is dedicated to Trader Joe’s freezer products); eggs (scrambled, hard-boiled and fried); grains like oats, rice, pasta and quinoa; soups and ramen noodles; mac ’n’ cheese and even elementary desserts like Rice Krispie treats. While these foods are pretty basic, there are ways to add flavor and flair while also making sure you’re cooking with health in mind. For example, you can add leafy greens and other veggies to your frozen meals and egg dishes, and you can experiment with any combination of spices, herbs and other flavorings as you would cooking on a standard stove top.

The benefits of using the Bonbowl

The Bonbowl’s essence is convenience, and of this it is proud: It promises to help make meals in 15 minutes or fewer, and that it does. This piece of cookware delivers super-quick and precise simple dishes, and this is truly a benefit for anyone who’s too hungry to wait for an elaborate, multi-step meal. Bonbowl also has built-in portion control, as it holds approximately 550 grams (about 2 cups of liquid). While the set comes with a single bowl along with the induction plate, you can order additional bowls online (two bowls and two lids for $39.99).

The bowl’s clever design allows it to function as a cooking and serving tool: It’s made with a double-walled construction, which keeps the outside of the bowl from getting too hot (it might get warm, but it’s always comfortable to pick up without an oven mitt), while the inside heats at the necessary temperatures for cooking. The actual induction plate does not get too hot to touch, either; the small metal round where the bowl meets the plate is the only piece that gets hot. You don’t need to touch this at any point of the cooking process, and you shouldn’t.

Cooking with Bonbowl promises a swift cleanup: Unlike with the stove top, where food particles are wont to collect and stick, it’s pretty tough to make a mess with the Bonbowl. Even if you do spill liquid or food onto the induction plate, a simple wipe with a rag or paper towel should render it clean, and there are no crevices for food to get lost inside of. The only piece of Bonbowl that will get messy is the actual bowl, but this is also effortless to clean, not to mention it’s dishwasher-safe.

The drawbacks


The Bonbowl delivers on its promise to cook simple meals, so if you’re looking for something to up your star chef status, this isn’t the tool. While it’s a reliable piece of equipment, you likely don’t need to add it to your collection of kitchen tools if you already own a microwave and a stove top. At $149, the Bonbowl seems a little pricey for what it can accomplish; however, it could be a wise investment for anyone who doesn’t have access to a functional kitchen.

The Bonbowl’s one-year warranty policy makes me a little suspicious about its durability, but over the past few months I haven’t had any problems with either piece of the equipment.

Who the Bonbowl is for

I wish the Bonbowl existed when I was in college; communal microwaves are nice in theory but tend to be gross in practice. This appliance would be great for anyone living in a small space or lacking access to a working (or clean) kitchen.

People who want to cut back on takeout but don’t love to cook would also benefit from this tool, and I could see the appliance coming in handy for any apartment dweller whose gas has inexplicably been cut off one too many times. Order yours today on Amazon for $149.