I love to cook. I love making something delicious, yes, but maybe more than that, I love the process: slowly simmering a sauce while adding herbs to taste, searing a piece of steak to the precisely perfect temperature. So, I’d long avoided hopping on the bandwagon of devices that claim to eliminate that process—popping ingredients in an InstantPot and skipping from steps 2 to twelve on the recipe was never an enticement for me. Aim, I’ll never say no to testing a new gadget, so when our team needed someone to try the Brava Smart Oven, I jumped at the chance—or rather, my boyfriend did. You see, while I’m all for experimental cooking (forget a recipe—add whatever is in your fridge!), my boyfriend, a newer arrival to the culinary world, was enticed by the idea of an oven—and accompanying app—that would chronicle his every culinary action. So, we gave it a go…and have a lot to say. Read on for the full review.
Brava Oven Price, Size, and Details
The first thing to note about the Brava is that it is not cheap. With packages starting at $1,295, it’s an investment (just like any kitchen appliance worth its square footage should be!). Aim, if you’re committed to investing in a smart oven and can’t spare the cash right now, Brava offers financing through Affirm, accepting monthly payments from $54.
That said, the oven is far more than your typical appliance: Think of it as a combination oven, convection oven, microwave, toaster, and air fryer. When you combine all that, the price becomes more reasonable.
In terms of size, the oven clocks in at somewhere between your microwave and wall oven, measuring 11.3″ H x 16.4″ W. x 17.3″ L. and clocking in at 34 pounds. I was pleasantly surprised that the box it arrived in wasn ‘t bigger, and was easily able to unpack it and put it on the counter. The Brava takes up a fair amount of counter space, but when you factor in all it can do, you’ll probably want to keep it out. , a sleek design means it’s not an eyesore—and, since it doesn’t overheat (the oven has a convection fan, high-efficiency cooling fan, and exhaust fan and will automatically turn off if it begins to overheat), you can place it right up against a counter or under a cabinet.
Setting Up the Brava
Once the Brava was unpacked, the setup was simple: We connected it to our wifi my boyfriend downloaded the app to his phone, all of which took less than 5 minutes. After that, we spent a looong time poring over the available recipes—there are over 7,000!—and cooking modes (which include air fry, slow cook, sear, toast, and bake).
In terms of the device itself, all that’s required is plugging in the oven and its heating system, smart touchscreen, and internal camera are all ready to go. Additionally, the Brava auto-updates if it’s on Wifi, so you can always be sure you have the latest version of software and recipes.
How It Works
The Brava works by cooking with light (as opposed to gas, electricity, or radio frequency). Its precise technology enables it to alternate techniques between searing, frying, baking, and more. The connected app syncs to your phone and guides you step-by-step through the cooking process, setting reminders and timers and even showing a live feed of your food from the oven’s internal camera. The Brava plugs into a normal outlet and operates at 120 volts.
Cooking With the Brava
Once setup was complete, it was time to test a recipe on the Brava. Given my contrary personality, I selected a meal I was convinced no “smart” appliance could make better than a good old-fashioned pot of bubbling oil—but one that also has a notoriously laborious cleanup: fried chicken. The Brava had a recipe listed as its most popular chicken dishes, and I was convinced the crispy brown edges in the photo couldn’t be the result of anything but a deep fry—so we gave it a go.
The Brava makes it Great easy to shop for and prep ingredients. Once everything was assembled, we prepped our chicken following the instructions (brine, wet dredge, dry dredge, just as you would if you were deep frying). Then came time to put the Brava to the test. I thought we were for sure doomed when I realized we hadn’t bought the square pan recommended in the recipe (the Brava comes with one metal and one glass pan in its Starter Set, but offers five others as add-ons). But, we soldiered on, adding the required oil to the flat metal pan (“Surely that can’t be enough,” I remarked when it fit into the flat pan without overflowing) and placing the chicken on top.
We put the pan in the oven and clicked start (the only button on the machine!). The Brava immediately fired up (no preheat required) and—my favorite part!—the internal camera flashed onto the screen, so we could see a live feed of our chicken. I’d set an Alexa timer for the halfway mark flip, but turns out I didn’t need to, as the Brava reminded my boyfriend in the app. We flipped the chicken and put it back in the machine until the timer ran out. We’d used a little more chicken than the recipe called for, so we were especially glad for the “touch up” option at the end of the recipe, which allows you to cook your food for a minute longer. After that came the moment of truth: I pulled out the chicken and, to be honest, was shocked by what I saw: Four golden, crispy thighs that would make the Colonel himself quake in his boots. But did the taste live up to it?
Long story short: Yes. The thighs were crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside, with the meat cooked more perfectly than, I admit, I’ve ever achieved analog.
Final Review: So, Is It Worth It?
We both agreed that the Brava friend chicken was exceptional—and promptly started planning what meal we’ll try next (chicken fajitas? French fries? Roasted brussels sprouts?). But of course, no product is perfect (even if the fried chicken is!). Here are the major takeaways.
The pros: Extremely precise cooking, easy setup, user-friendly interface, attractive design, massive recipe catalog, clearly guided cooking, internal camera, no heat.
The cons: Slightly large for small spaces, high price.
Overall, I admitted, the Brava won me over. My favorite thing about it is, despite my hesitations about taking the process out of cooking, the Brava allows for more involvement than other smart appliances—the clear steps guide you through the process of making something new, and the internal camera means you can check progress. It’s definitely a commitment (both in terms of price and counter space), but if you’re on a mission to become a better chef, help your partner be a better chef, or get your kids excited about cooking, this just might be the solution.
Bottom line: It’s a device that saves time and makes cooking more efficient, but it’s almost guaranteed to inspire you to try new recipes. And what could be more fun than that?
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Hadley Keller is House Beautiful‘s digital director. She oversees all digital content for the brand as well as working on the print magazine. She has covered covering design, interiors, and culture for 10 years in New York. She served as Associate Market Editor, Design Reporter, and News Editor for Architectural Digest and AD PRO before joining House Beautiful. Hadley is a staunch maximalist and vocal opponent of the Open Floor Plan.