NuWave Oven Review: Does This Oven Really Work?
NuWave Oven Reviews: The NuWave Pro
Is it a novelty that doesn't deliver on its claims, or is it a kitchen appliance that genuinely makes our cooking lives easier? Read on to see if this device is for you.
I am a husband and father of two and one of my favorite hobbies is to cook. Fortunately, this hobby comes in useful with a family to feed, and needless to say it's a hobby that keeps me very busy when I am not at work! Like many people, I am always looking to find ways to make cooking a little easier.
Over the past 15 years I have bought many kitchen tools and appliances. I am a sucker for a gadget. Some have been useful — I am quite fond of the Magic Bullet and the Breville Juice Fountain — but more often than not, the gadgets I have bought have not been worth it. They break quickly or they are not half of what they are claimed to be.
However, I am pleased to say that regardless of some of its faults and a few exaggerated claims, the NuWave Pro Infrared Oven is a great addition to my kitchen. Stick with me and I will explain exactly what this tabletop oven is great for, what its shortfalls are, and why home cooks who use it just a few times love it and start using their microwave and regular oven less and less.
What is the NuWave Oven and How Does It Work?
The NuWave Infrared Oven is simply a new method of cooking that uses three different systems simultaneously: infrared, conduction, and convection.
- Infrared: Using their patented infrared rods, Hearthware (the company that has designed and sells this portable oven) includes infrared heat as the key heating element in this product. Infrared is an invisible, radiant form of heat. It penetrates through food to cook the inside, while browning the outside. 80% of the heat coming from the sun is in the form of infrared heat; in the same way it warms our skin is how infrared cooks food.
- Convection: This is a familiar way of cooking, and of course is the method that common convection ovens use. Convection is simply hot air that is circulated to help produce even heat. Using a quiet motor and a specially-designed fan, this unit circulates air effectively. To you and me, that means tasty, evenly-browned meat.
- Conduction: This type of heat is what is used in pan-frying. It is basically putting the food in direct contact with something hot and letting the heat transfer. In the Nuwave Oven, the food sits on a grill or dish.
For more info about how this device works and how it looks, take a look at the official infomercial below.
I think the novelty of this 3 way cooking system is one of the reasons I was initially skeptical. Sounded too "novel" to me, but it is always nice to be surprised.
The Pros of the NuWave Oven
The main selling points of the NuWave as marketed by the company are these: it saves time, it cooks from frozen, it is a healthier way of cooking, no preheating is required, it is easy to clean up, and it can roast, broil, grill, barbecue, bake, steam, dehydrate, and air-fry. I can confirm that all of this is (pretty much) true, but it does perform some of these tasks better than others. First, I will give a detailed list of benefits before detailing some of the disadvantages that you can expect.
A Real Time-Saver:
For me, the number one benefit of this oven is the time and effort it saves. You don't need to preheat it. That alone makes a big difference when you want to cook some meat quickly. When I get home from work a little worn out and hungry, and the family is waiting to see what I dish up, time is a factor. I am sure you understand! Well, it makes all the difference when you can just turn on one of these infrared ovens and put in your meat or fish for the evening without having to wait for the preheating of a conventional oven.
If you don't have fresh meat or fish on hand, then the time and effort you save gets even better. It cooks food all the way from frozen to completely done. No need for adding additional defrosting steps, such as defrosting meat in the microwave, or putting frozen fish in hot water for a little while. Just put frozen food straight in!
It cooks faster than a conventional oven, too. This is one of the main claims of the infomercial for this product. While I have found that the oven shaves off 5 to 20 minutes of cooking time, depending on what you are cooking, I have not found it to cook quite as quickly as they claim. I have certainly not seen it work 50% faster. Even so, I am not complaining. Time is certainly saved.
Meat and Fish Taste Great:
The oven can cook a variety of foods, but its greatest strength in my opinion is with meat and fish. Looking at the many reviews I see online, other owners almost all agree with this, too. Chicken and turkey, in parts or whole, turn out nicely browned and really juicy and tender. It is very easy to get that perfect balance of juiciness and browning. Pork and lamb also cook beautifully, and the oven cooks a juicy and tender mouthwatering steak. You won't get that "flamed" taste, because no flames are used. Even so, if you need a quick tasty steak, then that is exactly what you will get.
I can honestly say that the NuWave Oven cooks chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, beef and fish just as well as a conventional oven. In fact, I have to admit that because of the even browning and juiciness, it cooks meat tastier and with less effort.
If you are health-conscious or you need less fat in your diet because of health issues, then this oven is going to be a good friend to you. While the rest of my family eat all the fat they can take, I am the odd one out. I try to make an effort to eat healthy. It's great because no matter what meat you put in there, a lot of the fat drips out and collects in the drip tray at the bottom. I was concerned the first time I cooked hamburgers, believing that if there were no fat drippings, the burgers would end up without rich flavor. I was surprised to find that the hamburgers were still very tasty and that my kids did not notice any difference (a miracle).
A quick study of the official website explained why this is the case. This is what I read:
"In another test conducted by Silliker Laboratories a hamburger was cooked in a conventional oven, a ShowTime Rotisserie grill, and the NuWave Oven. Because the of its use of the dynamic triple combo cooking power the NuWave Oven retains more of its natural juices and releases more fat than either a conventional oven or a grill. The tests were conclusive and showed that the hamburger cooked in the NuWave Oven had less fat content than the conventional oven and the ShowTime Rotisserie grill further proving that the NuWave Oven is the healthiest method of cooking."
It Saves Energy:
Want to save a little money and/or help reduce your carbon footprint? Using this unit in place of your conventional oven is the way to go. Independent testing has proven that it uses only 1/3 of the energy of a conventional oven. You don't waste any energy with preheating because it is not needed. When using a conventional oven, the whole thing needs to be heated up, and that requires a lot of energy. The unit is nice and compact, so the heat is centralized within the unit. The other advantage of this is that it does not heat your kitchen up the way a conventional oven does, which is great in warm or hot weather, and does not conflict with A/C. Also it doesn't smell up the house, so you never have to fear salmon steaks or fillets again.
Reheating Food is Easy:
The "new wave oven" is also awesome for reheating food. If you want to reheat some meat, pizza, veggies —you name it — this oven will bring food back to life. A microwave is not even a close second in this respect. You can reheat pizza without the crust getting that hardened or rubbery texture. If you have some take-out fried chicken left over from the day before, then this oven will not just reheat it to tastiness, but actually make it healthier as you watch some of the fat drip out.
Summary of Pros:
You don't need to preheat.
You don't have to defrost.
It's faster than a conventional oven.
Meat and fish taste great.
It saves energy.
Reheating food is easy.
The Cons: NuWave Oven Complaints
Okay, so by now you can see that I really like this oven. I use it almost every day for cooking something or other. However, there are a few things that should be highlighted here so that you get the full picture.
- Cooking times are inaccurate:
I found that most of the cooking times supplied in the instructions are not accurate. Chances are, you will need to cook for longer than stated. Even so, most foods do cook a little quicker than in a conventional oven.
- The dome is plastic:
A key complaint of mine and others is that the dome should be made of pyrex rather than plastic. In fact this is the #1 complaint with this unit. Of the many NuWave Pro oven reviews I have read, people complain that they have had to replace their dome because it has cracked. I have owned my unit for a little over 2 years, and I have had to replace the dome once. However, I found for $15, so to me, this was a worthwhile "running cost."
As an update to the above paragraph, I just read on their website that they don't make the dome in glass for safety reasons. Glass gets much hotter than the heat-resistant plastic that they use and this increases the chance for burns, and the likelihood of dropping the glass and smashing it. Makes sense, when I look at it from that point of view.
An additional downside of the dome is that it has a tendency to get a little cloudy after a while. Although this is a cosmetic issue and not a functional one. The unit still works fine even if you can't see through the steam.
Summary of Cons:
The cooking times listed in the instructions are not accurate.
The unit does not cook as fast as it claims.
The dome is made of plastic, and may need to be replaced at some point.
It's not good for baking.
What Can the NuWave Cook?
While there are many foods that I have yet to cook with the NuWave Pro, here are the other foods that I think it cooks just great:
- Meat and Fish (see what I said above).
- Corn on the Cob: Put some butter on the corn, put it on the rack, and cook on high for 10 minutes.
- Fries: Coat them with a little olive oil and salt and cook on high for 20 minutes. Bingo, a tasty and healthy fries recipe.
Pizza: No more burned crusts with a cold center, you will be happy to hear. The unusual thing with cooking pizza is that you have to start by cooking it upside down. You will also need to buy the pizza accessory kit to make pizza without a hassle. The kit includes a liner so that the toppings don't fall when the pizza is upside down. Depending on how thick the pizza is, you will need to cook it for 12 -20 minutes upside down, and then flip it for a few minutes to brown the cheese nicely.
Lasagna: Freshly prepared lasagna always tastes best. I prepare my favorite lasagna recipe and simply use this unit instead of my regular oven. Takes about 30 minutes, depending on the size. Of course, for a quick option, just stick in a lasagna from the freezer. Add another 10 minutes or so if cooking from frozen.
Shortcakes: You can make a quick, easy, and tasty shortcake. Create your dough, make into small balls, and put them in the liner pan. Make sure the pan has been lightly sprayed with oil and then cook on high for about 10 minutes. Then cut cake in half and fill with strawberries (or any other fruit) and cream topping. A quick desert for the family.
Roasted Vegetables: You can probably roast any vegetable to a tasty finish. The vegetables that I like to roast regularly are parsnips and peppers.
Roasting, Broiling, Grilling, Barbecuing, Baking, Steaming, Dehydrating, and Air-Frying
Although the NuWave heats using its three methods of convection, infrared, and conduction, there are no buttons on the oven that you press to choose each of these methods. Instead, the difference is in the temperatures used, how the food is prepared, and where in the oven the food is placed.
Let's look at how well it performs each style of cooking.
Roasting: Performs excellent. You can cook the perfect pot roast, poultry in parts or whole, or any other type of meat. To roast, cook on medium to medium/high heat and don't put the food too close to the heat source. The same applies for roasting vegetables.
Broiling: Performs excellent. The difference between broiling and roasting in this unit is where you place the food and the temperature you use. For broiling, use the highest temperature and put the food very close to the heat source. I find this perfect for cooking fish steaks or fillets.
Barbecuing/Grilling: Performs so-so. The reality is that without a flame, you cannot get that authentic barbecued or grilled flavor. Even so, you can still get some tasty meat when cooked with bbq sauce in this oven. Ultimately you are broiling or roasting the meat, not technically grilling or barbecuing in the NuWave.
Steaming: Performs excellent. The oven steams veggies in almost the same way as an electric steamer, the difference being that there is extra heat created by the Nuwave in addition to the steam coming from the heated water.
Baking: Performs fair but is limited. A conventional oven performs better if you need your baking to rise. In fact, you're better off using your conventional oven across the board for baking if you want the best results. In the NuWave, cakes and breads just don't rise as high. A few attempts at both led me back to my regular oven for baking. If you are baking things like cookies or brownies, where rising is not such an issue, then it does okay, but I still prefer the oven. The only thing I bake in this unit is a quick shortcake for dessert. It is okay for baking select items on the fly. (In all fairness, the company is clear in the instructions that their oven is limited when it comes to baking.)
Dehydrating: To be honest, I have never used the oven to dehydrate anything, so I cannot comment personally, but I have found reviews, comments, and videos by others that show they have dehydrated fruits and meat effectively, making beef jerky recipes and banana chips.
Air-frying: Performs excellent. On my first attempt, the air came out perfectly fried. (Sorry — bad joke!) In truth, it air-fries as well as it broils and roasts.
Is It Easy to Clean?
If you cook something in the regular oven that is open-topped and not completely covered (especially something with a lot of liquid in it, like fat and juices), then you've definitely got a little clean up ahead. This is where the NuWave Oven shines. A nice, compact unit with removable parts, all of which can go straight into the sink for hand washing or into the dishwasher, except for the power head.
Tip: Lining the drip pan with foil and spraying the rack lightly with oil before cooking, makes an already easy cleaning job even easier.
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Complaints About NuWave Ovens
If you have read any of this review, you will see that I think it is great. It works great, it cooks great, it saves time, it saves energy, and it makes life in the kitchen easier. However, a number of people have sent me comments here complaining about the NuWave oven company's fee processing. Other searches online have confirmed these issues, too. Double charging, lack of clarity about shipping charges, and then the hassle of trying to get this sorted out with customer service. Clearly that is NOT GOOD! Although, not everyone has this issue, just enough to bring caution.
There is a solution to this—buy one from Amazon. At Amazon, all these card-charging and shipping issues are eliminated. That is where I got mine, so I was not aware of these other issues when I first wrote this review. Check a few different sellers to see which is the cheapest at this time.
NuWave Oven, NuWave Oven Pro, and the NuWave Mini Oven: What's the Difference?
Understanding the difference between these devices is a common problem that people are getting confused about. The official website does not make it clear, either. In fact, there's not much to it, and I will explain.
The NuWave Oven and the NuWave Oven Pro cook in exactly the same way and are almost identical. The difference is that the Pro has a more convenient digital control panel, and the simpler model has an analog control panel. To make things more clear, the company has separated the two type by color. The Pro is in black, the standard comes in white.
- Outside dimensions: 15.5 inches wide and 13.5 inches tall
- Inside dimensions: 6.5 inches deep and 12 inches in diameter
The NuWave Mini Oven is just that, a mini version:
- Outside dimensions: 12 long, 9 inches wide, 12.5 inches high
- Inside dimensions: 10 inches long, 8 inches wide, 4.5 inches high
The Nuwave Oven Pro has become such a useful and positive part of my cooking life that I cannot imagine being without it now. It makes me wonder why it is not more popular than it is? Maybe it is just that old habits die hard? Or that people are wary of buying "As Seen On TV" products? I can understand that because they are often so gimmicky, but I can assure you that if you buy one and start using it, you too will be wondering how you managed life in the kitchen without it. To be honest, I think it is a stroke of simplicity and genius.