Brava review: Can this countertop oven make cooking easier without sacrificing taste?

The Brava fit easily on our countertop, and we thought its functionality made it worth the counter space.
The Brava fit easily on our countertop, and we thought its functionality made it worth the counter space. (BestReviews)

Making healthy homemade meals every day can be difficult to achieve, no matter how many 30-minute meal recipes you save. It can be challenging to find the time and energy to spend your evenings sautéing, grilling, and baking — especially if you’ve spent the day working or taking care of your kids.

Brava doesn't believe it should be that way. With chef-developed recipes and precision controlled heating, Brava promises to help you to cook delicious meals with minimal effort.


In fact, the company claims this appliance makes cooking as easy as picking your recipe, prepping your tray, and pressing a button.

When we heard about this countertop kitchen appliance that wants to replace your oven, we felt like there had to be a catch. So we decided to test the Brava out for ourselves to learn if it really could replace the oven and make mealtime easier. Here's what we found.


How we tested the Brava

To see how the Brava performed, we tested out all of its features over the course of a month, including the three cooking zones. We prepared steak, chicken, fish, vegetables, breakfast foods, baked goods, and more. We tested the unit to see if it was fast, simple to use, easy to clean, and offered enough cooking variety.

How Brava works

By using six high-powered lamps, which get hotter than a pizza oven, the unit can focus both visible and infrared light in a specific area to deliver precision cooking. The eight heat sensors and two particle detectors act like an automated chef and maintain absolute control over the entire cooking process from beginning to end. If you'd like to see how your meal is progressing, Brava also has a camera that can link to your mobile device so you can check on your food no matter where you are.

Unboxing and first impressions

Our Brava experience started with a small hiccup. Although the unit was delivered in secure packaging, after we unpacked it, read the directions, and plugged it into a regular three-pronged kitchen outlet, it was clear that it did not work. The culprit was a hardware malfunction in the fan that required a call to customer service. Brava overnighted a replacement immediately and sent along a return packing slip so we could send the faulty unit back.

The second Brava had no defects and setting it up was easy to do, even without technical know-how. However, halfway through our first recipe, the unit overloaded the circuit and tripped the breaker. After a quick troubleshooting session, we found out that this appliance can only work properly if every other device on the circuit has been shut off (or the Brava has been placed on a dedicated circuit). Once we plugged the unit into a different circuit, the Brava performed as expected.


Brava performance

Using preset recipes

To use a preset recipe on the Brava, you need to wake the screen and select the main ingredients, which can be done via browsing or typing in the ingredients you wish to use. After finding a recipe, the unit walks you through the entire process, providing extremely precise preparation details. To test the unit's intelligence, we intentionally placed the cooking tray on the wrong shelf and Brava indicated that we'd made a mistake. When you make it to the end of the prep stages, a blue button lights up green, letting you know you're good to go.


One of our favorite features was Brava's ability to make breakfast while we got ready for the day. While it cooks eggs exceptionally well, the shape of the pan makes it difficult to create a regular breakfast sandwich since the round depressions leave you with (delicious) round eggs with a thick middle.

When cooking bacon, we found it needed a few extra minutes to get to the level of crispiness we prefer — which was easy to achieve with the popup menu at the end that offers extra cooking minutes. Bread, bagels, and English muffins all toasted nicely.


We prepped the steak as instructed, inserted the thermometer, and set the cooking choice to medium-rare. Our first attempt came out overcooked and chewy. The next time we cooked steak, we dialed back the suggested cooking setting a little bit and achieved a satisfactory result.


To test how well chicken cooked, we tried a set of breast meat and a set of marinated chicken thighs with the skin on. After following Brava's instructions, the breast was cooked through and still juicy. The thighs were crispy-skinned and juicy as well. When we tested a set of bone-in thighs, they turned out a touch undercooked close to the bone.


For fish, we first rubbed down a salmon with butter, salt, and pepper. Then, we followed all of the prepping instructions and set the Brava to medium-rare. It was delicious.


We're big fans of asparagus, so we were eager to try cooking vegetables in the Brava. We chopped up some asparagus stems, tossed them in oil and salt, and spread them out evenly on the tray. Once the asparagus cooled, we sampled our work. The asparagus felt a touch overcooked for our preference, but it was still quite good.

Baked goods

For baked goods, we made pre-packaged cookies. Instead of using a Brava preset, we followed the instructions on the cookie package and used the Brava’s oven feature. With the help of the internal camera, we were able to monitor the baking process on our phone. The cookies were perfect — a little firm on the outside and soft on the inside. We also made pumpkin bread, which turned out a little cakey, but not bad, and banana bread muffins, which came out more quickly than they would have with a traditional oven.

Three zone meals: Cooking different types of food on one tray

The Brava is so precise in its cooking abilities that the company claims you can cook up to three distinctly different dishes on the same tray. We tried a steak, potato, and asparagus combo, and each turned out as intended: the steak was cooked to the specifications we set, the asparagus was roasted on the outside but retained a nice snap, and the potatoes had a good crisp on the outside but were soft in the middle. We also had success with a sweet potato and green bean combo.

Observations about the Brava

Cook time

The prep time that goes into making a meal is obviously not diminished by the Brava, but the appliance does allow you to cook without monitoring, which is convenient. For example, if we wanted to cook steak in an oven and sear it in a pan, that would be a time-consuming multistep process. The Brava seared and baked the meat well in a single step using the Brava thermometer to make sure everything was done just right.


Learning curve


If you’re using the preset recipes, cooking with the Brava is easy. However, even after a month, we anticipate it would take at least a few more weeks to feel comfortable enough to cook with confidence without using the presets.


The people at Brava have thought of everything. There is a large variety of recipes available no matter what your diet or dietary restrictions may be. Brava is continually updating with new recipes and cooking options. We had the opportunity to speak with one of the Brava chefs during our onboarding call and it was cool to hear that they continue to try to innovate and push the Brava to do more — providing users with an even more refined cooking options.

We also loved that there wasn't an overall quality that we could ascribe to the cooked food the way you can with a slow cooker or a microwave. Each meal had a unique quality and texture.


Cleaning is simple. The non-stick trays can often just be wiped down after cooling. Rarely, a meal made in the chef's pan may require a more vigorous cleaning. Occasionally, you may make a meal that necessitates a quick internal wipe down to get rid of splatters, but it is important to never touch the lamps. The lamps are self-cleaning and should not be touched under any circumstances. If anything drips or splashes on them, it simply burns off on the next cook because they are such high-temperature lights.

Brava cost

We tested the Brava Chef's Choice set, which comes with a chef pan plus breakfast and baking equipment. It regularly costs $1,495 and is currently the company's highest-priced option. If you're planning on doing all your cooking with the Brava it's a good idea to get all of the equipment at the same time, and we think the price is worth it if you value convenience and tasty food.

Brava pros

The set-it-and-forget-it aspect of cooking with the Brava is incredible, especially for breakfast. It can be a real time-saver, especially in the morning when you're not moving that quickly in the first place. It’s easily versatile enough to replace an oven, and the accompanying trays pans can handle a wide range of cooking tasks. Plus the company has great customer service.

Brava cons

Although the Brava is designed for ease of use, if you’re hoping to customize the cooking process, get ready for a learning curve. It took us some trial and error to find the right cooking time for food like asparagus and bacon. Sometimes, it can take a few run-throughs with a recipe before you get it to come out the way you like.

Is Brava worth it?

There's no denying, Brava does what it claims. Brava can not only replace your oven, but it can save you time and make cooking easier for busy people and small families. If you lead a hectic life, but also crave healthy, home-cooked food, Brava could satisfy your mealtime needs.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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