REVIEW – Cooking for one can be a challenge. Dirtying up a bunch of pots and pans as well as making small portions in a big microwave or stove seems like a waste. Bonbowl wants to change that with its induction cooktop specifically designed to make single-portion meals.
What is it?
In short, the Bonbowl is an induction cooking system essentially designed for meals for one. Here’s a short video explaining it. Note that the bowl design has changed since the video was produced.
Induction cooking uses magnets to induce the cooking vessel to heat up. That vessel needs to have specific composition characteristics. Generally, stainless steel over aluminum, cast iron, or enamel on metal is required for induction cooking. The benefit is that only the cooking vessel gets hot. The cooktop itself remains cool, other than heat transferred to the cooktop from the hot pan.
What’s in the box?
- Bonbowl bowl (pictured at the top)
- Vented lid (pictured at the top)
- Silicone bowl cover (pictured at the top)
- Cooktop (pictured at the top)
- Instruction manual
- Quick start guide
- Thank you card
- Bowl assembly guide
- Bowl size: 24 oz
- Cooktop size: 8″ x 8″ x 2.5″
- Cooktop power: 500W, 120V
- Cooking method: induction
- Safety: UL certified for use in the United States
- Bowl cover colors: White, black, purple (tested)
Design and features
The cooktop is quite small so it doesn’t take up much space on the countertop. You can see the time display window, (L)ow, (M)edium, and (H)igh power capacitive buttons to the left of the time window. The start & stop buttons are to the right. The number buttons for time settings appear along the bottom. That row of white dots is just a reflection of the LEDs in my lightbox. In the middle of the cooktop, you can see a silver knob. Why?
That knob is designed to fit into the hole in the bottom of the silicone bowl cover. This design means that this cooktop cannot be used with anything other than the Bonbowl bowl.
The bowl fits snuggly into the cover. You slip the bowl under the tabs on the cover.
The included cover seals the bowl. Flip it over and it vents the bowl and can be used as a strainer to drain excess fluid after cooking.
Here’s a look at the underside of the cooktop.
You can see the cooling vents and fan inlet. When cooking, a fan blows to keep everything cool.
After washing the Bonbowl bowl, lid, and bowl cover, insert the bowl into the bowl cover, plug in the cooktop, and get cooking.
The quick start guide has a number of basic recipes, from eggs to ramen to oatmeal. I decided to try a fried egg.
Per the instructions, I sprayed the bowl with cooking spray, set the temperature to Medium (you can see the LED indicator under the “M”), and three minutes. As soon as I hit Start, the fan kicked on and the bowl started getting hot.
After three minutes, with a flip halfway through, the egg was perfectly cooked.
The bowl is a little tight, so flipping it was a little challenging, but I eventually managed it.
Another day, we tried scrambled eggs.
More cooking spray and another three-minute Medium cooking session. I was a little suspicious as the recipes are all geared toward cooking for one. This was a breakfast for two with four eggs. Still, I followed directions, stirring as the eggs cooked.
As the cooking time wound down, the eggs were still a long way from being done. Since I doubled the volume of food, it makes sense that I should have doubled the cooking time. I put in another three minutes and kept stirring.
At the end of six minutes, I had nice, fluffy scrambled eggs.
In both instances, only had a bowl and cover to clean, and both are dishwasher-safe. Nice. For meals like ramen or pasta, with the cool-touch silicone cover means that you can cook and eat from the same bowl, further reducing cleanup.
One claim Bonbowl makes is that it is faster than gas cooking. I decided to test that claim with the most simple “cooking” I can do – boiling water. I measured two cups of tap water into the Bonbowl and into a saucepan on our gas stove. I set the Bonbowl to high for nine minutes and at the same time, cranked up the burner under the pan and started timing.
In short order, I could see the water moving in waves along the bottom of the Bonbowl bowl. It looked like Bonbowl was off to a great start while the pan’s water just sat there.
About 2.5 minutes in, there was still little action on both fronts.
A little over four minutes in, things started happening.
Here, you can see small bubbles forming in the Bonbowl while a much more dense covering of bubbles was forming in the pan.
At just over five minutes, we hit a rolling boil in the saucepan while the Bonbowl was still showing small bubbles.
As we approached the nine-minute test completion, we started a light rolling boil in the Bonbowl.
While it wasn’t anywhere near as fast as gas, there was a noticeable difference in heat output. Other than a little steam, the Bonbowl didn’t put out much heat into the kitchen. The stove, however, was cranking out the heat as it heated the water.
What I like
- Does a nice job cooking for one (or two)
- Easy cleanup
- Doesn’t heat the kitchen
What I’d change
- I wish I could use a regular induction-ready pan on the cooktop
We are not ramen lovers. Many times, we cook more than two portions so we have leftovers for a while. I’m not sure that the Bonbowl will be a big cooking aid for us. But…reheating those leftovers, well that is a sweet spot for this device.
The other big target market is college students, especially in dorms. Most dorms ban heat-producing cooktops as fire risks. Inductive cooktops, however, are generally accepted. Plus, with its cooktop-to-table bowl design, Bonbowl seems perfectly suited to college life. If you have a college student in your life, Bonbowl might be a back-to-school homerun gift this fall.