Tovala Smart Oven Gen 2 review
The Tovala Smart Oven Gen 2 is best suited to those who will make the most of its accompanying meal plan, but it's also a top countertop oven in its own right
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The Tovala Smart Oven (Gen 2) makes cooking as easy as scanning a barcode - and even includes the option to purchase ready-to-cook meals. It has the optional ongoing cost of a meal kit subscription, but can still be used for home cooking and quick meals if you decide they're not for you.
Optional meal delivery service
Steam, Broil, toast, and reheat functions
Scan to cook Tovala meals
Scan to cook numerous grocery items
Tovala meals can be an expensive ongoing cost
Must have WiFi and smartphone to set up the oven
On the small side for family-sized meals
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I’ve had the Tovala Smart Oven, Gen 2 (also known as the Tovala 6-in-1 Steam + Air Fry Smart Oven) since June 2021, so I’ve been able to test it on several occasions. This appliance is a game changer that eliminates the need to prep meals or figure out the time, temperature, or cooking mode. The ability to just unpack a box of food that’s been delivered to my door, place it in the oven, and scan a barcode to begin cooking makes it easy to eat healthy meals on a regular basis.
However, you can’t just grab Tovala’s meals from your favorite grocery store - you’ll need a subscription to take full advantage of this feature. Of course, you’re not limited to the company’s food. The Tovala Gen 2 Smart Oven also functions like a regular countertop oven, and even has a steam function. However, the meal subscription function is really what sets it apart from the rest of the best toaster ovens.
Below, I’ll provide a review of the Tovala Smart Oven Gen 2, the Tovala Meal process, and other essential information to help you decide if this is the right countertop oven for your needs.
Although it's got a hefty ongoing cost attached, if (like me) you're not a lover of making meals from scratch, it's a price worth paying to have the option of ready-prepared meals that sync effortlessly to your oven. Really, things couldn't be smarter.
Tovala Smart Oven 2 Gen:
$299 $99 when you buy 6 weeks of meals (opens in new tab)
Save $200 on the Tovala Steam + Air Fry Smart Oven, when you order at least 6 weeks of meals within your first 6 months.
Terri hates cooking – but loves testing kitchen appliances. She’s tested over a dozen countertop ovens, and has written buying guides on countertop ovens and other kitchen appliances and home goods for several popular websites.
Tovala graciously gifted Terri her unit of the Tovala Gen 2 Smart Oven for this review.
Tovala Gen 2 Smart Oven: Specs
- Cooking modes: Steam, Bake, Broil, Toast, Reheat
- Temperature Range: 86°F- 446°F
- Exterior Dimensions: 18.5" L x 12.32" D x 11.75" H
- Interior Dimensions: 12.75" L x 11" D x 8" H
- Weight: 20.9 lb.
- Power: 1525W
- Accessories: Drain Tray, Crumb Tray, Steamer Cover, Oven Rack, Sheet Tray, Hot Pad, Measuring Cup, Quick Start Guide, and Recipe Cards
- Warranty: 1 year
I’ve had the Tovala Gen 2 Smart Oven for over a year, and the box that it came in was recycled a long time ago, so I can’t show you the unboxing process. However, the accessories were carefully wrapped, and include a few items that may require an explanation:
- Steamer cover: goes over the stainless steel steamer in the back of the oven. The cover easily slides in place.
- Drain tray: this slides into the front (under the oven door) and collects excess water produced when cooking with steam.
- Measuring cup: used to pour 8 ounces of water into the water reservoir when using a cooking mode that includes steam. The “add water” message appears whenever there’s not enough water in the reservoir.
- The other accessories include the crumb tray, oven rack, sheet tray, hot pad (for resting hot trays on), and the quick start guide and recipe cards.
- As of September 2022, new Tovala Gen 2 Smart Ovens also come equipped with an air fry basket accessory (the air fry basket accessory can also be purchased separately for $19.99, and used with the oven’s convection baking mode.
The 1525-watt oven has a sleek, stainless steel interior and exterior. It’s on the smallish side (which is great for people trying to save countertop space) but is large enough to hold a 4 pound chicken, or 10-inch pizza.
Tovala recommends a 6-inch clearance on the top of the oven and 3 inches on the sides and back. The company also recommends plugging the appliance into a GFCI outlet that has nothing else plugged in.
Using the Tovala Gen 2 Smart Oven
The first step to using the Tovala Gen 2 Smart Oven was downloading the Tovala app on my smartphone, creating an account, and setting up the oven. After the initial setup, the oven can be controlled via phone, but also using the control panel on the appliance.
The app also provides the ability to create cooking cycles, receive notifications when the food is done, order meals, and access a large library of recipes.
The control panel includes modes to select from (scan, toast, steam, bake, broil), and this is also where the time and temperature are set. The button at the bottom of the control panel is used to start, cancel, or turn the oven off.
The light at the very top of the control panel is the scan function, and this is used to scan the barcode on Tovala’s prepared and delivered meals, as well as many common grocery store items.
The company sent me four meals to try for the purposes of this review, but I've also used the oven for day-to-day cooking without the included recipe subscription.
Cooking Tovala Ginger Tamari Pork Chop
The first test was Tovala’s Ginger Tamari Pork Chop with Sweet Pea Rice and Pickled Carrots. Without opening the box, the meal’s name, cooking time, and use before date are displayed, which is helpful when storing the boxes in the refrigerator. The pork chop, sauce, veggies, and pickled carrots are all individually wrapped. There’s only one pan shown in the photo, but the 2nd pan is actually packed underneath it to save space.
The meal card includes the nutrition information as well as the barcode to scan. After flipping the meal card over, the other side includes icons with corresponding titles for each item. (At first, I thought it was funny that the company felt the need to identify the pork chop, rice, etc., but the next day, when I couldn’t tell the salad dressing from one of the sauces, I was grateful for those titled pictures!)
Below the icons and titles are the prep instructions: for example, separate the nested trays, remove the plastic film, place the pork chop in one pan, place the rice in the other pan, etc.
I followed the instructions, put the two pans in the oven, scanned the barcode, and came back when the oven started beeping to indicate the food was ready. Then I added the pickled carrots and ginger sauce.
The meal was delicious. The pork chop was tender and juicy, the rice was fluffy and light while the peas were crunchy, and the carrots and sauce added just the right amount of flavor.
Cooking Tovala Teriyaki-Glazed Salmon & Peanut Noodles
The next day, I tried another one of the Tovala Meals: Teriyaki-Glazed Salmon & Peanut Noodles. This box contained many more items than the first meal. In addition to the salmon filet, noodles, peanut sauce, and Sriracha sauce, it also included a prepared salad and carrot ginger dressing. I opened everything, poured the sauce over the salmon, placed the salmon and noodles in separate pans, placed them in the oven, and then scanned the barcode on the meal card.
When the food was ready, I added the other sauces and salad dressing. Once again, the meal was cooked to perfection and delicious. The salmon was fall-off-the-fork delectable and the noodles were flavorful. The salad was crunchy and tangy, and it tasted good as well. I would pay money in a restaurant for food that tasted like this.
Cooking Tovala Chicken & Sweet Potato Burrito Bowl
The following day, I tried Tovala’s Chicken & Sweet Potato Burrito Bowl. In addition to the marinated chicken breast, the meal also contained sweet potatoes and rice, seasoning, black bean salsa, guacamole, and Cotija cream sauce. I separated the aluminum tray, and removed the plastic film.
Then I placed the chicken and sweet potatoes/rice in separate trays and put them in the oven, and scanned the barcode. When the buzzer sounded, I took the food out and drizzled the Cotija cream sauce, black bean salsa, and guacamole on top. The meal was comparable – if not better – than what I would have gotten at a restaurant.
Cooking Tovala’s Sesame Soy Braised Beef
The final test was Tovala’s Sesame Soy Braised Beef & Broccoli. This meal contained a braised beef mixture with bell peppers and onions, broccoli, white rice, sesame soy sauce, and Sriracha sauce. I unwrapped the contents, placed the pans in the oven, and scanned the barcode. When the food was ready, I added the sauces. Yet another delicious meal that was ridiculously easy to prepare.
One constant among the four meals is that they were relatively healthy (although I only used a portion of the soy sauce, since it has a high sodium content). The ability to control the amount of sauces added can significantly reduce sodium, fat, and calories.
What Else You Need to Know About Tovala
Tovala offers a variety of meals (opens in new tab) that are delivered fresh every week. (At the time of publication, the meals started at $9.99 per serving). While some meals (like the Chicken & Sweet Potato Burrito Bowl – which is a best seller) may be a constant, other meals can change frequently. At the time I was writing this review, Filet Mignon with Balsamic Caramelized Onions and Rosemary Parmesan Potato Wedges, Mediterranean Roasted Chicken with Lemon Risotto & Crispy Onions, and Freshly Baked Breakfast Biscuits with Butter & Strawberry Jam were just some of the many options. The meals are all created, tested - and tasted - by a team of world-class chefs, and none of the meals take over 20 minutes to cook.
In addition to using Tovala’s meals, you can also scan the barcode on many grocery items, including popular breakfast and pizza brands like Pillsbury, Eggo, Kashi, Amy’s, Annie’s, and Totino’s.
The oven can also prepare made-from-scratch recipes (like any other countertop oven) if you don’t want to purchase Tovala’s recipes. In addition, the Tovala app has recipes sorted by breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and even includes appetizers and desserts.
Cleaning the Tovala Gen 2 Smart Oven
Cleaning the oven is a breeze. The oven’s interior, exterior, control panel, and door can be cleaned by simply wiping them with a soft, damp cloth containing a mixture of soap and water. The contents of the crumb tray and drain tray should be disposed of, and they can also be wiped with a soft, damp cloth. The oven should be descaled every six months using vinegar and water.
How does it compare?
I’ve tested over a dozen countertop ovens, including June, Wolf Gourmet, the Fotile ChefCubii, Breville, De’Longhi Livenza, and Ninja.
Although June’s oven is also smart, the Tovala Gen 2 Smart Oven stands out because Tovala sells prepacked meals that can be used with it, and includes the ability to scan regular grocery items.
Tovala is also one of the very few countertop ovens with a steam feature – which is certainly a healthier way to cook. Fotile’s ChefCubii has a steam function – but doesn’t use barcodes for prepared meals, and is also more expensive.
If space is an issue, the Tovala Gen 2 Smart Oven is smaller than most of the countertop ovens that I’ve tested, so it will free up countertop space. However, for some people – especially those with large families, a smaller oven could be a con, since it limits how much food you can cook at one time.
Should you buy the Calphalon Performance Cool Touch Toaster Oven?
If you plan on using Tovala’s meal plan, I wholeheartedly endorse the purchase of this oven. It doesn’t get easier to cook food – unless you’re hiring a chef to come to your home. The food is fresh, thoughtfully prepared, and tastes delicious. However, the meals aren’t cheap. If you eat out a lot, spending $10 per meal is not a big deal. But for those on a budget – or with larger families – the cost can add up quickly.
If you don’t plan on buying Tovala’s meal plans, I still think the oven is a good choice because it’s a well-designed, quality appliance that cooks food well, is easy to clean, and also has a steam function. It’s small, but depending on your needs, that may not be negative.
Terri Williams is a journalist with real estate, home improvement, and product review bylines at Architectural Digest, Real Simple, Realtor.com, Bob Vila, Yahoo, MSN, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Houston Chronicle, and Apartment Therapy. She also covers business topics, with bylines at USA Today, The Economist, US New & World Report, Verizon, and several other brands that you’ve probably heard of. Follow her adventures on Twitter.
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