Countertop ovens

sjhockeyfan325May 6, 2014

I have always only had one oven and I almost never need more. That said, once in a blue moon, it would be convenient to have an extra oven, so I'm considering getting a Breville or Cuisinart countertop oven that can live in the pantry most of the time. I know the Breville ovens are highly thought of, but I just read about the Cuisinart countertop combo steam oven, and thought that might be a good choice.

Honestly, though, I have no idea what one even uses a steam oven for. Given that, would you suggest a Breville or the Cuisinart, and if the Cuisinart, why (what would you use the steam function for in such an "extra" oven?)?

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There are 5 pages of posts on the Cuisinart Combi in the link I posted below

Here is a link that might be useful: egullet

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 8:35PM
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I would never use a steam oven but I am sure the Cuisinart has its talents, and its fans. I learned about Breville here, and when I was unable to fit double oven into my reno, I bought the mid size and Wow. My mom and sis liked it so much they bought the large size and it is even nicer. I thought perhaps all the hoopla here was . . . well, hoopla. But these things cook like a million bucks. Fast, easy to clean, and barely throw off heat.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 9:27PM
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Thanks - good to hear real-world experience with the. Breville. I'm not sure I would ever cook with steam either, and the Breville interior is larger than the Cuisinart, so I'm probably leaning in that direction.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 10:45PM
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I stumbled across the CSO-300 a month or so ago in one of the dicussions of the larger capacity, built-in combi steam ovens by Wolf, Miele, etc. I have been intrigued enough to investigate, though not enough to buy it. Here are some sources that I've looked at and found interesting:

There is, of course, the infomercial sounding review at FOod and Wine magazine:,d.cGU

There was a similar sort of review on Cnet, as well. (Google it if interested).

You can find the owner's manual and recipe book here:

Modernist Cuisine likes the CSO-300 because ... well, Modernist Cuisine likes steam ovens and this one is thought to a good trial version at a fraction of the price of others. (Unfortunately, the Modernist Cuisine forums are temporarily offline for upgrades and I can't find the link.) The next least expensive model, also a countertop unit running off 120v outlets, is the Electrolux "Dito OTS100" which runs about $2k.

Besides the eGullet thread linked by barryv, there's also thread on the CSO-300 at Chowhound with a couple of longish posts that I thought were informative. The link is here:

There are several Youtube videos but I didn't find them particularly informative except to see what the control screen looked like in operation.

I've been interested in a steam oven as an extension of what I do with pressure cookers and some of the steam baking/roasting I already do (pouring water over bbq -lava-rocks in a pan or opening the oven door and using a spritzer/mister ) and I've also been thinking it would be nice to have a second, small oven for baking baking bread now that winter is almost over for us. (I said "almost" because we're forecast to to get 20" of snow tonight.) I do bake custards and cheesecakes often enough that the little thing could be useful in that respect.

So, what holds me back from spending the $300 to get one?

(1) not being able to see one in person before I buy one -- nobody hereabouts carries them in stock.

(2) I haven't really figured out where I'd put actually put the thing. There's no convenient place to leave it out in my small kitchen and pantry. You cannot hang this thing from a cabinet. According to the owner's guide, it needs at least two to 4 inches side and back clearance, That's more than I can give up. My old house kitchen is too narrow for an island-cart. With that clearance, it eats too much counter space to replace my toaster -- and the clearance mean there's no room for a countertop bread-board in front of it. (Oh, to have an old fashioned base cabinet with a slide-out bread board!)

(3) Somewhat paradoxically, at the same time I'm also concerned that its interior capacity might be a little too small for some of what I want. I've read that the interior is only about 5 inches high or so (from the rack/shelf to the heating elements on top.) If it uses the top elements for baking (as I've read it does), that seems too close for my standard loaves in pans and boules (typically more than 4 inches tall). Plus, the unit is too small for standard off-the-shelf quarter-sheet pans (which do fit in the Breville.)

So, at this point, I'm just dithering about it. Hope this information helps you with your deliberations.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Wed, May 7, 14 at 2:14

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 11:12PM
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Are you near a Williams Sonoma? They have this in many of my local William Sonoma. I think my local Sur La Table has this on display also, it is small but many seem to bake a 9" loaf pan.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 11:12AM
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I am near both Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table, so I'll check them out - thanks for the idea!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 11:47AM
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Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately for me, the nearest WS stores are 600 miles away. Your mention of WS does remind me that the online WS site has a video and some additional recipes which some might find helpful in evaluating the unit.

You are correct that this unit is wide enough and deep enough to fit a typical 9" loaf pan. FWIW, this oven can bake a 12-inch diameter pizza. It is the height and the use of the top elements that concerns me. I'm guessing that if you like bread-machine sized loaves, the height would likely be fine. But, if your bread loaves dome/rise much above the sides of the loaf pan as I prefer mine to do, then there is concern about the top overbrowning/charring as shown in one of the photos which appears in either the the Food & Wine article or the one on CNET. Small batards, great. Sandwich bread, maybe not so good?


I'd like to know what you think of the unit when you see one. Please report back after your visit.

This post was edited by JWVideo on Wed, May 7, 14 at 12:37

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 12:33PM
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The rise of certain breads was why I did not get this unit but can definitely understand using it as a second oven. I recently recommended this to a friend who does not like microwaved food. It has a place but it may be too small for most needs. I think a few users on fresh loaf have this unit and have reported favorable results.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 7:33PM
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FWIW...consumer reports likes the Breville.

Most reviewers at various sites do, too. Among those reviewers rating it poorly, the most-frequent cause of annoyance is reliability: frequent mention of failure after a year or so of normal use. Some mention earlier failure.

Most reviewers, even going back a few years, like them.

Also, FWIW....110v plug-in toaster-ovens (which is the general category) are notorious for failures. Always have least for the last fifty years. The Breville would be exceptional in that way only because of its price.

In my own experience -- which does, in fact, go back those fifty years -- I've never had one fail. (my little GE kept me fed through college in the mid-sixties.) Having only a single oven and needing another, I'm buying the Breville tomorrow at local WS.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:24PM
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I've had the Breville BOV650XL Compact Smart Oven 1800-Watt Toaster Oven with Element IQ for over two years. I love it. I use it for toast, bagels, brownies, smaller pizzas, chicken, really anything that fits. It's very even, user friendly, and fun to use. Yes, fun. There is a bottom crumb tray which slides out from the front which I find very convenient. Mine is from WS. I did buy another from bed bath and beyond as a wedding gift. I used a 20% off coupon for that one which they took with no questions asked.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:45PM
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I have the large 6 slice Breville and love it!! Agree with everything BINK5 above said, I use it instead of my oven for anything that will fit. And I originally bought to mainly be a toaster...its great.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 11:50PM
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Great to know.

Gwarstong, I have had the same Black & Decker toaster oven for many many years. It works fine, but it is very small.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 12:21AM
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I bought the cuisinart steam combi oven a month ago when Williams Sonoma had an email special of $199. I've never had a countertop oven before to compare, however I'm really liking it so far. There's just three of us so I'm not cooking large quantities in it on a regular basis. For us, it's the perfect size most nights for chicken or fish and veg. I do use the steam bake option quite a bit and it does a nice job. It's a little flimsy in construction and I'm not expecting a terribly long lifespan, but maybe I'll be surprised?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 9:30PM
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Bought the Breville smart oven...the big one...from local WS. Works fine. Liking it. Controls are easy and precise. Everything operates as represented...and as I expected. Just hope it lasts as all my others have...going back to the sixties...but without today's electronics.

However, do be aware that any/all of these things are not insulated. The external surfaces get burn-yourself hot. Leave significant space between oven and surrounding surfaces.

This post was edited by Gwarstong on Sat, May 10, 14 at 21:14

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 8:58PM
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" Leave significant space between oven and surrounding surfaces."

Is putting one under upper cabinets a problem? I have UCL there with plastic covers ... would the heat be a problem?

Let us know what you end up with, sjhockeyfan. I've been eyeing the Breville's myself.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:48PM
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I bought a Breville to use last spring, after being without an oven at all for 6 months on our boat. We're living in a marina right now tied up to a dock, so I have power. Until we decide to go cruising again, spending the $$$ for a replacement gimballed marine propane stove is not happening, and my oven quit working in November 2013. I'm extremely limited in my galley space. I love our Breville oven. I use it even for small roasts or braises that need to cook longer than the max 2 hour timer it uses, so I have to turn it on again. The external heat has not been a problem. We bought the wood board that goes with it, and it sits on top of the oven, and stuff sits on top of that. I don't have anything touching the sides of it - I have stuff close, like 1" away close, and it hasn't been a problem.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:59PM
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I store my delonghi countertop oven in my pantry. It is similar to the Breville.
I do have power in my pantry and have used it there as well as pulling it out.
I have baked pot pies- not your typical store bought versions but hefty pot pies from 2 local places and they were perfect. You can also heat a 12 inch pizza.
Just another option to consider.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:41AM
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