steam oven
Are you trying to shift to an oil-free lifestyle? Steam ovens are a great alternative to convection units that lock in moisture without oils. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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.

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Steam ovens are more efficient at retaining nutrients in food than traditional gas or electric ovens. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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 combi-appliances with a dedicated steam function. 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 Dh149.73 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


  • Expensive
  • 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 Dh304.66 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: The manufacturer offers three years of warranty.

3. Best with Air Fryer: Smacook 3in1 Steam Air Fryer, 7L


  • Steams, air fries and grills
  • Large seven-litre basket
  • Touchscreen controls with adjustable timer and temperature
  • Eight cooking presets
  • Comes with a recipe booklet


  • Smaller than most countertop ovens

If you prefer the air fryer's no-frills cooking, check out the Smacook unit, which combines a steam oven and air fryer into one compact appliance. This countertop option has a large-capacity bowl of seven litres, where food is air-fried, steamed and grilled. It dedicates 900 watts of power to steaming, with a 600ml water tank that can run up to 50 minutes. Any excess condensation is collected in a slide-out drip tray at the bottom of the unit. Use the LED touchscreen panel to pick from eight preset cooking functions, including chicken, fish and pizza, then adjust the temperature and timer to taste, if needed. Smacook offers detailed recipes with your order, so you can master both steaming and air frying in combination for the juiciest proteins, much like in a combi-steam oven. Reviewers say that it prepares food quickly for the entire family, and their meals always come out soft and delicious. They highly recommend the all-in-one unit to busy parents and people living by themselves.

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
  • Needs a voltage converter in the UAE

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 Dh146.71 for 12 months with select banks.

5. Best Value Built-in Oven: Zanussi 60cm Built-in Electric Oven with Steam


  • Large 75-litre capacity with three tiers
  • Dedicated cavity for water inside the oven
  • Clear LED display with timer and temperature settings
  • Catalytic self-cleaning


  • No standalone steaming option

Larger than our Siemens pick but at an affordable rate, is Zanussi's Italian-engineered built-in electric oven with steam. It has a 75-litre capacity that's distributed among three baking levels and features a convection fan at the back of the cavity to carry the heat evenly. This built-in unit creates steam when the bottom of the oven is filled with water, a PlusSteam function dedicated to bread-making for fluffy insides and crunchy crusts. A plethora of functions awaits the casual cook, from moist fan baking to pizza setting, who no longer has to set the temperature based on a rough guesstimate. The LED display suggests heat settings based on the cooking function, though you can still select the time and the temperature manually. With regular 220 degrees Celsius heating, the oven's catalytic coatings will automatically burn away any grease residue, making cleaning less stressful. The oven comes with a cake tray and two dripping pans.

Bonus: Buy with zero per cent instalments and pay Dh135.83 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh114, a one-year accidental damage protection for Dh131 and a two-year extended warranty for Dh162.

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.