What Is A Halogen Oven – Why Are They So Popular?
In answer to the question what is a halogen oven, visually anyway, they look rather like unearthly giant glass mixing bowls, or maybe a new chic aquarium.
Fortunately looks can be deceptive, because in answer to the second question – are halogen cookers any good – yes they sure are and in fact are great little kitchen assistants, who never answer back!
With a UFO saucer shaped lid that plugs into the wall, these magical ovens can cook a two course dinner for four with all the trimmings, in two thirds of the time a conventional oven does.
Welcome To The World Of Halogen Ovens!
Countertop halogen ovens truly epitomize the sort of trendy and efficient appliances that start out life being sold mainly on the shopping channels, and being given away or offered at half price for buying another product.
But do you know, I think the few of us that have had them for a while must have spread the word, because they have really taken off. Of course lots of appliances get launched, yet don’t stay the course or become a big hit – so the big question is why have these?
Well, halogen ovens are highly versatile ovens and do have several inbuilt advantages that might not be initially apparent.
- Can cook everything in one pot
- Cooks much faster using halogen heating parts and bulbs – halogen technology relies on using the halogen heating elements to convert your electricity into an intense source of heat.
- Inbuilt high powered fan circulates the intense heat for faster cooking
- Comparatively small area to heat so faster and cheaper to cook with
- Food is very visible – you can see it throughout cooking
- You can take the bowl to the table and serve directly out of it
- Fat free cooking – you don’t add fat to anything!
- Simply the best for reheating any pie or pastry
- Food Cooks Beautifully
I cook pretty much everything in my Secura Halogen Oven and we really truly don’t use the main oven at all and haven’t since ‘Hal’ as I call mine, arrived. There were a few overcooking incidents until the purchase of a halogen oven cookbook, which my husband kindly bought as a gift….
One area this oven scores over everything else I’ve ever used, is in reheating food and especially pastries. The results are superbly crispy without dryness and heated up very fast.
If you’re in a real hurry and food is from the refrigerator, microwave first to warm, then oven cook for 10 minutes or so – no more soggy pastry or fruit crunch toppings with no crispy-ness!
The garlic and herb bread we love (see above) is awesome done in Hal – as is any toast – I know we’d get another just for this alone. Roasted meat and poultry is done to perfection, though in truth I’m more inclined to use the rotisserie oven for bigger joints of beef or lamb.
Halogen Oven Capacity (aka. How Much Can You Cram In It!)
Though compact in anyone’s perception, they vary in size as you would imagine, and are usually sold size wise in quarts of capacity.
As you can see from the photo at the top, there’s room for a largish chicken and potatoes or veg around it, plus another shelf on top for the rest. In fact the shelf allows for a lot of flexibility in cooking.
In a twelve quart oven you can fit a 5-6lb chicken plus all the potatoes and other root vegetables, and I’d say cooking time will be about 45-60 minutes – but again these ovens do vary, extension rings are covered below, but they add another 2 quarts of cooking area.
For swinging singles or older couples whose family have flown the nest, a smaller capacity oven would likely be big enough, and as there is now a big variety of them, you’ll find they do have significant differences including the price tag.
Disadvantages (aka Points to Consider)
True, you can put water and detergent in then set on ‘wash’. But you still have to empty the water, clean the bits high up where the water doesn’t reach and then empty the dirty water away – and of course wipe dry.
Personally I’d stick with a wipe around coupled with occasional visits to the dishwasher or sink. All of which leads nicely to the next point.
Whenever they do need a thorough clean, they have to be manhandled (womanhandled in most cases) either to the sink or into the dishwasher. Firstly the glass bowl is designed to withstand extremely high temperatures so it’s quite thick, making the bowl a little heavy to transport around if you are in any way frail. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t need a power lifter to move them either.
How big is your sink?
I reckon a good few people have tried and failed to get their oven into the sink for washing – fine if you do have a dishwasher, a problem if you don’t.
Tip – Never put cold water into the glass bowl right after cooking – they get so hot, cold water can easily cause them to crack.
You also need to consider your dexterity, in that some manipulation of food is required from time to time and tongs work best.
Anyone with arthritic hands or similar conditions may not be comfortable with the idea of hovering over very hot food surrounded by sizzling glass. Though I will say that in two years of using my halogen oven almost every day, I’ve never burned myself yet, not even a tiny one – but I’m middle aged and quite fit. By the way, Ive never forgotten to use big fat oven gloves either!
However, for those of you wanting official guidelines on using halogen ovens, help is thin on the ground. The best resource I’ve located is one from the Hong Kong government – nothing from anyone else – but this halogen oven safety guide is very comprehensive so do go have a read if you’re still worried, and at some point I’ll get round to writing a post with basic halogen oven safety tips.
How the oven opens and what you do with the lid when it’s piping hot was my main worry and the reason I bought a Secura Turbo halogen oven hinged lid model, the Secura Turbo is the only one where the lid flips up rather than comes off.
Others mostly come with a stand to rest the lid on, but unbelievably not all of them, leaving you having to think ahead and provide a safe heatproof space – you can usually buy a lid stand as an accessory which is irritating as it should be provided anyway.
Keep in mind that the lid attaches to the power socket so you can’t take it far without unplugging it first, unless you choose one where the cord unplugs from the lid – a few do.
Having got very familiar with using them, I wouldn’t now necessarily bother with the hinged lid and quite fancy the new and smart looking Nuwave 20322 Pro Digital-Controlled model, but I would insist on a lid-stand. So overall good advice is to opt for one with a stand provided to hold the lid – you can buy them separately – or go for the hinged lid model and remove the problem entirely.
Halogen Oven Accessories
Do check what’s included in the box in terms of accessories. Some halogen ovens double their capacity by the addition of a wide stainless steel band that balances on top of the glass, the heating element then fits over the ring. This includes the Secura-798dh-Infrared-Turbo-Oven of mine – the back arm holding the lid is extendable. If you click the link you’ll find the full review.
An invaluable accessory is the wire trays, mine are up on legs, meaning you can stack food, even in such a small space. So chops or a roast etc can go on the top, with potatoes or vegetables on the bottom rack or base of the glass oven.
Because the high powered fan circulates hot air so efficiently, you don’t need to move food around, though I do if I want things crisped or browned at the end of cooking time. Many of them boast a variety of cooking trays and racks, all of which really do improve the flexibility and cooking capacity. However, unless one is on a special offer, the better accessorized models usually have a higher price too.
And that’s about it in answer to “What is a halogen oven?”, other than to say I wouldn’t part with mine, use it every day and have saved hours in power cost and cooking time. Are halogen ovens any good? Well, you’ve probably figured by now I’m a huge fan, in absolute truth it’s probably the biggest helper and kitchen assistant I’ve got, in fact I’m such a big admirer of these weird looking turbo charged ovens I’ve written a post covering why in mote detail – just hit the link above to find out.