For the first time, we’ve tested combination steam and convection ovens (or combi-steam ovens as they’re known). These multifunction ovens combine the baking and grilling functions of a standard convection oven, with steam-only and combination steam/convection cooking. So, do they offer the best of both worlds?
We put all three combi-steam ovens through our usual tests: grilling toast, baking scones and meringues, roasting chicken and cooking a pizza. For the roast chicken test, we followed the manufacturers’ instructions and used the combination steam/convection function suggested.
We tested steam-only cooking performance by “boiling” eggs, then steaming fish, rice and vegetables on separate shelves at the same time and finally, steaming a golden syrup pudding.
We recommend one model from this test – become a paying member to find out more.
There are two other choices when it comes to steam ovens.
You can go for a standalone steam oven. These are good for steaming large quantities of food over multiple shelves without fusing flavours. For example, you can steam fish, rice and vegetables and a pudding at the same time, and quickly too. But you can’t brown food so they’re not a versatile option.
The other choice is a multifunction convection oven with an added moisture function. This is usually the cheapest way to go. These ovens don’t have steam-only settings, but inject bursts of steam into the oven during normal baking to help retain moisture. Some ovens have a water tank, and a drain and tube for emptying condensation, while others draw water through a siphoning tube which you position into a glass of water. We've tested 2 of these types of ovens – the Electrolux EVEP618BB and the Miele H6461 BP.
Overall, we were disappointed by the performance and the ease of use of some of the combi-steam ovens tested. We expected better results for the combination cooking functions of these expensive appliances. We also expected all models to have comprehensive instructions with more intuitive cooking programmes and controls.
If you steam foods often, particularly for a crowd, or if you like to steam several dishes at the same time, a combi-steam oven may be a useful addition to your kitchen. But for most cooks, a stovetop or microwave steamer will do the trick.