Hot Stuff: Is the Steam Convection Oven Really All That?

Steam convection oven: a casserole coming out of the oven

Even if you don't follow the latest advances in kitchen tech, chances are you've been hearing a lot more about steam ovens these days. It's true that steam cooking isn't exactly new—people have been doing it since the Stone Age and professional chefs have long used steam ovens in commercial kitchens to make health-conscious meals.

But there have been some major drawbacks to using a steam-only oven, namely the high price tag and the inability to make food brown and crispy the way a regular oven does. Thanks to modern technology, however, there is another option: the steam convection oven. Using steam in concert with elements of convection cooking, these ovens are becoming one of today's hottest kitchen appliances for a multitude of reasons (more on that later).  

So how does a convection steam oven stack up against other types of ovens? Glad you asked. Read on to compare and contrast different ovens and learn how switching to a combination steam-convection oven just might change the way you cook for the better.

The Ins & Outs of Ovens

Steam convection oven: a conventional oven in a rustic kitchen

It's probably your most used kitchen appliance aside from your refrigerator, but there's more to this ubiquitous culinary contraption than you might think.

Conventional Oven

Whether it's a sleek, stainless steel, electric wall oven or a basic white, gas-fueled unit that plugs into an outlet, most ovens found in today's homes are conventional ovens. Also called traditional ovens or just regular ovens, these old-school machines cook food by surrounding it with hot air.

Usually conventional ovens have two heating elements—one on the top and one on the oven floor. Both components heat up when preheating but in baking mode all the heat comes from the bottom. And since heat rises to the top, food on the higher rack tends to cook faster than food on the lower rack.

Convection Oven

They look the same and are almost spelled the same, but a convection oven has one thing that a conventional oven doesn't have: a fan. That added element circulates hot air throughout the entire oven, which not only speeds up cooking time but also results in food that's more evenly cooked without any of the hot spots that regular ovens can create.

What's more, if you're looking for a smaller version for your countertop, most toaster ovens today are also convection ovens and are quite budget-friendly.

Microwave Oven

Now here's an oven you won't mistake for any other kind. These compact units became all the rage in the 1980s as a fast way to heat and cook food for even the most culinarily challenged.

Known for their supreme convenience and affordability, microwave ovens use electromagnetic waves that cause water molecules in food to vibrate, thus producing the heat that cooks the food. While "nuking" food is quick and easy, it often results in unevenly heated dishes, and you can't get that crispy texture that a convection or conventional oven can create.

Steam Oven

An increasingly popular choice for those wanting healthy meals, steam ovens use steam to cook food. Similar to what you’d find on a clothing iron, a steam oven has a water reservoir (also called a water tank) that converts the water into steam.

Because steam retains moisture better than convection cooking does, this method allows for more vitamins and minerals to remain in tact and for food not to get dried out. However, ovens that only use steam can’t brown foods the way convection ovens can. For more details on steam ovens, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to steam oven cooking.

Steam Convection Oven

Combining the elements of convection and steam, a steam convection oven—also called a combi-steam oven, combo steam oven, convection steam oven, or convection steam-bake oven—uses both wet heat and dry heat.

Steam convection ovens come in different sizes, ranging from big units (which can take the place of a conventional oven at home or in a commercial kitchen) to countertop appliances that are basically the size of a microwave oven. Here are some of the reasons why a convection steam oven like the Tovala Oven is a win-win solution for healthy, flavorful cooking:

  • Shorter cooking time means more vitamins and minerals are retained in food.
  • Reducing the cooking time leads to a more eco-friendly appliance that uses less energy.
  • Even heating from the convection ensures no hot spots.
  • Steam provides better moisture retention, so your food is juicier.
  • Overcooked or dried out food (such as with a microwave oven) is no longer a concern.
  • You can bake or crisp food in true convection style or steam-bake when needed.
  • Steam helps preserve flavor and doesn't ruin food texture when reheating.

Cook Like a Pro

Steam convection oven: the Tovala Steam Oven on a modern countertop

Now that you know a little more about the features of various oven types, it could be time to rethink your approach to cooking.

Sure, your regular oven is an old familiar friend that has been there for you through thick (steaks) and thin (eggplant slices). And certainly the convenience and low cost of a microwave oven or toaster oven cannot be denied. But finding a high-quality, easy-to-use steam convection oven that won't break the bank is possible thanks to the Tovala Oven.

This countertop oven is priced as low as $249 and come loaded with Tovala IQ™ smart technology that lets you bypass any learning curve and does the work for you—it bakes, reheats, broils, and steams all with the touch of a button or tap on your phone via the Tovala app for iOS or Android.

You can also try Tovala Meals, which make cooking truly effortless with healthy, chef-created meals. Unlike most meal kits that require at least 45 minutes of prep and cooking, Tovala Meals take just 60 seconds to prep and less than 20 minutes of cooking time. Plus, you can try it risk-free with a full refund if you're not satisfied.

Advances in kitchen tech are happening all the time, but there’s one thing that won't change: Your need to eat. So treat yourself and give a steam convection oven a try.