A Guide to the Versatile Combi Oven : Bake : Fry : Smoke : & More

illustration of a combi oven and types of food you can make with it

Finding success in the kitchen is all about having the right tools. You want utensils and appliances that do a variety of things well because they give you the ability to create vastly different dishes without cluttering up your kitchen. Many chefs have found their do-it-all tool in the combination oven.

The combination steam-convection oven ("combi ovens" or "combi steamers" as they're affectionately known) is becoming a staple piece of equipment. They've been popular in Europe since they were first used in the 1980's but are becoming increasingly popular in a lot of different settings. From fine dining restaurants to hospitals and schools, to mom and pop shops, this powerful machine is drawing the attention of chefs for its incredible versatility: it can bake, fry, broil, steam, and even smoke. It's the five-tool player of the kitchen.

So how does the combi oven work? As its name suggests, it combines two types of cooking technology: convection and steam. Convection cooking circulates heat throughout the oven using a fan, which differs from traditional ovens that have a top or bottom heating element radiating heat. This means the oven will have a more consistent temperature throughout the compartment. Convection technology has been around awhile and it continues to be popular in professional and home kitchens alike. It's ideal for cooking pizzas, breads, and pies. Steam cooking on the other hand (as one would assume) injects steam into the oven which cooks the food while keeping it moist. Steam cooking is perfect for preparing things like vegetables and seafood.

The merging of these two methods results in the combi oven: a multi-faceted cooking tool capable of handling the most demanding applications. If you're looking to outfit your kitchen with a versatile and powerful piece of baking equipment then your search is over. You need a combi oven. But which model is right for you? It depends on what features you're looking for and your budget. Here are a few of our recommendations.

Mini Machine

If you're looking for an oven that offers the many attractive features of a combi but isn't going to bludgeon your budget or take up too much space, this is your best bet.

Cleveland OES6.10Mini - Electric Combi Oven Steamer

Eight "Press & Go" buttons for quick start cooking

View Featured Product

The Cleveland OES6.10 Mini Electric Combi Oven Steamer oven offers many of the same cooking capabilities as the full size Cleveland Combi Oven Steamers but takes up much less space and is more budget friendly. The OES6.10 can roast, grill, steam, convenience fry, and bake and can even be pre-programmed for up to 250 different recipes. It is well suited for medium to high demand kitchens.

Watch the Mini Combi in action:

Heavy Hitters - Cleveland

These combi ovens are mammoths in size and capability. They're able to meet high volume demand while still maintaining an excellent product.

Gas Version - OGS-6.20 Convotherm Combi Oven Steamer

Standardize your menu for consistent results, no matter who operates it

View Featured Product

Electric Version - OES-6.20 Convotherm Combi Oven Steamer - Electric

Decrease food shrinkage, cook time, and energy cost with Cleveland's electric combi oven

View Featured Product

The Cleveland 6.20 Convotherm Combi Oven Steamer is an extremely versatile option that will allow you to pre-program up to 250 recipes with up to 20 steps per recipe. In two steps, you can cook with dry heat for 20 minutes at a high temperature, then add steam and lower the temperature for 45 minutes. It's completely up to you. This oven is a great option for larger applications like hospitals, schools and cafeterias. It comes in both gas and electric options to fit your needs.

See the Convotherm up close:

Heavy Hitters - Vulcan

The Vulcan ABC7G-NAT and ABC7E-208 Full Size Combi Oven is the most simple to use of the full size combi ovens that we offer. You set the temperature and time and the oven automatically selects the humidity for you. Of course, you can always adjust the humidity to your preference if you'd like.

Gas Version - ABC7G-NAT Combi Oven

3 simple knobs: temperature, time, and humidity

View Featured Product

Electric Version - ABC7E-208 Combi Oven 208V

Boilerless combi oven with direct steam creation

View Featured Product

It is a powerful machine that makes it easy for chefs to create standard recipes and ensure consistent results. The ABC7G is best suited for chefs and institutions who want a simpler experience with their combi oven.

Check out Vulcan's combi oven:

The combi oven is without a doubt the most powerful and versatile cooking tool on the market today. What's most important in deciding if it's a right fit for you is to do your research. Feel free to click on some of the links below to read up on how owning a combi oven could benefit your business.