The Best Commercial Combi Oven | 2021 Buyer's Guide

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With hospitality customer expectations rising ever higher, presenting delicious, high-quality food in a matter of minutes while maintaining profit margins is a huge challenge for the restaurant and catering industry.

The combi oven has come to the rescue, allowing chefs to perform a number of functions with a single appliance.

Your commercial combi oven can be used to bake, steam, roast, sous vide, smoke or poach (to name a few) and can tackle almost any type of food across the meat and vegetable spectrums. It can even be programmed to perform two different cooking functions without the need for you to open the door.

Your commercial combi oven can be used to bake, steam, roast, sous vide, smoke or poach (to name a few) and can tackle almost any type of food across the meat and vegetable spectrums.

If you have a busy kitchen and serve a range of dishes, a commercial combi oven is an appliance worth investing in.

You’ll find your combi oven can help your team deliver consistently appealing meals. With press-button settings, food can be prepared the same way, no matter who is operating the appliance.

A combi oven provides kitchens with the ability to increase bulk food production. For example, your chefs can cook/chill by cooking large quantities of proteins in your combi oven then blast freeze without sacrificing quality.

Like many appliances, there is a wide range of commercial combi ovens on the market. To help you make a decision, we have created a comprehensive commercial combi oven buyer’s guide, complete with a list of some of the most recommended commercial combi oven manufacturers.

As you read through, remember there is no 100% ideal combi oven, nor is there a one-size-fits-all model. This guide is designed to help you understand what to look out for and to know which features are right for your kitchen.

While this guide contains a great deal of information, it still makes sense to get advice from a professional. This could be a commercial kitchen consultant or someone who has supported other businesses to choose the model of commercial combi oven that’s most suitable for their restaurant or catering business.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at SilverChef if you have any questions about how to buy a commercial combi oven.

Here's what our commercial combi oven guide covers:

1. Buying a commercial combi oven: what to consider

2. Some of the best commercial combi ovens

3. Ten questions to ask before you buy a commercial combi oven

4. Commercial combi oven FAQ

5. Commercial combi oven terminology

Buying a commercial combi oven: what to consider

From the model to the manufacturer, there is a lot to take into account when purchasing a combi oven for your kitchen.

Here are some factors to keep in mind. Some will be more important than others, depending on the needs of your venue.

Size

Commercial combi ovens come in a range of sizes, from countertop, compact models to floor standing ‘giants’ that can take up to 40 trays.

Size is a factor for three reasons:

  1. The room in your kitchen. You don’t want to buy a model that is too big and find you can’t install it or it gets in the way as people are trying to work.
  2. The amount of food you need to prepare. There’s no point overspending on a floor model that your chefs don’t use. At the same time, if you go too small your kitchen won’t be able to meet timing expectations.
  3. The space around your model, ensuring adequate room for power and water supply, as well as drainage.

Have the space where you will install your combi oven measured before you start shopping so you know how much room you have. Don’t forget to check height and depth as well as width.

If you’re not sure if the size of combi oven you are looking at will meet demand, speak to a consultant or visit a couple of establishments that are similar to yours to see which models they chose.

If you’re not sure if the size of combi oven you are looking at will meet demand, speak to a consultant or visit a couple of establishments that are similar to yours to see which models they chose.

 In terms of the space around your model, it’s worth noting that you will need room to access things like filters and taps.

Type of commercial combi ovens

Gas or electric

The type of combi oven you choose will either be gas or electric, depending on what you prefer and what’s available at your site. Generally speaking, gas models are more expensive to buy but you should compare operating costs before making a decision.

Some regional areas are better using gas because of the potential for brown-outs/power issues.

With gas, there are things to consider such as LPG or natural gas, and how the gas is supplied to your facility.

Connected combi ovens

You may choose a connected model that uses WiFi or ethernet cable, which will give you the ability to upload menus and gather HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) data which is very helpful when it comes to safety checks. 

Boiler or steam injected

A boiler or direct steam injection model is another decision you will have to make.

A boiler holds the water and brings it to pressure to create the steam. Steam injection spits water onto the element to create steam. Talk to your dealer about which one is right for you.

Energy consumption

Some combi oven models will show you how much electricity or gas and how much water they used the previous day. This will help you keep track of how much it is really costing you to run your kitchen.

Settings, features and functionality

Combi ovens can overwhelm you with their endless array of features and settings. Be realistic about what your chefs will use and look for a model that will feel simple to operate rather than one that has dozens of unnecessary capabilities.

Combi ovens can overwhelm you with their endless array of features and settings. Be realistic about what your chefs will use and look for a model that will feel simple to operate.

Some settings could include:

  • Convection plus 100% humidity for vegetables and fish
  • Convection plus 80% humidity: for cooking puff pastry and meat
  • Convection plus 60% humidity for bread
  • Pure convection for cakes and biscuits
  • Dough proofing for yeast and sourdough
  • Low temperature for slow-cooked meats
  • Surface grill for grilling and browning

In terms of functionality, touch-to-open doors will make life easier for your chefs.

Combi ovens come with other features, including ‘stopwatch’ for testing new recipes, timers to automatically switch off and pre-programmability so the oven is hot the minute you need to use it.

These models all have glass doors but steam can make it hard to see what’s going on inside, so there are also models with condensation reduction functions that give you visibility for 20 seconds or so.

You can also look out for:

  • Misting mode to add moisture to food
  • The ability to create and upload your own cooking settings, and to add names so they are easy to find, e.g. salmon fillet or roast potato
  • Removable glass panels for easier cleaning

Combi oven power

You need to speak with your dealer or manufacturer to ensure your commercial combi oven can withstand being used all day if that’s what you need it to do.

Check the power requirements to make sure your kitchen’s electricity supply will meet your combi oven’s needs.

Water management

Your commercial combi oven uses water to steam food. Note that if you won’t ever use this function you should be using a regular convection oven.

Your commercial combi oven uses water to steam food. Note that if you won’t ever use this function you should be using a regular convection oven.

With the need for water is the need for plumbing, drainage and filtration. As mentioned, your kitchen will need a grease trap and a drain to get rid of the used water (with the help of gravity rather than a pump).

Think about the filtration system you will use to ensure the water quality will reduce the scale buildup. 

Professional installation is important to ensure that the oven functions as it should, and you can confirm the plumbing is compliant. A bad installation job can cause issues with steam production and drainage, leading to difficulty with food quality and leaks.

Commercial combi oven cleanability and usability

Many plumbed models of commercial combi ovens are self-cleaning, which is great news for your busy team.

Combi ovens clean themselves in different ways. Some manufacturers insist on their own chemicals being used for cleaning and maintenance.

Cleaning methods and wash times can vary from a few minutes to a few hours so make sure you use the right cycle at the right times. For example, you will need a heavy clean if you are cooking a high volume of roast chickens.

You can also look out for in-built descaling capabilities to make maintaining your oven easier.

The usability and practicality of your commercial combi oven will come into play as well. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself:

  • How easy is it for someone with little training to use the oven?
  • Where is the control panel? Top or bottom, left or right side? Which is most convenient for you?
  • Is the combi oven easy to open?
  • Does the way the door opens make sense for your kitchen?
  • Can your combi oven be installed easily?

Aesthetics

If your kitchen is open to the rest of your venue, the look of your commercial combi oven may be a factor that influences your final decision. However, this shouldn’t be a more important consideration than other, more practical factors like usability, efficiency and safety. It is more important for an oven to be robust than good-looking. 

Accessories

Your commercial combi oven accessories are mostly trays, grids and racks so make sure you can get ones that you fit, and as many as you need. A trolley that you can wheel in and out may be suitable for a floor model of combi oven.

A smoker is another accessory. Add wood chips in the specially-made container, put it in your oven along with the food and create bbq-style dishes that diners love.

Speak with your supplier about which accessories come standard with the combi oven you wish to purchase and which extra accessories will come in handy. There are additional items like pastry containers, baking trays and combi oven stands with space to store racks.

Consider where you are going to store your spare trays if you don’t order a stand with racks or if the racks don’t have enough room for all your trays. 

Insurance and warranty

Everything that plugs in has the potential to break down, especially when it is working as hard as an oven.

When you’re buying a machine that’s as pricey as a brand new commercial combi oven, you should always make sure the parts are covered by warranty and that you have insurance in the case of theft or damage.

Read the fine print closely. There may be a clause which voids a warranty if you don’t service the machine in a particular way.

Mostly, commercial combi oven warranties cover faulty manufacturer parts so be aware that a warranty isn’t a fail-safe for when things go wrong. 

Maintenance and commercial combi oven repair

If you use it, it will need maintenance.

When you buy a combi oven, find out what is involved with keeping it in good working order. Stick to a maintenance and cleaning schedule and you will improve your chances of being able to claim warranty on parts.

Stick to a maintenance and cleaning schedule and you will improve your chances of being able to claim warranty on parts.

Your chefs should include cleaning the machine as part of their routine.

In terms of repair, try to buy from a commercial combi oven manufacturer that has spare parts available. Ask before you buy how you will go about getting your model repaired.

Second hand combi oven vs new combi oven

With so many venues opening and closing around the country, a second-hand combi oven may be an option.

Here are some tips when buying used:

Avoid resale sites which don’t offer a service history and some kind of warranty

If you do buy off Gumtree or a similar platform, get someone who knows appliances to check out the one you want to buy

Consider choosing SilverChef Certified Used equipment, which is fully refurbished, run tested and tagged so you know it still works well.

You could also consider SilverChef's Rent-Try-Buy® solution to enable you to get the combi oven you want now, with the flexibility to return, upgrade or purchase later. Lease-to-Keep™ is another great way to spread the cost of a bigger equipment purchase. 

Some of the best commercial combi ovens

With so many commercial combi oven manufacturers, it is hard to know which one is right for your venue. Take a look at some of the most recommended models and widely-used models.

Premium commercial combi ovens

It always makes sense to get the best model of combi oven you can afford. These are some of the high-end brands to look out for.

RATIONAL combi ovens

RATIONAL is a near-50-year-old company which is one of the stalwarts of the commercial cooking industry. This company boasts that 140 million dishes are prepared daily around the world in RATIONAL units, which are produced in Germany.

A RATIONAL combi oven is energy and water efficient and is designed to produce consistently high-quality results. They are programmable and ‘smart’, which means they can automatically gauge the volume of food in the oven and can determine which cleaning cycle is needed without your input. RATIONAL combi oven models come in a range of sizes, from compact to floor-standing versions. Fans of these ovens say they help reduce errors and produce consistent outcomes.

Zanussi combi ovens

Zanussi were founded in 1916 and by 1962, were exporting to over 60 countries. They are a trusted brand in the foodservice industry and synonymous with innovation and quality.

In 2019, Zanussi launched their Magistar combi oven, boasting a calm, reliable and experienced cooking system like few others. Their Magistar combi oven range stretches from the high-performance Combi-TS to the COMBI-DC. The D1 contains a dizzying array of features including 1000 cooking programs; a 6-sensor probe, making it easier to measure the core temperature of the product; and cooking optimizer, which guides the user on the most logical cooking sequence to optimize cooking times. Zanussi combi ovens also claim a saving of up 15% thanks to their automatic washing and automatic descaling.

Convotherm combi ovens

A German commercial combi oven manufacturer, Convotherm offers a model with AI and sensor technology to ensure maximised efficiency and highly consistent results. The use of this technology empowers the appliances to intuitively cook and bake food.

Convotherm’s combi ovens are packed with features, including doors that slide away and give you more space in your kitchen. They also offer a choice of manual or automatic programming, making it easier for new chefs to hit the ground running.

HOBART combi ovens

US company HOBART takes pride in providing reliable, high quality kitchen equipment. Their products are engineered and tested to stand up to the everyday challenges of a commercial kitchen. 

The HOBART COMBI and HOBART COMBI-plus have features which make it simple for all operators to produce quality dishes. Offering FastPAD control, these combi ovens make it easy to save images of the cooking process.

Choose a large, mini or twin model with separate, stacked cooking chambers.

HOUNÖ combi ovens

HOUNÖ is a Danish brand that supplies the global commercial kitchen market and has been around since the 1970s. It was one of the first combi oven manufacturers and now offers over 100 combi oven solutions.

HOUNÖ models offer flexibility, reliability, as well as the very best cooking and baking results. They are made with low operating costs and easy operation in mind. Save on floor space by stacking two ovens or speak to your dealer about a pass-through combi oven if you think this solution will work for your kitchen.

HOUNÖ even offers a marine model of combi oven, with special voltage allowances and a gas spring to prevent the door from slamming or opening in rough seas.

Medium Range Commercial Combi Oven Manufacturers

Electrolux combi ovens

Electrolux is a well-known name for domestic and commercial appliances. They have some quality combi oven models that can electronically store up to 1,000 recipes.

A larger model of Electrolux combi oven can alternate between 14 different cooking cycles with varying steam and temperature levels. It offers an easy-to-use control panel that even beginner chefs can get used to operating with confidence. One handy feature is the ability to transfer new recipes via USB. If you’re using more than one oven in your kitchen, you can have them all cooking the exact same way.

Models with dial controls are also available. Talk to your dealer to check out the latest options for commercial combi ovens.

Unox combi ovens

Available in a wide range of sizes (big, countertop and compact), Unox combi ovens also have bakery specific models.

You can expect all the standard features from this combi oven manufacturer, including smart preheating to automatically manage the preheating and what Unox calls ‘SENSE.Klean’, which estimates the degree of dirtiness of the oven and suggests the most suitable washing mode to avoid waste.

Giorik combi ovens

Giorik provides combi ovens, salamanders and oven stands. One thing they are known for is their compact combi ovens.

With innovative touchscreen control panels, preloaded cooking programs and recipe storing features, Giorik’s ovens are multifunctional and easy to use. Some models feature humidity as well as steam control. Doors are reversible and glass panels are easy to access for cleaning.

Goldstein Eswood combi ovens

Goldstein’s ovens have a range of features and ‘one touch’ functions.  The features include the following:

  • Electric Combi Steam Oven Temps: 30C to 300C
  • Water Steam Generation Injection
  • Programmable board, up to 1000 programs with 20 steps.
  • Coloured touch screen display and controls
  • Multi point temperature core probe
  • Integrated shower hose
  • Separate rack timing

With easy-to-use controls, Goldstein combi ovens come in a range of sizes.

Affordable combi ovens

Smeg combi ovens

Smeg has been producing kitchen appliances since 1948. Well known for their domestic products, they also have a commercial range. The brand boasts Australia wide warehousing, high-volume logistics, on-time delivery and on-site support.

Smeg’s combi ovens have more than a dozen cooking functions including static, fan assisted, grilling, warming and re-generation. Their models have cleaning and descaling features as well as removable inner doors, soft-close hinges and A+ energy efficiency.

TECNOEKA/EKA combi ovens

EKA branded combi ovens are characterised by quality, efficiency, technical progress, ease of use and optimal performance. With headquarters in Italy, this brand has been around since the 1970s. It invests in technology so it can produce continually improved products.

Robust but elegantly designed, EKA combi ovens come with touchscreens and a range of features and options that can meet the demands of even the busiest venues.

Bosch combi ovens

Bosch is a well-known commercial and domestic brand which began its journey in Germany’s Stuttgart in 1886.

A combi oven from Bosch provides the quality, even-cooking technology that European baking appliances are known for. With a temperature probe to remove the guesswork, and ‘EcoChef Mode’ which allows the remaining heat in the oven cavity to finish the cooking process, plus a range of cooking modes and programs, these ovens are easy to use.

Asko combi oven

Asko is a Swedish company that makes commercial and residential kitchen appliances.

Their compact combi ovens are gentle on food, and preserve vitamins and nutrients better than traditional boiling. With full colour touchscreen display, soft close doors, a huge range of settings and programmable functions, and a range of cleaning and descaling functions, these are a reliable model of combi oven. 

Fagor combi ovens

Fagor is a 60-year-old Spanish company with 35 offices in 20 countries. It offers five sizes of combi ovens with varying features plus gas and electric options.

Easy to use and automatically self-cleaning, Fagor’s ovens are designed to make working in a kitchen more convenient, more cost-effective, safer and more hygienic. The range is versatile, durable and designed with ergonomics in mind.

Ten questions to ask before you buy a commercial combi oven

With so many models and options, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. One way to make a decision is to focus on your realistic needs and budget, rather than being distracted by features which may not be used.

With so many models and options, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. One way to make a decision is to focus on your realistic needs and budget, rather than being distracted by features which may not be used.

As part of your research, speak to other venue owners who use combi ovens daily and to chefs who have experienced different models while on the job.

Here are some things you can ask people who work in the industry:

  1. Which commercial combi oven do you use and why?
  2. Are you happy with the way your combi oven performs?
  3. How easy is it to clean and maintain your commercial combi oven?
  4. Is the provider reliable when you need their help?
  5. Do your chefs/cooks/staff find the combi oven easy to use? Does it make bringing new staff onboard easier?
  6. What was your experience buying a used or second-hand commercial combi oven?
  7. Would you recommend the combi oven manufacturer you chose?
  8. How much should I pay for a commercial combi oven?

Here are questions to ask your dealer or supplier about the best combi oven for your business:

  1. Will this machine suit the production needs of my venue?
  2. What warranty is included?
  3. How easy is it to get parts from the factory if they are needed?
  4. What happens if I need an urgent commercial combi oven repair?
  5. How much are hourly callout fees? What about on weekends?
  6. Do you provide combi oven training for my team? Where can they go for information?
  7. Why do you recommend this commercial combi oven?
  8. What features may I need that I haven’t thought of?

Commercial combi oven FAQ

How to clean your commercial combi oven

Your commercial combi oven should be self-cleaning, which will make life easier for you and your team.

Check the cycle length before you switch the cleaning mode on to ensure it won’t interrupt service. Overnight or while the kitchen is closed is usually the best time to do the clean.

Once the cycle is complete, wipe the oven down to remove any residual grease or food particles that may be left inside.

Note: This is generic advice. Speak to your supplier for specific instructions.

How much water does a commercial combi oven use?

The amount of water your commercial combi oven uses will depend on how large it is, how you use the steam function and how many hours you use it for each day.

Look for a water efficient model and expect to use quite a few litres of water if you’re using the steam setting all day. For a specific idea of how much water will be used, speak to your dealer.

How much does a commercial combi oven cost?

The cost to buy a commercial combi oven depends on what you will be using it for, which features it has and the size you choose.

Compact models of commercial combi ovens can start for well under $10,000. At the other end of the scale, you can expect to pay in excess of $50,000. This is why a lease-to-buy option makes sense for many venues.

How to use a commercial combi oven

Combi ovens are designed to be as simple to use as possible and programmed so anyone can use them but you still need to take the time to be clear on how yours works.

To make the most of your commercial combi oven, a training session will probably be necessary. It may also make sense to make manuals or videos for your staff so they can use the machine without needing to interrupt anybody else.

Don’t forget to make the most of pre-programmable settings. This way your chefs will be able to simply select a number or recipe and press ‘go’.

Who can install a commercial combi oven?

Because it involves water as well as electricity or gas, you will need a professional to install your commercial combi oven. Don’t attempt to install it yourself or you may void the warranty.

Commercial combi oven terminology

Your commercial combi oven has a range of features and capabilities. The following are some of the terms you will hear as you shop around.

Artificial Intelligence/AI: Some models of combi oven use wifi connectivity and artificial intelligence to gauge the progress of your food as it is cooked and make automatic changes to temperature, heat delivery etc.

Boiler: The boiler inside your combi oven builds up water pressure and releases steam.

Combination cooking: With one oven, you can poach fish then quickly chargrill it without needing to open the door. This is the ‘combination’ magic of the combi oven. Programmable settings will let you determine which combination of cooking methods to use.

Convection: Convection is the cooking method used by a traditional oven. With this function, air heats up and is circulated around the cavity so food is cooked evenly. The advantage of a combi oven is being able to choose to combine this function with steam cooking.

Control Panel: This is what you will use to set the cooking functions of your combi oven.

Default temperature: Your commercial combi oven may have pre-set temperatures for different cooking functions.

Drainage: Because they use water, combi ovens require drainage.

Double stack: Multiple combi ovens can make a busy kitchen even more productive. Look for models that can sit on top of each other to save space.

Eco: Your dealer may talk about energy-saving functions which lead to economic savings. For example, there are stand by modes which will reduce the energy your oven uses.

Extraction: As your combi oven creates grease, steam and heat, it is likely to need extraction in the form of a mechanical ventilation system with a hood. There may be the option of a built-in hood with the oven you purchase (make sure the hood complies with local regulations).

Fan: Combi ovens have fans to distribute heat, depending on how your chefs are using the cooking functions.

Floor model: A floor model of combi oven can cook up to 20 racks at a time and is as tall as you are (give or take). These are used at high volume venues.

Gas/Electric: Like other ovens and appliances, your commercial combi oven can be gas or electric.

Gastronorm: Gastronorm accessories like trays, sheet pans and pots are a standard size. When you’re buying a combi oven, you may hear people speaking about the model being able to accommodate gastronorm sizing.

Grease trap: Your kitchen will more than likely need a grease trap. Check there is one before you buy a combi oven.

Program: With so many features, knowing how to program your combi oven is important. Some have touch screens, while others use dials/knobs.

Scale: Any appliance that uses water will have ‘scale’ buildup inside it and your combi oven is no exception. Water treatment and regular maintenance will be required.

Self-cleaning: A good combi oven has self-cleaning capabilities so your team doesn’t have to spend time scrubbing the inside.

Shrinkage: Food shrinks and loses moisture when cooked in a conventional oven. This reduces your yield. A combi oven can help reduce shrinkage and keep your food tasting delicious.

Steam: Steam is part of the combi oven, allowing you to steam your food. Now as well as being hot, your food is moist, meaning it doesn’t dry out and shrink. Steam cooking is an excellent way to retain the colour, shape and flavour of vegetables.

The steam function of your combi oven requires the ability to draw and flush out water. Your commercial combi oven will need to be ‘plumbed in’, connected to water supply and drainage, or self-contained. For self-contained, you will need to refill the water cartridge (this is good if you need a portable oven but it can be labour intensive).

Steam injected: If your combi oven doesn’t have a boiler, it will inject water directly onto the oven’s cooking elements. Steam injected models are generally smaller than combi ovens with boilers. They can be more cost-effective when it comes to upfront costs and maintenance.

Temperature probe: This can be used to check the core temperature of the food inside your combi oven, for example, roast meat. This is invaluable for evenly cooked or cooked-to-order cuts of meat. The temperature probe may come permanently connected to your oven or it may be removable. Some models even have connections for three or four probes. Consider if you need this tool before you select it as an option.

Timer: Your oven should be able to tell you where it is at in the cooking cycle with the help of a timer. Some models give you a ‘stopwatch’ so you can test optimal cook times.

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Thanks for reading this commercial combi oven buyer's guide

Investing in a combi oven can make an incredible difference to your kitchen workflows and the quality of food your venue produces. This guide has hopefully helped you understand what to look for, so you can narrow down your decision about what really is the best commercial combi oven for your venue.

If you’d like the advice and guidance of a professional so you can choose the right combi oven, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at SilverChef – we have dedicated restaurant and cafe industry experts available to support you.

Prefer to dive straight in and start looking at the commercial combi ovens available from our Certified Used team? Shop the range of commercial combi ovens.

Want to know about finance options and what your rental payments on a commercial combi oven could be? Use our Rent-Try-Buy calculator to run the numbers.

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