While many kitchen technology products are very similar to one another, especially when it comes to countertop or “toaster ovens,” Brava aims to transform this experience with their light-powered countertop oven in exciting new ways: by allowing full, complete control from your smartphone, tons of customization options, and by using targeted infrared and visible light spectrums to cook multiple types of food with different cooking needs at the same time. But does it really deliver on its promises? Welcome to cooking with the power of light!

Ever since our first kitchen-related review of the Tovala Smart Oven, I have become more and more excited about the increasing role of technology in transforming the way we use our kitchens and cook meals, particularly in this current post-pandemic world we are in. Finding new ways to explore the world of food technology, science, and innovation. Considering how much time has passed since our initial launch into covering home food tech and smart kitchens, we wanted our second installment to be something just as ambitious as the first – and we think the Brava oven fits the bill perfectly!

The Brava Promise

According to Brava, cooking with light revolutionizes the home kitchen, and indeed, in addition to looking like something out of the future with it’s fully metal clad exterior, Brava also makes some very bold assertions about what their smart oven can do, for instance:

Home Cooking, Simplified
Brava is the cooking solution that will quickly become your go-to for consistently great tasting food, stress free. Brava pairs revolutionary cooking technology with a chef-powered service to bring out the best in your ingredients and make cooking at home easier, faster and tastier than ever before.

Or this gem:

Cooking with Brava
Brava changes how meals come together – instead of standing over a stove or grill, all you do is prepare the ingredients. Enjoy tender flaky salmon. Bite into a mouthwatering slice of pizza. Treat everyone with melting gooey s’mores. Brava empowers you to cook what you want, when you want, regardless of your time or technique. Brava takes care of the cooking, so you can take care of everything else.

In essence, the Brava promises to save time, revolutionize and modernize your kitchen experience, and do it in a flashy way all its own, asking questions like “what if everyone in your family could cook?” and “what if you had an extra pair of hands to help you make dinner?”, setting itself up as the hero to help you accomplish all of these things and more. It’s a bold claim, and a lot to take in, so let’s get right into unpacking this concept and breaking this apart.

Overview and How it Works

Unlike most ovens, the Brava does not use traditional heating coils or standard heating elements. Instead, the Brava achieves its first and most important degree of separation by using highly specialized lamps and variations in light frequency to cook your food, utilizing both visible and non-visible spectrums of light in the process.  This allows the Brava to deliver a custom level of heat for a custom period of time to several different sections of the stove – 3 upper zones and 3 lower zones.

The practical advantage of this, as you can see above, is that it allows the Brava to cook different types and thicknesses of food, each with very different cooking needs and cook times, all at once by using carefully zoned heating and carefully focused light. This gives the Brava a very large degree of versatility, unlike what I have seen in any countertop oven in the past. Brava achieves this not only by using multi-zone cooking, the oven also has a built-in feature to create your own custom recipes (“custom cooks”) right onto Brava, and share them with others using the unique code assigned to each custom cook.The possibilities of creating and saving custom recipes that can be used for entire meals at once is very enticing,

As a fully modern device, Brava also makes full use of internet connectivity in a variety of ways, from monitoring your food as it cooks using the camera built into the oven, connecting through the app to tweak your oven settings or recipe settings as it cooks, preparing shipping lists, searching from a vast library of guided “set it and forget it” recipes (and saving the ones you like the most). or exploring the Brava’s very vast selection of manual modes for everything from baking to broiling to air frying.

Using light as its heating medium also comes along with key technological advantages, such as the ability to truly sear in an instant’s notice (the lamps can go from 0 to 500 degrees fahrenheit in a single second). This ability to produce heat extremely rapidly also eliminates the need to pre-heat at all in most cases unless you are using cookware that will benefit from pre-heating. For things like quickly browning a bagel or cooking a fried egg, this allows for incredibly fast overall cooking with minimal effort.

In terms of size, it is also on the more compact end of things, with external dimensions of 11.3 inches tall, 14.1 inches wide, and a depth of 16.7 inches, and with internal dimensions of 6.4 inches in height, 13 inches in width, and 12.5 inches in depth. It is, however, a rather hefty creature weighing in at around 35 pounds.

The Brava Experience

While it is clear that the Brava is a very advanced device, which is clear from in everything from it’s strong metal construction and design, its large integrated touchscreen that makes it easy to visually look for recipes or cooking instructions, automatic updates to bring you fresh new recipes on a weekly basis, it’s unique approach to actually cooking your food, and it’s versatility as a programmable and fully customizable device, what is just as important is how well it functions in the real world.

Despite that I did observe a demonstration from Brava before experiencing the oven from myself, the Brava is extremely intuitive for everyday use. The navigation screens are very simple and clear, and the app pairs with the oven’s functions perfectly without any fuss. And honestly, that level of simplicity makes the device very compelling right out of the gate. Quickly cooking things that do not require the the included TempSensor is an absolute snap – it took me less than 8 minutes total to power up the Brava, find the recipe for over-medium eggs, and complete the cook. Fresh eggs ready lightning fast – impressive!

Frozen pizza was just was easy to cook by simply using the Bake setting, and all manner of staples like hard-boiled, medium-boiled, and soft-boiled eggs, as well as many other items you might commonly use an oven or stovetop range for. Caramelized onions? Easy. I was able to quickly find a pre-made Brava recipe ready to load-and-go for every basic baking task I could think of, and all of them behaved marvelously.

Almost every smart device company advertises their product as making your life easier, of revolutionarily simplifying some common task, or changing the game on some fundamental level. Brava is one of the very few that keeps this commitment extremely well, without making anything complicated, and while truly preserving the “set it and forget it” feel that it claims to offer. It truly can turn someone with very limited cooking skills into an excellent cook by doing most of the legwork for you.

Key Advantages

Besides the ability to cook a meal using multiple zones,

6 Months with Brava – how well does it truly deliver?

I did something different with the Brava review than I usually do, because I felt the situation truly merited it. Rather than experiment with the Brava for a couple of meals, or even for a couple of weeks, I have been using the Brava extensively for 6 months, and the reason for this is something I would like to be abundantly clear: The Brava makes a lot of bold claims about making things dramatically easier in the kitchen. That type of claim requires a large number of overall experiences to determine. I wanted to be absolutely certain that for me, a fairly average home consumer who had never used something like this previously, it truly did amount to a time and stress savings on a regular basis.

While the experience is not perfect by any means – for instance, recipes that require the TempSensor can be challenging to remove from the oven while hot due to the very short length of the TempSensor cable. While I understand the reasons why (so the cable tucks neatly to the side of the oven, mainly), it still did amount to a frustrating learning curve when cooking meats thick enough to benefit from the precision the TempSensor provides.

The Brava confidently tackles everything from salmon and veggies, to fresh or frozen pizza, to fried eggs (honestly, one of my favorite things in the Brava, and so fast!), and it does it all with nothing more than the swipe of a couple of menus and the press of a button. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the Brava produces a better home pizza than any other device I’ve used, mainly due to just how rapidly the Brava’s lights can reach extremely hot temperatures. A truly fresh and crispy 12-inch pizza in less than 15 minutes (longer with prep, naturally) is nothing to sneeze at either.

So, what’s the consensus? Can the Brava make you a more capable cook? Does it make every-day cooking easier? In my experience, yes. I can say, without reservation, that I love returning back to the Brava again, and again, and again, not just because it’s a cool piece of technology, but because it delivers better than most other consumer-level cooking devices that I have ever tried.

The Long and Short of It

Let’s be abundantly clear about something: with a starting price of $1100, the Brava costs more than some entire kitchen ranges cost, and is a very significant investment. However, if you are looking to free up time in the kitchen, are not cooking for a large number of people every day, or are looking for a fun and easy way to expand your existing kitchen arsenal, I fully recommend giving Brava a go.

While I was remarkably impressed with the Brava overall on a number of levels, from its advanced customizability, to its very intuitive user interface that can be used either with or without the accompanying Brava app, I would be remiss not to point out a few notable shortcomings as well. One of the largest of these is the Brava’s power consumption requirements: the oven does need a 20-amp dedicated circuit to run correctly, and without this, it can cause minor power flickers or blow fuses in certain cases where it is being used at its very highest power level. While this is necessary, for now, I am also optimistic that, for the homes that do not have the necessary power requirements, improved versions and new releases will likely make this less of a burden going forward.

I wanted to call the above caveat out specifically because it is the largest one, but overall, I have to say that Brava did an amazing job facing the claims they make surrounding the Brava oven with real results and one truly impressive smart gadget that would be a worthy addition to any kitchen. I especially appreciated the Pro Cook mode (pictured above), which pets you in complete manual control of all of Brava’s advanced features.

Here are a few of my other thoughts on the overall pros and cons of my 6-month adventure with the Brava:

Pros:

  • Immediately controllable and all directional heat makes cooking all different types of food easy.
  • The ability to create and share Custom Cooks (user-built recipes created specifically for the Brava) adds an amazing social dimension to cooking.
  • One-touch cooking and the convenience of using only one single pan for an entire meal.
  • Live monitoring of the cooking process by camera (viewable through the app) is both useful and very entertaining.
  • Continually improved functionality and new recipes are added on a constant basis through automatic firmware updates.
  • Controllable through both WiFi and Bluetooth.
  • TempSensor also measures thickness of food, and can tweak your cook time accordingly without extra effort.
  • Non-stick performance of the pans holds up very well over time

Cons:

  • Price point may put Brava out of reach for many.
  • High power needs, and requires a dedicated 20-amp circuit.
  • Included temperature sensor can be a bit fiddly to position correctly within the device.
  • TempSensor is very short, and removing it from food while using oven mitts or gloves can be a balancing act.

Overall, I rate the Brava a rare 4.5 out of 5 stars, having decidedly very few flaws that impact the overall experience of using the device, and is available now starting at $1095 USD. It is currently available in three sets: The Starter Set at $1095 USD, The Bake & Breakfast at $1295 USD, which comes with additional cookware such as a muffin tin, an extra glass and metal tray, a loaf pan, and the egg pan (which, trust me, you aren’t going to want to miss – it’s my favorite accessory), and the Chef’s Choice for $1495, which includes all previous accessories, and adds a very nice cast iron roasting pan which is designed to fit and slide perfectly into the Brava oven.

If you’re interested in purchasing, Brava also offers financing through Affirm for as low as $46/month. Brava also offers a generous 100-day no questions asked return policy if you decide it doesn’t work for you after purchasing,

The Brava has honestly changed the way that I cook, and for me, proves its value as being well worth the price. In my experience, it cooks faster, better, and more consistently than any other cooking device I have tried so far, and compared to takeout (and being almost as fast in most instances), the Brava has already saved me more than its sticker price – and that’s a truly lovely thing indeed.

I could note give it a prouder recommendation, and look forward to what Brava comes up with in the future.

Brava Oven, $1095-$1495 USD, Brava.com