When it comes to gadgets, I’m something of a contradiction. I’m often dazzled by cutting-edge home tech (I’ve got smart lights, speakers, a doorbell, and security cameras), but in the kitchen, I tend to lean into the old-fashioned. Perhaps it’s because I’m a professional baker and used to making do with the bare-bones basics found in a commercial kitchen, but most of the time, I just don’t think the fanciest tool or smartest piece of equipment is necessary to get the job done.
Why do I need $500 knives when I’ve got a set I trust and a knife sharpener? Why should I buy an as-seen-on-tv egg separator when I’ve got my own two hands? I used to feel the same way about ovens, too. And then I got a Tovala and everything changed. Here's why:
#1 It’s more than just an oven
I picked up my Tovala about a year and a half ago. My trusted (read: ancient) countertop toaster oven had just gone kaput, and I needed a replacement. I browsed around for something similar, but Tovala caught my eye. To be honest, I wasn’t all that dazzled initially by the steam injection technology or sleek facade; it was the associated meal subscription that drew me in.
Not your average prepared meal delivery service, Tovala’s meals are designed for solo diners (though you can bake up to four at a time) and come packed into tin trays that you can pop straight into the oven. To cook, you just scan the provided QR code and the oven will prepare your dinner with the right combination of heat, steam, and time required to cook it to perfection. I’ve tried dozens of Tovala meals at this point, and my favorite is the Creole Tomato-Braised Chicken with Freshly Baked Biscuits. In under 20 minutes, my oven cooks me delicious stew and fluffy, freshly-baked biscuits that are so good.
#2 It makes the best toast
Can I make a confession? I’m not much of a morning person. I often grumble my way out of bed and straight to the coffee pot, stopping en route only to whip up a quick bite to eat. Toast is one of my go-to breakfasts, and I used to think that toast was toast was toast. Well, Tovala toast is something special. Have you ever had toast that’s so dry that it seems like the bread had been sitting out on the counter for two days? That doesn’t happen with Tovala. Ever. Using a combination of heat and steam, Tovala cooks toast perfectly every single time. And good toast helps make my mornings just a teensy bit more tolerable.
#3 I don’t have to hover
The Tovala oven has all the usual buttons you’d expect on a smart oven, but you can also control it using an app. If I want to cook chicken breasts, for example, I need not Google “chicken breast recipe cooking time.” I can just pull up the Tovala app, search for “chicken breasts,” press “cook” right there in the app, and the oven will get to work. Just like with the meal plan meals, the oven is pre-programmed to use just the right combo of techniques to prepare the food so it’s just right. I don’t even need to stick around within earshot because as soon as my food is ready, I receive a push notification on my phone through the Tovala app. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as loading up dinner in the oven, pouring a glass of wine, and sitting outside on the porch while I wait for my Tovala to ring the dinner bell.
#4 I can cook waffles with a simple barcode scan
The scan-to-cook feature isn’t just for the QR code that comes with the Tovala meals. You can also scan the barcode on hundreds of grocery store items and your oven will spring to life and cook according to the instructions on the box. Frozen waffles are a guilty pleasure of mine, and I never get tired of tossing one into the oven and scanning the box. Do waffles taste better when you’re cooking them using a technique out of a sci-fi novel? You bet they do.
#5 It’ll cook everything… almost
I’ve had my Tovala for well over a year now, and it’s still toasting bread with the honed precision that made me fall in love with it on day one. But it does a lot more than that. I can toast, bake, broil, steam, and reheat using my Tovala, and it just works. From roasted brussels sprouts and fish to casseroles and cookies, I use my Tovala for (almost) everything. Sadly, it’s just too darn small to cook an entire Thanksgiving turkey. Tovala, if you ever think about releasing an XL model, call me.
The Tovala oven usually costs $299; however, if you commit to ordering 6 weeks of meals during the first 6 months of oven ownership, you’ll only pay $99. Meals start at $11.99 each.