5 Benefits of Cooking with Steam Ovens


Lately you may have seen steam ovens popping up on your social media feeds or featured within your favorite culinary blogs and cooking magazines. That’s because steam ovens are having a bit of a moment right now. Steam ovens have become a popular choice for cooks of all experience levels, from at-home foodies to culinary connoisseurs to professional chefs. But what exactly is a steam oven? How do they work? And why does everyone want one right now? Read on to learn everything you need to know about steam ovens, including 5 benefits of cooking with steam. We’ve even invited our expert chefs at PIRCH to weigh in with their thoughts on steam ovens, too.

What is a Steam Oven?

A steam oven is an appliance that draws water from a small tank into a built-in boiler. The water is then heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature at which water turns into steam. Then, the hot steam is released into the steam oven cavity, which cooks your food. You may be thinking that 212 degrees doesn’t sound very hot, but it is! Water is a much better conductor of heat than air, therefore it can cook your food more efficiently.

Thermador Steam Oven

Miele Combi-Steam Oven

There are two types of steam ovens: steam ovens and combination steam ovens. A steam oven uses only wet heat from steam to cook food. A combination steam oven, or combi-steam oven for short, takes it one step further by combining the functions of a traditional convection oven, which uses dry heat, or wet heat from a steam oven, and sometimes a combination of both.

Steam ovens can be found in all shapes and sizes. They’re available in countertop models as well as wall-mounted ovens, or even ranges with built-in steam ovens. Steam ovens are either plumbed or non-plumbed. Plumbed units automatically receive water from a built-in reservoir, whereas non-plumbed steam ovens require you to manually fill the tank with water. 

Now that we’ve addressed what steam ovens are and how they work, let’s dive into the 5 benefits of cooking with steam!

5 Benefits of Steam Ovens

1. Health

Steam ovens are a great choice because they produce healthier, more nutrient dense food. The high heat in traditional cooking methods like convection or pan frying can destroy essential nutrients such as vitamin C and folate. However, steam inhibits the cellular breakdown of foods, so you can better preserve your food’s vitamins and minerals with steam cooking.

Steam ovens create a moist cooking environment, so there’s no need to add extra oil or fat like you would when using a conventional oven. For example, a tray of roasted vegetables cooked bare in a combi-steam oven will yield moist, flavor-packed vegetables with perfectly browned edges. To achieve a similar result in a convection oven, you’d have to coat the vegetables liberally with oil. Similarly, cooking fish or chicken in a steam oven will yield moist, juicy results without having to use oil like you would when pan frying or baking.

Play Video

Watch as Chef Kimberly and Chef Molly from Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove make a healthy and delicious one pot meal using the Wolf Convection Steam oven.

2. Better Texture and Flavor

Since combi-steam ovens combine traditional oven features with steam, they are multi-functional and incredibly versatile. The dry heat and wet heat combined allows you to achieve the absolute best cooking results, with food that’s golden brown and crispy on the outside, yet moist and juicy on the inside. “I love the versatility a steam oven provides,” says Chef Kimberly. “I can go from steaming hard boiled eggs to roasting the juiciest chicken and finish with baking something sweet for dessert.”

The moist cooking environment also helps your food maintain its flavor. There’s also no transfer of flavor, so you can cook multiple foods at the same time without combining the flavors.

Steam ovens also do a fantastic job of turning out baked goods like bread, pastries and more. According to Chef David, “A steam oven is an absolute must-have if you love to bake sourdough bread like I do. I like to use the combination of humidity and radiant heat to create the perfect sourdough loaf,” explains Chef David. “In approximately 33 minutes, I get a beautifully airy crumb while achieving that perfect golden crust on the outside.”

With a steam oven, you can also easily revive and rehydrate leftovers instead of using a microwave. Traditional microwaves can dry out your food or damage its texture, but reheating your food with a steam oven gently restores the moisture and flavor of your leftovers. The magic of steam brings your food back to life!

3. Speed

Another benefit of steam ovens is that they can speed up the cooking process, resulting in faster cooking times. Because water is so efficient at conducting heat, you can expect to cook food on average between 20% and 30% faster when you add steam to convection cooking. “Cooking ribs is one of my favorite things to do in the steam oven,” says Chef Kimberly. “You can get tender ribs in half the time. It only takes 90 minutes for fall off the bone ribs!”

Chef James cooked a Thanksgiving turkey in the Miele steam oven and was astonished at how quickly it cooked through compared to standard convection. “I was blown away that a 25-pound bird cooked so fast,” said Chef James. “It finished cooking in under three hours, when it would’ve easily taken 5 hours or more to cook in a convection oven.”

4. Simplified Cooking

There are many functionalities available in high-end steam ovens that can simplify the cooking process and help you achieve restaurant quality results. For example, many high-end steam ovens let you adjust the steam levels while you’re cooking. Chef James really enjoys this functionality because it allows him to customize the results. “I think there’s something to be said about ovens that let you change the percentage of steam to use,” says Chef James. “Depending on what I’m cooking, I’ll fine tune the percentage of steam to play around with the texture,” he explains.

Other steam oven technologies eliminate the guess work for you, making cooking easier and stress free. Wolf’s Gourmet Mode is the oven’s intuitive digital technology that senses the amount and size of each dish and automatically adjusts all the details, such as time and temperature, delivering the consistent results you desire, every time.

Thermador steam ovens are equipped with 17 different heating modes and 50 steam programs that automatically set your oven to the optimal settings. Steam oven heating modes include: Bake, Broil, Roast, Convection Bake, Convection Broil, Convection Roast, Proof, Warm, and many more.

Steam ovens are designed to help you cook the meals you already enjoy making, but faster and with better results. “Using a steam oven can elevate the way you cook,” says Chef Kimberly. “You can take a dish you cook all the time and add steam to it to really increase the moisture and tenderness.”

Play Video

Watch as Chef Kimberly and Chef David make sourdough bread, mussels, flat steak, & lemon tart all using the Thermador Steam and Convection Oven.

5. Easy Cleanup

High temperatures combined with steam work to loosen and dissolve remnants of food particles and grease, making clean up much easier. Once the oven is cooled down, you can simply wipe the interior with a cloth to leave it sparkling clean.

Some luxury steam ovens are even equipped with self-cleaning programs. Miele’s new self-cleaning system HydroClean makes manual cleaning a thing of the past. Even burnt-on food residue is completely and effortlessly removed. This way, the oven interior retains its new and pristine look.

The 400 Series Gaggenau Combi-Steam oven also has a self-cleaning feature that does all the work for you. The fully automatic cleaning system thoroughly cleans the oven cavity by itself, even when heavily soiled, leaving the interior brilliantly clean and hygienic. Chef David loves this feature. “Every time I run the Gaggenau cleaning program, it cleans itself entirely from beginning to end and it looks as good as new.”

Play Video

Watch as Skyler Stevenson from Gaggenau provides 5 reasons why you should consider a Gaggenau Combi-Steam oven when designing your kitchen.

Which Steam Oven is Right for You?

At PIRCH, we offer the best selection of combi-steam ovens on the market, from top-tier brands like Miele, Thermador, Gaggenau, Wolf and more. Each brand offers incredible features, and deciding on which one is best for you will depend on your unique lifestyle and personal preferences.

Chef David loves cooking with the Gaggenau 400 series Combi-Steam oven at PIRCH. “I like to call it my sous chef,” says Chef David. “It bakes, broils, steams, refreshes leftovers and does sous-vide cooking to within 1 degree of accuracy,” explains Chef David. “It is incredibly easy to use – it’s even Wi-Fi enabled if I wish to monitor it remotely.”

Chef Kimberly prefers the Miele Combi-Steam oven, and finds that she’s able to cook certain items faster in this oven compared to others. “Miele was one of the first brands to bring steam to residential homes, and they have it down to a science,” says Chef Kimberly.  “As a chef, I enjoy the control I have with the Miele Combi-Steam, as well as their steam generator technology.”

Play Video

Follow along as Chef Kimberly and Chef David use the Miele XXL Combi-Steam oven to make a delicious, gourmet restaurant-worthy main dish of Herb Crusted Halibut over a bed of linguini bathed with Kabocha squash sauce.

As you can see, adding a steam oven to your kitchen arsenal can provide so many benefits. “I feel that a combi-steam oven should be in everyone’s home,” says Chef David. “We would all eat better, healthier, enjoy cooking more at home, and save money as a result. There really is no better way to prepare food.”

Not only are steam ovens a healthier method of cooking, but they’re also jam packed with features that save you time, streamline the cooking process, make clean-up easier, and so much more. “I guarantee that a steam oven will be the star of the show in your kitchen, and you’ll be using it for most of your cooking,” says Chef Kimberly.

If you’re interested in maximizing the functionality of your kitchen and increasing the resale value of your home, a steam oven is a wonderful, in-demand feature to consider incorporating into your upcoming kitchen remodel. To learn more about steam ovens, and to see them on display in person, visit a PIRCH showroom near you and speak with a sales consultant.

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