Counter-top ovens – are they worthwhile?

Must have been 1993 or so.

Oh, it was late at night. I was watching television because I couldn’t sleep. This chubby guy in a chef’s hat comes on the screen – late night infomercial. He is using this magical device called a “Jet Stream Oven.” A counter-top oven that will virtually replace your conventional oven.

Oh brother.

To make a long story short – I bought it. Was it just another TV shopping piece of junk? Hardly. I still use one to this day – 13 years later. Can’t do without it.

INFOMERCIAL ALERT – Turn down your computer speakers before clicking on the links below.

Over the years, my wife and I have tried two different brands of counter-top ovens – Jet Stream Oven and FlavorWave Oven. They are very similar, but have some key differences that are worth noting (see below).

Here’s what’s great about using a counter-top oven. It is as convenient as a microwave, but it uses an infrared heating element with a fan that shoots the heat fairly evenly around the whole inside space. We almost never use the microwave anymore.

One of our favorite uses of the counter-top oven is to cook frozen chicken breasts to slice up and put on top of our salads. It cooks them perfectly – skin a little brown, not dry, wonderful. Cooking food (steaks, chicken, fish, etc.) from frozen solid is absolutely no problem. Pizzas work great too, as long as it’s not too large.

These ovens cook food faster than a conventional oven, but slower than a microwave. And since it’s smaller, it uses a lot less power than a regular sized oven.

The oven parts are supposedly dishwasher safe, although we’ve always cleaned it by hand in the sink. It is very easy to clean and re-assemble. I would say we use it on average twice a day.

This is not the gushing of a new owner of a fancy product. We have literally had a counter-top oven for around 13 years non-stop. It’s funny – apparently the Jet Stream Oven was taken off the market in the late 1990s but they had to bring it back because the current owners went nuts when they found out they couldn’t get a replacement oven. We’re really part of a counter-top oven cult…

Do they last? Well, that’s another story. The original counter-top oven I purchased in 1993 was a Jet Stream Oven. It lasted 8 years. I was pretty impressed. The problem was that the motor just finally blew out or shorted electrically. That was understandable, as much as I used it.

The next Jet Stream Oven lasted exactly 14 months (2 months past warranty). This time it wasn’t the motor, it was the clear plastic lid. It just broke apart (and not because I dropped it). We replaced the lid and then had more problems, so we bought an entirely new model. It broke too, about a year later.

After this, I started to look for a competitor to Jet Stream. The FlavorWave Oven turned up, so I bought it. It has worked fine for about two and a half years with no sign of falling apart.

I think the FlavorWave Oven is better in these ways:

  • Better built, will probably last longer
  • Fan moves slower, so it won’t flip food around inside the oven (like pepperonis on a pizza, or marinades)
  • Slightly cheaper than Jet Stream
  • Glass base on the oven is very thick, sturdy and easy to clean

I think the Jet Stream Oven has good points too:

  • Fan moves faster, so it cooks food a lot faster than FlavorWave (30-50% faster)
  • Controls are easier to understand
  • Has two adjustable racks (FlavorWave has only one)

When our counter-top oven broke down, my wife and I both panicked. We rely on this thing like crazy! How do you live without it? How??

And the answer to the question you’ve all been waiting for! Can you put an entire roast chicken into it? Well, for the FlavorWave, not really, The chicken has to be pretty small. The Jet Stream has an expander ring that allows you to cook pretty large items, like a turkey breast (but never a whole turkey).

Neither oven is very good with casseroles or stuff like that. And you can’t do anything liquid, like pudding, because it will just splatter all over the inside of the oven. I can’t say whether they work for baked good – I don’t bake. I did do an apple pie which turned out great.

Frozen dinners don’t work very well either, since they often on plastic plates, which will probably melt. Sausages, steaks and most meats are totally fine. All types of fish too. The nice thing is that you don’t need to use any oil as you would with frying.

I would say it’s worth considering getting one of these counter-top ovens. The investment is small – $100 – $150. If you live in a small apartment or dorm room, it is a very versatile item that replaces an oven, microwave and barbeque (in my humble opinion).

(It feels so weird proselytizing these infomercial-type products, but they are really good. I feel like I need to say this because it is “news” that an infomercial product is actually worth a damn.)

Author by Daryl Kulak