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Hands-on Gear Review
Breville Mini Smart Oven Review
Price: $150 List | $149.95 at Amazon
Pros: Compact, great all-around cooking performance, great temperature accuracy
Cons: Smaller capacity
Bottom line: A perfect oven for those that want high performance but don't have much counter space
The Breville Mini Smart Oven packs all of the high performance you'd expect from a Breville product into a tiny package. In our testing it excelled in every aspect of cooking, making delicious cake, drumsticks, pizzas and bagels. The small size also lets this oven get up to temperature must faster than any of the full sized models we tested. If you're cooking for just one or two, this is the best and most versatile option. You can get faster cook times with the other small oven in our test, the Panasonic FlashXpress. However, this comes largely at the expense of baking performance, limiting the FlashXpress's wheelhouse to toast and frozen foods. The Mini Smart Oven, on the other hand, requires just a tad more patience and excels at everything.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The chart below displays how the Breville Mini Smart Oven's overall performance in our testing (in blue) compared to the other models we tested.
Below we further discuss how the Mini Smart Oven performed in each of our individual tests.
The Breville Mini Smart Oven earned a score of 8 out of 10 in our baking tests, putting it just behind the top score of 9 and far above the low score of 4.
In our testing the Mini Smart Oven made delicious, crunchy cookies and fluffy, golden cake. It also produced chicken drumsticks with crispy skins and tender meat. Its baked offerings were nearly as good as those that came from the top scoring model, which happened to be the full sized Breville Smart Oven. However, the Mini Smart Oven had a slightly harder time with retaining moisture than its big sibling. None of the food we made in the Mini Smart Oven came out dry, but it just wasn't quite on the same level of the moist delectableness served up by the full sized Smart Oven.
Ease of Use
The Mini Smart Oven earned a 7 out of 10 in our ease of use testing. This put it just above average in a metric where scores ranged from 2 to 9.
Despite its small size the Mini Smart Oven still allows you to place the rack at three different heights, allowing you to optimizes its position for broiling, toasting, and baking. It has a single knob that allows you to cycle through its eight different cooking modes, which include cookies, reheat, pizza, bagel, toast, bake, broil, and roast. Once a cooking mode is selected temperature and duration can be adjusted by pressing the temp of time button, and then using a set of arrows buttons to increase or decrease. All information is presented on a clear LCD display. We would have preferred for these arrow buttons to be more knobs, as jumping from 250Ëš to 450Ëš in 5Ëš increments can feel a bit tedious using a button. However, the Mini smart oven remembers the last settings you entered for each cooking mode, so no need to enter your preferred pizza cooking temperature each time. There is also a defrost button that adds some additional time for frozen goods, and a bit more button that adds some more cooking time if your food isn't looking quite finished. The amount of time added depends on which cooking mode you're using. The crumb tray is sturdy and deep, allowing for easy crumb disposal and cleaning.
Possibly the most convenient thing about the Mini Smart Oven is its size. It is almost half the size of most standard sized toaster ovens. This makes it a perfect choice for cramped apartments or dorm rooms.
The Mini Smart Oven lives up to the legacy set by the full sized Smart Oven, as both models shared the top score of 9 out of 10 in our temperature accuracy testing. Scores in this metric were as low as 2.
Not only did the Mini Smart Oven always stay within 10˚ if its set temperature in our testing, it got to that temperature much faster than other ovens. Where most ovens took 12-15 minutes to get up to 450˚, the Mini Smart Oven was able to get there in under 10. The only model that could top this feat in our testing was the Panasonic FlashXpress, which can heat up instantaneously thanks to infrared heating elements. However, those elements can't bake nearly as well as the traditional heating elements found in the Mini Smart Oven.
The Mini Smart Oven's performance in our frozen food testing garnered a score of 7 out of 10, which was a respectable performance in a metric where scores ranged from 5 to 8. Tater tots came out delightfully crispy on the outside, with insides that were just bit too moist and a tad less fluffy than what we would consider perfect. Frozen pizzas also came out great, if anything lacking just a little bit of crispiness in the crust. The Mini Smart Oven can handle up to an 11 inch pizza. This is great if you make your own pizza, but if you normally eat pre-made frozen pizzas you'll most likely have to settle for a 9 inch size.
Frozen food is the only area where the other small oven we tested, the Panasonic FlashXpress, faired slightly better than the Mini Smart Oven. If you want a small device that can make both toast and a small frozen pizza, then you might like the FlashXPress. If you want a small package with a bit more versatility, stick with the Mini Smart Oven.
The Mini Smart Oven excelled at toasting, sharing the top score of 8 out of 10 in our toasting metric, which saw scores as low as 4.
In our testing the Mini Smart Oven made toast with a degree of evenness and consistency not seen in most toaster ovens. We did see some cool spots towards the edge of the toast map, but nothing major. Despite not having a bagel function bagel made in this machine were also exceptional, with evenly toasted faces and chewy backsides. These results were very similar to those we saw from the other small oven in our testing, the Panasonic FlashXpress.
At a list price of $150, the Mini Smart Oven is certainly not the cheapest toaster oven out there. However, if you value compactness, you won't find a more versatile cooking device. This makes it a great value for those with limited counter space.
The Breville Mini Smart Oven is a versatile, high performing solution for those that want a good toaster oven but don't have much space to spare on their countertop.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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