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The Best Kitchen Tablets for Online Recipes and All Your Other Digital Needs

Epicurious logo Epicurious 10/21/2021 Scott Gilbertson
© Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Anna Stockwell

Cooking has become a refuge in my digital day. There may be smart ovens, smart fridges, even smart toasters attempting to bring our kitchens into the future, but the fundamentals of cooking remain deliciously analog. Steel blades slice on wooden cutting boards, steel pans heated over fire—does it get any more analog than fire?

Still, the digital world is increasingly encroaching on our kitchens. The home cook searches recipes online, watches videos of unfamiliar techniques, and shares our cooking results on social media. Our smartphones can do all of this, of course, but after months of testing, I’ve come to love the tablet as a resource in the kitchen.

The large screen means it can set it on a stand well away from water and flame and still see what I need to see. Virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant mean I can keep interacting with my tablet even while I’m cutting up a chicken, kneading dough, or rolling out cookies.

While the kitchen tablet is an obvious upgrade to make, it’s not so obvious which tablet is the right one.

In general, Apple has the upper hand in the tablet market. Apple’s hardware is better: more solidly built, faster, with better screens. The software selection blows that of its main competitor, Android, out of the water. There are a couple of Android tablets worth considering, though, if you’re on a budget, or just don’t like iOS.

After several years now of testing tablets in my kitchen, I’ve concluded that, for most people, iPads are the best choice in the kitchen and out. I considered the needs of all sorts of cooks while using a variety of top-rated tablets in my kitchen. Read below to find the best one for you. For details on the testing process, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Table of contents

Tablets vs. smart speakers: Which should you get?

The best kitchen tablet overall

A worth-it upgrade

The best budget kitchen tablet

The best pure Android tablet

How I tested

Other tablets I tested

The takeaway

Tablets vs. smart speakers: Which should you get?

I’ve also reviewed the best smart speakers for the kitchen. Many of the models I tested, including my top pick, include a screen, which can be used to play video and look up recipes, as you would do on a tablet. The decision comes down to whether you want that assistant-powered hands-free experience. If you do, smart speakers with smart screens win without question.

However, if you might sometimes use the assistant, but mostly want the screen and a multiuse device you can take on the go, then the tablet makes the most sense. Opt for one of the top tablet picks below and connect them with your Bluetooth speaker or smart speaker to play music in the kitchen.

The best kitchen tablet overall: Apple iPad 

Apple’s latest iPad is my recommended device specifically for the kitchen. This is the simplest, most bare-bones version of the iPad, but if you’re looking for something specifically for the kitchen, it allows you to do everything you need: Look up recipes, open a digital copy of your favorite cookbook, play cooking tutorials on YouTube, and use voice-activated technology to ask cooking questions and play music.

This tablet strikes the best balance between form, function, and price. It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough for $329. You get the all-day battery life the iPad is justly famous for, the solid A13 processor with more RAM than previous models, and a screen large enough to read even when it’s perched on a countertop a few feet away.

To get the best experience in the kitchen, I suggest cranking up the font size in Safari and iBooks for easier reading at a distance. If you want your tablet to double as a music player, grab a waterproof Bluetooth speaker like the Tribit StormBox and stream Spotify from the iPad to a speaker while you cook.

One negative: The iPad isn’t water resistant. For that reason I highly recommend grabbing a stand. The Lamicall adjustable stand is a solid choice. The weighted bottom keeps it in place and the aluminum design looks good in a modern kitchen. If you want something simpler, the Stump Stand also works well.

Another downside of this machine: You’ll need to tote around an extra lightning cable. It’s the only iPad Apple sells that hasn’t yet adopted the more universal USB-C charging standard.

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Apple iPad 2021

$330.00, Best Buy

A worth-it upgrade: Apple iPad Pro

My kitchen tablet does double duty as an all-around family device. My wife uses the Apple Pencil to sketch quilt designs, my kids play Mario Kart, and I attach the keyboard and get work done on it. If your iPad is going to lead a similar life beyond the kitchen, and you can afford it, I suggest upgrading to one of the Pro models.

With the Pro, you get a much more powerful M1 processor (the same chip that powers Apple’s laptops) that makes for snappier apps. You also get a bigger screen that makes it easier to see videos from across the kitchen. If you opt for the 12-inch tablet, the new Mini-LED screen is considerably brighter. The wider screen allows you to pair applications side by side so you can have your favorite cookbook open alongside a video playing in your web browser. Flick your finger down from the top right corner to control your music and you’ve pretty much hit peak kitchen tech in my view—everything you need, operating simultaneously.

The Mini-LED display makes food photography even more appetizing, especially, I noticed, with cookbooks in the iBooks app, where I could see a marked difference between the displays. On the larger iPad Pro, colors were brighter, blacks richer, and the sharpness made for clearer images.

Note that this machine is still not water resistant at all, so I recommend using a stand in the kitchen.

Depending on the size (11-inch or 12.9-inch display) this iPad ranges from $800–$1,000. If you feel the increased functionality, ability to open multiple apps at once, and the better display are worth the greater price tag, this device is a great companion for the kitchen—and beyond.

© Provided by Epicurious

Apple iPad Pro 2021

$800.00, Best Buy

The best budget kitchen tablet: Fire HD 10 Tablet

If you want a screen in your kitchen and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, Amazon’s Fire tablets are your winner. (Skip the 7-inch model. It’s not much bigger than your phone and the screen is difficult to read at any more than arm’s length. The 8- and 10-inch models are both nice, but I like the 10 the best.)

Alexa is also a major reason to choose the Amazon Fire HD 10. You can treat your Fire tablet like any other Alexa device. Amazon’s new Show Mode effectively turns your Fire tablet into a smart device like the company’s Echo Show speaker. Alexa is there to do your bidding. Ask for recipes, search videos, set timers, and play music without ever lifting a finger.

Bear in mind that the Fire 10 HD isn’t the fastest device around. It’s adequate for most tasks, such as web browsing and watching video, but it’s nowhere near as fast as even the entry-level iPad. Applications are slower to open, Amazon’s Silk web browser renders pages slower, and the touch screen is markedly less sensitive. The difference is a few seconds here, a few there, but it adds up over time. The screen is also not nearly as sharp—but that’s to be expected in a device that retails for less than half of what you’ll pay for the cheapest iPad.

The other thing to keep in mind with the Fire devices is that they push Amazon services. There’s no Google Play Store installed on the device. Rather, you download a more limited selection of apps from Amazon’s own app store. There are ways around this, but it requires some tech expertise.

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Fire HD 10 Tablet

$150.00, Amazon

The best pure Android tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

Android has never really taken to the tablet form factor. The pickings are slim once you get away from Amazon’s offerings. The one exception is Samsung, whose Galaxy Tab has been showing what the Android operating system can do in tablet form. The latest, and best, Galaxy Tab is the S7, which is the Android answer to the iPad. It’s powerful enough to hold its own against the iPad, has a screen that’s every bit as sharp and bright, and very nearly manages the same battery life.

I like nearly everything about the S7, and it would be my top pick were it not for the Achilles’ heel of Android tablets: software. There just aren’t many Android apps that take advantage of the larger form factor in truly useful ways. While nearly every app I tested did work, many were still just scaled up phone apps. It was a painful reminder that the Galaxy Tab S7, while a nice piece of hardware, struggles to get past the old “it’s a bigger phone” criticism of tablets.

That said, if you take the time to hunt out tablet-friendly apps, or only plan to use a web browser and e-book reader anyway, then the Tab S7 is the Android device to get.

While it may be missing some of the software, the Tab S7 does have one advantage: Google Assistant, which is my favorite of the smart assistants. Google Assistant is faster at returning results, and, in my experience, finds what I’m after more accurately than Alexa or Siri. Having Google Assistant on the Tab S7 is nice, but not as effective as a dedicated smart-home device. The S7 lacks the powerful, always-on microphones, which means it won’t hear you as well, and you need to wake it up before you speak.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

$470.00, Best Buy

How I tested

I’ve tested 14 tablets over the years: six iPads, six Fire tablets, and two Android tablets. I also tried out a few stands to make sure I didn’t end up with a tablet in a puddle of water.

I started with battery tests. No matter how nice your tablet experience is, if it doesn’t last through dinner, it’s useless. To test battery life, I streamed a video through the web browser and looped it until each device died. The iPad Pro was the best of the bunch at just a hair under 10 hours. The Fire 10 HD came in second at 8.5 hours. The iPad managed 7 hours 45 minutes. The Galaxy S7 was the better of the Android options, and very close to the iPads, at 9.5 hours. 

Next I tested the comfortable reading distance for each screen, as well as how much I could enlarge the font without massively decreasing the amount of information available to me on screen at once. I browsed my collection of digital cookbooks, called up saved recipes in Evernote, and looked around the web for new recipes.

I also looked at digital assistants. If you want a dedicated smart device in the kitchen, have a look at our guide to smart speakers. None of the options here best those when it comes to digital assistants. The only options that manage the same level of voice assistant convenience is the Fire 8 HD and Fire 10 HD. Alexa is there for you once you enable Show Mode.

Apple’s Siri assistant is the weakest of the bunch. Siri can handle unit conversions and will be happy to add items to a shopping list if you have one in your reminders, but ask for much more than that and Siri struggles. The iPad is a useful device in the kitchen, but it is very much a tablet. Be prepared to touch it and use it like a tablet because the hands-free experience  leaves much to be desired.

Google Assistant is the best digital assistant in my experience, returning the most useful results the fastest, which should make the Galaxy S7 more capable. And it does, but unfortunately, a tablet is not really the best way to use Google Assistant in the kitchen. Google Assistant works great on the Galaxy S7 once you’ve turned it on. But that’s the beauty of the always-on microphones in smart speakers: You don’t need to turn them on, you just say “hey, Google.” If that’s the kind of convenience you’re looking for, a smart speaker is a better choice.

Other tablets I tested

The 2021 iPad Mini is a fun little device and considerably more powerful than previous models, but I found the screen size a little on the small side for kitchen use. It depends somewhat on where you place it of course (and how good your eyes are), but I found myself leaning over to look at more than the other tablets. Battery life is also not as good as the iPad or iPad Pro. Still, the tiny form factor is very appealing outside the kitchen. If your primary use is elsewhere, with occasional kitchen duties thrown in, the Mini might be a good choice.

The takeaway

If you want a dedicated kitchen tablet at an affordable price, opt for the new Apple iPad. If you want a new tablet that will spend some time in the kitchen and some time doing other things, consider spending a little more for the iPad Pro. The nicer screen and faster processor make the Pro the better, if more expensive, device. If your budget is tight, the Fire HD 10 is the way to go. It’s not fancy, and you’ll have to deal with Amazon’s customized Android experience, but at this price, you won’t find anything better. If you prefer an Android tablet, grab the Galaxy S7.

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