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No one dislikes cooking as much as I do. Seriously, even when I follow recipes to a T, the food still comes out nearly inedible. Yup, I'm that bad, so I saw two options for myself: Marry someone who actually knows their way around the kitchen or make the Tovala Smart Oven Pro (was $299, now $119) my new best friend. While the former would be awesome (at some point), I decided that, since I need to start cutting back on takeout sooner rather than later, the second option was the way to go. And being that the Tovala is supposed to be like an 'Easy Bake Oven for adults' (i.e., it does most of the work for you), I figured it was my answer to whipping up meals that I could actually eat and serve to other people. Here's what happened when I put its six-in-one versatility to the test.
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Destinee Scott for PureWow
What Is the Tovala Smart Oven Pro?
The Tovala Smart Oven Pro is one of the smartest multicookers I've come across in my quest to make cooking easier, with which perfectly cooked meals are literally just a scan away. With six functions (steam, bake, broil, toast, reheat and air fry), it's designed to do the work of a conventional oven minus the mess and prep. Instead, it offers one-touch cooking that allows you to scan a QR code found on Tovala meals, or barcodes on your go-to grocery items, so it automatically switches between times, cooking modes and temperatures to give you restaurant-quality results every dang time.
It's designed to seamlessly prepare Tovala meal kits, which you can explore and order from the brand's website. There are tons to choose from and they start at just $10 per serving. However, you don't have to buy the Tovala meals to effortlessly use the oven. There are thousands of compatible grocery items you can scan using their barcodes, and you can create your own settings to cook your favorite meals, from chili cheese nachos to soft-boiled eggs.
How to Use the Tovala Smart Oven
Using the Tovala Smart Oven is supposed to be as easy as one-two-three. First, you'll choose four to 16 meals from weekly menus to be delivered right to your door. Then, when you go to cook them, you'll only need to complete a few easy steps, like chopping ingredients and separating the main dish from the side to get it ready for the oven. From there, you'll scan the barcode on the recipe sheet and it will automatically choose all the proper settings, so you don't have to think twice. Just press start, and in 25 minutes or less, breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert is served. In other words, you don't have to worry about being a pro because, as the brand says, "Our chefs tell your Tovala Smart Oven how to cycle through cooking modes." And setting it all up is effortless with the Tovala app.
As I mentioned, I suck at cooking, so knowing I wouldn't have to toggle through a bunch of settings to get the perfect meal gave me peace of mind even before I went to use it. One of the first Tovala meals I whipped up was ground beef tacos with Spanish rice (pictured above). All the ingredients came neatly packaged, and the directions were super clear (separate this, separate that), so I was done prepping in no time. All there was left to do was scan the barcode. Guys, this part is really as easy as it sounds, and it even beeps to let you know when it's all set. After 20 minutes, I got a notification on my phone informing me that the food was ready. I went ahead and took the meal out, set it all up on my plate and began to chow down. The first thing I noticed was that the food wasn't super hot; it was actually warm, which made me question whether it was cooked all the way. Nevertheless, I ate every drop, and I wasn't totally disappointed. I had finally made a meal!
The next time I used the multicooker was for roasted mushroom gnocchi alfredo. While prepping and cooking was equally as effortless, I still noticed that the food wasn't hot, which is one of the cons of the one-touch cooking. So if, like me, you like your food somewhat steamy, I would say you may want to adjust the presets so your food can come out hotter. However, I also used the smart oven to bake pizza and sugar cookies with ingredients I bought at the grocery store, and they came out jusssssst right.
After testing it for three months (with and without the meal kits), I've decided that the Tovala Smart Oven has earned a permanent spot on my kitchen counter. Not only can I actually cook yummy meals with it, it also has a sleek look and is the size of an average microwave, so it doesn't take up too much space. As a non-cook, those are biggies for me. The fact that it's under $200 right now? Just the icing on the cake.
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