Smart ovens – what can they offer us that traditional ovens can't? Well, just as the smart home bug has been rubbing off on our washing machines and fridges, so our ovens are getting smarter too.
Whether you’re a dab hand in the kitchen or like to keep things simple, the newest smart ovens promise to make meal times easier, by taking guesswork out of the prep work, giving you connectivity options to put you in control from afar and offering a plethora of additional features to make your oven work harder for you.
But are these features really worth the extra outlay and do they really make your cooking life easier? We’re taking a good look at the big reasons to buy smart, and giving you our opinion on whether your money is well spent here or elsewhere. Plus, we look at the best smart ovens on the market.
See more of the best freestanding ovens and integrated ovens in our buyer's guides. Find more of the best smart home buys for your kitchen in our guide, too. If you're looking for more advice, information and opinions when it comes to all things smart home, head over to The Hub, our technology home page.
What is a smart oven?
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The biggest feature that makes an oven smart is its ability to connect to your home Wi-Fi or use Bluetooth to allow you to control it from your smartphone or tablet – be that from elsewhere in the house or when out and about.
This will allow you to do things that include:
- Switch the oven on and off from afar;
- Preheat the oven on the way home for less waiting around;
- Adjust any settings and timers remotely;
- Have cooking notifications sent to your phone;
- Use smart assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for voice control;
- Send recipes to your oven for automatic setting/temperature selection.
These are usually supported by additional premium features such as internal cameras, for keeping an eye on the cooking process, the very best in cooking technology, such as the ability to heat two areas in the same oven to different temperatures.
What other smart oven features do I need?
Here's what to look out for when eyeing up smart oven specs. Some are more useful than others.
1. Remote control
A watched pot might never boil, but waiting for an oven to preheat when you’re starving hungry takes arguably longer. With a smart oven, you can switch the oven on to get it to temperature when you’re on the way home from work, or on the way back from the supermarket, saving time. You can also adjust the temperature and setting, or turn the oven off completely, if you’ve nipped out while cooking dinner but got waylaid, for example.
You can also set a smart oven going at a time to suit, so if you were prepared enough to put a dish (that won't spoil/poison you at room temperature) in there before work, you could set it going when you leave the office, and it could be bubbling along nicely by the time you walk in the door.
Do I need it?
It’s one of the few times when remote control does make a fair bit of sense in a kitchen appliance. It’s a luxury rather than a necessity, but being able to get the oven up to temperature before you get home will save you time if dinner is prepped and just needs to go in the oven.
Of course, if you’re starting from scratch when you get in, it’s less likely to be of use. You’d be just as well to switch it on when you get in and let it heat up while you prep.
Don’t want to go smart? Standard timers built into most ovens usually allow you to set when you want an oven to come on and turn off, but they don’t offer the same flexibility. This is fine if you tend to head home for dinner at the same time every day, but if you’ve ever fallen foul of train delays or traffic jams, you could find your oven has already preheated and switched off before you make it in the door. They can be also be hard to use too, so hit and miss whether they’ll work as you want them to.
Smart ovens, on the other hand, give you that bit of extra control and peace of mind that regular ovens do not. That also includes adjusting temperatures and settings when out and about. This seems to be less useful than preheating, but it will ensure you don’t burn your veggie pot roast if you’re a little later than planned.
2. Voice control
Several smart ovens offer voice control through a smart assistant. This includes Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Samsung Bixby, but usually require a smart assistant-compatible speaker or device, rather than having it built into the appliance themselves.
This means you can tell your smart speaker to do certain things, such as turn on the oven and set the temperature, and it will do just that.
Do I need it?
If you own a smart speaker and use it lots, you’ll likely enjoy home automation and using your voice to control your home gadgets. If this sounds like you, then a smart oven will likely be right up your street. Whether you really need it is a different question altogether though, and the answer is probably not.
It does give you the option of getting the oven on while you’re putting the bedding on the kid’s beds, though, making multi-tasking a doddle. For a busy parent, that can be priceless (but you still need to go and put the dinner in, of course).
3. Automatic setting selection
There are a few different features that cover off automation, and will depend on the brand of smart oven as to which are included.
For example, some ovens team up with recipe apps that allow you to send your planned recipe for the evening to your oven and have it adjust its settings automatically.
Others allow you to scan the bar codes of ready meals in an app to have your oven set its programme to suit.
There are also ovens that will learn popular settings, and will suggest them at appropriate times. So if you always use the oven to warm croissants through on a weekend morning, it will recommend this setting for quick and easy selection.
Do I need it?
The benefits of automation all comes down to time saving, and when you think about how much time it actually saves you, it’s probably very little.
Most of these features revolve around automatic temperature setting, and by the time you’ve opened the app to send your oven the instructions it needs, you may as well have turned the dial to 200ºC yourself.
The only exception to this rule is if you’re doing it from out and about, but even then, it is basically just a fancier way to preheat the oven.
4. Keep an eye on your cooking
A few smart ovens offer an in-oven camera so you can keep an eye on your dish. It gives you the perfect bird's-eye view of your food without needing to open the door and interrupt the cooking process.
Do I need it?
Unless you’re baking soufflé, or something else that can be ruined by a mistimed opening of the oven door, it’s a bit of an unnecessary – and extravagant – added extra. If you follow cooking guidelines carefully enough (and keep your oven window clean…), there seems little use for it. That said, if you go out and leave your dinner on, then check to see it's burning, you can at least adjust the settings or turn the oven off completely. Dinner saved, family happy.
5. Cooking notifications
Some smart ovens have built-in sensors that can tell when food is ready, such as a roasting or baking sensor, which uses the environment in the oven or physical probes in the food to suggest when the food might be ready to come out. You can receive a notification to your phone then, or indeed, when your regular timer has sounded – just in case you aren’t in earshot to hear it.
This might help to avoid overcooking dishes, especially in a busy household when it can be easy to forget when something needs to come out of the oven.
Do I need it?
While it might be handy to get a reminder that it’s time to take the dinner out, oven timers are pretty good for letting you know that already, and unless you have a very large house, the likelihood is you’ll hear the oven beeping wherever you are.
Of course if you’ve nipped out and got held up, the ability to turn your oven off from afar is helpful for not burning your dinner (and some even have keep warm settings so it won’t go cold).
The sensor-based notifications could be helpful as long as they work well, but following cooking instructions for your dish will likely be more reliable for ensuring your dinner is cooked to perfection.
6. Smarter cooking
As smart ovens tend to be one of their manufacturers’ most advanced models, you will often find they have the most advanced cooking capabilities to support their connected functionality.
This means more options for making smarter use of your oven space. Examples include the ability to cook two things at different temperatures in the same oven; to use it as a microwave; or advanced settings that allow you to cook things from frozen without needing to defrost them first.
Do I need it?
It depends. If you’re a bit of a kitchen whizz, enjoy experimenting with new recipes and have a larger family (not to mention the budget), being able to stretch an oven’s capabilities for different meals and uses may well prove useful.
For smaller families, or those who are less kitchen savvy, you may find the extra bells and whistles aren’t quite as useful, and become just another option on the oven you don’t know how to use.
What are the best smart ovens?
Decided that a smart oven is for you? Then read on for our pick of the best you can buy right now.
1. Hoover Vision
Built-in HD camera
Hoover’s smartest oven to date, the Vision wears its name on its sleeve with a built-in HD camera that lets you check on your meal without opening the door.
This oven features a large touchscreen on the oven door in place of buttons or dials, which offers easy control for its 10 oven functions. However, it also doubles up as a mini TV for watching video recipes on, browsing social media or even catching up with the news headlines while you cook.
The oven works with Hoover’s connected app, Hoover Wizard, which offers remote control of temperatures and settings, as well as cooking notifications.
The Hoover Vision provides 80 litres of cooking space, meaning that this is an oven fit for a large family.
2. Bosch Serie 8 HRG6769S6B
The Bosch Serie 8 comes with Alexa built in, meaning you can speak to any Alexa-enabled device to control the oven and its temperature.
Bosch’s Home Connect app is feature packed, and includes tried and tested recipes that can be sent to your oven as well as the ability to control power, temperature and settings when out and about.
A Bosch feature called 4D Hot Air promises to evenly distribute heat across all four of the oven’s shelves, meaning you can load the oven up and know that everything is receiving just as much heat.
The PerfectBake sensor keeps an eye on the moisture of your food at all times and regulates the baking process accordingly. Just select a suitable dish from the settings, press start and leave your oven to do the rest.
This oven offers 71 litres of cooking space so is another good option for larger families.
3. Samsung NV73J9770RS Chef Collection
This oven comes with 80 chef-inspired recipes pre-installed, which you can access directly from its 4.6in touchscreen.
Samsung is no stranger to smart appliances, and its control app offers great usability for adjusting settings and receiving notifications, as well as some added extras, such as accessing extra recipes from Michelin-starred chefs.
Samsung’s proprietary vapour technology claims to optimise the taste and texture of your food by surrounding it with vapour. It quickly and evenly transfers heat and moisture, leaving your food crispy on the outside and soft and juicy inside.
This oven also comes with a meat probe, which will monitor your meat as it cooks, and switch off the oven once at the perfect temperature, ensuring it's always cooked through but never dry.
Offering 73 litres of cooking space, this Samsung oven should suit most families.
4. Whirlpool W Collection W11IOM14MS2H
No pre-heating required
Whirlpool’s Ready2Cook functionality uses a powerful convection system to quickly reach the right temperature, eliminating the need for pre-heating.
Whirlpool’s 6th Sense app allows you to control your oven from afar, while the accompanying 6th Sense technology automatically adjusts time and temperature settings to suit what you’re cooking – there are up to 100 combinations based on hundreds of recipes.
Among its more advanced features, the Whirlpool Cook4 function lets you cook up to four dishes at any one time, without mixing flavours or aromas.
Offering 75 litres of oven capacity, there is plenty of space here for the biggest of families.
Should I buy a smart oven?
Compared to a lot of other smart kitchen appliances, smart ovens do offer a number of fairly useful features if the budget is there.
Whereas the benefit of starting a washing machine from your phone seems a little pointless when you have to be there to load it, getting an oven preheated from the train, or setting it going so the dish you popped in there earlier will be ready when you get in from work has some tangible benefits.
If you’re able to spend the cash – all of the ones in our list above come in at over £1,000 – smart ovens are most likely to benefit busy families who will find the ability to control their oven on the fly helpful. They’re also more likely to make use of the more advanced cooking features that come along for the ride.
Smart home fans will likely enjoy including their oven as part of their home automation, but the real benefits aren’t as obvious. It’s certainly cool to be able to turn your oven on using your voice, but there needs to be more there that you’ll use to justify the extra spend.
Got the budget to blow? Then we’d say a smart oven is well worth a look, particularly if you want an oven that pushes forward in other departments too.