The second-generation smart steam oven from Tovala uses multi-step cooking cycles called Tovala IQ. Tovala IQ allows the oven to switch between cooking modes, times, and temperatures all within the programmed cook cycle. With the oven, you’re able to steam, bake, broil, toast, and reheat food.
The oven itself is about the same size as a microwave oven—18.5 x 12.32 x 11.75-inches. It also weighs 21 pounds, so it’s fairly easy to store or move around. Controls on the front allow you to pick the cooking mode, scan barcodes to trigger different prep times, pick your temperature, and preheat the oven if you’re baking. Along with the oven, you’ll receive an oven mitt, drip tray, crumb tray, oven rack, cooking sheet, and measuring cup to add the water into the machine’s tank. The setup of the physical oven and connecting it to the app was seamless and super quick. From the app, you can control the oven, look up recipes, and order meals. The library currently has about 100 recipes, but more are added quarterly or seasonally.
Tovala also allows you to order chef-made meals to use with its oven. The cook cycles for these dinners switch back and forth between multiple cooking types to preserve the moisture when baking or broiling foods. For quality control, all of the ingredients are portioned out at the same thickness. This way you won’t get an undercooked piece of meat. Each meal is about 400 to 800 calories, and there are a handful of options for people with dietary restrictions. All the nutritional facts are located on the instruction sheet, so you know what you’re eating in the chef-prepared meal kits.
Take the BBQ chicken and Mac & Cheese combo meal, for instance. It comes in a lightweight cardboard box with two tin containers, with all the sauces and sides in smaller plastic containers. You simply peel off the film on top of the trays, add sauces, and then scan the meal’s barcode—located on the box—on the machine’s built-in scanner. It’s pretty hard to screw up. Once your meal is done, you’ll get a notification on your phone or, if you prefer, on your Apple Watch. The most cleanup you’ll have to do (besides the plates) is discarding the tin sheets and wrappers.
Considering the cooking part is easy as popping in a microwave meal, the results are pretty fantastic. The macaroni and cheese ends up gooey with no cold areas like you’ll sometimes get from a microwaved meal. The chicken doesn’t come out overcooked or dry. In fact, it’s surprisingly juicy, and the BBQ sauce didn’t burn.
With hard-boiled eggs, instead of having to wait for the water to bubble, you place two eggs on the oven rack and let them heat for just over 13 minutes (according to the app’s suggestion).
The oven also features a scan-to-cook function that lets you read grocery barcodes of participating stores and companies—like Trader Joe’s, PopTarts, and Eggos—to cook the food at the right time and temperature for that specific item. Tovala’s culinary team doesn’t just crib the information off the back of the box: They create custom cook cycles for every product.
Lastly, if you’re aren’t making one of the pre-portioned meals or scanning in frozen foods, you can choose a single item or recipes from within the Tovala app. Simply pick the food and the app will send the time, cooking mode, and temperature straight to the machine. All you have to do is press cook.