The Café Couture Oven, a new all-in-one countertop oven from GE’s Café Line of high-end appliances, offers the convenience of several different appliances — it can do things like bake, roast, toast and even air fry — in a sleek, compact design that’s a no-brainer for those with smaller kitchens. And it looks gorgeous doing it all.
I’ve been using the Café Couture Oven in my kitchen for a few weeks now, instead of my usual Wolf Gourmet Elite Countertop Oven. And despite some minor quibbles, I’m pleased with how well the Café Couture Oven performed. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering making room on your countertop for this fashionable and functional kitchen appliance.
What we liked about it
Tons of cooking modes
- 14 cooking modes: Air Fry, Crisp Finish, Bake, Broil, Roast, Toast. Bagel. Pizza. Cookies. Proof, Dehydrate, Slow Cook, Reheat, Keep Warm
- 0.8 cu ft of cooking space (fits 12” pizza)
- Temperature range: 80 (proofing) to 450 degrees F (air frying and roasting)
- Smart features: app monitoring of oven status, new features via over-the-air updates
- Includes: 2 racks, air fryer basket, pizza pan, baking tray
Aside from great looks, the oven cooks well, heats up quickly and evenly and offers lots of options. While many basic toaster ovens have simple cooking modes such as bake, toast and broil, some more-expensive models like my Wolf oven offer proof, warm, bake, roast and toast as well as broil. The Café Couture Oven covers all of this with 14 different cooking modes including my favorite, a “crisp finish” mode that I use for browning fish and vegetables.
In the past, I’ve usually stuck bread and bagels in my standalone toaster, as I’ve had some less-than-stellar experiences with previous toaster ovens. Only one side would get toasted, or it would take three “toast” cycles to actually get it to my liking, so I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Café Couture performed this most basic function. Thanks to four elements on the top and two on the bottom, toasting and baking in the Café Couture Oven produces even temperatures and results.
I especially liked using the “crisp finish” for browning veggies after they roast. You can broil, but that tends to cook too quickly and sometimes splatters, so I prefer this mode.
Simple to use
The oven’s dial-style control knobs are easy to use. I like that the settings are shown on an easy-to-read LCD display at the top of the oven, and I didn’t need to squint or grab my glasses to read the wording on the dials. This was my first experience with an oven that mounted the controls above the door (as they would be on a full-size oven) and I much prefer this position to dials and settings placed lower on the front panel, to the right of the door, like those on Breville and Wolf countertop ovens.
The dials show cooking mode, temperature and cook time, if you’re using a timer. There’s also a progress bar display on the bottom to show how close you are to the desired temperature when you’re preheating.
The oven has 0.8 cubic feet of cooking space, which is slightly smaller than other high-end countertop models such as the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro or the Wolf Countertop Oven that I use, but still large enough to make a 12-inch pizza, roast a whole chicken and cook with 9 x 13 baking sheets or pans.
All that space makes room for two racks — there’s plenty of room to cook a piece of fish on one rack while veggies cook on the rack below, which makes for easy dinner prep.
Makes exploring different types of cooking a snap
If you’ve been wanting to experiment with different methods of cooking, this makes it very simple. It comes with an air fry basket as well as a 12-inch pizza pan, a wire rack and a baking tray. But unlike the Breville Smart Oven Pro, which has lines on the oven to show you which rack to use for each cooking mode, you’ll have to read the instructions on the Café Couture Oven, which show you which of the three rack positions to use for each cooking mode.
For instance, for air frying, you would use the basket in the middle rack position, but for warming or slow cooking, the lower rack position is recommended.
Quick, top-notch performance
I tried different cooking modes and found the oven, while not perfect (my veggies didn’t always get crispy enough), does most things well enough. It maintains its temperature and cooks food evenly. It’s great for warming food, toasting and cooking several things at the same time.
The surprisingly quiet air frying mode cooks at higher temperatures of 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, but because I am used to the deeper basket of a standalone air fryer, it took some time to get used to using the Café oven’s shallow basket (more on that below).
Salmon came out crispy on the outside and still moist and evenly cooked on the inside. Same for just heating up leftovers. I was able to warm up already cooked chicken in about 10 minutes, without drying it out.
One of the best things about using the Café Couture Oven is how quickly it heats and how little heat it gives off. For anyone who detests firing up a big kitchen oven in super-hot weather, this is a godsend.
It’s super easy to clean
While cleaning an oven is never anyone’s idea of fun, the removable rack system and pull out-crumb tray make it easy to access the inside parts, which inevitably get dripped on and splattered.
You can put the rack, basket and pans in the dishwasher, but I prefer hand-washing with soapy water. The crumb tray needs to be washed by hand.
Can we talk about how stylish this oven is? Not that anyone should spend $499 on a countertop oven just for looks, but this oven really looks good.
Most countertop ovens are short and wide, but this design is taller and narrower than most. This gives it a more commanding presence in the kitchen, standing a full 2 inches taller than my Wolf oven. It also has gently rounded corners and a soft curved design.
Since it’s 14 inches tall, you need to make sure you have enough space between the bottom of your kitchen cabinets and the top of the oven, and this height may not work for all kitchens. That said, at about 3 inches narrower than my Wolf, it takes up less width space.
The Café Couture Oven comes in matte black, matte white and stainless steel finishes with polished copper knobs and door handle. I opted for the stainless steel finish and it looks almost like rose gold, blending in beautifully with my other stainless steel appliances. But the two-tone finish and rounded edges also give it a modern, stylish design that should look great in any kitchen.
What we didn’t like about it
There are a few minor quibbles I have with the Café Couture Oven but none of them are deal breakers.
Messy air frying
I’m used to a standalone air fryer, which has a deeper basket with a tighter weave, so I usually turn my food with a spatula or shake it as it cooks. The Café Couture, like most countertop ovens that double as air fryers, uses a shallow basket with larger holes. This means that aside from the unexpected mess from small pieces of food falling through the basket, I also had to use a fork or a set of tongs to reposition things like cauliflower in order to get it brown and crisp all over.
And for anyone used to adding salt and other spices directly onto their food inside an air fryer, you’ll have to consider marinating and seasoning food beforehand to limit dripping and spills. I did notice, however, that whatever landed on the heating coils burned off quickly — though you’ll have to power through some smoke first.
One option my editor pointed out is to line the bottom of the oven (the drip pan pulls out fully for cleaning) with tinfoil so it’s easier to clean up spills.
Smart features aren’t well-developed or useful (at least not yet)
This smart oven connects to Wi-Fi for remote control with a smartphone as well as for easy access to recipes within the app. But I had an extremely difficult time getting connected and finally had to call for help. Once we figured it out and I started using the app, I was able to turn the oven light on and off and see the status of the oven (on or off) as well as program a cooking mode. But once I chose the mode, temperature and set a timer, I still had to hit the actual “start” button on the oven to enable remote start. This seems counterintuitive.
Most smart appliances require Wi-Fi connection and I appreciate that product updates and new features can be pushed as over-the-air updates through the app, but I don’t think the current state of the smart features adds very much, making me wonder whether the oven needs the connectivity.
The Café Couture Oven is a stylish appliance that will save space in the kitchen by combining cooking features and air frying. It performs 14 different cooking modes and does them all well.
You may get better performance on individual recipes or foods from a standalone, single-function device like an air fryer or slow cooker, but if you’re short on space and want one, great-looking appliance that can take the place of many, this oven won’t disappoint.