Traditional ovens use hot air that is generated by heating elements in the oven walls. A fan distributes the air evenly around the food.
Steam ovens boil water from an inbuilt reservoir to create a cloud of steam within the oven chamber. This moist heating method is the reason why steam cooking offers significant benefits.
How to use a steam oven to cook Barramundi fish with vegetables. YouTube video from an Australian appliance supplier.
Most foods are suitable for steam cooking: meat, fish, vegetables, pasta, potatoes, bread and desserts.
The moist-heat nature of steam ovens means that they are unable to brown the outer skin of meat.
For this reason, many manufacturer's have launched steam combination ovens, which offer both heating methods in one appliance. The food is cooked by steam and browned with dry heat before serving.
This combines the benefit of steam cooking with the crisp, brown skin so characteristic of roast meat.
Many manufacturers now offer steam ovens, including designs that match their traditional ovens and microwaves.
The following are examples of steam ovens from Bosch (the first is steam-only, the second a combination model).