Do you like the convenience of a microwave but feel frustrated by the results? Or, do you loathe microwaves, but wish conventional cooking could speed up? In both cases, a speed oven might be the answer.
Julie’s architect Jerome Buttrick (a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory) is the one who first put speed ovens on our radar. In our post 15 Essential Tips for Designing a Kitchen, he recommends considering a speed oven in lieu of a microwave. What exactly is a speed oven? Smaller in size and faster in cooking speed than a standard wall oven, a speed oven combines convection, microwave, and, in most cases, a grill element. Together these cooking technologies reduce cooking times significantly—and without the colorless, tasteless, and rubbery results of a microwave. Most of these ovens can be operated on a single mode (for instance, microwave only for defrosting) and come with preset roasting and baking programs (a baking cycle might be 90 percent convection and 10 percent microwave) that yield great results at reduced times.
Caveat: This cooking technology comes with a steep price tag, ranging from $1,500 to $3,500 (they’re similar in cost to medium- and high-end wall ovens).
Most speed ovens are configured as built-in wall ovens. The Miele H 6800 BM Speed Oven is at the top of the line in terms of features and technology—and price. Kitted out with a 1,000-watt microwave, 19 operating modes, and over 100 automatic cooking programs; $3,399 at US Appliance.
The interior of the Miele H 6800 BM Speed Oven has a scratch-resistant finish that is easy to clean; it can also operate as a full-power microwave.
The Miele H 6200 BM Speed Oven has many of the features of the H 6800 for $1,999 at AJ Madison.
The Italian-designed Smeg Classic 24-Inch Built-In Microwave Speed Oven combines a 1,000-watt microwave with a European convection and conventional broil oven. It has a fingerprint-proof stainless steel finish and 10 cooking modes; $1,699 at Shoppers Choice.
The professional-style GE Monogram Built-In Oven with Advantium Speedcook Technology is 30 inches wide and offers four ovens in one: True European convection, a microwave, a warming oven, and the combination “Speedcook” oven; $2,599 at Designer Appliances.
The Jenn-Air 30-Inch Built-In Microwave Oven with Speed-Cook System combines microwave cooking with convection cooking and broiling for results that are up to three times faster than conventional ovens. It has a clean front with a curved handle, and comes with several auto sensor cooking modes; $2,299 at Plessers. (A slightly earlier model may also be available from some retailers.)
In addition to European convection, the Bertazzoni 24-Inch Combination Microwave Oven offers conventional electric-oven cooking modes and an electric grill. These can be combined with the microwave functions to cut cooking time by more than 50 percent; $1,699 at AJ Madison.
The Bosch Speed Oven Benchmark Series features a two-in-one microwave and convection oven and comes in stainless steel; $1,949.
Want to stick with a microwave? Consider a built-in microwave to free up counter space and get an integrated look; see 10 Easy Pieces: Built-In Microwaves. Not ready to commit to a built-in, but enticed by the notion of an out-of-sight microwave? See Julie’s 14 Strategies for Hiding the Microwave.
Finally, get more ideas on how to evaluate and choose your kitchen range or oven in our Remodeling 101 Guide: Kitchen Ranges & Ovens.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran April 21, 2014.