TIME’s best foodbev inventions of 2023

Every year TIME releases an always fascinating list of the best 200 inventions of the year that are changing how we live. Here’s a look at those related to food and drinks….

ChefDoodler: As any pastry chef will tell you, sugar cracks quickly when hardened and needs intimidatingly high temperatures to melt. Which means that detailed sugar work on cakes and cookies often leads to frustration and burns. The ChefDoodler pen makes it simple, safe, and fun — like a hot glue gun for sugar decorating.

Though it will also work with real sugar, the device comes with a flavour-neutral, diabetic-friendly sugar substitute, isomalt, that can be extruded in thin, mouldable lines. One beta tester called it “a gingerbread house maker’s dream come true,” says Daniel Cowen, co-founder and CEO of maker 3Doodler. The gadgets are shipping to more than 1,500 Kickstarter contributors and early adopters in October.

Good Meat Cultivated Chicken: Ever since the first hamburger grown from bovine stem cells was unveiled in 2013, with a €250,000 price tag (around $280,000), biotechnologists have raced to produce an affordable alternative that tastes the same as meat, no slaughter — and fewer emissions — required. Startup Good Meat surged ahead when it launched its bioreactor-cultivated chicken morsels in Singapore in 2020, but rival Upside Foods wasn’t far behind.

On June 21, the USDA authorised both companies to sell cultivated meat in the US. Now that they are no longer vying for first, the companies can compete on taste and price.

Sweetgreen Infinite Kitchen: This system robotically assembles the salads and bowls Sweetgreen customers crave — up to 500 of them an hour, 50% faster than humans can. Consumers order using a tablet that instructs the robotic production line to drop ingredients, prepared by human team members, into bowls.

A trial run in the company’s Naperville, Ill., outlet exceeded sales expectations, and sparked a second trial in Huntington Beach, Calif., later this year. Eventually, co-founder and CEO Jonathan Neman says all new Sweetgreen outlets will come with an Infinite Kitchen.

Luna UCR avocado: This is one very special avocado. The result of a decades-long breeding program at the University of California, Riverside, it has a flavour similar to that of its popular relative, the Hass, but a bit more “floral,” says program horticulturist Mary Lu Arpaia. The Luna UCR is ripe as soon as its skin turns black — which takes the guesswork out of slicing in — and it stays fresh long enough to transport.

Luna UCR trees are as bountiful as Hass trees, but smaller, meaning they’re easier to harvest and require less land — and potentially less water and electricity. It’ll take a few years before they hit grocery stores.

GE Profile Smart Mixer: Built to keep baking blunders to a minimum, its built-in “smart scale” weighs ingredients directly in the mixing bowl, for greater precision than measuring cups. The “auto sense” feature cuts down on under- or overmixing by sensing the torque changes in the motor (which can stir clockwise or counterclockwise).

“When you set the time and the speed, the mixer will run a countdown and auto-stop,” says Andre Zdanow, executive director for small appliances at GE. Finally, the mixer has a new speed — it goes to 11, to emulsify ingredients like a blender.

Spinn Pro: The sleek, Wi-Fi-connected Spinn Pro all-in-one espresso maker is the first commercially available coffee maker to use centrifugal force. Just put whole beans in the machine and grind them to the ideal consistency for your drink and roast of choice. The machine then brews your morning pick-me-up in a centrifuge that spins at up to 5,000 revolutions per minute, pushing the coffee through a perforated wall that functions as a filter.

The process, says Spinn CEO and founder Roderick de Rode, “adds a lot of oxygen that, like with wine, brings out the full aroma of the coffee.” Spinn makes everything from espresso to cold brew in an impressive 60 seconds.

Nama’s J2 Cold Press Juicer: The concept behind Nama’s J2 Cold Press Juicer is “simple, simple, simple,” says Nama founder Dan Sheehan. “We want to help people eat more plants.” Juicing is a great way to do that, but it’s not necessarily simple. Juicers typically require cutting ingredients into small pieces and individually feeding them into the machine.

With the J2, you simply open the top, toss whole or large pieces of all the fruits and veggies in your recipe, close the lid, turn the dial, and walk away. “It’s basically hands-free juicing,” Sheehan says. “That didn’t exist before.”

Lunchables Grilled ­Cheesies: Microwaved food is convenient, but not as satisfying as fresh-cooked fare. Kraft Heinz has a solution: the 360Crisp process, which debuted with a new product, Lunchables Grilled ­Cheesies. The sandwich comes in a paperboard container with a susceptor that, when microwaved, directs heat to all the right places, leaving no bite undercooked or singed.

“You have that perfectly crispy outside, that gooey melty inside, and none of that sogginess or dryness,” says Alan Kleinerman, vice president of disruption.

Invisacook: Induction cooking is safer, healthier, and more environmentally friendly than a gas or traditional electric stove. While most induction cooktops go over an existing stove, Invisacook is the first one to go underneath any countertop, allowing you to cook directly on the counter. Previously, using the Invisacook necessitated getting the Invisamat, which protects the countertop and keeps it cool. In March, however, the company launched Invisacookware: pots and pans with risers that serve the same purpose as the mat, with a more elegant look.

Heinz Remix: Personalized sauce dispenser Heinz Remix is coming to restaurants, stadiums, and movie theatres in early 2024, perhaps sooner. Using a touchscreen, you select one of four “bases” (ketchup, ranch, BBQ, or Heinz 57) and add tweaks and spices to customise the flavour. The machine is capable of 200 combinations, with names like Jalapeño Ketchup and Smoky Chipotle Mango BBQ. Meanwhile, it feeds data on customer preferences to Heinz, which will use it to inform future ­recipes.

Breville Joule Turbo Sous Vide: The original Joule Sous Vide is a rod that heats water to the ideal temperature for cooking bag-sealed chicken, steak, or chops. The upside is that you can easily attain a perfect level of juiciness or tenderness; the downside is that it could take 60 minutes to cook steak.

Enter the Turbo, which like its predecessor, connects to an app. It uses algorithmic math to constantly analyse real-time variables – such as ever-changing water viscosity – to deliver precisely enough energy to bring meat to a desired temperature. Now cooking a steak takes just 30 minutes, and delivers a consistent (and gourmet-quality) tenderness throughout the meat. “We can speed up cooking without over-cooking,” says Grant Crilly, executive director for manufacturer Breville. “That has never been possible in any cooking technique.”

Dreamfarm Fluicer: It’s not the world’s most urgent problem, but it is really annoying: the kitchen drawer full of a jumble of accessories and single-purpose tools won’t open or close because something — maybe the hand-held citrus squeezer — is sticking up. The Fluicer, which folds flat, is designed to avoid this problem. But it also reinvents its main job, squeezing half a lime (or lemon or orange) from the sides as well as top to get more juice out of every press.

Row 7 Seed Company Sweet Garleek: While its white bulb and tender green stalks may make it look like a scallion, the Sweet Garleek is actually something entirely new.

A cross between garlic and a leek, it’s the latest vegetable from chef Dan Barber’s Row 7 Seed Company. The result of 10 years of selective breeding and testing, the Sweet Garleek intensifies the sweetness of the leek and the rich, savoury taste of garlic (without the aggressive pungence). The entire stalk can be sautéed, roasted, grilled or even eaten raw.

The plant is currently available to purchase at select Whole Foods locations in the New York City area. It will go on sale in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and West Coast next year, and nationally in 2025.