HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


Cuisinart Combi Oven

Has anyone used the Cuisinart CSO-300 combi oven? Thrilled that there is one at such a cheap price ($300 vs. $5,000) but also suspicious of its effectiveness and limitations due to size.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Did you read the stellar review in Food and Wine? Because it has me wondering about this appliance as well. I'd love to hear from others.

    2 Replies
    1. re: centralpadiner

      Indeed, that was what sparked my interest. I'm most concerned about the oven's size (which I suppose could be solved by just going out to a store and looking at it) but am also curious about the performance. The Food and Wine guy loved it to paid endorser level. While I realize (hopefully) that no one was paid by Cuisinart to write that article, I'd love to hear someone's real-world experience with it!

      1. re: centralpadiner

        F&W was where I first read about them. I've worked in restaurants for so much of my life that I was familiar with their versatility but they've only been available for thousands of dollars for the home. This little $300 baby is well worth the money! Just make sure you keep the crumb tray clean because the steam will make a mess of the bottom of the oven and the seal on the door.

      2. My Breville Smart Oven is a great choice for me. I can't imagine another it's size or price being better.

        I guess I could always put a small pan of water in for steam .....

        3 Replies
        1. re: Sid Post

          Thanks for the response! For me, it's all about the steaming ability of the Cuisinart oven. Looks like your Breville has a lot of control heat wise, though it's just that elusive continuous blast of steam I'm looking for.

          1. re: htamano

            Yes, it's a world class 'toaster oven'. I use it a lot for pizza's up to 13", muffins and bread, and roasts. I have also used it for steaks while traveling.

          2. re: Sid Post

            I love my BSO. We hardly use the big oven now.

          3. Oh, I wish I hadn't seen this. Now I want one! Here's a fairly detailed review, with lots of photos showing cooking results compared to other toaster ovens: http://reviews.cnet.com/toasters-oven...

            2 Replies
            1. re: MrsPatmore

              If you do indeed get one, please let us know what you think! Here is the original F&W article that turned me onto the oven:


              The evolution to an effective/affordable steam/combination oven for the home is exciting for me, mainly due to the ability to proof and then bake with steam blasts. The sous-vide replication and speed of steam cooking could be useful as well, though I'm not that interested in those aspects. Mainly, the fact that this is roughly 5-10% the price of a standard combi oven is a thrill! Thanks for the input!

              1. re: htamano

                I got one and I am thrilled with it! see my reply above...

            2. I'm also wondering if anyone has used this combi. I'm very interested in trying steam cooking, but don't want to spend a fortune to test it - this seems like a good alternative. But I'm also wondering if this is just the first to market and if there will be better choices for a "budget" combi in the near future. Thoughts?

              I've seen a couple companies try to throw a microwave into the steam combi mix - there's a discontinued Sharp, and a Viking that looks exactly like the discontinued Sharp. Is wanting a microwave in the same unit asking too much from a reliability standpoint?

              1. I got one for Christmas!!! I haven't taken it out of the box yet, and we are busy the next few days. It's pretty big for a counter top appliance, that will take some getting used to, for sure.

                But, once I get it up and going, I'll go through all the features and keep this thread in mind - updating as I learn how to use different elements and let you all know if I think it is worth the money. Since my in-laws bought it, I can look at that aspect a little more objectively.

                Happy Holidays!

                1 Reply
                1. re: centralpadiner

                  The price looks great, but I wonder if it is too small to be really useful. Could you bake a loaf of bread in it? or a few steaks?
                  Can't wait to hear your report!

                2. First up, the basics - toast

                  Since I primarily wanted this to replace our very cheap, badly working, and almost dying toaster oven, the reality is that this expensive little toy will still be used for toasting more than anything else. I always preferred a toaster oven because I do lots of english muffins and bagels rather than sandwich bread, and I also often like to melt cheese on top of those items or toast sandwiches at lunch.

                  So, this morning we broke the Combi out of the box and decided we were going to make some toast for breakfast. The bottom line is it did a great job at toasting, way better than our old toaster oven. Evenly browned 4 slices of sandwich bread for my husband, an english muffin for me, and Eggo waffles for my daughter. Not all at the same time, it is not that big. There was more than enough room for the 4 slices of bread, but I'm not sure yet how I would have had to arrange things for 6.

                  Even though we washed everything, there was a slight chemical smell as the oven got hot for the first time. Nothing alarming, but noticeable. The directions will take a bit of getting used to, but they don't seem that difficult.

                  There are so many settings that it will take me a long time to try them all out. It did come with some great looking recipes to get the new owner started. I am especially interested in the low temp steam/bake that is touted as a great way to make custards without a water bath. The other thing we are most anxious to use it for is baking bread utilizing the specific "bread" setting. It can also be used as a warming drawer and plate warmer.

                  One thing I found interesting is that for every setting, they list "recommended uses." However, none of them include what I consider "typical" uses for a counter top oven - mainly things like frozen pizzas and chicken fingers. While we don't eat those things often, when you have 2 pre-teens in the house, they are common items for them to make lunch for themselves. They always did this using the bake function on the old toaster oven. So, I assume we will use the "convection bake" setting (there is not bake w/o convection or steam available) which is recommended for baking cookies and cakes. But I may also try the steam/bake feature, which they seem to promote as the most "multipurpose" setting of the Combi oven.

                  So, those are initial reactions. I will continue as we use it more and more.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: centralpadiner

                    Fantastic post!

                    What are the internal dimensions? I cannot find them on the WS page for the thing. I wonder about the ability to cook more than say two steaks in it. Room for more? Would a 1/4 sheet pan fit?

                    1. re: centralpadiner

                      Awesome info! Glad it is off to a great start for you. I think the fact that it can toast well is a great sign--after all, if it failed there, who cares about the more advanced settings!

                      Looking forward to hearing what you think about the proofing and baking abilities, and any steam cooking. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us!

                    2. I broke down and bought one of these. Long story short: I'm impressed.

                      My main purpose for buying it was to test to see if we'd like steam cooking. We have a lot of old appliances in need of replacement and it seemed short sighted to not investigate the latest and greatest before picking out new stuff.

                      I live a mile high so altitude can make things a little strange here...

                      My first word of caution is things cook fast - and most of their recommended times led to overcooked food. Once I started checking things earlier it went much better.

                      Bread: I've been baking bread in a dutch oven for years. I used my same recipe - 1 lb no knead rustic Italian based on CI. I proofed in the steam oven. My first attempt I tried cooking at the same temp I used when using my dutch oven (450 degrees) - I burned the top in 30 minutes and the interior center wasn't fully cooked. My second attempt I proofed in the oven then removed and preheated to 450 degrees bread setting for 5 minutes. I returned the bread to the oven and restarted the the bread cycle for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. (I did this for whatever automatic steam cycling it'd doing.) The result was great. My husband thinks it's better than anything out of the dutch oven. The interior was definitely more tender. The crust had a sheen to it and blistering that I've never gotten out of the dutch oven. The crust itself seemed thinner, and the bottom wasn't tough as can happen in the dutch oven. (I also found out I like my really crusty dutch oven bread better than my husband. He thought the steam oven bread was vastly superior.)

                      Breaded chicken breast: steam baked. I used an emile henry pie dish as my baking vessel - yes a big pie dish fits inside. Normally when I bake in the oven I finish with a broil. I tried to do the same with their recommendation of cutting 10 minutes off the cook time. When I checked them they were already fully cooked, I broiled as long as I dared after but the result was a little dry inside and a little soggy outside. 2nd attempt I did a nut crusted chicken breast. I steam baked on the rack fitted in the provided pan. I checked temperature early and often - when fully cooked the result was a very nice crust on surprisingly moist chicken breast.

                      Potatoes: I like cubing potatoes, tossing them in olive oil and roasting them in the oven turning every 20 minutes until crispy on the outside. This usually takes 60-80 minutes. I tried with steam bake. In 40 minutes the potatoes were fork tender in the middle and had a thin crisp exterior. My normal method produces a much tougher end result - but is a price I was willing to pay for crispy potatoes. The ones out of the steam over were much more tender and still had a little crisp exterior - I will try cooking a bit longer next time.

                      Halibut: I'm sad to say I overcooked it using their salmon recommendation. Still edible, but sad... I've learned my lesson about checking for doneness early and often. I did do a modified version of their descale process to clean which uses a vinegar water mix. I'm happy to say there were no nasty fishy smells. I need to test with a fattier fish to see if the cleaning holds true. I usually only cook fish outside because I hate how cooking fish smells can linger inside.

                      Creme Brulee: my personal white whale. I've always had a devil of a time getting it to set, and even with a water bath the texture has never seemed quite right. I started a few attempts on steam bake. In the end I switched to steam only at 180 degrees for 42 minutes. Internal center temperature was about 165 degrees. This was a great silky smooth result with no water bath - I couldn't be happier with it.

                      Oh, and my husband has made toast with it and been happy. Despite him liking all the other results, he thought that for some reason it wasn't going to be able to toast bread. Go figure.

                      I've been making an effort to put this little oven through its paces because it was my intent to return it if I didn't like it. Unless something goes terribly wrong, it has earned a spot in my not very big kitchen.

                      The big things I still want to test are a fattier fish, and an apple pie.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: runtmms

                        Thanks so much for this information! It will really help us in getting started with our own.

                        1. re: runtmms

                          Awesome, and exactly the information I was looking for. Sounds like a steal for $300 based on the bread proofing/baking alone, not to mention the steam cooking. (Incidentally, I spent the holidays at an altitude of about 7,700 feet, and I'd forgotten how much altitude affects the cooking process!)

                          Thanks again for so much great info.

                          1. re: runtmms

                            thanks for the review: i've been interested in this ONLY for the bread possibilities - i know it's supposed to be great for artisan loaves, so it's nice to hear it really works!

                            now... where to put the durn thing in a tiny kitchen...
                            might have to buy an RV to park outside, just so i have counter space for it!

                            1. re: grampart

                              I purchased from W-S so I could return it if I wasn't happy with the results. They were willing to match the online price in store when I showed it to them on my phone.

                            2. If I didn't already have a convection toaster oven from Cuisinart, which I like a lot, I would buy this!

                              1. We used steam/broil to make lamb chops the other day. The broil part of the cooking did not really provide the caramelization we were looking for and in our attempt to give it more time, the lamb came out medium rather than the rare to med. rare that we typically grill them to.

                                We had much better luck using the same setting on some blue fish fillets that we had caught in NC. I found it to be a great way to cook fish.

                                My next plan is to use the steam feature to "poach" some eggs for breakfast tomorrow morning and see how that works.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: centralpadiner

                                  Cooked the eggs on "steam" in an oiled ramekin. My egg was slightly undercooked with about 8 minutes (I started with 5, but kept adding as it was clearly not done) at 200* on "steam." Yolk was perfect, but white still a little runny. My daughter likes her yolks cooked hard, so hers was done at 210* (the auto temp for the steam setting) for 15 minutes. I thought the white looked a little rubbery at the edges of the ramekin, but she felt the yolk was perfect - cooked through, but soft texture. I think it would have come out even better, with less rubbery white, if I had done a lower temp for a little longer. You can go down to 100*. I'm thinking 165*-180* might be perfect. The longer time makes it a little less convenient, though, for a weekday breakfast.

                                2. Consumer Reports has a brief review (p. 26 of Feb 2014 issue). Positive but mainly focuses on cooking faster rather than cooking better, though they do mention a bread-baking test that turned out better in the CSO-300 than in conventional oven.

                                  I have a Breville, and I'm not ready to replace it just yet... but the idea of an inexpensive steam oven option is certainly intriguing. Doing some googling, it seems to me that home steam ovens are a new trend -- we'll probably all have them a decade from now...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: drongo

                                    <Consumer Reports has a brief review (p. 26 of Feb 2014 issue). Positive but mainly focuses on cooking faster rather than cooking better>

                                    I heard different. I heard that this combi oven can do baking and can do steaming, but it is slower in baking than other toaster ovens, and slower in steaming than a dedicated steamer.

                                    Of course, this is what I read. I have no hands-on experience.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      So far, I find the steam bake to cook things a lot faster than a conventional oven. I can't compare to a different toaster over or dedicated steamer.

                                      I did get around to baking an apple pie. I was very pleased with the result, but it did cook a ton faster than my conventional oven - but that was my first experience with straight convection and I forgot to lower my bake temperature.

                                      I'm not looking for increased cooking speed, I'm looking for quality. So far I'm liking my results, but I have to keep in mind it does cook faster, so I'm constantly adjusting time, temperature, or both.

                                      I also cooked some salmon. I was very diligent with a thermometer and think it came out great. I pulled it out when the center was about 135 degrees. The top was nicely crusted, the interior very moist. It was a thick piece of salmon so I ended up finishing it lowered in the over on the regular bake cycle instead of the steam broil for fear of burning the top.

                                      I did struggle a little with getting all traces of the fish smell out. (I don't tolerate old fish smell at all.) After trial and error, what worked the best for me was to run the broil at 500 degrees for about 10 minutes to char any splattered oil on the ceiling. After it cooled, I rubbed on a little baking soda paste and let it steam for 30 minutes. I wiped it out really well, and this got most everything off the top. I then cut up a lemon and steamed the lemon chunks for 10 minutes. I wiped the oven out, then left the warm lemon sitting in it overnight. The result was lemony fresh.

                                  2. We got one for Xmas (i see a trend with this :) and we LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

                                    I haven't used my oven in a month and I like it that way. We also have limited counter space (we live in a 1930's row house) and we had to buy a bakers rack and rearrange some things, but it is now in the perfect place...waist high on an old enamel top farm table with an oak bookcase above it with lowest shelf taken out to accommodate. With only one cupboard in the kitchen its tough to make things efficient in there :(

                                    As for cooking...we have done everything from reheating a rack of lamb (came out med but so tender it didn't matter) to baking a small chicken to roasting potatoes to thawing and heating bread from freezer to cooking pork neck steaks to perfection.

                                    I'm "sous viding" 5 eggs right now to try to get to just over soft cooked for a "ham & eggs" Caesar. we'll see how it does. 160 degrees for 30 mins...

                                    If anyone is thinking of getting one, don't hesitate! it's amazing. I never use my microwave either which I like :)

                                    1. We got a Cuisinart Combi Oven for Christmas and have been experimenting with it since. So far so good.

                                      Seems like you need to dry it out after using the steam cycle. Otherwise you get some residual steam which isn't what you want on the toast cycle. Running on the regular convection oven setting for a while dries it out.

                                      Best thing we've tried so far would be a tomato sauce for pasta. Using the steam bake setting concentrates the tomato flavor making store bought winter tomatoes taste like high season fresh picked tomatoes. This was really really good. Quick and easy too once you have the ingredients assembled. Perfect with a small loaf of steam oven baked bread and a tossed green salad along with a nice bottle of Chianti.

                                      Here is what we did to serve four people. This didn't make huge portions so you might want to increase amounts if you're feeding linebackers.

                                      Pasta Turiddu

                                      Cut six medium size firm tomatoes in half and remove core. Dab the cut side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put them cut side down on parchment paper in the cooking tray and steam bake at 450F for twenty minutes. When cool, remove the tomato skins and put the cooked tomatoes into a small saucepan. Use a potato masher to break the tomatoes into small pieces.

                                      Add the following ingredients to the tomatoes:
                                      ⅓ cup pitted and coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
                                      1 Tablespoon Capers
                                      1 teaspoon crushed hot red chili flakes (or to taste)
                                      3 Tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil
                                      3 large cloves Garlic, crushed
                                      1 teaspoon Oregano leaves
                                      2 teaspoons Anchovy Paste (or mashed anchovies)
                                      (Don't leave out the anchovies - you won't taste them but they really do enhance the flavor of this sauce)
                                      salt and pepper to taste (careful - the olives are already salty).

                                      Simmer the sauce gently to blend flavors.

                                      Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook 8 ounces of dried Italian spaghetti until barely cooked (al dente). Barilla is a good brand but any 100% Durum wheat pasta would do. Drain and then toss with the sauce.

                                      The pasta should be a little soupy. Serve in shallow wide bowls. You will love this pasta - guaranteed!

                                      1. Has anyone tried to steam Chinese dumplings or a whole fish Chinese style? What temperature would you use and do you put the dumplings or fish in after pre-heating (similar to after the water boils in a regular steamer/wok) or put them in the cold oven? Can't wait to try using this to replace traditional steaming on the stove top. Thanks for all of your help.

                                        1. Just received mine! Soo excited..
                                          I want to first try with a boneless chicken breast - maybe with a dry adobo-like rub - to make shredded chicken for a mexi style meal.
                                          What does anyone think about doing this on the super steam function??
                                          Or should I just stick to the regular steam function?
                                          I've read that for shredded chicken roasting works against you because the muscles are contracted through that type of heat..

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: sdedesr

                                            The challenge with boneless chicken breast is to keep the meat moist rather than having it dry out. My best results have come from poaching slowly in barely simmering water (not quite boiling) until just cooked through.

                                            The lowest temperature setting on Bake-Steam is 225F. I would first bring the breasts to room temperature and then try that. I'd check doneness with a paring knife and be careful not to overcook.

                                            One thing I've noticed is that there is no way to clean the inside of the water tank. Therefore, I've started keeping a gallon of distilled water on hand which will prevent hard water deposits.

                                            1. re: davesmall

                                              FYI The instruction manual gives detailed descale instructions for cleaning the tank. Basically, cycling a vinegar water mix, then just water. Of course, preventing scale is nearly always the better option... I use RO water in mine.

                                              I haven't used super steam for anything, yet. I have used the bake-steam and have been happy with the results. The biggest piece of advice I could give is check to see if it is done early and often. This actually inspired me to get a good quality food thermometer. Stuff cooks really quickly, even at lower temperatures. I hadn't considered greatly reducing the cook temperature as suggested above, I might give that a try.

                                              1. re: runtmms

                                                Yes, I was aware of that. That's the same advice you get for coffee makers and steam irons. Prevention is better than trying to clean stubborn deposits. A gallon of distilled water is inexpensive and lasts a long time.

                                                One of the attractions of this combo-oven is that you can cook at low temperatures. We also have a Sous Vide setup and that's taught me the value of lower temperature cooking.

                                                1. re: davesmall

                                                  Thanks for the advise! I'm about to get a very filter for my sink, so that should do just fine for the deposits. I think..

                                                  I might still try the super steam tonight…
                                                  I'll report back!

                                                  1. re: sdedesr

                                                    I super steamed it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, and it was good, but a teensy bit rubbery. Not amazing at all.
                                                    It seems the 'super steam' is possibly just steam with a heat conductor below?
                                                    I will try again soon at a lower temp for the same time and longer times.. and will try the regular steam function also..

                                          2. Picked up some Wegman's crab cakes and used the steam-broil feature. Twelve minutes at 450*. They were fantastic. Nicely browned without drying out.

                                            1. Here is a killer recipe for Mexican Salsa.

                                              Use this as a dip for corn chips or as a topping for tacos, etc. Much much better than anything you can buy in a jar.

                                              3 Medium size ripe Tomatoes
                                              2 fresh Pablano peppers

                                              Cover the metal tray with parchment paper. Cut the tomatoes in half. Place vegetables on the metal tray in the lowest baking position. The tomatoes should be cut side down. The peppers can be whole.

                                              Steam bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

                                              Put the tomatoes and peppers through a food mill with the coarse disk. No need to remove seeds or skin from the peppers, the food mill will do it for you.

                                              Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Add about a tablespoon of rice vinegar or white vinegar. You might like a small amount (¼ to ½ teaspoon) of ground cumin (optional).

                                              This has a wonderful texture and is oh so good. A food mill makes easy work of it. Poblano peppers are mild with just enough heat to be noticeable, but not enough to burn your mouth or be uncomfortable.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: davesmall

                                                Thanks for the recipe. I would love to see more "recipes" for using the steam oven, since I don't think the "Instruction and Recipe Book" really addresses the steep learning curve involved with a new way of cooking. I would love some simple success (and/or failure) stories, including simple tasks like reheating leftovers. I'm still trying to figure out how something that is steamed can turn out crispy.

                                                BTW, there are a few recipes for this oven on the Williams-Sonoma website. Other manufacturers have recipes also, but they require different humidities and other adjustments that the Cuisinart oven doesn't offer. That makes it more difficult to translate for use with this oven.

                                                1. re: sarahvw1

                                                  Give it a try. I've been in search for a truly great Mexican salsa recipe for years. This one is the best so far.

                                              2. This has to be the best invention since the food processor, just starting out with mine, steamed bok choy on rack in broiler pan, amazing taste, on steam bake, seems to concentrate flavour in the vegt., asparagus cooked on side also, wonderful. Cooked chicken drumsticks with peppers and cherry tomatoes, on poulty setting with steam, in glass pie plate, it was great to see the dish bubblying in reflection on bottom crumb tray, came out golden brown, moist and yummy. Reheated a western omlette on steam, perfect not dry. The best thing is that it cleans itself, leave it on steam for 20 min. And all the splatters drip off, and you wipe it clean with paper towel. When my regular oven goes, i will definately try to get one with a steam feature, like this item was expensive in beginning and now has come down in price. Seen it in stores at $239. on sale. Worth every penny.