Which steam oven is best?
A steam oven looks like a regular oven from the outside, while inside it cooks food by circulating moist air instead of dry air. When cooking with steam, foods are healthier and more flavorful. With a steam oven, you also free up cooktop space because you no longer need to use a pot to steam your vegetables.
If you are looking for a combination steam and convection oven that fits on your countertop and is large enough to hold a 12-inch pizza, take a look at the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Steam and Convection Oven.
What to know before you buy a steam oven
Steam ovens are newer than toaster ovens, microwaves and convection ovens and are often combined with one or more of them to make a multifunction appliance. No countertop ovens are steam-only. All come with at least one additional function.
Steam oven plus convection oven: The convection oven has fans for better hot air circulation.
Steam oven plus microwave oven: The microwave function is great for speedy reheating or for working in concert with the steaming function.
Steam oven plus toaster oven: Use the dry function to make toast and reheat foods quickly.
Steam oven plus regular oven: On built-in ovens only, the steam compartment is usually located just above the conventional oven.
How does a steam oven work?
Most steam ovens have small tanks near the top of the oven. You fill them with water that is heated in a boiler and converted to steam. Some high-end steam ovens connect directly to your kitchen’s water pipes so you never have to bother with refilling the reservoir. Because there is no water tank, built-in steam ovens have more usable interior space.
Steam oven pros
Faster cooking times: Because water vapor conducts heat better than air does, steam ovens cook faster. Most steam ovens cook food 20%-40% more quickly than conventional ovens.
Moist heat: The water vapor keeps your baked foods from drying out while cooking,
Healthier: Cooking with steam means you do not need to use as much oil. Steam heats gently, preserving the vitamins, minerals and nutrients in your foods, especially when compared with microwave ovens.
More flavor: Foods taste better when steamed because they maintain their original textures without losing any of their flavor.
Steam oven cons
Space: Combination countertop steam ovens are large and take up a lot of room on your countertop. If you have limited counter space, consider a built-in steam oven.
Cleaning: Moist air circulating around the food and through the oven means food and mist get splashed around the interior, so you end up cleaning a steam oven more often than a regular oven.
Learning curve: Like anything new, it takes a while to learn how to get the most out of your steam oven. You need to get used to new cooking times and temperatures for your favorite foods.
Built-in or countertop?
Countertop steam ovens cost lots less than built-ins and require no installation.
Built-in steam ovens need to have a water supply run to the tank for automatic filling. Countertop steam ovens have tanks you fill manually.
What to look for in a quality steam oven
You need an oven with a big interior compartment to cook large items. But that means a larger exterior, too, so don’t forget that bigger steam ovens take up lots more counter space and are heavier, too.
The bigger the tank, the more water you have on hand to create more steam. Look for ovens with tanks that hold enough water to let you cook for longer periods without having to stop, add more water and start a new boil cycle.
How much you can expect to spend on a quality steam oven
Countertop models cost from $200-$500. Built-ins start at $3,000 and go up from there.
Steam oven FAQ
What are built-in steam ovens built into?
A. They can be built not only into your wall but also into your kitchen cabinet.
Can I put tap water in my steam oven’s tank?
A. You can, but just as with your coffee maker, you ultimately have to deal with cleaning out the minerals and residue found in all tap water. If you use distilled water, you will likely never have a problem.
What’s the best steam oven to buy?
Top steam oven
Cuisinart Stainless Steel Steam and Convection Oven
What you need to know: This 1,800-watt oven delivers 120 minutes of steady, uninterrupted steam cooking time.
What you’ll love: This oven has special technology for baking bread faster and better, with moister results. You can fit a 12-inch pizza or a whole 4.5-pound chicken inside. The steam function is also used to clean the oven quickly and easily. The side-mounted tank holds 6 cups of water.
What you should consider: This oven weighs 23.4 pounds.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top steam oven for the money
Whynter Grande 40-Quart Capacity Countertop Multifunction Convection Steam Oven
What you need to know: This extra-large oven is big enough to fit a whole turkey.
What you’ll love: The 47-ounce water tank allows for extended steaming times. You can adjust the temperature from 85-450 degrees and preset cook times for up to 24 hours. The case is made of black stainless steel, and the door is made of double-pane mirrored glass.
What you should consider: Some report having difficulty understanding the operating instructions.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
AUG Countertop Multifunctional Steam Oven
What you need to know: You get steamer, toaster oven and convection oven functions with this stainless steel countertop oven with LED control panel.
What you’ll love: You get automatic cooking with more than 50 preset recipes with this 28-quart 1,550-watt oven with three layers. This versatile appliance also sterilizes and makes bread and yogurt.
What you should consider: This oven does not allow you to replace the interior light.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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