Imagine this scenario: You're exhausted after a long day at work, and the last thing you want to do is spend half an hour or more in the kitchen preparing and cooking a mouth-watering meal from scratch.
But what's the alternative?
Fast food might be tempting, but it's not the healthiest or most cost-effective option in the long run. Meal kits can be tasty, but they still require time and effort to prepare. And pre-made meal delivery services may be convenient, but they lack the homemade touch that many of us crave.
So, what's the solution? That’s where Tovala comes in.
Having used Tovala’s ovens and meal delivery service for years, I can say without hesitation that they are one of the most unique and innovative kitchen appliances I have ever owned.
For this review, I'm excited to share my personal experience with the Tovala ovens and meal delivery service, as well as provide an honest assessment of their features, performance, and overall value.
Keep reading to find out if Tovala can help transform your cooking experience and whether it's worth the investment.
Why Trust This Review?
At Food Box HQ, we take our job of testing and reviewing meal delivery services seriously, which is why we've turned our attention to Tovala. We’ve conducted extensive research and hands-on testing to provide you with an unbiased and thorough review of this innovative appliance.
We've subjected the Tovala oven to our rigorous review process, which involves testing its features, performance, and overall value for money. Not only have we tested Tovala’s smart oven capabilities but also its partner meal delivery service.
It's worth noting that we were not influenced by any advertising, brand, or sponsored content. We will occasionally use affiliate links in this article. If you purchase a Tovala using these links, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This money is used to maintain this website and help us buy other products to test and review for this site. Our main goal is to provide you with an honest and objective assessment, so you can make an informed decision about whether Tovala is right for you.
How We Tested & Evaluated Tovala For This Review
At Food Box HQ, we follow a strict evaluation process to ensure that our reviews are comprehensive, unbiased, and relevant to our readers. When it came to testing the Tovala smart oven, we took the following steps to evaluate its performance and features:
- Design and Build Quality: We examined the design and build quality of the Tovala oven, including the materials used and the overall aesthetics of the appliance.
- Cooking Performance: We put the Tovala oven through its paces by testing its various cooking modes. We evaluated the oven's ability to cook a variety of foods, such as meats, vegetables, and baked goods, and assessed how evenly the oven cooked each.
- Taste: We tested dozens of recipes using the Tovala oven to evaluate the taste and overall quality of the food compared to using our traditional oven.
- Quality: We assessed the quality of the Tovala oven over years of use, including its durability. This evaluation aims to assess the oven's ability to withstand frequent use and how well it performs over time.
- Ease Of Use: We evaluated how easy it is to use the Tovala oven, including the user interface on the oven, the mobile app, and meal delivery service.
- Delivery & Packaging: We assessed the quality of the Tovala oven's delivery and packaging, including the packaging materials used, delivery time, and the condition of the oven and meals upon arrival. Our aim is to evaluate the delivery process and assess any potential issues or concerns that customers may encounter.
- Value: We evaluated the overall value of the Tovala oven by comparing its price to its features, performance, and similar competitors. This evaluation also includes assessing any additional costs associated with using the oven, such as meal delivery subscription fees. Our aim is to provide Food Box HQ readers with an accurate assessment of whether it is worth the investment.
Food Box HQ Note: We have tested every version of the Tovala oven since it has first been released. This includes the now discontinued first generation Tovala, the Smart Oven, and the Smart Oven Pro. Since the first generation Tovala cannot be purchased anymore, we will not be including it in this review. You can learn more about the first generation Tovala in our past YouTube review of it here.
The History Of Tovala
The concept of Tovala originated from founder David Rabie's personal frustration of using multiple appliances to prepare his weekly meals. He envisioned an all-in-one appliance that could cook healthy, tasty, and convenient meals.
In 2015, Rabie launched Tovala (then called Maestro) through a Kickstarter campaign that surpassed its $100,000 goal within 24 hours.
Tovala's success on Kickstarter led to the development of a complete solution that involves a food company, software company, and hardware company. The food company provides meal delivery services, while the software and hardware companies offer an app and an oven, respectively.
Initially, the company's oven was a prototype that involved purchasing an oven from Amazon and adding a circuit board, 3D-printed parts, and a barcode scanner. Here is an interesting case study about how they turned that prototype into a working and fully functional product.
Tovala has garnered several accolades since its launch, including winning the Edward L. Kaplan '71 New Venture Challenge and participating in a design sprint hosted by gravitytank and Y Combinator's winter 2016 accelerator program. The company also announced an investment and partnership agreement with Tyson Foods.
What Is Tovala?
The Tovala smart oven is a kitchen appliance with a range of cooking modes that make it a versatile tool for preparing various dishes. It is particularly useful for busy individuals who are looking for more options than a microwave can offer, but still want to save time cooking on the oven or stovetop.
The Smart Oven is the latest addition to the Tovala lineup and offers versatile cooking options like air frying, baking, broiling, toasting, and reheating. On the other hand, the Smart Oven Pro (previously called "Gen 2 Tovala") is the older version of the Tovala smart oven and offers additional features like steam cooking.
Both ovens are compatible with the Tovala app and meal delivery service, which provides pre-made meals specifically designed to cooked in the oven. The Smart Oven is a more affordable option for those who want a versatile oven that can air fry and don’t mind not having the steam cooking mode, while the Smart Oven Pro is made for those who want to take advantage of the steam cooking functionality.
The ovens connect to Wi-Fi and pair with an app that allows you to control the oven remotely. The app provides access to hundreds of recipes, many of which are created by professional chefs and tailored to the Tovala oven's unique cooking capabilities. With the app, you can also customize cooking settings, set timers, and monitor the progress of your meal from anywhere.
In addition to its smart technology, the Tovala oven also offers a meal delivery service that delivers pre-made meals directly to your door. These meals are specifically designed to be cooked in the Tovala oven. Though, you don’t have to use Tovala’s meal delivery service if you do not want to since the ovens work without them.
One of the more noteworthy features of Tovala ovens is the scan-to-cook function, which I find particularly impressive. With this feature, you can simply scan the barcode on your favorite pantry staples and frozen foods to cook them quickly and easily. The oven will automatically adjust its cooking settings to ensure that your food comes out perfectly cooked every time, without the need for preheating. It currently works with over one thousand different grocery items.
The Tovala Ovens
As mentioned above, Tovala currently offers 2 different ovens—Smart Oven and Smart Oven Pro. While they look the same, I can tell you from experience that they have some differences you should be aware of.
Here’s an overview of both…
Tovala Smart Oven
Food Box HQ Note: Tovala changed the name of this oven from “Tovala Smart Oven Air Fryer” to “Tovala Smart Oven.”
At 18.5 inches long, 14.32 inches deep, and 11.75 in height, the Smart Oven about the size of a microwave. I found that it sits perfectly under our kitchen cabinets. It also weighs less than 20 pounds so it’s not too hard to move around, if needed.
Tovala has done a good job at reducing the size of their newer ovens. Their original first generation smart oven was about 30% bigger than the current Smart Oven, making it tough to find a spot for it on my kitchen counter that didn’t take up too much space.
The Smart Oven offers six different cooking modes, including air fry, bake, broil, reheat, toast, and scan-to-cook technology. I’ll go over the different modes below and my thoughts on using each.
The main feature that sets the Smart Oven apart from other standard countertop kitchen appliances, as well as traditional ovens, is its Wi-Fi connectivity. This not only allows for remote control using the Tovala app but also notifies you when the oven is done cooking.
This feature has proven to be especially helpful on busy days when I need to cook a meal while also getting work done. Knowing that I'll receive a notification when my meal is ready allows me to stay focused on my work without worrying about overcooking my food.
While the Smart Oven has many benefits, it's important to note that it does have some limitations.
One of the most significant limitations of the Smart Oven is its small capacity. As someone who lives in a two-person household, I've found the oven to be perfectly suitable for our needs. However, I can see how it could be a challenge for larger families or gatherings.
For instance, during the holidays, my family loves to get together and cook a big feast. While the Smart Oven is perfect for cooking small dishes and sides, it may not be able to accommodate larger items like a turkey or a ham. In these instances, we often have to use our traditional oven to cook the main meal with the Smart Oven cooking the appetizers and sides.
Another potential drawback of the Smart Oven is the lack of Alexa or Google Home support. While this may not be a deal breaker for most users, it would certainly be a nice additional feature to have. It's understandable that some users may prefer the convenience of being able to control the oven with their voice, especially if their hands are occupied with cooking or other tasks.
Personally, I have found myself in situations where having Alexa or Google Home support would have come in handy. For example, when I'm trying to cook multiple dishes at once and have my hands full, it would be helpful to be able to adjust the oven temperature or set a timer without having to physically interact with the oven.
Some people may also find that there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to getting the perfect cooking times and settings for certain dishes. I have experienced this firsthand. There have been a few times where I've had to make adjustments to the oven's settings to get the desired results for a particular dish.
Smart Oven Pro
It is worth noting that the Smart Oven Pro was actually released before the Smart Oven. Despite it technically being an older model, the Smart Oven Pro still offers a range of impressive features and capabilities that make it a competitive option in the market of smart ovens.
In terms of size, it’s the same as the Smart Oven but just slightly heavier at 21 pounds.
One of the most notable features of the Smart Oven Pro (and what primarily sets it apart from the Smart Oven) is its steam functionality, which allows you to cook with steam.
Initially, I was skeptical when I learned about the Smart Oven Pro's steam cooking feature. Cooking with steam? How can that be any different from traditional baking or broiling? But my curiosity got the best of me, so I did some digging. As it turns out, steam cooking is a highly effective cooking method that's been around for centuries. In fact, many professional chefs swear by it.
Steam cooking is a unique cooking technique that uses hot, moist air to cook food. This method is especially ideal for cooking proteins, such as fish and chicken, as the moisture helps keep the meat juicy and tender. Unlike conventional cooking methods that rely on oil and other fats to add flavor, steam cooking allows your food's natural flavors to shine through.
Cooking with steam can definitely seem intimidating at first, especially if you're used to more traditional cooking methods like baking or grilling. I remember the first time I tried to cook chicken in the Smart Oven Pro using the steam feature. I had heard that steam cooking was ideal for chicken as it locks in moisture and helps to prevent dryness, but I was still unconvinced.
I followed the instructions on the Tovala app for cooking chicken using the steam function, and nervously watched as a light amount of steam came from the sides of inside the oven. I was surprised at how quickly the oven heated up and how the steam started cooking the chicken
When the timer went off, I carefully opened the oven door, and was hit with the most delicious aroma of cooked chicken. Cutting the first bite I could see that the chicken was perfectly cooked, with a lightly golden skin and juicy, tender meat.
Since that first successful attempt, I've experimented with cooking a variety of different foods using the steam feature on the Smart Oven Pro. I've cooked everything from salmon to vegetables, and have been consistently impressed with the results.
Though, the Smart Oven Pro is not without its faults. The Smart Oven Pro shares similar limitations as the Smart Oven, including a small capacity that may not be suitable for larger families or entertaining guests. It also lacks support for Alexa and Google Home and may require some initial practice to master the steam cooking mode.
The biggest issue I’ve had with the Smart Oven Pro is giving it enough space in my kitchen.
To ensure proper functionality, Tovala recommends leaving at least 6 inches of clearance between the top of the oven and any surface in your kitchen, as well as 3 inches of clearance between the oven's sides/back and any surface. As someone who has a small kitchen with low cabinets and limited counter space, I've found this to be a bit of a challenge. Not only do I need to make sure there is enough space around the oven, but I also have to be mindful of the water filling spout at the top, which is crucial for the oven's steam cooking function.
Don’t Make The Same Mistake I Almost Did (First Time Use)
When I first received my Tovala oven, I was so excited to start cooking with it that I almost skipped the initial cleaning step. I figured it couldn't be that important, and I was eager to try out some of the meals from the meal delivery service.
Don’t make this mistake!
After I read the instructions more carefully, I realized it’s essential to run the oven for 20 minutes before cooking anything in it. So, I decided to follow the instructions and give the oven a good cleaning before trying it out.
To my surprise, during the first cleaning cycle, I could smell something weird—like burning plastic—coming from the oven. It was a bit alarming at first, but then I remembered the instructions mentioning that this could happen and that it was perfectly normal.
So, if you smell anything odd when running your Tovala for the first time, don’t freak out, it’s normal.
Cleaning & Maintaining The Ovens
One of the great things about my Tovala oven is that, being so small, it's easy for me to clean and maintain compared to my traditional oven. The instructions say that after every use, it's recommended to clean the interior and exterior of your oven to avoid permanent blemishes or discoloration. To be honest, I don’t clean the oven every time I use it but I usually will give it a good wipe down around once a week.
Cleaning the exterior of the oven is a straightforward process. I use a soft, damp cloth with a small amount of dish soap. Cleaning the door, both inside and outside, is also simple, but it's important not to use harsh, abrasive cleaners or scrapers on the glass, as this could result in scratches.
One of the most convenient features of the Tovala oven is that it comes with a crumb tray, which can easily be removed and cleaned after each use. This helps prevent any crumbs or food particles from building up inside the oven and affecting the quality of your cooking. However, it’s a bit of a bummer I can’t just throw it in my dishwasher. Tovala says that the crumb tray should be hand-washed only.
Cleaning the air fry basket is another task that requires special attention. I’ve noticed that because it has a lot of little grooves in it that, over time, crumbs and food can get stuck in it and be hard to get out.
As for the sheet tray that comes with the oven, I usually just throw that in my dishwasher once it gets food on it. The manual says that it’s dishwasher safe.
Compared to my traditional oven, the Tovala oven is much easier to clean, especially because of its size and removable parts. Plus, using their meal delivery service means that everything is cooked in their aluminum trays. This makes cleanup is a breeze and keeps the oven from getting too dirty.
Additional Tovala Accessories
In addition to the Smart Oven and Smart Oven Pro, Tovala also offers a range of accessories that can help enhance your cooking experience. Both ovens come with several accessories, such as an air fry basket, a sheet tray, and an oven mitt.
The air fry basket is particularly useful for those who want to enjoy crispy foods without the added calories and fat that come with deep frying. This accessory allows you to air fry a variety of foods, from chicken wings to french fries.
The sheet tray is perfect for cooking everything from cookies to vegetables, while the oven mitt is essential for safely removing hot items from the oven.
You can also purchase a roasting pan accessory from Tovala's website. This accessory is designed to fit perfectly in the Smart Oven and is ideal for cooking roasts, poultry, and other large cuts of meat. While I haven't purchased this accessory, it's possibly a good option to have for those who enjoy cooking larger meals like a roast chicken.
Tovala’s Oven Cooking Modes
The Tovala Smart Oven and Smart Oven Pro both come with a variety of cooking modes that go beyond what you'd typically find in a conventional oven. Along with traditional baking and broiling modes, they offer other innovative modes that I’ve found to make cooking more convenient and efficient.
Here’s an overview of what each mode does…
Tovala Smart Oven Pro's most notable feature is its steam mode, which distinguishes it from the Smart Oven (which does not have this mode). It was actually the primary reason why I initially considered getting it.
One of the first things I learned when using the steam mode is that it actually helps me cut down on my butter and oil intake. In traditional ovens, adding butter or oil is often necessary to keep food moist while cooking. However, with steam cooking, the moisture is retained, and extra fats aren't needed.
What’s more, many foods lose their nutrients and vitamins in the dry heat of standard and convection cooking. Steam's moist heat allows for better nutrient retention, resulting in more nutritious meals.
After my initial success with chicken breasts, I was eager to try out the steam mode with other types of food. I decided to experiment with some salmon and zucchini, and I have to say, I was pretty blown away by the results. The salmon came out incredibly tender and moist, and the zucchini retained their natural flavors and but didn’t come out soggy, like I had expected they would.
What's great about the steam mode is that it not only produces flavorful meals, but it does so in record time. The rapid cook times of steam cooking make it a convenient option for busy weeknights when I don't have much time to spend in the kitchen. And, as someone who is always looking for healthier cooking methods, I appreciate that steam cooking doesn't require the addition of excess fats or oils.
But, like with any cooking method, there are some limitations to steam cooking. One of the biggest drawbacks is the limited temperature range and browning capabilities. Steam heat can't fully cook foods that require very high temperatures, and its temperature limitations restrict its browning capabilities. Larger meats and baked goods, such as cookies, bread, cakes, and pies that benefit from browning, are best cooked in traditional or convection ovens. That said, Tovala has other cooking modes that you can use for these types of foods so it’s not that big of a deal.
One minor inconvenience of the Smart Oven Pro's steam mode is the need for regular refilling of the water reservoir. While the reservoir holds a decent amount of water, I've found that it needs to be refilled every 4-6 times that I use the steam mode. It's not a major issue, but it can be a bit annoying if you forget to check the water level before cooking.
Lastly, the steam cooking process can leave a small residue on the oven walls over time, which requires wiping down and drying every so often to prevent condensation from accumulating.
Air Fry Mode
The air fry function on both the Smart Oven and Smart Oven Pro has significantly changed my cooking routine. As someone who likes crispy food items like chicken wings and French fries but is not fond of the extra calories and fat that come with conventional frying, this feature has been very helpful.
What's more, I've never used an air fryer before, so I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to use. I just swap out the pan for the air frying tray and I’m good to go.
However, I did run into a few hiccups along the way. When I first started using the air fry mode, I was a bit confused about the preheat process and when it was okay to actually put the food in. It took a bit of trial and error, but I quickly got the hang of it.
Another issue I faced was that the cooking times were not always accurate. For example, when I made Trader Joe's frozen cauliflower gnocchi, I had to add an extra 5 minutes to get the crispiness I was looking for.
Although there are some issues with the air fry mode on the Tovala ovens, I still find it convenient to have it built into the oven. Before Tovala released the Smart Oven and the air fryer firmware update for the Smart Oven Pro, I was considering buying a separate air fryer. But now, I don't have to worry about finding extra space on my already limited countertop.
While I'm not much of a baker myself, my wife Emily loves to bake, so she was excited to try out the bake mode on our Tovala. She was particularly interested in making her signature chocolate chip cookies, which always turn out perfectly in our old oven.
One day, Emily decided to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies in our Smart Oven Pro. She mixed the dough, scooped out the cookie balls, and placed them on the sheet tray that came with the oven. When she put the tray into the oven, I noticed that she was a bit worried about the limited space, as the oven's capacity is relatively small.
Despite Emily's initial concerns about the limited space, the cookies she baked came out perfectly. They were evenly baked and had just the right amount of chewiness, making them irresistible. As she took the first bite, she had a huge smile on her face, and I could tell that she was pleased with the results. The only minor inconvenience was having to bake in multiple batches.
The broil mode on the Tovala is a feature that I have found to be nearly identical to my traditional oven's broil setting. While it's a handy feature to have, I have to admit that I don't use it as often as some of the other settings. However, when I have used the broil mode, I've found it to be quite effective at quickly cooking fish like salmon. It helps give it a nice sear.
One time I decided to try the broil mode with some steak, and I was impressed with how quickly it cooked and how nice the char looked on the surface. However, I did notice that the broil mode can sometimes dry out the food if you're not careful with the cooking time. It's essential to keep a close eye on the food when using it to avoid overcooking and drying out your meal.
The toast mode has become a staple in our morning routine. My wife and I both love a good slice of sourdough toast to start our day, and the toast mode on the Tovala makes it super easy to get that perfect crispness every time. We use it almost every morning.
One of the things we both appreciate about the toast mode is its consistency. The bread comes out flawlessly toasted every time, with just the right level of crispness.
What's more, the toast mode is incredibly easy to use. We simply place the bread in the oven and select the toast mode, and the oven takes care of the rest.
If you're like me, you probably have a lot of leftovers in your fridge that you never seem to get around to eating. That's where the reheat mode on the Tovala comes in handy. I've found that this mode is a quick and easy way to warm up leftovers without drying them out or overcooking them.
One of my favorite things to reheat in the Tovala Smart Oven is pizza. I've always struggled with reheating pizza in the microwave because it always ends up a soggy, greasy mess. But with the reheat mode on the Tovala, my leftover pizza comes out crispy and delicious. It really helps retain the original flavor and texture of the pizza.
Using the reheat mode on the Tovala has been a lifesaver for me, especially when it comes to leftovers like pasta and rice dishes. I used to dread reheating these dishes in the microwave as it often resulted in a hot outer layer and a cold, unappetizing inner layer. However, since using the reheat mode on my Tovala, my leftovers come out perfectly heated and just as tasty as they were when I first made them. The only drawback is that it does take longer to reheat foods in my Tovala when compared to reheating foods in my microwave.
The Tovala App (available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store) is a great companion to the Smart Oven and Smart Oven Pro, offering a range of useful features that can enhance your cooking experience. One of the most convenient features that I like is the ability to control the oven from my phone, allowing me to monitor cooking times and receive notifications when my food is ready.
I also really appreciate the app's library of presets for light-touch cooking. With just a few prep steps and the press of a button, you can make a side dish, brunch item, or dessert. All of these recipes are designed by their in-house chefs specifically to work in the Tovala oven. I don’t use the recipes as much as I should since I usually use the Tovala as a means of cooking my own simple dishes, reheating foods, and toasting bread. However, the recipes I have used on the Tovala app have been good.
One of my favorite features is the app's integration with my iPhone’s Health app. This allows me to log nutrition information from each meal pretty seamlessly. For anyone who is trying to track their meals, this could be a game-changer.
Tovala’s Scan-To-Cook Feature
Tovala’s scan-to-cook feature is a unique and innovative addition that I haven't seen in any other smart ovens. This feature allows you to effortlessly scan the barcode of certain grocery items and the Tovala oven will automatically input the right cooking mode and time, allowing you to easily cook your meal without any guesswork.
One way I've been using the scan-to-cook feature is to make quick and easy lunches with frozen foods from Trader Joe's. It's as simple as scanning the barcode on the packaging, and the Tovala oven automatically inputs the right cooking mode and time.
The best part is, because it integrates automatically with my iPhone app, I can go back to work and easily check my phone to see when my food will be ready as well as receive a notification when it's done.
Before using the scan-to-cook feature on my Tovala, I used to mainly avoid frozen foods altogether. I found it frustrating and time-consuming during a busy workday to keep an eye on the oven temperature and make sure that I didn't overcook anything.
Microwavable frozen foods weren't any better since I had to constantly mix them up and reheat them multiple times to ensure the core wasn’t still cold.
Tovala’s scan-to-cook function is great for those busy days when I don't have a lot of time to spare. I can simply scan the barcode, pop the frozen meal in the oven, and go about my day.
Currently, the scan-to-cook feature works with over 1,000 different grocery items. This includes items from familiar brands such as Kashi, DiGiorno, Pop-Tarts, Totino's, Pillsbury, Eggo, Amy's, and Trader Joe’s.
That said, I have noticed that the scan-to-cook feature does not always work as accurately as I would like it to. There have been times where the food is not cooked thoroughly, and I end up having to put it back in the oven for a few more minutes. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it is frustrating.
What’s more, some grocery items may not have barcodes that the Tovala oven recognizes, which means you will have to input the cooking mode and time manually. For example, sometimes the barcode on certain items is too scuffed or damaged for the Tovala to read it.
Tovala’s Meal Delivery Service
One of my favorite things about Tovala's meal delivery service is the sheer convenience of it all. As someone who works long hours and often finds it challenging to make healthy meal choices, having pre-prepared meals delivered right to my doorstep is huge.
Preparing the meal is a breeze. I take out the ingredients and follow the simple instructions on the recipe card. The best part is that I don't have to worry about any of the guesswork that comes with cooking, like setting the right temperature or cooking time. All I have to do is scan the QR code on the box, and the oven does the rest.
As I wait for my meal to cook, I usually take the time to catch up on some work or relax. I love the fact that I can do other things while my meal is cooking, and the Tovala app sends me a notification when it's ready.
Although the Tovala may be small in size, it's actually capable of fitting up to 4 meals in it at once, which is a pleasant surprise for those who need to cook for multiple people. This feature is particularly useful for small families.
Tovala's menu is a foodie's dream come true. With over 30 menu items to choose from every week, there's a wide variety of nutritionally balanced, delicious options available for most dietary preferences. What I love about the Tovala menu is that they don't compromise on taste, even when it comes to their calorie-smart and carb-conscious options.
I appreciate the flexibility of the Tovala meal delivery service, as well. The plans range from 4 to 12 meals per week, so I can easily adjust the amount of meals to fit my schedule and budget. Plus, with the option to skip a week or pause my meal plan, I don't have to worry about being tied to a subscription that doesn't work for me.
While I’ve found Tovala's meal delivery service to be convenient and tasty, there are some limitations and downsides to be aware of.
Firstly, the selection of meals is not as extensive as other meal delivery services that I’ve tried like HelloFresh or Home Chef. Compared to other meal delivery services, Tovala's menu selection is somewhat limited, with around 30 menu items offered each week. In contrast, many other meal kits on the market offer well over 40 meals to choose from, along with options to add on additional foods from their marketplace. This means that if you're a picky eater or have very specific dietary restrictions, you may find yourself limited in your options.
Additionally, the meals are not always as customizable as I would like them to be. While you can add dessert or double servings to some meals, there is not as much room for customization as other meal delivery services may offer. For example, with HelloFresh I can swap out certain ingredients on many meals.
However, the biggest downside in my opinion is that the meals can sometimes be small. For example, I remember ordering a salmon dish that looked appetizing on the menu, but upon making the meal, I was a bit disappointed by the portion size. The salmon fillet was on the smaller side, and the side of vegetables that came with it was also fairly modest.
While I appreciated the balanced approach to portion sizes, as someone who enjoys a hearty meal, I found myself feeling less than fully satisfied after finishing the dish. This has been a consistent issue with some of the meals I have received from Tovala's meal delivery service.
That being said, I have found that this issue can be easily remedied by adding some extra vegetables or a side salad to the meal. Although, I have conflicting thoughts about this as I believe that if you're paying for a complete meal, it should not require additional spending to make it filling.
Food Box HQ Note: Tovala labels some of their meals “gluten friendly.” While this may seem like a gluten-free meal, it’s not. “Gluten friendly” simply means that the meal is a low-gluten product.
My Favorite Tovala Meals
After using Tovala's meal delivery service for several months, I've had the opportunity to try a variety of dishes. While some were just okay, there were a few that really stood out to me.
Here are my top picks…
- Filet Mignon Brown Rice Bowl with Roasted Peppers & Coconut Mint Chutney: I was pleasantly surprised by how tender and flavorful the filet mignon was in this meal. The rice was cooked perfectly and had a nice light and fluffy texture that paired well with the sweetness of the roasted peppers. The coconut mint chutney added a unique and refreshing touch to the dish as well.
- Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Breast with Roasted Mushrooms, Israeli Couscous & Pesto Vinaigrette: The chicken was crispy and juicy with a delicious Parmesan crust. But the real star of this meal was the Israeli couscous with roasted mushrooms and pesto vinaigrette. The flavors worked really well together and the dish was filling without being too heavy.
- Truffle Mushroom Flatbread with Crunchy Veggie Salad in Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette: This was a fun and unique meal that felt like a fancy pizza night. The flatbread had a crispy crust and was topped with creamy mushrooms and melted cheese. The fig balsamic vinaigrette was a nice surprise on the side salad that came with it.
- Garlic Herb Steak with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Four Cheese Risotto: The steak was cooked perfectly and had delicious flavor from the garlic and herbs. The risotto was creamy and rich with a nice blend of cheeses. The roasted cherry tomatoes added a touch of sweetness and acidity that balanced out the richness of the dish.
- Maple Bourbon BBQ Chicken Breast with Broccoli & Buttermilk Ranch: The chicken was juicy and had a great smoky flavor from the BBQ sauce. The roasted broccoli was cooked perfectly and the buttermilk ranch added a nice tanginess to it. The corn nut crumble on top added a unique crunch to the dish.
- Chipotle Ground Beef Flautas with Cotija, Mild Salsa, Hot Sauce & Guacamole: These baked flautas had a crispy texture and were filled with seasoned ground beef and melted cheese. The toppings added a nice kick of flavor and spice. This meal was a fun twist on traditional Mexican food.
Shipping & Packaging
The process of receiving the Tovala oven was smooth and hassle-free. Shipping is handled by FedEx and it took about a week for the oven to arrive at my doorstep. Interestingly, the Tovala oven is also available on Amazon Prime, which means Prime members may enjoy faster delivery times. When ordering directly from Tovala's website, I was pleased to find that there were no shipping fees.
The Tovala oven was shipped in a large cardboard box with paper insulation to protect it during transit. It’s a little cumbersome to pick up but they did include handles on the side to make it easier.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Tovala opted not to use Styrofoam as a packing material, which is commonly used by other kitchen appliance companies to ship things. The use of paper insulation instead of Styrofoam is not only eco-friendly, but it also made it easier for me to dispose of the packaging.
Some items within the box, such as the oven and internal components, were packaged in plastic, which is to be expected. Overall, the packaging was well thought out and made for a stress-free unboxing experience.
In terms of the Tovala meal delivery service, I found that the meals were shipped quickly and efficiently via Fedex. From the moment I received the shipping notification, it took only 48 hours for the box to arrive at my doorstep. As someone who values fast shipping when it comes to food, I was pleased that my meals arrived promptly and didn't have to sit in a box for too long.
Inside the box, the meals were insulated with a cotton material with cold packs on the top and bottom of the meals. Opening and feeling the meal boxes, as I do with every meal delivery service I get, they’ve always kept cold while in transit.
Each meal is packaged in one or two aluminum trays that are sealed with a plastic film. This film ensures that the food stays fresh and doesn't leak during transportation. There is also a piece of standard cardboard placed between the two trays, in the case of a meal with two trays, to prevent the bottom tray's film from opening.
In addition to the meal trays, each box also contains a white collapsible cardboard garnish tray with plastic garnish cups inside. The number of garnish cups varies depending on the meal. This tray keeps the meal and its accompanying garnishes organized and easy to assemble once it's ready to be cooked.
While minimalistic, I appreciate the attention to detail in the packaging of the meals. The sturdy aluminum trays keep the food secure and the plastic film ensures that the food remains fresh until it's time to cook. I also appreciate that there is minimal plastic involved in packaging these meals. Many other meal delivery services I’ve used—from meal kits like Marley Spoon to pre-made meal delivery services like Factor Meals—all use a lot of plastic to wrap their food or use as meal trays.
Tovala’s Customer Service
Tovala offers a few different ways to get in touch with their support team, whether you prefer to send an email, call their hotline, or fill out a form on their website. Here are the main ways you can contact Tovala support:
- Phone: (312) 818-4437
- Email: email@example.com
- Online Form
I had a pleasant experience with their customer support the one time I had to contact them when I had trouble connecting my first generation oven to Wi-Fi. I tried several times and just couldn't seem to get it to work. Frustrated, I decided to reach out to their customer support team. They patiently walked me through the process step-by-step and even stayed on the phone with me until everything was fully connected and working properly. My issue was that I was trying to connect to my 5GHz WiFi network and Tovala only works with 2.4GHz WiFi so I had to set-up that network on my router.
Not only is their customer support team responsive and helpful at resolving issues, but Tovala also offers a wealth of resources on their website. From user manuals to troubleshooting guides, their support center is a comprehensive tool that can help solve almost any issue you may encounter.
Tovala vs. Other Similar Smart Ovens
While Tovala is certainly a top contender in the smart oven market, it is not the only one available. If you're considering a smart oven and want to make sure you're choosing the best option for your needs, it's important to do your research. To help you make an informed decision, let's compare Tovala to its three closest competitors.
Tovala vs. Suvie
When it comes to smart ovens for home cooking, one of Tovala's main competitors is Suvie. Both companies smart ovens that can cook meals quickly and easily, along with optional meal delivery services, but there are some key differences between the two.
One major difference is the size of the ovens. Tovala looks much more like a microwave in that it is longer horizontally. Suvie, on the other hand, is a bit taller. This is because it is designed to have 2 trays slide into it on the top and bottom of the oven.
The preparation process for Suvie meals is unique, with the ingredients coming in special packaging that instructs the Suvie oven on how to cook each ingredient. Like the Tovala oven, all you have to do is scan to cook these meals.
While Suvie doesn’t have steam cooking functionality like Tovala, it does have a pretty unique feature called “cool-to-cook.” This feature allows you to add your meal to Suvie and tell it when you’d like to cook it. The Suvie oven will actually keep it cold until it needs to be cooked, when it will turn on the oven and cook it automatically. This means you can have dinner cooked and ready for you right when you walk in the door without having to do a thing, which is pretty impressive.
Tovala vs. June
The June oven may look similar to the Tovala, but there are some major differences to be aware of. For one, June does not offer an optional meal delivery service like Tovala and Suvie do. However, where June really stands out compared to Tovala is with its wide range of cooking modes.
Here are all of the modes June offers…
- Convection Oven
- Air Fryer
- Slow Cooker
- Pizza Oven
- Warming Drawer
Comparing that to Tovala’s cooking modes, it’s obvious to see that June offers much more versatility. However, the one mode that Tovala’s Smart Oven Pro has that June does not is steam cooking.
Tovala vs. Brava
The Brava smart oven is the most unique competitor to Tovala. First off, it does not look like Tovala at all. There is no front glass pane to see inside the oven. Instead Brava has a camera on the inside that shows you on their app how the food is cooking.
Second, and most impressively, the Brava oven cooks food using a combination of visible and infrared light. It features unique lamps that can deliver 900˚ of searing power in seconds and turn off just as fast (with minimal residual heat).
With coordinated pulses of light, Brava can cook hotter, faster, and with more precision than the Tovala. The lamps focus their energy directly into the food like a spotlight, without bleeding into the next zone or the chamber walls.
While both the Brava and Tovala offer popular modes like toast, reheat, and bake, the Brava offers a few more unique modes like sear, air fry, and dehydrate. Tovala’s Smart Oven Pro has steam cooking functionality that Brava does not.
One of the best things about Tovala ovens is their price—they’re much cheaper than most of the other smart ovens on the market. In fact, Tovala’s price it’s one of the main reasons I have all 3 Tovala ovens!
As of writing this, the Smart Oven is priced at $249 and the Smart Oven Pro is priced at $299. However, Tovala is constantly running promotions whereby they discount the Tovala if you also subscribe to their meal delivery service for 6 or more weeks. I highly encourage anyone looking to get the Tovala to take advantage of that offer. I don’t know how they run it without losing money.
To give you an example of how steep of a discount they offer with some promotions, right now the discounted price of the Smart Oven is $99 and the discounted price of the Smart Oven Pro is $149.
Tovala's meal delivery service takes a different approach to pricing than other meal delivery services. Rather than a flat fee pricing based on the number of meals you want each week, Tovala charges varying prices based on the meal you order. They offer plans for 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 meals per week, and the price of each meal varies depending on the dish. Prices typically range from $9.99 to around $16 per meal. Meals with bigger portions or higher quality meats may be slightly more expensive.
Tovala’s Cost vs. Other Similar Smart Ovens
When it comes to pricing, Tovala is one of the more affordable options among smart ovens. Let’s take a look at how Tovala compares to some of its competitors:
- Suvie is currently priced at $800.
- June offers 3 different ovens. The June Oven is currently priced at $899, the June Oven Plus is currently priced at $999, and the June Oven Premium is currently priced at $1,299.
- Brava is currently priced at $1,295.
It's worth noting that even the most expensive Tovala (Smart Oven Pro) is still significantly cheaper than the cheapest competitor oven (Suvie).
Where To Buy Tovala
If you're looking to buy a Tovala oven, it's worth checking all of these platforms to see if any promotions or deals are available. However, you’ll want to be cautious when purchasing from third-party sellers on eBay, as there is a higher risk of purchasing a used or defective unit.
When purchasing directly from Tovala's website, you can also sign up for their email newsletter to receive exclusive deals and promotions. Keep an eye out for holiday sales or limited-time offers, as these can often provide significant savings on the cost of a Tovala oven. I remember seeing that on this past Black Friday they discounted the Smart Oven to $49!
No matter where you choose to purchase your Tovala oven, be sure to compare prices and check for any available discounts or promotions to ensure that you're getting the best possible deal.
Tovala Coupons & Promotional Codes
In addition to running regular promotions, Tovala also offers coupons and promo codes for additional discounts. Here are the best offers currently available:
- Coupon code “EFFORTLESS” will get you 50% off your purchase.
- Coupon code “MSA99” will get you $200 off your purchase.
- Coupon code “SMART150” will get you $150 off your purchase.
To make sure our readers get the most out of their shopping experience, I strive to provide multiple coupon codes in my reviews. However, if you happen to find a better deal or a code that is no longer valid, please don't hesitate to leave a comment and let us know.
Pros & Cons Of Tovala
Having used the Tovala oven and meal delivery service for a while now, I’ve compiled a list of pros and cons to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you. While the Tovala oven has unique features that set it apart from other smart ovens on the market, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. Here’s what I’ve found…
Pros Of Tovala
- Tovala's meal delivery service is very convenient, much more so than most other meal delivery services that I’ve tried. They offer prepped ingredients and varied menu options, making mealtime easier for busy individuals or families.
- The steam cooking function on the Tovala Smart Oven Pro cooks food very well and locks in moisture so foods that traditionally dry out when slightly overcooked (like pork) retain moisture and flavor.
- Tovala's smart technology with Wi-Fi connectivity adds to the overall convenience.
- The multiple cooking modes of the Tovala oven offer versatility when it comes to cooking. Being able to do more than just the standard bake and broil on my current traditional oven definitely takes cooking to another level.
- Being able to use my traditional oven in conjunction with my Tovala when I have people over is very helpful in getting food on the table without feeling rushed.
- Tovala is cost-effective compared to some other smart ovens on the market, making it a more accessible option for those interested in investing in a smart oven.
- The compact design of the Tovala oven makes for easy storage and use in smaller kitchens like mine, making it a great option for those with limited counter space.
Cons Of Tovala
- One of the biggest drawbacks of the Tovala oven is the cost of purchasing it. While it is cheap compared to some other smart ovens on the market, the price tag may still be too high for some individuals. This can make it difficult for those on a tight budget to justify the purchase, especially if they already have an oven at home.
- While the meal delivery service can be convenient, the cost per meal is almost always higher than cooking from scratch. This can add up over time, making it difficult for some to justify the expense.
- The portion sizes of some meals are smaller than I would like. This can be a drawback for individuals with larger appetites or those who are used to bigger portion sizes.
- While the barcode scanning feature is a unique and convenient aspect of the Tovala oven, it may not always work as expected. I’ve run into a few instances where it was way off and undercooked a frozen meal.
- This one may be small but I wish that Tovala would update the firmware to lower the minimum temperature of the oven to 160 or 180 degrees Fahrenheit which would be helpful for warming and defrosting foods. The current minimum of 225 degrees Fahrenheit is too high for these purposes.
Is It Worth Getting A Tovala If You Already Have A Stove, Oven, & Microwave? (My Honest Thoughts)
Early on I debated whether or not I wanted to get a Tovala. I already had a traditional oven, a microwave, and a stovetop. Did I really need another kitchen appliance taking up space on my countertop?
What caught my attention in the first place was the steam oven functionality of the first generation Tovala. As someone who enjoys cooking, the thought of having a steam oven that could cook restaurant-quality meals at home was very appealing.
After spending a lot of time researching steam ovens, how they cook, the benefits of cooking with one, I decided to take the plunge and get the Tovala. Like I mentioned above, the Tovala oven discount with a meal delivery service is a good deal (even if you end up canceling the meal delivery service subscription).
Now that I’ve had my Tovala ovens for years, I can say that it has been a worthwhile investment for me. The meal delivery service has significantly simplified mealtime, bridging the gap between the often time-consuming meal kit preparation and cooking processes, while also offering the homemade feel that is sometimes lacking in pre-made meal delivery services.
Though, just because the Tovala has been a worthwhile investment for me doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.
Firstly, the cost of the oven itself may be too high for some individuals. While the price point is significantly lower than some of its competitors, it is still an investment that some may not be able to make at the moment. It's important to consider your budget and make sure you can comfortably afford the oven before making the purchase.
Another factor to consider is whether or not you enjoy cooking and meal prep. While the meal delivery service offered by Tovala can make mealtime a lot easier, it may not be as appealing to those who love to cook and create meals from scratch. If you prefer to have control over the ingredients and the way your food is prepared, the Tovala meal delivery service may not be for you.
Finally, it's worth noting that the Tovala oven's size may not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with very small kitchens or very limited counter space. When I first got my Tovala, I lived in an apartment with barely any counter space, and it was challenging to find a spot to place it. So, it's essential to consider your kitchen's layout and available space before investing in the Tovala oven.
After considering all of the factors discussed in this review, here is my final rating of Tovala’s smart ovens and meal delivery service…
- Design and Build Quality (4.7/5): Tovala's latest smart ovens have a skeek, compact design compared to their previous generations. I am especially fond of the new Smart Oven's matte grey finish. What I appreciate the most about this new design is the modularity of its interior pieces. It allows for the replacement of trays with air fryer racks, roasting pans, and other components, making it very versatile. Plus, the inclusion of a crumb tray makes cleaning up after cooking much easier.
- Cooking Performance (4/5): Although the Tovala oven has some impressive cooking capabilities, it may not always deliver perfect results. While the steam mode stands out for its ability to cook food without drying it out, I have encountered a few instances where the air fry and scan-to-cook features produced undercooked food, requiring additional cooking time.
- Taste (4.6/5): Tovala's meal delivery service has exceeded my expectations with their surprisingly delicious meals. It's evident that the company places a lot of time and effort into creating their crafting these recipes.
- Quality (5/5): The build quality of the Tovala oven is impressive. As a long-time user of all three generations of the oven, I can attest to its durability and reliability. I have never experienced any issues with the oven breaking down or malfunctioning. Similarly, the meals from Tovala's delivery service are of high quality, and I've never had any spoiled or missing ingredients.
- Ease Of Use (4.4/5): The Tovala oven is designed with simplicity in mind. I appreciate the convenience of being able to scan the barcode on food packages and then effortlessly cook them by pressing a button. While using the app, I have only encountered a few instances where I was unsure if the oven was preheating or already ready for use. Nonetheless, it's easy to navigate, and the learning curve is minimal.
- Delivery & Packaging (5/5): The delivery of both my ovens and Tovala meals have been on time and undamaged. Both the oven and meals were packed very well. They were secure but used minimal packaging (much of which is recyclable) and minimal plastic.
- Value (4.7/5): In my opinion, Tovala offers great value for the price. When compared to similar smart ovens on the market, it is relatively affordable, especially considering its convenience and time-saving capabilities. Additionally, Tovala's meal delivery service offers a diverse selection of meals and cuisines, with prices that are competitive with other meal delivery services I have tried.
Tallying up the results, my final rating for Tovala is 4.6 out of 5.
Final Thoughts: Who Is Tovala Right For?
After using the Tovala oven and meal delivery service for some time now, I have come to the conclusion that it is a great option for some, including myself, but not for everyone.
First, let's talk about who Tovala is right for.
If you are someone who is short on time but still wants to eat delicious, quick meals then Tovala and its meal delivery service is definitely worth considering. Their meal delivery service offers a variety of fresh, prepped ingredients and the option to scan barcodes for easy and automatic cooking. The steam cooking function is also a plus for those who are health-conscious, as it helps to cook meals without added butter and oils but still keeps them from drying out.
Additionally, if you're someone who doesn't enjoy cooking or meal prep, Tovala's meal delivery service can make mealtime a lot easier and more convenient. You don't have to worry about grocery shopping, prepping ingredients, or spending time cooking—it's all done for you.
However, there are some downsides to Tovala that may not make it the best fit for everyone.
The initial cost of purchasing the oven can be expensive for some, and the meal delivery service can be costly as well. The portion sizes may also be small for some individuals, especially if they have a larger appetite. Furthermore, the scan-to-cook feature may not always work as expected, resulting in incorrect cooking times or temperatures.
As for me, I have found Tovala to be a worthwhile investment, especially given its cost-effectiveness compared to some other smart ovens on the market. The meal delivery service has also made mealtime a lot easier for me, and I've been impressed with the variety and quality of the meals. However, it's important to weigh the pros and cons and consider whether Tovala is the right fit for your needs and lifestyle.
Do you have a question about Tovala? Let me know in the comments!
Our Past Tovala YouTube Reviews:
- Tovala Review (Smart Oven Pro): Is This The Easiest Way To Get A Home Cooked Meal? (Jun 3, 2022)
- Tovala Review: Is This The Best Smart Oven + Meal Delivery Service? (March 10, 2021)
- Tovala Review Update (Gen 2): The Future Of Cooking Made Easier? (June 23, 2019)
- Tovala Review: Is This The Future Of Cooking? (June 28, 2018)
- Graham Elliot x Tovala Meals — Worth It? (December 16, 2019)