Sometimes when you fall in love, it takes you completely by surprise. Suddenly you notice a hole has been filled that you didn’t even know existed. That’s exactly what happened with me and my current kitchen love, the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro. Whether you call it a toaster oven, a countertop oven, or a smart oven, this appliance changed the way I bake, for the better.

A silohoutte of a Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro Courtesy of Breville
I bake batches of cookies, scones, bread, bagels, and even pizza in the Breville Smart Oven rather than a traditional oven — and I'm impressed every time.

My first foray into the world of toaster oven baking was over a decade ago, when I got a hand-me-down from my parents. While reluctant at first (after all, I had a toaster and full-size oven), the appliance won me over in time. In fact, I came to love it so much that I added the latest model, the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro, to my wedding registry. It was love at first sight. In fact, even though I bake daily, these days I almost never turn on my full-size oven. Here’s why.

Better baking

I can honestly say that the baked goods I make in this little oven are more consistent than their traditional-oven-baked counterparts, and the whole baking experience is just better.

It starts with the preheat phase: It takes practically no time to reach temperature, hitting 350°F in less than 5 minutes, compared to the average 15 minutes the standard-sized ovens in our Test Kitchen require. If you’re someone who often forgets to preheat the oven until you’re partway through the instructions, the Breville Smart Oven is a savior.

A loaf of bread that's overproofed and about to collapse PJ Hamel
No more letting cake batter deflate at room temperature or bread dough overproof while you wait 15 painful minutes for the oven to preheat.

Another advantage of this smart oven is that it maintains consistent heat. Because of its small size and the fact that it’s electric, its heat is more consistent than a larger oven plagued by hot and cold spots, or one that’s gas-powered. Typically, gas ovens overshoot the desired temperature by 50° to 75° and then cool to below that before repeating the cycle of heating and cooling, fluctuating in temperature. 

A side angle of a chocolate souffle perfectly risen in a ramekin. Photography by Rick Holbrook; Food Styling by Kaitlin Wayne
When you're baking a recipe that requires a precise amount of doneness (like soufflé), it's key to be able to clearly see your baked good without opening the oven.

I’ve found the Breville Smart Oven also makes it easier to judge the doneness of my baked goods. Since these ovens rest on the countertop, the transparent window into the baking chamber is right at eye level — no bending down to watch your baked goods while on your knees, Great-British-Bake-Off-style. There’s also an oven light that clearly illuminates the baked goods inside so you can see their color, a serious improvement over the darkly lit, off-color lights often found in traditional ovens. 

Chocolate chip cookies on a cooling rack Photography by Danielle Sykes; Food styling by Liz Neily
When you can clearly see cookies in the oven, you can pull them just as they set for the perfect texture.

And surprisingly, this little oven is particularly great for baking bread. Pan loaves and rustic breads have a beautiful shiny crust thanks to the steaming effect that’s created in the small baking chamber. Steam is essential to bread baking if you want a crispy, shattering, golden brown crust, which is why many people bake their bread in a Dutch oven or other covered bakers. The smaller baking chamber of the Breville Smart Oven makes the whole thing act like a big Dutch oven, delivering a light steaming effect and gorgeous final result without any added water or a second pan for steaming.

A Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro on a countertop next to several kitchen items Courtesy of Breville
This oven is ideal for space-efficient kitchens, yet it can still fit many common baking pans like a small sheet pan.

Perfect size

The size of my kitchen has changed quite a bit over the years as I moved from a studio to an apartment to a house. The Breville Smart Oven has come with me, finding a little nook to conveniently sit in each of my kitchens. It’s ideal for small spaces — at just under 22" x 17" x 13" in size, it can fit on a countertop without taking up lots of valuable surface area.

While its footprint is modest, the actual amount of space inside the oven is impressive. The Breville Smart Oven fits a 9" x 13" pan, a 12" round pan, or a quarter sheet pan so you can make deep dish pizza, focaccia, or a sheet cake. It also comes with multiple oven racks, so you can bake two trays of cookies, bagels, or cinnamon rolls at once. That’s a big job for a little oven.  

More than just an oven

Beyond being a reliable, perfectly sized oven, the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro also has multiple settings that let me do more than just bake. As the name implies, this version has an air fry setting. And it’s not just a convection setting masquerading as an air fryer — this oven comes equipped with an air frying basket, which allows me to make super crispy French fries, golden brown tater tots, and even fudgy-centered chocolate chip cookies.  

A Basque-Style Cheesecake baked in a springform pan lined with parchment paper Photography by Rick Holbrook; Food Styling by Kaitlin Wayne
The Breville Smart Oven can deliver concentrated heat from the top down, which is ideal for baked goods that require a crispy, golden top, like this Basque-Style Cheesecake. (It can also be made in an actual air fryer!)

On the other end of the heat spectrum, the Breville Smart Oven can be set to cook low and slow. It has a “Proof” setting, which makes the coziest spot (read: the ideal temperature) for yeasted dough to rise — it’s my go-to place for rising bread dough, especially in colder months, when cool temperatures can cause insufficient proofing and dense bread. 

The smart oven can also act as a dehydrator running at 160°F to 200°F to make super crispy meringues, bagel chips, or even homemade fruit leather. This is a baking tool that can replace plenty of others, leaving you with more space and better baked goods. Just don’t be surprised if you fall in love, too.

Buy a Breville Smart Oven now ... it ships for free!  

Cover photo by Kristin Teig.  

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Kye Ameden
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About Kye Ameden

Kye Ameden grew up in Fairlee, Vermont and has always loved food, farms, and family. She spent her teenage years working by her chef/uncle’s side in an industrial kitchen, cracking hundreds of eggs, slicing cheesecakes into 13 perfect slices, and developing her passion for precision and baking.After...
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