Product Report: Countertop Induction Oven Brings New Technology To The Kitchen

Countertop ovens, such as toaster ovens, convection ovens, and rotisserie ovens, are budget-friendly appliances that do a great job of toasting bread, cooking fish and vegetables, and (with the larger ones) even roasting whole birds, and baking cakes or pizzas.

However, Panasonic's recently launched Countertop Induction Oven, or CIO, is in a class of its own. The CIO is the only countertop induction oven currently in the market, combining induction and double-infrared heating — which means that you don't have to wait for pre-heating to kick in before you start. And you can do a lot more than just toast bread or roast a bird.

Panasonic launched the Japanese-engineered CIO recently at the historic landmark Greystone, the Culinary Institute of America's Napa Valley campus, and we had front row seats.

The CIO features up to 1,700 watts of power with an easy-to-use control panel, display window, select dial, and preset cooking options, allowing the user to bake, broil, grill, reheat, and toast with an adjustable temperature control (325–450 degrees Farenheit­). The top heating unit is a broiler; the bottom induction heater works best for grilling and baking purposes. Grill steak or hamburger patties, broil bacon, and grill or broil seafood, vegetables, poultry, and meat. Bake frozen snacks, muffins, cakes, cookies, and pies.

An added advantage of the Japanese-engineered oven is that, while cooking, it circulates a fine mist of steam, releasing flavors said to heighten the savory taste of umami. An airtight door seal assists in maximizing cooking efficiency for shorter cooking times. The CIO also keeps food warm for up to an hour.

The CIO comes with a heavy-duty aluminum grill pan that radiates uniform heat and yields dark brown grill marks (it's 100-percent dishwasher safe). It also comes with a step-by-step induction oven cookbook with 26 recipes created by certified master chefs at the CIA.   

CIA Consulting Group chef David Kamen joined with chef Gabe Kennedy — a veteran of such restaurants as Eleven Madison Park and Blue Hill at Stone Barns and winner of season three of The Taste — to put the CIO through its paces. The dishes they prepared included roasted cauliflower with beurre noisette, capers, and nuts; grilled lamb loin with harissa and carrot salad; whole branzino with herbs and pickles; sausage-stuffed chicken breast; savory stuffed peppers; Napa Valley pizza; and grilled steak chermoula — all successfully cooked with the CIO.

The CIO is now available for purchase from Panasonic and Wiliams-Sonoma for $599.99, including a one-year labor and parts warranty.