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Starting at $1,095, the Brava oven is expensive. It's also small, with just 0.6-cubic foot of interior cooking chamber space. I'd recommend the food-recognizing smarts of June or the simple meal kits of Tovala before spending a grand on Brava's oven.
Brava is a smart oven with a new approach to countertop cooking. Like other smart ovens, Brava is Wi-Fi connected and controllable through its companion app. It also cooks your food based on what type of ingredient or meal kit you select. What makes Brava different is its cooking method. Brava uses light instead of traditional convection heating to cook your food.
Brava cooks with what the company calls "Pure Light Cooking." Six lamps -- three on the bottom three on the top -- use a mix of visible and nonvisible light. This infrared energy cooks food directly and removes the need for preheating when you're cooking with Brava's recipes or index of ingredients.
Brava comes with an egg tray, glass tray and metal tray. It also includes a temperature probe with five detection zones to tell the oven when your meats and proteins have hit their optimal temperature. That same thermometer is also what you use to measure protein and let the Brava oven know how thick your serving is.
If you opt for the Chef's Choice package, you'll get benefits like a cookware set and three free months of Brava Plus, a membership that gives you discounts on food items, free shipping and Chef Concierge a real-time support service from Brava's in-house chefs.
Brava comes with presets for the standard cooking modes you'd expect from a countertop oven. There are buttons for bake, toast, reheat and sear in addition to Brava's meal kit, combo and ingredient functions.
Although Brava touts its ability to cook without preheat, selecting the bake mode to cook ingredients not listed in Brava's index will require a preheat time. I tried this out with chocolate chip cookies (cookies aren't an option in the ingredient index) that required cooking for 11 minutes at 350 degrees. Preheating to that temperature took about 4 minutes. That's quite a bit faster than a conventional oven, but it's also a smaller space to heat up.
Brava does include a Pro Cook beta mode, in which you can create your own presets by adjusting the power level of lamps in each zone of the oven. A helpful onscreen guide walks you through your options and displays parameters and limits for operating the oven safely.
The Brava oven works in conjunction with the Brava app. There you can bookmark favorite recipes and they'll be sent over to your oven as a preset option.
You can also view the oven's camera feed through the Brava app in the iOS version. That capability will be available for Android devices in a future update. The app can't control the oven when it comes to picking presets or starting cooking, but there is a pause cooking button in the camera feed screen.
Note: When Brava launched and while we reviewed this oven, the company offered meal kits. As of December 2020, that option has since been discontinued. Below is what we wrote about it at the time.
The meals we tested included prosciutto-wrapped chicken, a portobello burger, salmon and hanger steak, as well as their accompanying side dishes. All three were tasty and included generous portions for two people.
My issue with Brava's meal kits was two-fold. First, they were expensive. Meal kits to serve just two people ranged from $28 to $45. Brava meal kits were also prep-intensive. I had to chop vegetables, season meat and mix a sauce or dressing for every dish I cooked. That might not be problematic for some, but after experiencing the ease of Tovala's cheaper meals, I was disappointed here.
If you'd like to use your own ingredients, Brava doesn't leave you totally in the dark. The combo section of the oven's menu allows you to select a protein like fish or chicken and a vegetable like Brussels sprouts or broccoli. Then, Brava guides you through placing each ingredient in the correct zone on the metal tray. Alternatively, you can tap the ingredients button to cook an individual item. I tested this out with two chicken breasts.
Once I selected boneless, skinless chicken breast from the list of chicken options, Brava instructed me to place them in the second zone of the Brava metal tray. After taking 21 minutes to reach the recommended 156 degrees, the two chicken breasts were juicy and evenly cooked.
Brava's temperature sensor makes this sort of cooking simple and unintimidating. I knew that the oven would know when to shut off, and that takes a lot of the guesswork out of cooking meats thoroughly.
It's cool to cook your meat and veggies at the same time in the same tray and watch it on your phone. However, If you don't want to do the leg work to get your meal kits ready, Brava might not be right for you.
In fact, I'm not sure who it is for. Was the Brava oven competent? Absolutely. Meal kits were tasty, the oven includes plenty of customization options for cooking and it saves time with the ability to skip preheat. Still, Brava doesn't match the food-recognizing smarts of the June Oven or the simple meal kits of Tovala, and it's more expensive than both of those. For that reason, I can't recommend it over its competitors.