Move over air fryers, it's time for steam and combi-steam ovens to shine.
Modern culinary inventions have introduced many a convenient appliance to the casual home cook. From air fryers and toaster ovens to handheld blenders and multi-cookers, these appliances significantly cut time spent in the kitchen, all without compromising on flavours. It's also why steam ovens are quickly replacing traditional ovens and microwaves. If you're looking to cook healthier meals but don't have a lot of time to spare, steam ovens could be your all-in-one gateway to a nutritious plate.
Are steam ovens worth buying?
These appliances use the method of steaming to not only cook through your vegetables, meat, and seafood, but also to bake puddings, pies, and bread. "You can even boil eggs in steam ovens - simply stick them in, and watch them come out perfectly boiled for breakfast," said Chef Maryam Abdul-Razaq, a professional private chef in Dubai, who specialises in Afro-fusion and Asian cuisine and hosts supper clubs in the city, via the Splidu app.
Chef Abdul-Razaq recalls using a steam oven in culinary school, where it "cooked chicken and fish in just 15 minutes". And, ever since, she's set her eyes on a built-in variant for her dream kitchen. "In a traditional convection oven, you have to wrap the food in aluminium foil to lock in moisture when cooking meat like turkey that dries out easily. But these steam ovens do it for you without the added steps," she added.
Besides a shorter cooking time, the steam oven is excellent at retaining nutrients in foods, namely folate (folic acid), which is otherwise lost by boiling vegetables like spinach and broccoli in water. "You don't need to butter or oil your ingredients, either, only season what's needed. These ovens are ideal for people who are on a weight loss journey," said Chef Abdul-Razaq.
Which steam oven is the best for me?
Steam ovens either come with a refillable water tank or a more invasive plumbing system for built-in installation. Then, there are those that only cook by steaming, while others offer a combination of convection and steaming. It's the latter variant, a combi-steam oven, that our expert recommends to home cooks.
"Many people opt for combi versions. With these ovens, they can keep the insides moist and the exterior crispy brown," said Chef Abdul-Razaq. A two-in-one oven gives you the best of both worlds and makes single-use appliances redundant. "It saves you a lot of stress from doing multiple things at the same time."
Find steam ovens recommended by our expert below from Amazon, including countertop and built-in versions. Sign up for Prime membership to get some of these ovens today or tomorrow.
1. Best Overall: Cuisinart Steam and Convection Oven
- A full tank can produce 120 minutes of continuous steam
- Steams in combination with traditional oven functions
- Reheats leftovers without drying or overcooking
- Special bread proofing settings for doughnuts, pretzels and more
- Cooking time is difficult to adjust once started, say reviews
This countertop combination steam oven by Cuisinart is one Chef Abdul-Razaq has personally tried and vouches for. "It's quite pricey, but you don't have to install it, and if you're someone who cooks a lot, you'll see the need for it in the kitchen," she added. The Cuisinart Convection Steam Oven cuts cooking time by 40 per cent by offering traditional cooking functions alongside 120 minutes of steady steaming. It carries a 47-ounce (1.38-litre) water reservoir fixed to the side of the oven. With nine functions, the oven prepares moist baked goods, crisp roasts, steamed rice, vegetables, fish and so much more. It's also large enough to fit an entire 12-inch pizza or a whole 2kg chicken. Impressed reviewers say they've had their unit for years, and it still steam bakes perfectly, producing flaky pie crusts and delicious lasagna. They also add that the steam reheats leftovers better than a microwave.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh160.73 for 12 months with select banks.
2. Best Built-in Oven: Siemens Built-in Electric Oven with Added Steam Function
- Combines steam with hot air to produce the best cooking results
- Three tiers of cooking space on easy pull-out trays
- 10 food presets for quick preparation
- Cleaning function
- No standalone steaming option
If you're ready to commit to steaming your food, opt for a more permanent fixture, like this Siemens 60cm built-in electric oven with a steam function. Chef Abdul-Razaq lists German-engineered Siemens as a viable option for pricier built-in variants. The 66-litre oven uses its hotAir steam function to retain moisture for roasting and baking, leaving you with food that has a crispy exterior and juicy inside. There are also 10 preset programmes for standard foods that the unit automatically cooks by adjusting the power and timer. Its 3D heat distribution makes sure the food on all three levels is being cooked evenly.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh289.92 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers three years of warranty.
3. Best Budget: Tovala Gen 2 Smart Steam Oven
- Steams, toasts, air fries, broils and reheats
- Wi-Fi connectivity for smartphone control
- Smart barcode scanner for recipes to adjust settings quickly
- Comes with nine accessories
- Smaller than most countertop ovens
Another combination steam oven for the countertop, the Tovala Gen 2 unit is fully equipped with Wi-Fi for cooking on autopilot. Control the oven with your smartphone remotely - set the cooking mode and time - and go about your day. Besides steaming, this smart unit air fries, broils, toasts and reheats food. It comes with a barcode scanner that reads QR codes of recipes from the Tovala app and adjusts the settings accordingly. Your order includes nine helpful accessories, such as a steam cover, sheet tray and recipe cards. Reviewers say that unlike their older ovens, this Tovala steam oven cooks food quickly and doesn't dry the meals out. They pin it down as a must-have appliance for those who live alone.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh147.68 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one year and 30 days satisfaction.
4. Best for Bread: Balmuda The Toaster, Steam Oven Toaster
- Beautiful design for a modern kitchen
- Four bread modes and three oven modes with steam
- Reheats leftovers well, say reviews
- Prepares perfectly toasted bread
- Limited variable temperatures
Fond of compact toaster ovens? Try the steam variant by Balmuda, a TikTok favourite. Available in stunning shades of taupe, grey and matte black, the toaster uses steam technology and precise temperature control to retain moisture in any kind of bread, from artisan to sandwich. You're getting four bread modes and three oven modes for fish, meat dishes and vegetables. A tiny reservoir at the top takes in water for conversion. With a little steam, your baked goods remain moist and fluffy on the inside, while still boasting a golden finish. Reviewers love this versatile toaster oven for preparing delicious toast and dinner, having successfully made pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, calzone, salmon and more in it.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh153.20 for 12 months with select banks.
5. Best Premium Built-in Oven: Gorenje Built-in Combined Steam Oven, 73 Litres
- Large 73-litre capacity with five tiers
- Three levels of steaming
- Choose from 80 recipes to adjust settings automatically
- An array of cooking functions, from sous vide to dehydration
- Needs manual refilling
Larger than our Siemens pick but tagged at a premium price, is Gorenje's Slovenian-engineered built-in combined steam oven. It has a 73-litre capacity that's distributed among five baking levels and is modelled after rounded traditional fire ovens. Its unique design means there are fewer cool spots in the cavity. This built-in unit creates steam from a 1.3-litre water container, and lets you pick from three levels of steam intensity. A plethora of functions awaits the casual cook, from a dedicated yoghurt setting to sous vide, where food is prepared in a vacuum-sealed bag. If you're lost on what to make for dinner, simply browse Gorenje's 80-plus recipes to automatically set the temperature and time. The oven comes with two trays, a grill rack, and a baking pan.
Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh433.25 for 12 months with select banks. Add professional installation for free.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a minimum one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh312, a one-year accidental damage protection for Dh360 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh444.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.