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Tovala Smart Oven

Tovala's smart oven and meal kit lineup is now in its second generation. The oven costs $349 and each meal kit costs $12. The second generation is an improvement over the first, but it isn't perfect. Let's take a look. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Vanessa Salas/CNET

Interior space

Tovala scaled down the overall size of the second generation without compromising interior cooking chamber space. You'll still get 0.84 cubic foot inside the oven. While that's much less than a standard oven's 4-6 cubic feet, the Tovala can fit four meal kit trays in its interior. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Chris Monroe/CNET

Scanning your meal kits

Tovala meal kits come with a QR code scanner on every package. The oven scans the code and gathers information from the cloud about exactly how to cook that particular dish with steam, convection, broiling or toasting. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Chris Monroe/CNET

New controls

The first-generation Tovala oven had just one control for toasting or reheating. This time, Tovala added dials for temperature and time, as well as five modes of cooking: broil, bake, toast, reheat and steam. These settings can also be selected from the Tovala app.

Published:Caption:Photo:Chris Monroe/CNET

Steam heat

Tovala's steam comes from filling an 8-ounce water compartment on the top of the oven. You'll see a warning symbol on the oven's dial when water levels are too low to steam correctly. Simple refill with a measuring cup of filtered water.

Published:Caption:Photo:Chris Monroe/CNET

Meal kit options

Tovala offers meal kit options such as low-calorie, gluten-free and vegetarian. There are comfort food options, too like barbecue chicken with macaroni and cheese. Each container includes nutritional information and directions for plating the dish. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Chris Monroe/CNET

Garnishes galore

Tovala includes small containers of sauces and garnishes to add to your dish prior to cooking or sprinkle on top when you're ready to plate. These thoughtful extras make meals look nearly restaurant-quality. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Chris Monroe/CNET

Meal kit mac and cheese

Tovala cooks its own meal kits exceptionally well. This barbecue chicken with macaroni and cheese dish is just one example. The chicken was tender and juicy and the macaroni had just the right about of browning on top. Bread-and-butter pickles came as a side to add to the plate. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Chris Monroe/CNET

Cooking your own food

You can follow directions in the Tovala app to cook your own food. You can also follow package directions on the foods. We found that the oven cooked a bit unevenly, though with a few adjustments things like bacon were easy to make. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Chris Monroe/CNET

Tovala biscuits

The Tovala baked store-brand canned biscuits a bit unevenly, browning the right rear biscuit noticeably more than the others. We adjusted the time and baking sheet height in the oven and had better results, but it wasn't as simple as scanning a meal kit. 

Published:Caption:Photo:Molly Price/CNET
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