Breville Smart Oven Review
Pros: Versatile indoor oven, user-friendly, personalized function
Cons: Limited temperature range and output power, design could be improved to benefit "smart" capability
Compare to Similar Products
Breville Smart Oven
|Price||$270 List||$250 List||$349 List||$300 List||$110 List|
|Pros||Versatile indoor oven, user-friendly, personalized function||Reasonably priced, large capacity, heavily insulated firebox, transformable design improves versatility||Fantastic crust quality, high-fire temperatures, compact and portable||High-fire temperatures, amazing airflow, multi-fuel option||Affordable, designed for a normal range oven, fast bake times|
|Cons||Limited temperature range and output power, design could be improved to benefit "smart" capability||Bulky, heavy, slow to preheat||Steep learning curve related to control, prolonged cook times||Dangerous flame blowback, awkward attachment of the gas adaptor||Heat profile depends on oven, heavyweight|
|Bottom Line||More than your average toaster oven, this versatile countertop unit comes preset for easy pizza making||Top-notch cooking performance, output power, and versatility, all at a fraction of the cost of direct competitors||The brand that put portable pizza ovens on the map lives up to its name with outstanding performance||A powerful pizza oven with the special capability to cook with gas and wood simultaneously||A heavy-duty carbon steel slab capable of serious heat transfer to make the best pizza you've ever experienced out of a normal oven|
|Rating Categories||Breville Smart Oven||BakerStone Original||Ooni Koda 12||Bertello Outdoor||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...|
|Cooking Performance (30%)|
|Output Power (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Breville Smart Oven||BakerStone Original||Ooni Koda 12||Bertello Outdoor||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...|
|Fuel Type||Electric||Gas||Gas||Gas, Wood (w/ conversion)||n/a|
|Power Output||1800 watts||25,000 BTU||13,648 BTU||Not listed||n/a|
|Size of Firebox||n/a||n/a||n/a||97.5 cu. in.||n/a|
|Average Stone Temperature||523°F||732°F||733°F||777°F||686°F|
|Footprint||268 sq. in.||345 sq. in.||368 sq. in.||301 sq. in.
441 sq. in. (w/ gas attachment)
|228 sq. in.|
|Maximum Pizza Diameter||12"||13"||12"||12"||14"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
For those lacking the space — whether indoor or outdoor — for a conventional portable pizza oven, consider the Breville Smart Oven as a countertop jack-of-all-trades. Even though it appears bulky, this indoor oven actually has one of the smallest footprints of any included in this review. The "smart" refers to Breville's patented Element IQ technology — engineers have pre-determined the optimal time and heat settings based on the food you're cooking, delivering "precise and stable" heat for quick and easy cooking. While this oven package includes a 13" pizza tin, an accessory 13" pizza stone is an affordable upgrade that is sure to only improve your pizza baking experience.
When it comes to baking pizzas, it is tough to compare to the straightforward convenience of the Breville Smart Oven. The oven comes preset with a "pizza" function that automatically adjusts the temperature and time based on the size of pizza you plan on baking. A 13-inch pizza tin sets the upper limit of size, dialing the temperature into a stable 450°F for a recommended 14-minute bake time. While we focused on baking fresh pizzas for the sake of comparison to other ovens, the Smart Oven also comes preset to handle frozen pizzas — this ties in the oven's convection capability that helps circulate the cold air of the frozen pie out and away for more efficient baking.
It takes a mere five minutes for this oven to preheat up to 450°F when it automatically begins its countdown — if you plan to use the accessory pizza stone instead of the provided tin, it is a good idea to add extra time to this preheat cycle to provide adequate time for the stone to absorb heat. In the same vein, we regularly needed to add two minutes to finish baking the crust, bringing the average bake time closer to 16 minutes. As a result, we wouldn't recommend relying on the Smart Oven for a pizza party that is going to require you to churn out multiple pies — this is really a one, or perhaps a two-and-done sort of oven.
Longer bake times and lower internal baking temperatures mean that you cannot expect to achieve the soft, pillowy crust of a Neapolitan-style oven. But for a model that is essentially a beefed-up toaster oven, overall it does a fantastic job of adding just the right amount of golden tinge to the crust on both the top and bottom — an achievement in itself, particularly when you factor in the convenience of the Smart Oven. Incidentally, it is also excellent at reheating pizza. The enclosed environment of the well-insulated oven is inherently moist, which curiously seems to freshen up the toppings rather than drying them out, an unfortunate consequence so common to reheating pizza in a regular range.
Despite its intelligent predisposition aimed at optimal baking, pure output power is definitely in deficit with the Smart Oven. The five quartz heating elements — three on top, two on the bottom — produce 1800W of power, an impressive output for an electric oven. Even so, an average maximum internal air temperature of 503°F puts this countertop oven squarely in the bottom 40th percentile when it comes to cooking temperature.
However, the quartz elements are incredibly consistent, as verified by tests using an infrared thermometer. While the internal air temperature averages slightly higher than the 450°F setting, temperature readings taken of the pizza tin directly after baking averaged 453°F. This translates to very consistent results — pizzas that more than pass in terms of quality, particularly for those lovers of chewier, ever-so-slightly crisped crusts that are easily handled.
This consistency is further supported by the insulation of the Smart Oven. The brushed stainless steel sidewalls are thick, and low tolerance of the door provides a nice seal. As a result, it can take as little as one minute to reheat this oven back up to 450°F in between pizzas. Breville claims that the convection setting "reduces cooking time by up to 30%", but this isn't as helpful with baking fresh pizzas, where the trouble already lies in the cooking rate of the base trying to catch up to the top of the pizza.
Perhaps this issue of striking an equitable balance between the cooking rate of the top and bottom of a pizza could be solved by adding an additional heating element to the base of the oven. In the meantime, it is possible to shift the rack to the lowest of the three possible positions to bring it closer to the lower heating elements. Fortunately, anecdotal evidence from our own experience shows that even if you need an additional few minutes to crisp the crust up to your standards of taste, you don't need to worry about the top of the pizza overcooking.
Functionality is a huge plus for the Smart Oven when compared directly to other indoor pizza oven options. Not only does it come preset with a pizza function, but it is possible to adjust temperature, time, the size of pizza (which is directly related to temperature and time settings), as well as the option to cook as a convection oven. Depending on your personal tastes and pizza preferences, we recommend taking the time to experiment to find your ideal settings — best of all, this "smart" oven will actually remember those settings and store them until the system is unplugged or otherwise reset.
Ease of Use
An interesting functional decision related to ease of use is the auto standby cycle that automatically kicks in once the baking cycle ends. While this is a thoughtful touch from the standpoint of safety, it can be annoying when you're trying to cook rounds of pizzas — if you don't manually start the baking cycle again, the oven will begin to cool and thus need additional time to reheat between pies. Additionally, when using the pizza setting specifically, it would be a nice reminder if this Smart Oven beeped halfway through the cooking cycle to remind you of the requisite pizza turn to ensure even cooking.
Beyond our few very specific criticisms, this oven could not be more user-friendly. The large LCD screen is easy to read and the buttons are well-labeled and intuitive, making the entire system very easy to navigate right off the bat. And for those who want to dive into the more sophisticated capabilities of the Smart Oven, a sizable yet easily referenced user manual will help you tweak the presets to accommodate personal preferences.
For those lacking real estate in their kitchen — particularly those apartment kitchens that don't include a full-range oven — this is a competent countertop oven capable of handling a wide array of tasks beyond just baking pizzas. The oven chamber measures just over 0.52 cubic feet, offering ample space for other cooking or baking. We particularly appreciate the preset "cookie" function, conveniently located just underneath the "pizza" function.
Although it may not be the ideal pizza oven, for those aspiring pizza makers working under less than ideal conditions, the Smart Oven is a more than a reasonable option for those relegated to indoor cooking. Offered at a fair price point — particularly when compared directly to other pizza ovens — the value of this oven is only bolstered by its versatility. It is worth mentioning, however, that while we did not experience any issues during our limited testing period, other users complain of durability issues with this oven after only a few months of use.
Even though cooking pizzas inside isn't quite as charming as cooking outdoors with a wood-burning outdoor oven, the Breville Smart Oven is a quality countertop oven capable of producing relatively quality pizzas. Though there is a slight tradeoff of taste for convenience, when one considers the versatility of this oven well-beyond just cooking pizzas, it is easy to deem this oven a stylish investment for any kitchen.
— Aaron Rice