Anova Precision Oven aims to make steam combi cooking affordable

Anova may be best known for its home sous-vide devices, but the company has a new countertop combi oven that aims to make steam cooking mass-market. The Anova Precision Oven looks at first glance like a microwave but, thanks to a water tank on the side and a bevy of temperature probes, it actually cooks in a very different way.

Steam ovens combine steam and convection heat to control not only the temperature but the humidity level. The former cooks the food; the latter ensures that not too much water content evaporates during that process, to balance things like juicy meat while still allowing for crispy skin.

They're commonplace in professional kitchens, but typically too expensive for domestic use. The Anova Culinary Oven, in contrast, is $599. It's also WiFi-enabled and comes with an app for iOS and Android for more straightforward control.

As with the Anova Precision Cooker sous-vide machines, there are various recipes and guides for multi-stage cooking in the app. Anova uses three different kinds of temperature sensor – dry bulb, wet bulb, and steam boiler – along with a food probe that can be used to track the internal temperature of what you're cooking. The advantage is extreme consistency, along with the control over humidity.

A tankful of water is good for more than 24 hours of continuous steam cooking, Anova says, and you can top it up midway through the cooking process. A "Sous Vide mode" replicates some of the long, controlled cooks familiar from dedicated sous-vide devices, only without either a vacuum-sealed bag or a water bath. For pandemic bread bakers, meanwhile, there's the promise of proper steam injection, which can help with getting the right crust and crumb consistency.

If you don't want to use the app, meanwhile, there are manual controls on the oven itself. The unit measures 22.4 x 17.7 x 14.1 inches and weighs a hefty 46 pounds, and has a 1.2 cubic foot interior. It'll operate from as low as 77 degrees Fahrenheit through to 482 degrees in oven mode, or 77 to 212 degrees in Sous Vide mode.

Certainly, at $599.99 this isn't a cheap kitchen accessory. All the same, if you were looking at some of the built-in steam combi ovens on the market, you'll find $3,500+ isn't unusual. Anova's is available for preorder now, and will ship from September 28.