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Steam ovens are the fast, modern way to cook healthy meals and side dishes. They may be relative newcomers to the appliance world, but they're taking off as a popular kitchen addition, and they've earned their reputation. Not only does a steam oven save you time and effort, but it also preserves food's moisture, nutrients, and flavor.

And contrary to what you might think, it can do a crisp, flaky crust just as well (or better) than a traditional oven too.

If you're planning to renovate your kitchen or replace an existing oven, a steam oven is an easy upgrade. It fits into the same niche as a traditional wall oven while giving you many more cooking possibilities, and stacks easily with other 24-inch-wide appliances like a second oven or built-in coffee maker.

Today's steam ovens make cooking with hot steam super convenient, but the idea's been around for much longer. Steam cooking dates back to ancient China—just picture dim sum baskets. Similar techniques were used in Europe in the eighteenth century, when steam ovens could be found in bakeries, restaurants, and home kitchens.

Their growing popularity in the U.S. now can be attributed to our shared desire to cook healthier meals at home. As a result, many well-known appliance makers now offer steam cooking appliances.

In this guide, we'll fill you in on all the benefits of cooking with steam mode and share our top brands to consider in 2022.

Watch our exclusive video with great visuals to help you select the best steam oven.

Our 3 best steam oven picks for 2022

Let’s dive into our best steam oven winners.

After serving hundreds of thousands of customers, we've found that people who're interested in steam ovens want one that's versatile and dependable. All of the models we reviewed below fit these criteria.

We've also screened these picks for availability. You'll find out DA Checkmark next to models that are in stock right now either with us or another reputable retailer.

1. Best Overall: Miele Steam Oven

A Miele steam oven is our top pick for most people thanks to its user-friendly interface and wide array of features.

Watch our exclusive video to get a first-hand look at all the cooking possibilities that come with a Miele steam oven.
Miele Steam Oven DGC68001XL

Miele appliances knows steam ovens like nobody else. The company makes 19 combination steam ovens. There's one to suit pretty much any home and cooking habits.

Miele does offer one legacy steam only model, the $2,600 DG6500 / DG6600, but we think it makes more sense to install a combination oven. That way, you'll get more value and versatility from your investment.

It also has two design styles: PureLine and ContourLine. PureLine features more glass and is best suited to a modern, contemporary kitchen, while CountourLine uses more stainless steel and a more traditional look.

You can get a plumbed or "non-plumbed water tank models" in either style. This sets Miele apart from the competition. You might have to invest more in installation, but cooking will be more convenient since you'll never have to refill a small water tank.

Miele offers many color options such as white, black, stainless steel, and graphite gray.

Key Features of Miele Combination Steam Ovens

Miele has five exclusive, innovative, and user-friendly features that you’ll find on most of its combi steam ovens:

  • MasterChef programming: Miele ovens come preloaded with 200 recipes, so you don’t need to worry about setting the time or temperature before cooking. Just press the button and slide in your food.

Untitled-design--1-

  • M-Touch controls: This is the best touch-screen interface we've seen in the industry—it's truly frustration-free. You'll find it only on higher-end Miele models.

  • MultiSteam technology: This feature generates steam fast and distributes it via eight jets so you get uniform cooking results.

Miele_Steam_MultiSteam

  • Remote Vision control: Should anything go wrong with your steam oven, this revolutionary feature allows Miele’s customer service techs to troubleshoot the problem remotely.

  • Broiler element: This feature qualifies Miele ovens as full-fledged convection ovens.

  • Sous Vide cooking: Miele combi-steam ovens are great for sous-vide cooking, which requires low and even temperatures for an extended period of time. Along with the EVS6114 24-inch vacuum seal drawer, this cooking mode makes it easy for home chefs to experiment with sous-vide techniques.

Miele-EVS6114-Vacuum-Sealing-Drawer
Model DGC65001XL - ContourLine Design with Classic Miele Swivel Handle:

The base model in the Miele combi-steam oven range, the DGC65001XL starts at $3,799. Let's take a look at its features:

  • Cook Roast Bake: This full-oven function allows you to cook foods such as roasts and baked goods the same way you would in a traditional oven.
  • PerfectClean: The oven surfaces are designed minimize the amount of food residue that sticks to them, so you'll have less to clean.
  • No odor transfer: You won’t need to worry about baking fish at the same time as other dishes since there's no odor transfer with steam cooking.
  • SensorTronic touch controls: Miele's high-quality TFT display
  • XL cavity: The oven has 48 liters of usable space, giving you room to cook larger items of food or dishes for eight to 10 people.
  • Temperature probe: Insert this device to alert you when food's ready. There's no need to open and reopen the door.

Its sister product, the PureLine DGC66001XL with its straight handle, is also available.

miele-pureline-handle-designs

At the next level up, Miele introduces the M-Touch controls we talked about earlier. These steam ovens start at $4,199. Plumbed models start at $4,499.

If you're looking for a taller, full-size oven, consider Miele XXL models. They come in both PureLine and ContourLine design styles and can have a water reservoir or be plumbed.

Miele DGC6760XXL features the XXL cutout, which gives you extra interior volume with 2.51 cubic feet compared to 1.84 cubic feet in the XL models. You also get an extra fourth rack so you can cook more at once.


2. Best Capacity: Thermador Steam Oven

Thermador makes the biggest options out there. It also has the only option for replacing a traditional 30-inch wall oven.

Thermador Steam Oven PODS301W
Thermador PODS302W Double Oven with Steam

Thermador made major changes to the design and performance of its steam ovens back in September 2018. Its latest models with their large 2.8 cu. ft. cavity (in single ovens) are perfect for people who love to cook.

A Thermador steam oven is simple to install since they all have a water reservoir—there's no plumbed option.

Design wise, you can install one fully flush with your cabinets, giving you a seamless kitchen design. Thermador made that change in response to feedback from designers; you couldn't get a flush install with the previous versions of its steam ovens. Now that's no problem.

Thermador also incorporated steam ovens in its double convection oven configurations to give people more cooking flexibility.

Two design styles to choose from:

  • Thermador Professional ovens have a more commercial look, with control knobs and a beefy, pro-style handle.

  • Thermador Masterpiece ovens look more contemporary, with a sleek tubular handle and a minimalistic digital control panel.

Either comes in a stainless steel finish.


3) Best Design: Wolf Steam Oven with Convection

For the most style options and best guided cooking, consider Wolf.

Our exclusive video review of the Wolf steam oven.
Wolf Convection Steam Oven CSO30PMSPH

Wolf is famous for its signature ranges with iconic red knobs. These distinctive stoves equip high-end kitchens around the world. (We've heard them described as the Birkin bags ofthe appliance world.) In addition to ranges, Wolf also makes some of the best wall ovens, including a wide array of convection steam ovens.

Back in 2018, Wolf revamped its entire steam lineup with enhanced cooking technologies.

Let's walk through what makes them great:

The most design options

  • Wolf offers seven models, including 24- and 30-inch width units.

  • They all rely on a water reservoir, so no plumbing connection's necessary.

  • Wolf convection steam ovens can be installed flush with your cabinetry.

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Gourmet Mode: The easiest way to cook with steam

Wolf's Gourmet Mode flattens the learning curve for new steam oven users. Simply select the type of food you want to cook, and the oven will automatically detect its volume, shape, and consistency using a climate sensor that'll then adjust the cook time, temperature, and humidity for guesswork-free, delicious results. Wolf regularly publishes new recipes to help you make the most of your appliance.

Sous Vide Cooking
All Wolf steam ovens are equipped for sous-vide cooking. Wolf also recently introduced a vacuum seal drawer VS24 to simplify the process. This drawer comes in 24- and 30-inch widths to match your oven.

Shopping for a New Wolf Oven?
Wolf Wall Ovens are Best in Class, We Covered Them In-Depth!
Read Our Guide

The Top 3 Steam Ovens at a Glance

Miele Steam Oven

  • Market leader in steam cooking.
  • Many fit and finish options from colors to handle design to displays.
  • Rich cooking options, with the most preset recipes on the market.
  • Option to hook up to a waterline (aka plumbed).
  • Many installation options from flush to proud; 24-inch look vs 30-inch with trim; can stack with other Miele appliances.
Leading Model Key Features Price
Miele DGC68051XL Most Popular, Steam and Convection, 24-in W x 18-in H, 1.84 cu. ft., Plumbed, Trim Kits Available for 30-in Look $4,999 (water tank $4,799)
Miele DGC6865XXL XL Capacity, Steam and Convection, 24-in W x 24-in H, 2.51 cu. ft., Plumbed, Trim Kits Available for 30-in Look $5,699 (water tank $5,299)
Miele DG6500 Steam Only Legacy Model, 24-in W x 18-in H, 1.34 cu. ft., Water Tank, Trim Kits Available for 30-in Look $2,999

Wolf Steam Oven

  • Great cooking results. Straightforward catalog with 3 fits and finishes to suit any kitchen.
  • 30-in width to match the entire Wolf oven and microwave catalog.
  • Uses water tank only for simple, versatile installation.
Leading Model Key Features Price
Wolf CSO30CMS Steam and Convection, 30-in W x 18-in H, 1.8 cu. ft., Water Tank $5,159

Thermador Steam Oven

  • Small selection. Largest interior volume on the market.
  • The only brand with a double oven that includes a dedicated steam oven.
Leading Model Key Features Price
Thermador PODS301W Steam and Convection, 30-in W x 28-in H, 2.8 cu. ft., Water Tank $4,899 (Double Oven option PODS302W)

What are the benefits of cooking with steam?

Steam oven pros make them worth the space and money for your kitchen. Here are a few benefits you'll appreciate:

  1. Healthier, more nutrient-dense food: Cooking at high temperatures in a traditional oven can destroy heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C and folate. Steam helps retain these valuable vitamins and minerals.
  2. No need to use fatty oils: Since steam provides a naturally moist cooking environment, you won't need to incorporate as much oil into your cooking. It'll be easier to keep your calorie count low.
  3. Better reheating results than microwaves: Steam reheats leftovers evenly, without drying them out or ruining the texture. A steam oven is nearly as fast as a microwave, too.
  4. Save time on preheating and cooking: Since its oven cavity is smaller than a traditional oven's, a steam oven preheats much faster. Also, steam is a much better conductor of temperature than air and therefore cooks much faster. For example, a serving of salmon that would typically take 20 minutes to cook in an oven at 400 degrees takes only 5 to 8 minutes using steam.

How does a steam oven work?

steam-how-it-works

A steam oven may look like a typical oven, but it cooks in a completely different way. Instead of having a heating element (the coils that glow red when you fire it up), a steam oven brings water to a boiling hot 212 degrees F, converting it into steam and filling the oven cavity with moist heat.

We realize that 212 degrees might not sound that hot, especially when you're used to cooking at 350 or 400 degrees. But as we mentioned earlier, water conducts heat much better than air does.

For example, you've probably reached into a 400 degree oven to pull out a baking sheet without yelping in pain. But you wouldn't even think about sticking your hand into a boiling hot 212 degree pot of water, right? That's how hot your oven will be, too.

Where does the water supply come from? (Reservoir vs. plumbed)

steam-oven-water-res

A steam oven can get its water supply in one of two ways: via a refillable water reservoir, similar to a Keurig coffee machine, or a plumbed water line that runs directly to the unit.

If you're designing a new kitchen, we highly recommend the plumbed option since it'll help you avoid the hassle of having to refill the water tank.

Wondering what a speed oven is?
Our article breaks down what speed ovens do and how they work.
Read Our Guide

What types of food can I cook in a convection steam oven?

steamed-food-types

People often think that steam cooking is limited to vegetables. That's because in the past steam ovens had just a steam-only setting.

Today, however, many steam ovens have a convection mode and a top broiler so you can even use them to brown meat. Standard settings include steam-only mode, convection vs conventional mode, gourmet mode (i.e., preset recipes; each manufacturer tends to give this mode a branded name, such as Master Chef by Miele). Just to show you how versatile this is, some of the things you can cook are:

  • Meats: Beef tenderloin, roast chicken, beef jerky, slow-cooked pork ribs, bacon, poached fish
  • Baking: Pizza, sandwich bread, chocolate chip cookies, muffins, pita bread, naan, granola, dinner rolls
  • Dessert: Chocolate souffle, bread pudding, cheesecake, apple pie
  • Vegetables: Scalloped potatoes, potato salad, steamed veggies (you can also blanch and shock vegetables)
  • Grains: Rice, quinoa, farro, millet
  • Defrost/reheat: Bread, pizza, casseroles, meat

If you have an older steam oven with just a steam-only mode, you'll need to do a range-top sear afterward.


Wondering about convection vs standard ovens?
Our article covers the pros and cons of convection ovens in depth.
Read Our Guide

Will my food come out browned and crispy?

miele-steam-oven-crispy

You might be thinking, Won't my food come out soggy cooking with steam? One of the drawbacks of traditional steam cooking is that you can't get crispy, browned results. Browning typically happens at temperatures over 300 degrees, and like we said earlier, steam ovens heat up only to 212 degrees. While that's fine for some dishes, like vegetables or fish, items like chicken may come out lacking in flavor and texture.

Enter convection steam ovens...

To solve that problem, many manufacturers now offer combination convection steam ovens, which combine a traditional heating element, a convection fan, and steam into one unit. The end result is the best of both worlds, quickly cooked, moist foods with a crispy exterior. These ovens have programs that automatically switch from steam to convection heat and allow you to cook exclusively with either.


Conclusion

We love using the convection steam ovens in our showrooms to make lunch, and we're excited that you're considering getting one for your family. We're confident that you'll enjoy this fresh, healthy new way to cook.

It’s important to take some time to browse the different ovens available and choose a model that will blend into your kitchen. If you’re having trouble deciding which brand suits you best, feel free to give us a call or drop by one of our showrooms. We'll walk you through the details first hand.

Once you get the hang of your steam oven and understand the right cooking techniques (there can be a bit of a learning curve if you want to get adventurous), you’ll wonder what you ever did without one.


FAQs

** What are steam ovens vs. steam assist or steam boost?**

Don't be confused by manufacturers that offer a steam assist feature on their ovens. For example, Samsung offers a wall oven with a steam assist. This is not cooking with steam. Steam assist is a different feature that helps with the browning process during a normal cooking program.

I've been hearing a lot about speed ovens. Do you have any information on them?

We covered speed ovens along with GE's advantium oven in detail in our recent article. Feel free to check it out to become an oven nerd like us.

Can I toast bread in a steam oven?

Although some steam ovens have a powerful broiler element on the top, they're not designed to work like a toaster and won't crisp sliced bread in less than 60 seconds.

How can I defrost a frozen whole chicken without cooking it?
Using a steam oven is a safe, easy, and fast way to defrost all kinds of meat. Microwaves are essential for heating up drinks and popping popcorn, but they tend to cook meat, at least the outer edges, in defrost mode. A steam oven won't turn your frozen chicken white and rubbery.

For example, in a Miele steam oven you can simply select the "Defrost Mode" under "Special Modes" and follow the step-by-step instructions.