Combination Oven (or combi steamer) is a highly advanced machine which cooks food using steam, convection or a combination of both. These powerful appliances are often among the largest and most expensive pieces of equipment in the professional kitchen, so it’s important to choose the one that best meets your kitchen needs.  Since Commercial Combi Ovens are available as floor models, countertop models, and double-stacked models, knowing the amount of space you have and the cooking chamber capacity you need will help significantly narrow down your potential options. Ovens specify how many and what size pans their chambers can hold. While some smaller combi ovens only hold 5 half-size pans, larger models have room for as many as 40 half-size pans.

This guide explains the main features and terminology seen in combination ovens, as well as some of the considerations you should have in mind before purchase.

 

What Are Combi Ovens Used For?

Combi ovens really are amongst the most versatile machines used by chefs. These powerful machines can roast, poach, steam, grill, bake, shallow fry and even sous vide or smoke food.

Breakfast

is easy in a combi. You can quickly cook large quantities of bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes, all at the same time – mostly with the touch of a single button. Croissants and delicate pastries can be cooked to perfection too. Some advanced combis will provide all the timings, making one less thing to worry about.

Lunch

service is equally simple. Whether you’re baking jacket potatoes, roasting a joint of beef or grilling steaks, a combination oven can produce deliciously tender results, with a much higher yield* in comparison to conventional ovens and ranges. Combination ovens can also be used to hot hold meats for extended periods, meaning you’ve always got the next joint ready for carving.

Dinner 

is covered by a combi too. Delicate fish can be poached or steamed to keep all its flavour and nutrients, whilst vegetables are steamed carefully to keep their crispiness and fresh taste.

 

How Does A Combi Oven Work ?

At its basic level, combination ovens are rather simple. A fan (or multiple fans) are used to distribute dry heat evenly throughout the cabinet – very much the same as a standard convection oven.

If needed, the oven will then inject water or steam into the oven which quickly raises the humidity to the required level. The combination of heat and steam helps to seal in flavours, improve yield and cook faster.

Combi ovens can also remove moisture from food. By venting humidity (releasing steam), food is cooked faster and crisps perfectly – ideal for bacon or pork crackling.

Combi Ovens Vancouver Canada

 

What You Need To Know!

The right combination oven can save you vast amounts of time, energy, space and money. However, buying the wrong one could prove costly, so it’s vital to be in the know before you buy. Here is a brief checklist of the most important considerations.

Size/Space

Combi ovens range in size from compact 2/3rd gastronorm compatible versions which can be built in, all the way up to huge roll-in models which can hold around 40 full size GN pans. Some models can also accommodate full-size bakery trays as well. Although a larger oven means a higher capacity, it also means it might not fit in your kitchen. Check dimensions before purchase

Power Supply

Options available are usually LPG or natural “mains” gas, as well as single or three phase electricity. There’s not a huge difference in performance between electric combi oven and gas combi oven, although three phase versions tend to be more popular than single phase ovens. The decision is usually determined by your existing kitchen power supply. Remember that even gas combi ovens usually also require an electricity connection

Control

Ideally, the easier the better. Control on combi ovens falls broadly under the Manual or Programmable bracket, although even manual ovens have the option to pre-set the various cooking modes. Generally, manual models have buttons and dials, whereas modern programmable ovens have large tablet-style touchscreen panels.Some chefs may prefer the hands-on feel of manual control. However, programmable versions make it much easier for inexperienced cooks to produce good results.

Extraction

Combi ovens can produce a lot of steam and heat, so it’s vital to have sufficient overhead extraction. In most cases, extraction is a legal requirement. Some advanced combination ovens may have the option for built-in extraction at an additional cost.

Water Softener

Almost all combi ovens require a permanent water connection to provide adequate steam during the cooking process. As mains water can contain limescale and other contaminants, a commercial water softener is usually recommended simply to prevent build-up inside the machine.

 

Which Combi Oven Is Best?

On the outside many combi ovens look very similar, so it’s hard to tell on first glance which one would be most suitable. However, the best combi is the one which meets all the demands of your kitchen. Whilst the latest models feature some of the most advanced technology in the kitchen, you may not need all that functionality. Likewise, if you have many kitchens spread across the country, the additional investment may pay for itself quickly in terms of staff training and oven output. Whether you invest or not, it’s important to know what you’re buying, so here are some other features and accessories you should consider before purchase.

Cleaning

Most modern combination ovens have a self-cleaning cycle which leaves the unit sparkling clean after use. However, each manufacturer has developed their own methods of cleaning, alongside different types of cleaning chemicals. For example, Rational  use detergent tabs, which look quite similar to household dishwasher versions (although commercial tabs are far more powerful). Others commonly use pre-mixed chemical, which is added to a container attached to the oven. When handling any combi oven cleaning chemical, it’s strongly recommended to wear suitable PPE.

Temperature Probe

Almost all combis have either a detachable or fixed temperature probe. When inserted into food, the probe provides constant feedback on the cooking progress, so some ovens will adjust temperatures and cooking times according to the results. This means you can start the cook and let the oven do the rest. Probes can also record temperatures for HACCP compliance. Note that temperature probes have “points”. This refers to the number of parts of the probe that temperature is recorded. Generally, the more points, the more accurately the oven can cook as more of the food is monitored. Some premium ovens will allow multiple probes to be used simultaneously.

Hand Shower

A hand shower brings much-needed convenience. Usually simply just clipped to the side of the oven, the shower is designed to help quickly fill pots and rinse food debris away from the oven floor to make cleaning easier. Note that it’s not supposed to be used for cleaning the hot interior panels of the oven – the cleaning routine will almost always leave the oven absolutely spotless.

Stand

Although the largest combi ovens are freestanding, some of the smaller versions will require a base. This can either be a dedicated stand with shelves or a Love Fridge depending on your requirements. Either way, if the fridge or stand has castors, the oven can be positioned for easy cleaning.

Connectivity

Modern combi ovens give you the option of saving your cooking routines and HACCP data onto a USB stick or even to the cloud via Wi-Fi. This is particularly useful in multi-site chains, as you can ensure new menu items are all cooked the same, even across potentially hundreds of different buildings.

 

Things to Consider:

Price

Electric models are typically less expensive than gas fueled Combi ovens.

Efficiency

Gas models offer a faster rate at which it can reach a desired temperature because the energy transfer is direct and therefore increases the temperature instantly.

Cost of Utility

When choosing the right utility for your new Combi oven you should also consider the prices of utility for each around your location.

Availability

The level of availability for both gas and electric.

 

Common Commercial Combi Oven

Alto-Shaam Combi Oven

Alto Shaam

  • Core temperature probe using 6 measuring points with automatic error correction. Positioning
    aid for core temperature probe included
  • Climate management – humidity measured, set and regulated to one percent accuracy.
  • Individual Programming of at least 1200 cooking programs with up to 12 steps.
  • Humidification variable in 3 stages from 86°F–500°F (30°C–260°C) in hot air or combination
  • USB Interface.
  • 5 fan air speeds, programmable.
  • Integral, maintenance-free grease extraction system with no additional grease filter.
  • Operation without a water softener and without additional descaling.
  • Separate solenoid valves for normal and soft water.
  • Cool-down function for fast cabinet fan cooling
  • Removable, swivelling grid shelves (distance between rails 2 5/8″ / 68 mm).
  • Hand shower with automatic retracting system.
  • 5 programmable proofing stages.

Blodgett Combi Oven

Blodgett

  • External core temperature probe with multiple measuring points.
  • User-friendly location reduces strain on the probe.
  • 31-1/2” tall stainless steel stand with runners & adjustable feet.
  • Bright halogen lights for superior visibility.
  • Built in hand shower.
  • Removable cleaning chemical bottle shelf.
  • 3 wire shelves.
  • Backflow preventer.
  • Start-up inspection service by factory authorized service agent.

Lainox Combi Oven

Lainox

  • ICS (Interactive Cooking System), an automatic cooking system for Italian, French, International, Spanish, Russian, Asian and German recipes including their history, ingredients, procedure, automatic cooking program and plate presentation.
  • Manual cooking with three cooking modes: Convection from 86°F to 572°F, steam from 86°F to 266°F, combination convection + steam from 86°F to 572°F.
  • Programmable modes – Possibility to program and save cooking methods in an automatic sequence (up to 15 cycles) giving each program its own name, picture and information on the recipe.
  • Automatic cleaning system SCS, Solid Clean System (equipped with 2 cans of Solid Clean – 2.20 Lbs. each).
  • Calout descaling system (equipped with 1 can of anti-scale product solid Cal – 2.20 Lbs. each).
  • Wi-Fi connection.
  • Multipoint core probe – Ø 0.12”.
  • Built-in and retractable hand shower with tap.
  • 2 stainless steel grids 12×20”.

Rational Combi Oven

Rational

  • Core temperature probe using 6 measuring points with automatic error correction. Positioning aid for core temperature probe included.
  • Climate management – humidity measured, set and regulated to one percent accuracy. Actual humidity in the cooking cabinet can be set and read on the control panel in Combi-Steamer modes.
  • Individual Programming of at least 1200 cooking programs with up to 12 steps.
  • Humidification variable in 3 stages from 86°F–500°F (30°C–260°C) in hot air or combination.
  • USB Interface.
  • High-performance, fresh-steam generator with automatic descaling.
  • 5 fan air speeds, programmable.
  • Integral, maintenance-free grease extraction system with no additional grease filter.
  • Operation without a water softener and without additional descaling.
  • Separate solenoid valves for normal and soft water.
  • Cool-down function for fast cabinet fan cooling.
  • Automatic adaptation to the installation location (height, climate, etc.).
  • Unit door with rear-ventilated double-glass panel and hinged inner panel.
  • Removable, swivelling grid shelves (distance between rails 2 5/8″ / 68 mm).
  • Material inside and out 304 (DIN 1.4301) stainless steel.
  • Hand shower with automatic retracting system.
  • Splash and hose-proof to IPX 5.
  • Demand-related energy supply.
  • Lengthwise loading for 12”x20” or 1/1, 1/2, 2/3, 1/3, 2/8 GN accessories.
  • 5 programmable proofing stages.
  • Automatic, pre-selected starting time with adjustable date and time.