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This newer species of oven combines steam and convection technologies in a single appliance and boasts speed, versatility and healthier cooking. The combination of convection and steam is meant to reduce cooking time. The convection function circulates hot air for better browning, while the steam adds moisture to help keep food moist and juicy with little or no added fat. Some also say that steam is the key to achieving professional results at home for things like crisp crusts on baguettes and other artisan breads. Although steam ovens are gaining in popularity, they tend to be very expensive and only available from high-end manufacturers. So be prepared to pay thousands of dollars for one of your own. Fortunately, there are more affordable countertop versions available. While these are closer to traditional toaster ovens in price, their smaller size limits cooking to one dish at a time.
These ovens alternate between microwave, convection and often grilling, so you enjoy faster cooking times without the rubbery quality of microwave cookery. Most of these ovens can be operated on a single mode (for instance, microwave only for defrosting) and come with pre-set roasting and baking programs. For example, a baking cycle might be 90% convection and 10% microwave, and a roasting program may be 70% convection and 30% microwave. Depending on the brand, speed ovens have varying degrees of technology and radically different price points. But even the least expensive model comes with a steep price tag, similar in cost to medium- and high-end wall ovens. Reviews from users seem to be mixed. Some say the controls and settings are complicated and the results don’t warrant the investment.
Other advancements to consider
Shorter self-cleaning cycles: New technology can cut the cleaning cycle in half—saving you time and energy. Halogen lighting: A small, but handy feature, this feature offers a better view of what’s cooking with a brighter oven interior. Halogen lighting may cut down on your need to repeatedly open and close the oven door.
Hidden or sealed elements: When elements are recessed in the top of the oven or concealed in the bottom, cleaning spills is that much easier.
Full-extension racks on ball bearings: If you’ve ever struggled pulling out a heavy casserole or a roast turkey from your oven, an easy, smooth glide is a very welcome improvement.
Built-in warming drawers: For everyday casual dining, this is probably more of a nice-to-have than a must-have. But new options also offer a low-temperature feature that functions much like a slow cooker.
Regardless of what you choose, a new oven can be an investment. Eventually, even expensive appliances will break down. If you’re thinking about buying a new oven or another major appliance, consider the added protection that comes with an American Home Shield® Home Warranty Plan. It can help save you money on unexpected costly repairs and replacements on covered items. Check to see what’s covered.