Breville, the maker of our favorite toaster oven, recently told us that the company may discontinue our winning model—The Breville Smart Oven—in favor of its newer toaster oven, The Breville Smart Oven Pro. The Pro model is identical in size and shape to the Smart Oven model, but it features a slow-cook option and an interior light that the standard Smart Oven model doesn’t offer. At the time of this testing, both ovens were priced at about $270. We were curious to see how this model stacked up against our favorite toaster oven.
To test the Pro model, we made toast, broiled asparagus, roasted chicken, and baked cookies and compared the results to the same foods made in the regular Smart Oven. We also slow-cooked pork butt for pulled pork in the Pro model and compared it to slow-cooked pork that we made in our favorite multicooker. Finally, we used temperature tracking software to see whether the Pro model could consistently maintain a temperature 350 degrees Fahrenheit over 2 hours, a metric that we’ve learned produces evenly cooked food within recipe times.
The asparagus, chicken, and cookies that we made in the Pro oven were identical to the same foods we cooked in the regular Smart Oven model. When we set it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, the Pro model held an average temperature of 352 degrees—on par with the excellent accuracy we saw in the regular Smart Oven. Like the Smart Oven, the Pro model also comes with dark-colored baking pans that browned food thoroughly and cleaned up easily.
Curiously, making toast was a problem for the Pro. Despite having identical interior dimensions, the same number of heating elements, and the same toast settings as the original Smart Oven, the Pro model turned out consistently underbrowned, uneven toast on every setting. Even on the highest setting, the toast was not dark; instead, it emerged blond in the middle, while another slice from the same loaf toasted in the regular Smart Oven came out evenly browned all over. We carefully watched the five heating elements in each oven as we toasted to make sure that they were cycling on and off at the same time (they were). We also tried a backup copy of the Pro oven, which produced the same results. We were eventually able to produce a browner piece of toast in the Pro, but it was frustrating—it took almost two full cycles on a medium setting (about 8 minutes).
The regular Smart Oven will allow you to set a cooking time for only 2 hours or less, so the Pro model introduced a slow-cooking mode that mimics the long cooking patterns of a slow cooker. However, slow cooking in the Smart Oven Pro is a bit different from using a typical slow cooker or multicooker. There is no dedicated slow-cooking insert. Instead, the food has to be cooked in ovensafe cookware, such as a covered casserole dish or small Dutch oven. For the slow-cooked pork test, we tried using both our winning 3.5-quart Dutch oven by Le Creuset and our Best Buy 3-quart Dutch oven by Cuisinart. Both pots fit in the oven, but only if we removed the knobs from their lids (an extra step, but easy enough without any tools), and both pots were large enough to accommodate the 4-pound pork butt called for in the recipe, which emerged perfectly juicy and tender within the stated recipe time. Our conclusion? If you have limited space and don’t have room for a dedicated slow cooker, the Pro offers a good solution for slow cooking, provided you have a smaller covered pot that will fit in the oven.
So should you buy the regular Smart Oven or the Pro model? If you primarily use your toaster oven to toast bread, the Pro isn’t the model for you. However, if you regularly cook meals in your toaster oven and are interested in slow cooking and don’t have the space for an additional appliance, the Pro is a great option—especially when Amazon price fluctuations occasionally make the Pro less expensive than the Smart Oven. In every test except for making toast, the Pro performed identically to the Smart Oven, and it offered slow-cooking functionality that you can’t get in that model.