Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL Review
Pros: Easy to use, great all-around cooking performance, great temperature accuracy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Breville Smart Oven consistently perfeormed at or near the front of the pack in all of our tests, earning it a coveted Editors' Choice Award.
The Breville scored a 9 out of 10 on our baking test, making one of the highest scoring models in this test. It also put it well ahead of the worst performing model, which scored a 4.
It made a near perfect cake, so good that we just got lost in its field of golden fluffiness. Cakes made in the BOV800XL retained more moisture and were more evenly cooked than those made in all of the other models. When making cookies we found the Breville tended to just crisp the outsides and leave the insides fairly gooey. Now we know the crunchy vs. chewy cookie debate is incredibly contentious and has the potential to turn friends into enemies, but most of our testers felt this result was better than any of the other ovens. It also made the most delectable drumsticks in our test, with nice crunchy skin and juicy meat falling off of the bone.
The only oven that outdid the Smart Oven in our tests was the updated Smart Oven Air. For normal cooking task this newer oven is right on par with the original Smart Oven, but the added slow cooking, dehydrating, and air frying capabilities make it a slightly more versatile machine.
Ease of Use
The Breville further separated itself from the rest of the field in our ease of use test, sharing the top score of 9 out of 10 in a metric that had scores as low as 2.
It has one of the sturdiest crumb trays we've encountered that easily removes and is deep enough to keep crumbs and food bits in place on the way to the trash can. The door features small magnets that automatically pull the rack out a few inches as you open the door. This is particularly handy for removing toast and bagels as you don't need to reach your hand into the hot oven to get them out. This feature only functions when the rack is in the center position, but that is probably the only situation in which this would be useful. Items made with the rack in the top position would most likely be broiled in a baking sheet or pan, and items made with the rack in the bottom position would most likely be pies or something else that requires browning on the bottom. Both of these situations would require oven mitts to remove the food, so the rack sliding out a bit wouldn't really provide any additional benefit. As with all Breville appliances the power cord has a built-in finger loop, making it very easy to unplug.
Where the Breville really shines is in the design of its controls. It utilizes a large backlit LCD display that clearly shows which settings are selected and how much cooking time is remaining. The backlight of the screen also changes from blue to orange when cooking commences, giving you a clear idea of whether the oven is cooking or not. Three dedicated knobs are used to select the cooking mode, temperature and time. The LCD menu seamlessly changes as different options are selected. For example, if you select the toast function instead of then selecting the temperature and time, the menu changes to allow you to select the shade of the toast and the number of slices you are making. Its included functions are bake, toast, bagels, pizza, cookies, roast, broil, preheat, and warm. Three dedicated buttons allow you to start or cancel a cooking cycle, turn the convection fan on and off, and add a defrost cycle to any cooking function. All those functions make using the Breville sound complicated, but once you get your hands on it you realize it's a breeze. No other model we tested felt so user-friendly.
Our temperature accuracy testing yielded wider ranging scores than any other metric. The lowest score was a 2 out of 10 and the highest score, shared between the Smart Oven, the newer Smart Oven Air, and the KitchenAid, was a 9 out of 10.
When set to 400˚ and 450˚ in our testing the Breville had settled into the set temperature by the 15-minute mark and never wandered by more than 5˚ all the way through to the 30-minute mark. When set to 350˚ it was slightly cool at the 15-minute mark, with our thermometers reading 330˚, but it quickly corrected and was at exactly 350˚ at the 30-minute mark. This is particularly impressive considering that there were models off by as much as 55˚ at the 30-minute mark. This superb temperature accuracy was likely a large contributing factor to the Breville performing so well in our baking test.
Frozen foods is the only metric where the Smart Oven did not occupy the top spot, losing out to the somewhat more specialized Panasonic FlashXpress. However, our frozen meal test produced a very small range of scores, spanning only from 5 to 8. This means there wasn't a huge difference in performance between models, and the Breville scored right in the middle with a 7.
It satisfyingly cooked the dough of frozen pizzas, leaving maybe just a tad too much gooeyness at the center. It actually cooked the dough better than the top scoring Panasonic. The FlashXpress beat the Breville, however, in evenness of cooking. While the Panasonic was near perfect in term of evenness, the Breville often browned cheese and crisped pepperoni noticeably more towards the edges of the pizza than in the center. That isn't to say the Breville made bad pizza, it was still appetizing and adequately satisfied our noontime hunger pangs. Frozen pizza is just one of the few places where the Breville has some notable room for improvement.
The Smart Oven was also able to cook some pretty delectable frozen tater tots. They were nice and crunchy on the outside and cooked just enough that the insides remained soft and fluffy but weren't too soggy. Again, the Breville's tater tots were just slightly below the level of those from the Panasonic, but still more than satisfying.
The Smart Oven also come out on top in our toasting test, scoring an 8. It shared this top slot with the Panasonic FlashXpress. It also well outperformed the worst scoring model, which received a 4.
This high score was largely due to its mastery of bagel toasting. We really can't say enough good things about the bagels produced by this oven in our testing. Their faces where an almost perfectly uniform shade of brown and their backsides were pleasantly warm but untoasted. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better bagel. In fact, it would probably require a pilgrimage to New York City and spending at least $5 in a fancy cafe, plus tax and tip.
The Smart Oven handles toasting bread better than most of the models we tested as well. It did have some clear cold spots adjacent to the oven walls, but its toasting sweet spot is big enough to accommodate at least four slices of bread. We would recommend placing your bread as close to the center of the rack as possible when making toast in the Breville. Toast made in the sweet spot comes out very even on the top side, and crispy on the underside with the dark and light strips common amongst toast made in a toaster oven. The Panasonic FlashXpress is the only model we felt made better toast than the Breville, and it was just ever so slightly better. We would be surprised if anyone was unhappy with the Breville's toast.
The Smart Oven is one of the more expensive models we tested. However, it also offers top-notch performance and is well worth the price for those trying to perfect tricky dishes or finicky baked goods.
The Breville Smart Oven is the best choice on the market for exacting chefs.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata