What Is A Combination Oven And What Foods Can You Cook In It?

With all of the small-kitchen appliances available today, it can be hard to decide which earn counter space in your cooking domain. Since toaster-style countertop ovens and air fryers are two of the most popular options, wouldn't it be nice to have a single unit incorporating the best features of each? Well, there is one –– and it's even better because it uses moisture-enhancing steam as one of its primary functions. 

This compact counter-worthy cooking box goes by the perky little name of combi oven, short for the word combination. Aptly titled, it harbors a combination of available cooking methods within its chunky square-ish frame. A typical combi, also known as a steam combi oven, utilizes steam and convection fans to cook food. Most units let you choose between steam, circulating hot air, or a combination of the two. 

Other manufacturers present multifunction combi ovens that further distinguish methods so home chefs can specify settings for steam, air fry, bake, and even dehydrate or sous vide. It's common for combination ovens to be equipped with numerous smart presets for an array of foods and recipes. Variable settings give the chef control over things like humidity and moisture, fan speed, and precise temperatures for consistent, even cooking. With so many foods and recipes to explore with a new appliance, it can be overwhelming. Here's a look at some functions of a countertop combination oven and the specific types of foods you can easily cook in it.

Settings to try and foods to cook in a combination oven

Combination ovens were once reserved for professional chefs in commercial kitchens, mostly because of their huge sizes and even more daunting prices. But, today's countertop combi oven fixes that, big time. It handily fits in most home kitchens and, because of its versatility, can even replace other stragglers taking up prime space on your counter.  

Some combi ovens, such as the Fotile ChefCubii, are built as 4-in-1 units that include the steaming, air frying, steam-baking, and dehydrating functions. Fotile America Vice President Stein Shi told Tasting Table, "Fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, and kiwi are great for dehydrating," explaining that the dehydrating function uses low temperature to preserve the fruit's original flavor, encouraging healthy snacking at home. Extra functions on some combi ovens include toasting, grilling, reheating, proofing for pastries and bread, and rice cooking. The ChefCubii provides 40 presets for specific meals ranging from egg tarts and puddings to bagels, vegetables, mac-and-cheese, pizzas, tacos, chicken wings, and barbecue ribs.

A primary reason to buy a combination steam oven is to add or retain moisture in the foods you already love and cook. It works well for making dishes that could otherwise fall into the dry-danger zone, such as a traditional Sunday roast, creamy custards, casseroles, and especially fluffy dinner rolls and breads in which steam is crucial for the baking process.