It sous vides a mean steak, but at what cost?
The Suvie Kitchen Robot cooks frozen meal kits in about 30 minutes.
By Perry Santanachote
With Paul Hope
We’ve used many kitchen appliances in our day, both in our personal lives and for Consumer Reports. Last year, we tried out the Tovala Smart Oven and were pleasantly surprised with how well it performed at reheating, cooking lunch meals, and roasting vegetable side dishes.
The Suvie claims to do all that and more, including sous vide, slow cook, and cool to cook (a scheduled setting that refrigerates your food until it’s time to switch to cooking). The large countertop appliance has a top oven and bottom oven, a water chamber, and a smart control system that can scan a Suvie meal card to load preset cook settings or let you schedule a cook from the mobile app. It also has a starch cooker sidekick for grains, pasta, and potatoes.
“Suvie works best for busy couples and families, who really need extra time in their week,” says Robin Liss, the CEO and founder of Suvie. “The key benefit of Suvie is the ability to time-shift dinner. You can load a meal in the morning, between meetings, before picking up your kids, or the night before, and you don’t have to think about it again until dinner time.”
These are lofty goals for any countertop appliance to achieve— and that’s probably why there is nothing like it on the market—so we bought the Suvie system (a main cooker and a starch cooker) to see how well it works and whether it’s worth the price tag—$399 for the main appliance (if you commit to ordering two Suvie meal boxes within six months) and $799 for the set.
The Suvie Kitchen Robot 3.0 (above) is 3 inches shorter than the 2.0 but 1 inch deeper.
Photo: Paul Hope/Consumer Reports
How We Evaluated the Suvie Kitchen Robot
The system comes with the Suvie Kitchen Robot plus a starch cooker. We ended up evaluating both the Suvie 2.0 (originally purchased in February 2022 and received in late June) and the Suvie 3.0 because of a malfunction that occurred with the first unit just before the 3.0 was launched in August. (Suvie replaced it under warranty.)
We signed up for the weekly meal kit delivery during the 2.0 evaluation. Suvie says the price for meals starts at $10 per serving (some premium meals have an upcharge, and the price increases the fewer you order per week). It came out closer to $15 per serving for us (four meals a week), plus a $10 shipping fee every week. We ordered a mix of proteins, including salmon, chicken breasts, steak, and shrimp, and prepared each meal per the instructions. We also cooked foods using our own ingredients and following Suvie’s recipes.
We tried out each of the Suvie’s cook functions: cool to cook, sous vide, slow cook, roast, bake, broil, steam, pasta (starch cooker), rice (starch cooker), and potatoes (starch cooker).
Setting Up the Suvie System
The appliances shipped separately in large, sturdy boxes that were difficult to move around because the main 2.0 cooker weighs 58 pounds and the 3.0 weighs 56 pounds (the instructions say two people are required to unpack the appliance and lift it onto the counter), and the starch cooker weighs 25 pounds.
The main 2.0 cooker is 17 inches tall x 13 inches wide x 19 inches deep. It also required 6 inches of open space in the back, 4 inches on each side, and 1 inch above. The 3.0 is 13 inches tall x 14 inches wide x 20 inches deep. Per instructions, we let the main cooker sit for 24 hours to allow the refrigeration fluids to settle before using it.
The initial setup, which included connecting it to WiFi and syncing with the app, was straightforward for the main cooker. I was never able to connect the starch cooker to WiFi, and customer support was not able to help, either, so we used it initially without syncing it to the app. Then, after realizing it needed a software update to work properly (which needed WiFi), Suvie replaced it with a new one under warranty.
Sous vide: Giving pork chops (shown below) and steaks a water bath in the Suvie was more convenient than filling a pot with water and unpacking the immersion circulator, with similar results and timing. We also ordered vacuum-sealed frozen steaks from Suvie, which didn’t come with instructions, so we looked up a recipe on the company website. It took two hours and didn’t taste great, having an offputting smell, but it could have been the quality of the beef. We got better results using our own filet mignon steaks (shown below), which were cooked from a refrigerated, not frozen, state.
Easy to clean: The pans, racks, and pots are easy to clean and dishwasher-safe. The strainer insert for the starch cooker, however, tends to nip chunks off the soft dish sponge.
Convenience: It could be good for those who want a convenient meal for themselves and their partner. The rapid Suvie meals go from the freezer to the dining table in about 30 minutes and can be scheduled to cook earlier in the day. Liss says that more than 80 percent of Suvie users subscribe to the meals. “The easiest way to use Suvie, and the way that saves the most time, is with our Suvie meals,” she says. “Ingredients are already prepared, just load them into the Suvie and program it using Suvie’s tap-to-cook meal cards that automatically send the cooking instructions to Suvie.”
All that said, you could be paying several hundred dollars for appliances that malfunction, as was our experience, which brings us to . . .
Left: A pork chop in a water bath going into the Suvie for sous vide. Right: A filet mignon sous vide in the Suvie for two hours and finished in a pan on the stovetop.
Photo: Perry Santanachote/Consumer Reports, Paul Hope/Consumer Reports
Cool to Cook
Perry’s Suvie 2.0 review: When I scheduled a sous vide, an error occurred about a couple of hours into the refrigeration, saying, “Caution: Possible refrigeration issue. Remove food and put back in storage.” I pressed OK, and it started cooking for several minutes and then said my food was done when it obviously was not. I tried it again the next day, and the machine made a loud humming noise for about 30 minutes and then started to shake, which is when I turned it off. It did not feel cool inside at all. Customer support said I had a defective model, and the company offered to replace my unit with a 3.0 version of the cooker.
Paul’s Suvie 3.0 update: I repeated the evaluation with the third iteration of the Kitchen Robot. For this function, I scheduled to cook broccoli during one cook and sweet potatoes during a second cook. The machine cycled from refrigeration mode into roast mode automatically and produced results similar to what you’d get from a low-powered countertop toaster oven.
We then took the Suvie to CR’s lab and had a project engineer test the unit’s chamber temperature during refrigeration using thermocouples. The good news was the Suvie did cool down to below 40° F quickly to safely refrigerate food. The bad news? More warning alerts. Initially, I got an email from Suvie informing me that the unit needed to be optimized. (The company remotely monitors the performance of its machines.) Subsequent emails became more urgent and alarming, warning of a potential refrigeration issue, but in addition to asking me to set up a customer service call, they also instructed me to dispose of whatever food had been refrigerated and offered full reimbursement, which I thought was very good service. When I contacted customer service, the company said it detected a potential issue with a frozen cooling line and would send me another replacement model, at which point, we needed to call it quits. (CR generally gives manufacturers two tries, but not three.)
“When there is a chance of a cooling problem, Suvie alerts the user out of caution,” says Liss. She also says our alert was a false positive. “Safety has been our top priority since founding the company; it’s in our DNA, and building a safe, cool-to-cook system was the core challenge we took on when creating this groundbreaking technology.”
Our Suvie 2.0 malfunctioned when we tried to use the refrigeration setting. Suvie replaced it under warranty with the 3.0 model.
Photo: Perry Santanachote/Consumer Reports
Perry’s Suvie 2.0 review: I tried to steam vegetables following manual instructions, but nothing happened. At the end of the cooking process, my vegetables were still cold.
Paul’s Suvie 3.0 update: Steaming works in the Suvie 3.0, but it was a bit unintuitive. What I didn’t understand from the materials, but later learned from an email to customer service, is that you need to program the bottom oven to sous vide in order to access the ability to steam in the upper oven. The steamed broccoli took a very long time despite my setting it for 12 minutes. The warm-up period took 26 minutes, with a total of 38 minutes to steam broccoli, which would take 12 minutes on the stovetop. The broccoli itself was fine, a bit overdone, but likely would’ve been more tender with a shorter steam time.
Perry’s Suvie 2.0 review: I was never able to get a char on my food, even when broiling my steak and salmon for 10 minutes at 500° F.
Paul’s Suvie 3.0 update: I cooked a 5-ounce filet mignon sous vide, which worked great, and then finished it under the broil setting in the Suvie at 500° F for 5 minutes per side. Neither side browned well, and it looked much as it did when it emerged from the water bath: gray. The additional 10 minutes of cooking also caused the steak to cook further in the middle, so it was more in the medium zone as opposed to medium-rare. I finished another sous vide steak on the stovetop instead, which Suvie recommends, and it was perfect.
On another occasion, I followed a Suvie recipe and broiled a 1-pound skirt steak (mine came in two pieces) for 10 minutes at 500° F. The steak was lethargically gray-brown on top, while completely raw on the underside. Not red, but so raw that I could’ve put it back in the package and sold it as a fresh, uncooked steak. This is likely a function of the fact that the recipe doesn’t direct you to flip the steak during the cooking process. The oven also doesn’t seem to get adequately hot to broil or cook the steak through in 10 minutes. I had to flip the steak and run it through another 10-minute broil, raw-side-up, to finish cooking. It was fine at that point and cooked to a safe internal temperature. There is no direction in the recipe to confirm a safe internal temperature with a thermometer. We reached out to Suvie about this, and the company has since added this note to the digital recipe: “Note that if you have particularly thick pieces of skirt steak, you may need to add 2-5 minutes to the broiling time.” And there is now a link to time and temperature guidelines.
Liss also told us that because of Suvie’s cool-to-cook technology, there is more moisture and less heat loss than consumers might be used to with a traditional oven. It helps when rapidly cooking frozen meals in 30 to 60 minutes, but extra moisture also means that broils and roasts can take a little longer in Suvie. She recommends consumers pat dry foods they want to get extra browned.
A skirt steak cooked under the Suvie broiler.
Photo: Paul Hope/Consumer Reports
Perry’s Suvie 2.0 review: I cooked short rib ragu following a Suvie recipe and, seven hours later, bit into tough and impossible-to-chew beef. Too hungry to continue slow cooking, I had to transfer it to an InstantPot to finish it off.
Paul’s Suvie 3.0 update: When I slow-cooked pork carnitas, the quick-start guide recipe called for 3 pounds of pork shoulder or butt (a typical bone-in pork shoulder weighs about 9 pounds, so I froze the rest of it). The pork was cooked through and tender on the bottom of most pieces, up to the line where the meat had been submerged in the cooking liquid. But there were quite a few overcooked and dried-out tops, where pork wasn’t fully submerged, making it hard to shred the meat. And because none of the cooking liquid cooked off during the process (again, because of the machine’s tendency to retain moisture), there was simply too much liquid at the end. I had to simmer the entire mixture on the stovetop for another 40 minutes to break it down to the point where I could shred it easily.
Perry’s Suvie 2.0 review: I didn’t experience this as drastically in the Suvie 2.0, but Paul found it problematic in the newer model.
Paul’s Suvie 3.0 update: I followed a Suvie recipe to roast two 7-ounce chicken breasts, trimming them down to size. After roasting at 400° F for 18 minutes with the roasting rack inserted into the Suvie pan, both chicken breasts emerged white, looking almost poached. The appearance was fine and consistent with oven results, but only one chicken breast was cooked through to a safe temperature of just over 165° F. The second chicken breast was not, appearing ever so slightly pink in the thickest part and registering 141.2° F on an instant-read thermometer. There was no direction in the recipe to check the temperature of the food nor a disclaimer about consuming undercooked proteins. It’s also worth noting it’s one of the first recipes in the quick-start guide, where most people, presumably, would start.
We reached out to Suvie about this, and the company has since added a link to time and temperature guidelines on the version of the recipe on its website.
Two 7-ounce chicken breasts cooked at the same time in the same tray per recipe instructions came out at different temperatures, one below the USDA’s recommended 165° F for safe-to-eat chicken.
Photo: Paul Hope/Consumer Reports
The Starch Cooker
Perry’s review: The first time I used it, I made steamed short-grain white rice. It took an hour and required 3 liters of water for 2 1/2 cups of dry rice, but the rice came out pretty good—not Zojirushi rice cooker good—but good. Every subsequent attempt at cooking starches with it proved frustrating at best and sometimes impossible. I boiled baby potatoes, which the recipe said to set the machine to cook for 40 minutes. It took 2 hours to complete the cycle. I steamed mung beans and set them for 15 minutes, and it took 40 minutes to finish. Anytime I’ve tried cooking pasta, the machine’s water tank just blows a lot of steam, trying to come to a boil, and never even begins to cook the pasta even after an hour. The noodles are still dry, the pot is still cold. And the entire time, the countdown timer is telling me there are just 14 or so minutes left.
When I called customer support about this, the company told me to use the high-altitude setting because I was in Colorado. There was no such setting and no mention of it in the starch cooker’s manual. Customer support said I would need to update the firmware to get the setting, which required a WiFi connection.
I was never able to connect the starch cooker to WiFi. Initially, it found my network but couldn’t connect to it. And during later attempts, it didn’t see my network at all but listed dozens of other nearby ones. The company sent a replacement model via the warranty.
Paul’s update: I got the replacement starch cooker, which does have a high-altitude setting—but I used it at a lower altitude in New York. I was able to connect it to WiFi and sync with the app, but the starch cooker only digitally connects to the main Suvie cooker when cooking Suvie meals. A customer service representative informed me that the company plans a future firmware update to allow the two appliances to speak to each other during manual cooks, the advantage (presumably) being that meals could be timed to complete in tandem on both machines.
Suvie recommends only cooking shorter pastas, like shells and penne, as opposed to spaghetti or linguini. That’s because the machine lacks the ability to stir. I opted for one pound of orzo, which suggested 9 to 10 minutes for al dente on the box, using traditional cooking methods. For the starch cooker, I opted for a “9-minute” cook, but because of the time for the machine to heat up, the cooking time was actually 52 minutes. When the orzo emerged, it was a bit mushy but perfectly suitable for a weeknight dinner. My bigger issue is that the cook time is so comically long the function only makes sense if you’ve programmed it far ahead. No sensible person would use the machine to cook dinner in real time.
One function that wasn’t available for Perry is a scheduled cook. I tried it with brown rice, and it cooked on time. The rice was a bit mushy, as it was with an untimed cook, but okay.
The starch cooker makes decent rice and short pasta but takes a long time to cook.
Photo: Paul Hope/Consumer Reports
Perry’s Suvie 2.0 review: The Suvie 2.0 weighs 58 pounds and takes up nearly 2 square feet of countertop space. That’s before adding the starch cooker. It’s also tall and unable to fit underneath my upper cabinets. Despite its large size, it doesn’t fit much food. Rapid Cook meals from Suvie come in portions for two or four people, but the meals for four oftentimes don’t fit in the pan—there’s not enough room for four chicken breasts or four salmon fillets.
Paul’s Suvie 3.0 update: The 3.0 is three inches shorter and 1 inch deeper than the 2.0, but the capacity of the trays is larger. I could tightly fit four full-sized chicken breasts or four 6-ounce salmon mid-section fillets in one pan. It could barely hold one pound of skirt steak in a single layer.
Final Thoughts on the Suvie Kitchen Robot
The idea of coming home to a cooked steak with a side of vegetables is one worth pursuing, but as of now, it requires shelling out several hundred dollars and dealing with a large, heavy product that might need to be shipped back and forth for replacements until you get one that works as intended. It felt like we were using a product that was still in beta testing, even though Suvie is on its third version. If you have the means and the patience to do so, by all means, give it a go. When the refrigeration setting works, it’s quite the wonder.
But we started this project thinking it’d take one month of our time, and it’s been a year because of delayed shipments and all the repeated tests we needed to do on replacement units. As consumers, we’re not so sure we would have the fortitude to keep going, as Suvie has asked us to do. In the end, we still don’t have a properly functioning machine.
“You were in the unlucky small percentage whose products were damaged in shipping,” says Liss. “Only 1.6 percent of the 3.0 appliances have had to be replaced due to an issue, and almost all of those are caused by damage in shipping.” She adds that the company can automatically detect when there is potential damage to the refrigeration and heating systems and replace the product for free. Suvie has a 100-day in-home trial period and a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, which includes shipping, parts, and labor.
“Despite being a small startup, we are more dedicated to making things right for our consumers than your average appliance company,” says Liss. “That starts with our dedication to great customer service. Our member support policies and ability to help diagnose problems over WiFi means that we’re ready to help with any cooling or cooking issues. Every user is invited to schedule a personal 1-1 phone call with our customer support team to walk them through the setup and how to use Suvie.”
Indeed, by the end of our evaluation, we’d become friends with our customer service reps because there were so many troubleshooting issues. So, that was one bright spot: customer service, which responds rapidly to our questions and seems to know the product well, even if it is to say the machine’s defective.
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