CNET First Look
Cuisinart CSO-300 Combo Steam + Convection OvenThe steam cook option helps this toaster oven achieve surprisingly good results.
Hi. I'm Ryan Chris for CNET, and this right here is the Cuisinart CSO-300 Steam and Convection Oven. And this is a toaster oven that will set you back $299. So, the first obvious question is: why is the toaster oven worth $300? That's as high-end as toaster ovens get. Well, from Cuisinart's point of view, it's worth it because of this. This is the water reservoir that holds up to 1.4 liters of water, and it will pop that water into the toaster oven for steam baking-- and also steam broiling, and also just pure steam cooking, which is great for rice. Now, if we just take a look at the oven itself, it certainly looks like a high-end appliance. It's got this nice, sturdy stainless steel body, it's got this blue LCD screen that looks great-- it matches the blue reservoir. It just looks like a high-tech, high-end device. We like that a lot. Another small feature that I actually like a lot are these handles on the sides. If you look at them, they're just right-- they're located in the right spot, and they make it really easy to pick up and carry around. But one thing I don't like is that if you do move this toaster oven around, it leaks. It makes kind of a mess. It leaves these puddles and kinda spills a little bit. It's always got water dripping out of it when you move it. So, that could be a little annoying. The LCD screen is another great feature. It looks really nice with the blue backlit display, and it's just really easy to use. It's got this circuitive dial that will turn and let you pick exactly what mode you wanna use for your meal. So, all in all, this is a very well-designed, well-constructed easy-to-use toaster oven. And for $300, you kind of expect that, right? I mean, it's got to be good if you're paying that much money for it. And it is. The real question, though, is how well does it perform? How good is the food that it makes? And we did a lot of tests. We did a lot of cookie test and toast, and pizza, burgers, chicken, and of course, the rice, and a lot of the other unique things that this toaster oven can make that others can't. We tried it all out. And at the end of the day, when it comes to the basic foods, the foods that you can make in any toaster oven, it doesn't do a better or worse job overall than any other toaster oven. It's a little better, I'd say, with pizza. Maybe a little worse with cookies. It's kind of close, though, in everything. There wasn't really concrete data for this one. It just sort of was on par. So, that means that the justification for the price all comes right back down to the steam-- either the steam cooking is worth it to you, or it isn't. Now, for making rice and making really good moist roast chicken and some of the cool stuff that you can do with steam, it does it. It's true, it works. You know, we like the rice. We like the chicken that it cooked. So, if that excites you, if that's something that you would love to try out and love to use in your kitchen on a daily basis, especially, then maybe this is the toaster oven for you. If you want to buy a new toaster oven, anyway, if you wanna upgrade and you get a high-end model, I would recommend the Cuisinart-- just because it offers that new functionality. There are other high-end models that might cost $30 less or something like that, but they are not gonna offer you steam cooking. And for me, that's worth a $30 increase. It's not worth the increase over a budget model, like the Panasonic Flash Xpress that we found as low as $90 on Amazon. I would rather have that toaster oven than this one at that price. But if I'm gonna spend a couple $100 in toaster oven, I'm gonna get the one that could make the most types of food. And that's the Cuisinart CSO-300. So, for CNET, I'm Ryan Chris. Happy toasting.