New Tovala Smart Oven Review

Think Blue Apron and genius appliance, all in one

We probably don't have to tell you this, but here at TT, we love cooking.  Sure, sometimes we find comfort in spending hours tackling a difficult recipe, but we also love convenience. Planning a meal, hitting the grocery store and cooking after a long day is often the last thing we want to do—and we know we're not alone.

So the idea of a smart oven on the market that combines forces with a meal delivery service to make delicious home-cooked meals seemed too good to be true. Once we saw the gadget in action, though, we were eating our words.

Tovala, the new Wi-Fi-connected steam oven with accompanying ready-to-cook meals, is a godsend for anyone with a busy schedule. First, meals are created by Tovala chefs (who have training from Noma, Alinea and Moto under their belts), and are then packaged and delivered to customers' doorsteps. Tovala owners then use their smart ovens to scan the bar code on each meal, place the prepackaged ingredients inside and press start: The oven knows exactly how long to cook each meal, and most are ready in less than 20 minutes. The best part? Prep work and cleanup are virtually nonexistent. Customers can even track the cooking process on their phones and also create meals of their own to cook in the smart oven.

Though the process may sound suspiciously similar to microwaving a frozen dinner, the quality of the food and creativity of the meals couldn't be more different. By utilizing a combination of steam, convection baking and broiling, and by par-cooking some aspects of the meal before packaging, the Tovala is able to perfectly cook different ingredients in the same amount of time. (Think roast broccoli and tender salmon or creamy baked pasta.) These meal subscriptions cost just $36 for three weekly meals for one person, or $72 for two people at three meals a week.

Currently, the Tovala has the ability to cook two to four meals at a time, depending on the dish (pasta dishes are one-pan meals, while others featuring protein, vegetables and grains require two pans per person), but cofounders David Rabie and Bryan Wilcox, and their growing team, are exploring larger oven options for families as well.

Ringing in at $369 for presale and $399 thereafter, and with menu options that change regularly, this gadget is a no-brainer for busy cooks everywhere. And while we'll still spend weekends chipping away at our favorite recipes, these quick and easy meals beat takeout any night of the week.