Breville Joule Oven Pro Air Fryer Review

In July 2019, premium kitchen appliance brand Breville acquired ChefSteps, the company behind the popular Joule sous vide circulator. Breville has now launched the first Joule product under its own name, the Breville Joule Oven Air Fryer Pro, which adds IoT functions and app control to the existing Breville Smart Oven line.

We’ve spent several weeks using the Joule Oven and believe it can benefit home cooks who want a very streamlined experience and are looking for automation features to direct and assist them when trying new recipes or learning from new cooking techniques. Experienced cooks looking for fine control and customization with the goal of replicating restaurant-quality results or preparing meals to a very high level of “food glutton” will likely find the “smart” too limited or simply unnecessary.

A smart oven with an app that guides novices through recipe steps, from preparation to cooking

The Breville Joule Oven Air Fryer Pro adds app control to Breville’s Smart Oven design, with features that will help novice cooks navigate new recipes, but may be too limiting for those with more experience. in the kitchen.

Unboxed, the Breville Joule Oven closely resembles the Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro – available in brushed steel or black, the appliance is, as you’d expect, well-built and well-designed. It is on the long side for a 21.5″ x 17.3″ x 12.8″ countertop oven and weighs 23 lbs.

Considered an oven, the Joule has many of the same pros and cons as its cheaper sibling. It’s bigger and has a bigger capacity than their standard size smart ovens (14″ x 18.5″ x 11″), so you can cook bigger things in the oven cavity; it has more of rack space (8 rack positions in all) So as a small convection oven it works great.

The front panel features simple control knobs for temperature, time and mode selection with an illuminated LCD display for visual feedback. In addition to a “Start” button, there are also a few small specialty buttons for super convection/convection on-off, cooking from frozen, “Favorite” and “A little more”, which we’ll cover later.

But if you rely solely on physical controls, you’ll miss out on the essentials of the product: connectivity and programmability. The Joule Oven is connected (via WiFi and Bluetooth) and the Joule Oven app for Android and iOS gives you access to a variety of automated cooking and cooking modes, including Guided Recipes that walk you through food preparation tasks. meal.

The app, curated by the ChefSteps staff at Breville, gives you access to recipes in many categories. You can search by main ingredients (chicken, seafood, vegetables, etc.) or dietary requirements (gluten-free, vegetarian, healthy), type of meal (breakfast, dinner, snack, etc.). ) or other terms. When a recipe is selected, such as “Make it and forget it rotisserie style chicken”, the app shows you the list of ingredients and the equipment required (in this case, the cooking rack and roasting pan included with the oven).

Rather than simply setting the oven itself, the Joule Oven app guides you through all the steps necessary to produce the desired result, then prompts you to interact with the oven itself to start the necessary cooking phases. In the case of roast chicken, the app asks you to truss and season the chicken in two consecutive steps, then prompts you to start the roasting phase. The app’s intelligence then takes over, simulating the browning effect of a rotisserie using an “autopilot flight plan” in which air is circulated using the function convection while the unit rotates the main heating element and the upper broil.

This approach to programmed cooking is for the novice learning recipes and techniques rather than the experienced cook trying to achieve exact protein temperatures.

The oven can cook with variable heat profiles using these automatic programs, ranging from as low as 80°F (for rising dough) to 480°F. For other recipes, the autopilot flight plans will vary the oven temperature and convection (the oven’s PID control adjusts these settings based on application settings) and will alternate between heater and convection settings. of the grill according to the requirements of the dish.

We tried several app recipes, such as classic beef lasagna, and they worked well. However, it’s hard to say if it would have worked better than if we put the lasagna in the oven, manually set it to 350°F, bake mode, and come back in 40 minutes to check it out.

It turned out that the lasagna was slightly undercooked on the first pass. So we pressed Breville’s specialized button labeled “A Bit More” (there’s one on the oven and it’s available in the app), which adds cooking time at the end, adjusted proportionally to each recipe. . In this case, it gave us the appropriate extra cooking time and our lasagna was ready. Perhaps this feature is used to teach learning algorithms (or human recipe authors at ChefSteps) to fine-tune recipes in the app – the company wasn’t completely transparent about how the system “learns” from use, but they told me that the recipes in the app are constantly being updated and refined from cooking activity.

ChefSteps tests recipes to guarantee results. A six-month subscription to ChefSteps Studio Pass premium content (which isn’t required to use the app and oven, but adds many more recipes and covers a wider range of cooking techniques) is included with the Joule oven, after which it is $5.75 per month billed annually.

The intelligence of the Joule Oven is quite limited. More importantly, the companion app doesn’t allow you to create your own recipes – you can create favorites within the app, but you can’t share them with others directly or on social media (which the Anova Precision Smart Oven’s smart app enables ). While we understand that Breville and ChefSteps try to provide a proven experience for beginning cooks, we found the app’s lack of basic functionality frustrating, missing recipe creation and customization, recipe sharing, and history. of the kitchen.

You can connect your device to Alexa or Google Assistant, but functionality is minimal, like requesting status updates and basic manual control, for example, “Set the oven to bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes.”

Given all of this, as seasoned cooks, we’ve found ourselves ignoring the app altogether and using the manual controls instead, which means experienced shoppers may want to save some cash and opt simply for the $350 Smart Air Fryer Pro instead.

We didn’t feel the extra features provided enough usability. The air fryer in particular wasn’t as efficient in our tests as a dedicated air fryer (perhaps due to the Joule’s larger chamber; the more compact dedicated air fryer did a better job of heating up and air convection around food.

As a toaster, the Joule is nowhere near as good as a smaller toaster oven (like one of the smaller Smart Ovens) or a dedicated toaster. To get browning on your toast, we had to set the toast setting to level 7 (for four slices), even if you’re only toasting one slice of homemade sourdough. And even then, sometimes we needed “a little more” to get the job done.

The Joule Oven is Breville’s first attempt to create a truly connected smart oven, with features more aimed at the home cook who wants to learn how to cook more sophisticated meals, but needs the extra guidance than recipe testing and cooking. application control bring to the table. And it delivers for this type of cook.

We think this may disappoint those looking for more advanced features or customization. The Joule oven lacks the combination steam and sous vide oven functions and temperature probe-based functions that some of its smart oven rivals (such as the Anova Precision Oven) offer, limiting its usefulness for a true precision cooking, which was surprising, given the Joule brand’s history in sous vide precision cooking.

Nevertheless, we hope that Breville will reiterate the idea and add features in later Joule ovens. But for now, we recommend this one primarily for beginners who want a tool that amounts to a built-in cooking instructor.

About Homer Yonker

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