Combi ovens are multi-function pieces of foodservice equipment. Here's a brief overview what foodservice operators and their supply chain partners need to know when purchasing or replacing a combi oven.

As their name implies, combi ovens combine various technologies to cook food. Combis can act as a convection oven, convection oven with moisture, steamer, low-temperature steamer/sous vide cooker, combination oven using heat and steam and as a re-thermalizer. Some of the newer applications include frying without oil (or bake frying), proofing dough, serving as a cook and hold oven and cooking with a temperature probe. Combi ovens can run on either gas or electricity.Unlike convection ovens, these units can introduce moisture, which not only balances humidity in the cooking cavity, but also increases product yield.

Capacity for a combi oven ranges from six half-sheet pans to 40 full-size team pans. Combi ovens can actually save kitchen space by combining the functions of two (or more) pieces of equipment into one. These units also can be double stacked, providing more production capacity in a smaller footprint.

Combi ovens help maintain the flavor and nutrients of foods, while hot air speeds up the cooking process. These units also can replace holding units, proofers or slow cookers when used at low-heat settings.

While combi ovens are complex pieces of equipment, their user interfaces are becoming more icon driven to facilitate greater ease of use. In addition, many units allow operators to pre-program recipes, making the units easier for staff to use and allowing for greater consistency when cooking food.

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