Steam oven cooking is one of the latest innovations in home kitchens, producing healthier food with maximum flavor. But with a significant price tag and limits to the range of food it can cook, they also have their disadvantages. We’ll review steam oven pros and cons to help you decide if this kitchen trend is right for you.
Comparing and Contrasting Steam Oven Pros and Cons
Almost every major appliance has its advantages and disadvantages and steam ovens are no different. The trick is to determine if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for your personal cooking needs and preferences. But before we compare steam oven pros and cons, here’s some helpful information on how these ovens operate.
What Is a Steam Oven?
Unlike standard and convection ovens that heat the air with a gas or electric heating element, steam ovens convert water to steam. This steam is hot enough to cook food as effectively as heated air. Most steam ovens are single wall units, though there are smaller countertop models that can be additions to standard or convection ovens. Some wall-mounted convection ovens also have a steam option that combines both functions.
How Do Steam Ovens Work?
How do steam ovens work? They use gas or electricity to heat water to 212℉, the point at which it turns to steam. Most steam ovens have an enclosed boiler that must be filled with water prior to cooking. This is typically done via a small compartment on the front of the oven. Other steam ovens connect directly to your home water supply for constant water access.
Once the water in the boiler converts to steam, it’s released into the oven’s cavity. This moist heat surrounds food, cooking it throughout. Since water is a better conductor of heat than air, steam ovens can be even faster than convection cooking.
Are Steam Ovens Worth Buying?
Are steam ovens worth it when it comes to price, cooking range, and convenience? Comparing their advantages and disadvantages can help determine if this cooking method is right for you.
Consider the following steam oven pros and cons:
- Healthier cooking method: With standard or convection ovens, butter or oil is typically added to food to help it stay moist while cooking. Since steam cooking enables food to better retain its moisture, these extra fats are unnecessary. In addition, many foods lose their vitamins and nutrients in the dry heat of standard and convection cooking. Steam’s moist heat allows for better retention of various nutrients.
- Improved flavor and texture: When food is able to retain its moisture it often has a more palatable texture, vibrant color and increased flavor. What is a steam oven used for to maximize these benefits? Fish and vegetables are ideal for steam cooking, remaining moist and flavorful. Steam ovens can also cook meats in sauce to perfection, never drying them out. Dumplings, rice and desserts like puddings and souffles also benefit from the moisture of steam cooking.
- Rapid cook times: Since water is a better conductor of heat than air, steam ovens can cook faster than even convection models. It also heats more evenly than standard ovens, which often create pockets of hot and cold air that leave food unevenly cooked.
- Better reheating: Unlike the microwave or a standard oven, steam’s moisture can reheat leftovers without drying them out.
- Cost: A steam oven price is significantly higher than those for standard and even convection ovens. A typical wall unit can range in price from $1,500-$5,000. While countertop models cost significantly less, they can still range from $400-$600, making them an expensive addition to your main oven.
- Limited temperature range and browning capabilities: Though steam heat feels hotter than its 212℉, it can’t fully cook foods that require high temperatures. Its temperature limitations also restrict its browning capabilities. Consequently, larger meats, cookies, bread, cakes, and pies that benefit from browning are best cooked in standard or convection ovens.
- Constant refilling: One of the biggest steam oven disadvantages is its need to be refilled before each use. If your steam oven isn’t connected to your home water supply, the boiler must be filled before cooking, every time. Foods with longer cooking times may even require refilling during cooking, adding to this inconvenience.
- Laborious cleaning: While oven cleaning with steam is helpful for standard and convection ovens, steam cooking typically leaves a residue on oven walls. This means they must be wiped down and dried after each use to prevent condensation from accumulating. The boiler tank must also be regularly descaled to prevent mold, mildew, and hard water stains.
Steam oven pros and cons also include the malfunctions that plague standard and convection ovens. When you need an oven repair service, call Cody’s Appliance Repair for any model oven!