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Kitchen & Cooking

This smart oven is the key to easy weeknight meals

It makes cooking for kids a breeze

A Breville Smart Oven Pro on a kitchen counter with a bagel toasting inside. Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

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There are some parents who love cooking healthy and balanced meals for their family. They can happily spend hours in the kitchen creating delicious dinners that the whole family enjoys with zero complaints.

Then there are other parents who loathe mealtimes and look for any way to make the process easier. While offering healthy food to their family is important, they simply don’t have the time, patience, or desire to be a kitchen wizard.

I personally fall into the latter category. Because I am not a kitchen wiz, I rarely treat myself to a new kitchen gadget or cookware. I feel like the nuances are wasted on me, and I can rarely tell whether a pan “cooks more evenly” or a knife creates a more even slice. But when my 15-year-old toaster oven ended up on the fritz, I upgraded to a Breville Smart Oven Pro and never looked back—here’s why.

Why the Breville Smart Oven Pro?

Truth be told, I was drawn into this oven simply because it looks sleek and has an LCD screen that is easy to navigate. My only criteria at that point was to find something that looked good on my kitchen counter and had the ability to heat up my daughter’s dinosaur chicken nuggets.

But once I started using my new oven, I became smitten. I never imagined that a simple countertop oven could make my mom-life so much easier, and it has since become my favorite piece of cookware. (It’s no wonder it ranks first in the best toaster ovens we’ve tested.)

What I like about the Breville Smart Oven

A Breville Smart Oven silhouetted against a white background.
Credit: Breville

This toaster oven is as powerful as it is attractive on your countertop.

Clearly, looks are important when it comes to selecting a countertop oven, and this one certainly fits the bill. But this oven comes with some unique features that I never knew I needed to have access to until I tried it myself.

The toaster/bagel feature is a game changer

First of all, the toaster feature has both a toasting and bagel toasting setting. Sounds a little redundant until you actually try it—my bagels are perfectly toasted, and my bread is never burnt.

I am able to set how dark or light I want my carby treat, and after every single toasting session, my food is cooked perfectly. It is as if this toaster has eyes and can tell when it is time for the bagel to be deemed “cooked.” And I love how when my food is toasted, the oven light automatically turns on like a mini spotlight shining on my breakfast.

For a parent, having the ability to toast perfectly during a busy morning is a gift, as the last thing anybody wants to deal with is a meltdown because the toast “looks burnt” or the bagel “isn’t crispy enough.” This simple feature saves me from dealing with a lot of breakfast wars in the wee hours of the day.

Cooking time is fast

On busy weekdays, I have the best intentions of making quick dinners for my family to enjoy. But while recipes may say that a piece of chicken or fish only takes 20 minutes to cook, waiting for my traditional oven to preheat adds on another chunk of time, often time that I don’t have to spare.

Since the Breville oven is smaller and, well, smarter, it heats up much quicker than my big wall oven does. Quicker preheating means less time waiting to eat dinner, which is a lifesaver when dealing with hungry and tired kids.

It comes with guidance for the placement of the rack

Most ovens come with an oven rack and various slots to have the ability to place said rack at different levels. Somehow, I missed the life-lesson on which level the oven rack needs to be when cooking certain foods and I basically do my best guess when fixing dinner, cookies, or other foods.

This oven is perfect for clueless cooks like me because the door window contains small labels highlighting which level is best for which method of cooking. The option closest to the bottom of the oven is best for baking, while the highest is best for broiling. And toasting is best done right in the middle of the oven—who knew?

It has a slow-cooking feature

Slow-cooking can be a lifesaver for busy families. There’s nothing like tossing a meal into your slow cooker in the morning and walking into your home with a fresh meal waiting for you. Since this oven has a slow-cooking feature, I was able to toss my old one and save some precious space in my kitchen.

What I don’t like

Screenshots of the Breville Smart Oven Pro control panel.
Credit: Breville

The Breville Smart Oven Pro can even double as a slow cooker.

There is not much that I don’t love about this oven, and none of my gripes would preclude me from purchasing this oven again in the future. However, there are a few aspects I would improve.

It doesn’t come with slow-cooking accessories

One thing that was a bit of a turn off was that it doesn’t include a baking dish for slow-cooking. It was a bit intimidating for me to use that feature without being sure that the dish I was using was the best choice. It would have been nice to have a slow-cooking baking dish included in the accessory selections along with the pizza pan and broiling pan.

The top of the oven gets extremely hot

It makes sense that the top of an oven gets hot, but this one gets really hot. I am in the habit of keeping my bread and baked goods on top of my oven (I clearly need to invest in a bread box), and I have to remember to move them every time I use my new oven. Otherwise, the plastic wrapping will melt.

Apparently, people use the warm top as a food warmer, but I would prefer to have a piece or accessory that helps keep the outside of the oven at a safer temperature. Breville does make a bamboo cutting board that’s designed to fit on top of the oven, so that could be a solution to my bread-melting woes.

Is it worth it?

Breville Smart Oven Pro review
Credit: Williams-Sonoma

It may take up a decent amount of space, but at least it looks attractive on your counter.

Absolutely. All in all, I have to say that I adore my new countertop oven. It is incredible how my food is cooked perfectly every time and does not end up unevenly baked or burnt like it would when I was using my dinosaur toaster oven previously.

It is a time-saver and prevents complaints from my very particular 5-year-old daughter when she does not “approve” of the crispiness of a chicken nugget or toasting darkness of her bagel. And the slow-cooking feature is certainly a bonus for busy days.

Overall, I am very glad to have this oven be a part of my home, and my mealtimes have become a bit less stressful because of it.

Get the Breville Smart Oven Pro from Amazon for $279.95

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