Healthy cooking choices are of even greater importance these days, and with appliance technology, it’s easier than you think! One appliance people are buzzing about is the steam oven.

What Is a Steam Oven, and How Does It Work?

As its name implies, a steam oven uses steam rather than hot air to cook food, locking in nutrients and vitamins. Thanks to how the oven works, you can cook multiple dishes at a time, and your fresh veggies won’t come out tasting and smelling like salmon! Food cooks between 20 and 30 percent faster than with a standard oven, and you will find that cooking at a higher temperature will retain more nutrients.

So, where does the steam come from in a steam oven? Depending on the make, steam ovens have a water reservoir at the bottom or to the side that is filled before use. As the water heats, steam rises into the oven to cook the food.

Most steam ovens offer ways to prepare a complete meal at one time using a multiple rack design. The step-by-step instructions suggest which tray to use, which item to place where in the oven, and the amount of time it will need to cook. This assures that everything is ready at the same time – no more guesswork and much less chance of overcooked, dried-out food.

Moisture is the biggest benefit of using a steam oven over a microwave or conventional oven. Depending on what you’re making, steam is introduced to the oven at various levels as you cook. How many times have you overcooked a chicken breast in the microwave or reheated pizza only to have it come out tasting more like the cardboard box? A steam oven means leftovers taste just as good the second time. Many manufacturers have created automatic programs and cooking modes that create complete meals in a simple format.

The numerous types of ovens – convection, combination steam and convection, speed ovens, steam only – can be confusing until you break them down by what they can accomplish for you in the kitchen.

Unlike steam ovens, convection ovens use a fan to circulate dry heat so that food is cooked evenly. A combination steam oven – also known as a steam convection oven or combi-oven – cooks with steam and has fans circulating the steam around the oven. You can also use this type of oven as a simple convection oven. While a standalone steam oven lacks the capability to brown meats, a convection steam oven manages this with ease.

Any of these ovens will bring a new level of cooking to your kitchen and provide you and your family with healthy food benefits, great flavor, and more efficient meal planning.