If you’re a big fan of healthy cooking, you’ve probably heard of the steam oven. The relatively new cooking appliance that cooks food using, well, steam. It’s fantastic for your favourite vegetables and it retains more nutrients than your regular cooking. But after a quick look, you might be put off by the expensive price tag and the learning curve that comes with steam cooking.
That’s why we’ve compiled a solid list of steam ovens pros and cons below. So you can figure out exactly how steam ovens work and if you’d like one in your kitchen.
What are Steam Ovens? How do Steam Ovens work?
Steam ovens are the hot new appliance on the block (other than air-venting induction hobs). They have a reservoir of water within the appliance that is converted to steam during the cooking process. This is circulated around your food and cooks using steam only.
This is different to average convection ovens, which use a dry heat rather than moist heat. Using steam only has many advantages, including the locking in of essential vitamins that you lose when you brown or roast most foods.
A steam oven works its magic by heating up the water in the reservoir. Hot steam rises, then passing over your food through a small valve that reacts to the pressure in the reservoir. This steam gets to a really high temperature, cooking vegetables and other foods in absolutely no time.
A steam oven is like your regular steamer that goes on the hob, but with more power and more cooking functions to play with. There’s also such a thing as a combination steam oven, which combines your regular oven with a steam oven, but we’ll cover that later.
What can I cook in a Steam Oven? Why cook in a Steam Oven?
Just about anything, is your answer. However the main answer is vegetables, but you can also cook meat, fish, pasta, bread, rice and lots of great puddings too. Honestly, the list of foods you can cook is endless.
As we’ve said before, cooking using a steam oven is great for your health. The steam keeps vitamins locked inside the food, rather than drawing them out like a normal oven does. Steamed foods contain more nutrients such as Vitamin C, antioxidants and folic acid. And your food will not only be better for you, it will be more flavourful too!
Steam ovens also cook food quickly. The direct heat from the steam means that things like veggies and fish are cooked in about fifteen minutes. You can use the pure steam oven on its own to keep things simple, or you can use it alongside your convection oven too to spice things up a bit. Such as using your normal oven for roasting a whole chicken, and then using the steam oven for creating super nutritional veggies (broccoli and carrots) to have on the side.
Cooking foods simultaneously is also better in steam ovens. The steam feature keeps your food crisp and crunchy, rather than soggy and bland like boiling your food. There’s no transfer between food flavours like there is in a regular oven.
Here are some interesting recipes we found for cooking food in a steam oven: Steam oven salmon with lemon, asparagus and potatoes; Steamed Chinese dumplings; Individual steamed cheesecakes; Sticky date and spiced pear puddings with spiked cognac caramel sauce.
What type of Steam Ovens can I buy?
To start with, there are pure steam ovens. It’s a great addition to the kitchen, and if you’re opting for other Built-In cooking appliances, you can create a really good streamlined effect across the whole kitchen. You can choose just a steam oven, but if you love crispy brown potatoes and meat, we recommend having one as well as your conventional oven.
The best answer to solving this problem is to get a combination oven. It combines the goodness of steam cooking and the tastiness of dry heat cooking in one. If you were roasting a turkey in a combination steam oven, which let’s face it almost always turns out dry, you’d get the crispy skin of the turkey whilst retaining the moisture through the steam function.
You can also get a microwave & steam combi steam oven. This has the convenience of your microwave cooking, but the deliciousness and reduced cooking times of your steam oven on top. So if you’re currently planning your kitchen, you could get a convection oven and then a microwave & steam combination oven to keep your kitchen appliances streamlined. You could even match brands to keep it one smooth aesthetic.
Are Steam Ovens energy efficient?
Yes, yes, yes! A lot of steam ovens are A+ energy rated, and none of our steam oven range goes below an A energy rating. They also cook your food fast, meaning a lower energy usage and a lower energy bill.
Pros & Cons of Steam Ovens:
Steam Oven Pros:
- Locks in flavour
- Retains nutrients that are lost in convection cooking.
- You don’t have to add oil or fat to your cooking.
- Steam ovens are quite small and compact.
- Most steam ovens have lots of helpful functions and features.
- Using a combi steam oven, you can brown and steam at the same time.
- You can reheat food really easily.
- Energy efficient.
We’ve spoken about it a lot, but we think the biggest pro is the nutritional and flavour value that is contained through steam cooking. In a close second is certainly how quickly it cooks and reheats food. Saving you time is definitely up there in the world of reasons to buy a steam oven.
Steam Oven Cons:
- Doesn’t have the browning, or grilling capabilities of conventional ovens.
- Requires refills of the manual reservoir.
- High price tag.
- A countertop steam oven can be bulky.
- Steep learning curve on using a steam oven.
- Cleaning your steam oven can be a task.
- You may want it as an additional appliance, rather than your main method of cooking.
We think one of the biggest steam oven cons is the cleaning. You will need to make sure that the steam oven is clean of moisture to avoid a bad odour build up and potential damage. However, this disadvantage is solved in a lot of our steam oven and combi models by having a self-clean function.
Unfortunately the high price tag does put people off buying steam and combination steam ovens. Our lowest price Combi Steam comes in at £620, which is over budget for a lot of people looking for a regular oven. So buying a steam oven is a big decision to make when it comes to price. Buying a steam oven is worth it if you’re planning a whole kitchen revamp, or if you have a bit of extra cash to splash when you’re replacing your old oven.
Some of our favourite Steam Oven models:
Samsung NQ50T8939BK Built In Infinite Range Compact Steam Combination Oven – BLACK
Neff C24FS31G0B N90 Compact Steam Combination Oven – GRAPHITE
Siemens CS736G1B1 IQ-700 Compact Multifunction Steam Oven – BLACK
Shop Siemens Steam Ovens here.
Miele DG2740 ContourLine Compact Steam Oven – STAINLESS STEEL
Shop Miele Steam Ovens here.
There are a lot of major manufacturers designing exceptional steam and combi steam ovens. Shop them all right here.
So, there you have it. The pros and cons of steam ovens. We hope this list helps you in your journey to finding your perfect kitchen suite. We love steam ovens at Appliance City, and we know that if you do decide to buy a steam oven, you certainly won’t regret it.