Getting a healthy, delicious dinner on the table, warm and on time, is a tall order… and you’ve got to get it done every single night.
Lack of confidence and time-deprivation in the kitchen has spawned myriad meal delivery services, all promising to make that most-stressful of daily events and turn it into a fun, easy, and quick experience. But the assembly of ingredients is just the first hurdle… what we all really crave is a kitchen assistant that can attend to that perfect sear, or that gentle simmer, so we get effortless, yet fabulous culinary results.
Add technology to the picture, and you’ve got a smart oven: A usually-countertop-but-sometimes-built-in oven that uses various cooking methods (light, steam, infrared, convection) along with sensors, cameras and artificial intelligence to help you achieve Top Chef status at home. Some will cook things faster, but most will just cook it better, because robots and algorithms are “watching” your food and adjusting things as they go. All while you remotely operate or monitor dinner from an app on your phone. while the cooked items are “watched” by algorithms and robots. Time, and sanity, saved.
Sounds like the kind of help I need around dinnertime. And if it sounds like an investment that would pay off in your kitchen, here are a few of my favorite countertop smart ovens, as well as some built-in units.
The Brava Oven
Time is a virtue—which is why I’m pretty obsessed with the new Brava Oven, self-proclaimed to be the “world’s fastest oven.” It uses what Brava calls “pure light technology,” which consists of six lamps using a mix of visible and infrared light, which can target food directly and eliminates the need for preheating, which is a killer feature when you’re rushing to get dinner on the table.
Not only that, you can cook up to three different ingredients (think a medium rare steak, crispy potatoes and tender broccoli) at once, all cooked at different temperatures on the same tray. Sensory inputs monitor and adjust what’s cooking in real time, and the app helps you order their (pricey but lovely) meal kits or source ingredients to take all the labor-intensive guesswork out of healthy cooking.
Brava is pricey ($995) and it’s size is on the small side (0.6-cubic foot of interior cooking chamber space, but it’s an energy-saving whiz when it comes to speeding up dinner prep.
One of the OG smart ovens, and it keeps getting smarter: The June Oven is actually seven appliances in one. It’s a convection oven, an air fryer, a dehydrator, a slow cooker, a broiler, a toaster, and a warming drawer, too. Featuring more than 100 one-tap cook programs for things like vegetables, meat, frozen snacks and more, it’s a breeze to whip up dinner.
It looks a lot like a toaster but is deceptively large in side: It can hold a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and fit a 13 lb. turkey. Inside, you’ll find carbon-fiber heating elements, fans, sensors, and a camera so you can watch your food while it’s cooking (perfect for your Instagram feed!), and everything is easy to wipe clean. The technology even pivots throughout the cooking process. For example, if you’re making steak, June will switch back and forth between roast, bake and broil to sear it perfectly.
June’s second-generation oven can do most anything you need to make dinner spectacular, and has dropped in price ($599). Unfortunately, reviewers still maintain it has trouble toasting bread. Guess we’re not all the way in the Jetsons era just yet.
W Labs Smart Oven
There are just 2,000 of this handsome, gold-accented smart oven being made—ever—which means you’ll want to get a move on so you don’t miss out. 11 dynamic cooking modes—bake, broil, roast, toast, reheat, proof, dehydrate— are all included. It also sports automatic food recognition, so it can recognize chicken vs. steak vs. frozen nuggets and adjust cooking times and temperatures accordingly. It’s large enough to fit a 12” pizza and it has something called “live look-in” which allows you to get a visual on your food from any location.
Tovala, a smart-oven-meets-food-delivery service, does it all. Fresh meal kits arrive at your door… you just unwrap, do minimal prep (we’re talking simple, like pour a marinade over your chicken breast or sprinkle some parmesan over your pasta), and then use the Tovala oven to scan your meal’s barcode. Now the oven knows exactly what to do to steam, bake or broil things perfectly… and you can get on to better things while it’s doing all the work.
Meals offered range from Baked Bolognese Pasta to Sweet Chili-Glazed Salmon, and you can also use the oven to steam cook your own recipes, too. In fact, the newest generation of this oven has a “Scan the Store” feature that recognizes many Trader Joes frozen foods, with more coming soon.
The Tovala oven is competitively priced at $299, and the meals are $12 each.
Suvie takes care of keeping food cold until you’re ready to start cooking, because it’s a refrigerator and oven in one. Meaning you can put your dinner in it at breakfast and know that it will stay fresh until it’s time to start cooking (which you can determine from an app on your smartphone).
The oven has multiple zones: The top two are surrounded by a water bath, and will chill the water to keep your food cold, then cook your protein and veggies using steam and “sous vide” methods (water circulates around it to keep things moist and temperature-accurate). The bottom two containers will cook your starch and sauce accordingly, so all four food items are ready to put on the table at the same time.
There are over 10,000 custom meal kits to choose from—recipes like Shrimp Tikka Masala or Meatballs all’Arrabbiata—or you can use the oven to cook with ingredients you already have in your fridge. Suvie is $799 and will ship in July but you can pre-order the meal-making robot now.
Breville Smart Oven Air with Convection
This souped up version of the original Breville Smart Oven currently sits in my kitchen, and I use one of its 13 different preset functions daily. Whether it’s to bake, roast, broil, make pizza, air-fry, dehydrate, reheat, or just toast bread, it’s always running. The size of the interior (1 cubic foot) means you’ve also got wiggle room when you’re cooking for a crowd. To give you an idea of the space, you can toast nine slices of bread at once, roast a 14-pound turkey or fit a 13” x 9” baking sheet. Not too shabby. Other features worth shouting out: There are two oven racks and an optional convection mode, which cooks food 30 percent faster.
Whirlpool Electric Range With Frozen Bake
How’s this for efficiency? This traditional-looking smart oven can be controlled using just your voice through a smart home assistant on your countertop. (Think: Alexa, set the oven to 350 degrees.) You can also send cooking instructions straight to your oven via your smartphone and get instant access to the settings you use most thanks to a touchscreen that learns and customizes presets based on your family’s routine and preferences. Still, my favorite feature? Frozen Bake, which allows you to scan a frozen food barcode with your smartphone or tablet and send customized cooking instructions straight to your oven.
GE Café Series Built-In French-Door Convection Oven
Gorgeous appearance aside, this smart oven bakes food evenly (and to perfection) thanks to warm air that comes in from the top with the ability to move in and around cookware for an even bake. Not only that, the glass touch display makes it easy to set (and adjust) oven temps while you can keep tabs on how things are cooking thanks to design-first halogen lighting that slowly illuminates while the oven is in use. You can even pair your countertop Alexa device and use WiFi Connect to set oven temps and monitor cook times using only your voice.
KitchenAid Smart Oven+
The brand behind the iconic countertop mixer is entering the smart oven game, introducing the first single wall oven that comes with interchangeable attachments that click into the oven’s back wall, giving you the option to grill, bake and steam to perfection. (FYI, the grilling tool is the real stand-out—it minimizes smoke and heats evenly from edge to edge.) From there, you hold the power—adjusting cooking times, temps and more via the controls on the actual oven or via the paired mobile app. This is another smart oven that integrates seamlessly with both Alexa and your Google Assistant, so you can control the outcome of your dinner with just your voice. Even better, if you download the Yummly app, you’ll find more than 90 attachment-ready recipes, geared specifically to this oven.