Ok, except your fridge.

By Dominique Michelle Astorino
October 12, 2020
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Imagine if an air fryer, a slow cooker, a dehydrator, a frying pan, and an infrared oven that heats up to 500 degrees in under a second fused together and had a kitchen appliance baby. This is a thing that exists in 2020. Meet the Tesla of ovens: the Brava.

I was introduced to the Brava earlier this year, near the beginning of quarantine. As someone whose only roommate is a golden retriever, the idea of being able to cook an entire meal for one — at microwave speeds, without using a microwave, with no waste and very little cleanup — was wildly appealing. Take-my-money appealing.

There are so many attributes that make this the ultimate kitchen appliance, and well worth the $1,000 price tag. (I know, let your sticker shock do its thing: gasp, let your eyes bulge, etc. But jump back in when you're ready because, trust me, this thing is legit.)

Brava Oven
Brava Smart Oven

It Has 7 (!!!) Cooking Functions

The quick breakdown: it can sear, toast, slow roast, reheat, bake, air fry, and dehydrate.

The Brava functions as a smart oven with infrared light (not gas) that can cook meals as well as a traditional oven, but at lightning-fast speeds. That allows you to do things like sear fish and roast vegetables simultaneously — on one pan, in under eight minutes, at the touch of a button. Or set it to 350ºF and bake your cookies the traditional way for 15. It also functions as a toaster oven and can reheat your food or toast your bagels.

It Is So. Damn. Fast.

This thing has six "halogen lamps" which allow the machine to heat to over 500 degrees in a 10th of a second. Why this makes a difference: You can sear and fully cook without over cooking. With a conventional oven, you typically can't get it hot enough to sear without drying out your food. And with a microwave, you know how the texture of your food can change (and frankly, become disgusting).

Bonus: Because it can cook an entire meal using less energy than it takes to just preheat a conventional oven, it actually makes your cooking more eco-friendly! According to Brava, the infrared emitters are twice as efficient as standard heating emitters found in most home ovens and toaster ovens.

It Can Do One-Pan Meals Way Better

The three-zone cook is arguably one of the most appealing parts of this machine. If you're anything like me, you live for the idea of a one-pan meal — but options are often limited when you use varied ingredients, right? The salmon is burnt but the asparagus is still crudité; some part of the meal is ice cold while the rest is lava.

The Brava cooks in zones (again, using infrared light), meaning it can cook different types of ingredients at different temperatures — at the same time. My favorite example of this (what really emotionally bonded me to a kitchen appliance) was when I tried the Mahi Mahi with Fennel and Asparagus recipe on the Brava app (oh yes, there's an app — more on that in a sec). I placed the ingredients in their coordinating zones of one pan, popped it in, and pressed the button — and in seven and a half minutes, I had a perfectly cooked meal with tender, flaky fish and roasted vegetables. The app even had a recipe for a side salad that I whipped up in the seven minutes that the hot ingredients were searing and roasting.

It Replaces Several of Your Favorite Appliances

You've been eyeing an air fryer? The Brava does that, too. You can use any air fry recipe in this countertop wonder. In the mood for autumnal stews and soups? Use the chef's pan and click on the slow cook setting — no need to get the slow cooker down from the attic. Always wanted to dehydrate watermelon? (Good for you!) There's a feature for that, too. Need a pizza oven? You've got it. (You're getting the picture, right?)

In sum, you can replace your toaster oven, slow cooker, air fryer, dehydrator, pizza oven, and even a frying pan, grill, or sous vide machine with this one near-magic appliance.

It Has Pre-Programmed Meals and Crazy Technology

Part toaster oven, part computer. Here are some techy components.

  • Camera and touchscreen: You may have noticed that screen at the top — it's a touch screen that connects to a camera inside (so you can watch your food and make sure it's not overcooking). The touchscreen also allows you to swipe through your favorite recipes and functions, read instructions, see photos and videos, and create your own recipes (yes, you can make your own recipe program!).

  • Preset recipes: Speaking of recipes! As of now, there are over 1,000 preset recipes (including an entire section for "Trader Joe's Frozen Food" — so yes, crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi in a matter of minutes). You can cook a pizza, a steak, grilled cheese, eggs, a giant pancake, seafood, or a grilled peanut butter banana cinnamon sandwich (I know, right?). Plus, they're constantly updating with new recipes, ingredients, and additions, so the software will continue to expand your culinary horizons.

  • The app: Scroll through recipes, save favorites, watch your meal cook, or pause/stop the cooking process from your mobile device.

It's Basically Impossible to Screw Up

If you're worried about a super hot, super fast oven (and you've had some kitchen follies), fear not. There's a temp sensor for meats and fish to ensure you don't overcook (or undercook!), as well as a smoke sensor to make sure you don't burn anything (or set your house on fire).

Beyond this, the preset recipes allow for no guesswork — your meal is literally just a touch of a button away. For the prep, the screen on the top of the Brava will guide you through every single step; Typically it's just "place ingredients on the pan," but you can advance into more complex recipes as you build confidence in the kitchen.

It Fits on Your Countertop

At 11.3 inches tall, 14.1 inches wide and 16.7 inches long, it's countertop-sized (slightly bigger than a microwave), but can fit a whole chicken. It does need a few inches around it for proper ventilation (I have mine adjacent to a window) but it doesn't heat up your whole house the way a traditional gas oven does.

It Makes Cleanup a Breeze

If there's anything I hate when I'm feeling depleted, tired, or run down, it's cleaning up after cooking. I don't have a dishwasher, so this is compounded by the manual labor component. That said, the Brava pans are coated in some sort of magic (I'll be honest, I don't know what it is) and they clean up more easily than any nonstick pan I've ever owned. A touch of my Mrs. Meyer's dish soap, some warm water, a quick wipe down, and we're done. I am in home-cooking heaven.

My Take On the Brava

I've had an extremely positive experience with the Brava in the past several months; it's now easier for me to cook healthy meals, in less time with less energy.

Because 2020 has zapped so much of my usual gusto and left me feeling depleted, I have a strong pull toward easy comfort foods (hello, mac and cheese and cereal) and takeout. These options leave me either spending too much money or not adequately nourishing my body. If time and energy have prevented you from cooking more at home, this is definitely something to consider.

I'm also in a small space — if you're in a small space, too, consider that it functions as seven or more kitchen tools and appliances, and fits on a counter. (I promptly threw away my old microwave when this arrived, and had plenty of space for my new Brava.) The top even has a silicone pad so you can put your hot pan on the "roof" of the Brava to cool off — even less need for additional counter space.

And if you're a home cook who loves trying new recipes, tools, and techniques, this will be so much fun for you (it certainly has been for me). If you're a novice with a proclivity to produce "charred" dishes, this will give you the leg up you need to start enjoying the cooking process and eating properly cooked meals.

TL;DR — I worship at the Brava altar. You will, too.