The Balmuda Toaster Oven Cooks Meals Using Steam—and It Reheats Pizza Like a Dream

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Balmuda toaster oven: A toaster oven
  • Value: 16/20
  • Quality: 19/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Reheating Ability: 20/20

TOTAL: 92/100

My air fryer is gathering dust. I can practically hear my microwave hiss “traitor” each time I creep past it. And my old toaster oven? Well, let’s just say it’s found its hopefully-not-final resting place in my basement. Even my range is getting less use these days—all because of the Balmuda toaster oven. It uses steam to cook food faster while retaining its moisture; the frontrunner in the latest steam oven trend (which, apparently, is so hot it topped the list of 220 home features that can make a house sell for more, according to Zillow).

While this countertop device isn’t quite as heavy duty as the one Zillow’s respondents likely had in mind, it cooks food the same way—and it costs just $300, a digit shy of many full-blown steam ovens. I may not have the budget (or space) for a Miele, but I can spare the 14 by 12 inches for a Balmuda. And I’m so glad I did—here’s why.

balmuda steam oven pour water

‘Pizza Mode’ Makes Reheating Anything A Breeze

The oven comes with what looks like a mug for an American Girl doll; it’s actually a tiny measuring cup, which you fill with 2.5 to 5 milliliters of water, depending on what you’re reheating, then pour into the silver hole on top of the machine. From there, you twist the dial to the picture of the type of food you’re reheating, set the timer if needed, and let it get to work.

The images on the dial may make it seem like the Balmuda just toasts or warms bread; no, no. While it does perfectly toast bread, be it Wonder or the artisanal croissant variety, the pizza and pastry modes are great for reviving a day-old slice better than the skillet-and-water-hack, or making a rock-hard muffin seem fresh from the oven.

No matter what I reheated with it, the results were…shockingly good. A bagel I literally smashed against the table, concerned I’d chip the granite before bending the fossilized dough, was pillowy and chewy after a trip in the Balmuda. I’ve never gotten the same results from the ol’ “wrap a damp paper towel around it and heat at a lower power setting” that we all use when microwaving (and, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit, I actually wrote a cookbook on hacking your microwave to better results!).

Whether I’m reheating chicken tenders or whipping up an avocado toast, I’ve found one rule applies: When in doubt, put it on pizza mode. It seems to work for everything heartier than an English muffin.

balmuda steam oven bagels

It’s A Reliable (and Roomy) Little Oven

While the machine protrudes a bit from the counter (it needs to be four inches away from the wall), it still takes up less space than my air fryer or microwave. The tray is just big enough to serve two, but if you’re cooking for any more than that, you’ll need to work in batches, much like any other toaster oven.

And, as a regular toaster oven, it excels there too: You simply twist the dial to the temperature you want, and another for the number of minutes to cook, and that’s that. While my old toaster oven tended to burn things no matter the setting, I’ve made more than a dozen dishes without any charred results (so far).

It’s Kinda…Sexy?

Toaster ovens are the reason some designers advocate for appliance garages. You don’t want to look at ‘em, but the Balmuda? Its modern lines and matte finish are pretty sleek, plus if you order directly through the brand, you can choose between one of four colors (black, white, gray and taupe).

balmuda steam oven test

The Bottom Line

If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect to love the Balmuda oven, let alone make multiple meals a week from it; after years of covering appliances, I’ve gotten weary of the “next big thing,” which is usually code for “countertop clutter you’ll use thrice and ignore for years” (see: Instant Pot, sous vide machine). But here I am, a Balmuda stan, using it to cook more weeknight dinners than I’d like to admit. And you know what? I’m OK with that.

The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.

candace davison bio
Candace Davison

VP of editorial, recipe developer, kitsch-lover

Candace Davison oversees PureWow's food and home content, as well as its franchises, like the PureWow100 review series and the Happy Kid Awards. She’s covered all things lifestyle...
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