Smart kitchen technology isn’t new, but a growing segment of this market is now focused on smart ovens. But what exactly is a smart oven, what does it do, and what actually makes it smart?
Technically speaking there are two definitions of smart ovens. There’s the traditional built-in, large format oven or stove appliances that have added technology (often a connected app) and then there are smaller, portable versions also known as countertop ovens. These countertop versions are representing a new segment of the smart kitchen.
These compact smart ovens are usually one-third to one-quarter the size of a typical oven or range unit and plug into a regular AC outlet. They’re designed to be freestanding.
Brands you may see in your search for a smart oven include Tovala, June, Brava, and Anova.
Almost exclusively, there is no stovetop component to countertop smart ovens, so calling these smart stoves would be a bit of a misnomer. If you’re looking for a stove or range be sure to check out our list of best oven/ranges here, as some newer models do offer technology like Wi-Fi, remote troubleshooting, and even a companion app.
There are a few different concepts for this type of small appliance. The first uses curated weekly food deliveries to your door that often come with QR codes the oven (or a companion app) will scan. Once the code is scanned, it takes care of setting the temperature, adjusting the cooking time, and notifying you when the meal is ready. It takes all the planning and guesswork (and some might say the enjoyment) out of cooking since all you have to do is open a pre-packed box, scan, pop it in the oven, then eat.
The second type of smart oven like the Breville Joule oven, lets you manage more of the process, using your own store-bought food, but dialing up recipes or recommended cooking programs that purport to cook food perfectly. Again, a companion app will help you monitor the cook, or find meal ideas.
Perhaps not surprisingly, there are also ovens that can do both store-bought food (even scanning a food’s UPC barcode) and catered meal delivery, which may add to their versatility.
Samsung does not appear to make a smart countertop oven, but it does tout Wi-Fi on one of its large format ranges, and its website also hints at the technology, saying its “smart oven combines the cooking performance of an oven with the speed and convenience of a microwave oven. It is a perfect combination of convection, grill, and microwave” but no specific products are linked.
Some ovens use infrared light to cook, others use heating elements. Some ovens are smart enough to cook a program on their own, others require the use of a special temperature probe inside the food to improve accuracy. Depending on the technology, these smart ovens can bake, roast, use convection cooking, steam, act as an air fryer, toaster, or provide the reheating convenience of a microwave.
If you’re shopping for a smart oven the most important question to ask yourself is, why? What technology are you seeking that you don’t already have in another appliance, and is that worth adding another machine to your life? If you’re in a space that doesn’t already have an oven you may be looking for something that can roast and bake but you may not have much use for steam or air frying. If you already have an oven you don’t use because you don’t like to cook, perhaps you’re looking at one of these countertop ovens to automate your cooking so you can take the worry out of meal prep, planning, and cooking.
If you’re looking at one of these ovens as a fun way to adopt some new technology, give some thought to how long it will entertain you, and how long you might stick with the associated meal packages and deliveries. On that topic, it’s worth pricing out how many meals you’d want your smart oven to cook each week, and what that will actually cost. Once you total up the food costs and add in the cost of the oven itself, you may not be saving money, and it may end up costing you much more.
Finally, don’t forget about space. Many of these ovens are rather large (more so than a toaster oven) and need access to a plug. That said, they should fit on the counter under a set of standard-size top cabinets.