Roasted chicken dinner in less than 30 minutes? That’s the promise of Panasonic’s new Countertop Induction Oven. "Healthy, flavorful dishes; chef-quality results," the manufacturer adds. Consumer Reports purchased one of the first models off the shelf to put the claims to the test.     

A fresh take on new technology. If you’ve shopped for a new cooktop or range recently, you’re probably familiar with induction technology. It’s where an element below a ceramic glass cooking surface creates an electromagnetic field within a pot, pan, or other compatible cooking vessel, inducing a current that causes it to heat up. Our testers give induction high marks for its precision control, whether you’re simmering sauce or power-boiling a pot of water.

But it has been strictly a stovetop technology. Until now. 

The Panasonic Countertop Induction Oven NU-HX100S brings induction’s precision-cooking benefits to baking, roasting, and other oven-based activities. Think of it as an induction element with a steam and infrared oven built around it.

An aluminum grill pan that sits atop the induction plate is the primary cooking surface (plain aluminum cookware won't work with induction, but in this case the pan has a magnetic insert that makes it compatible). The pan is designed to radiate heat from its center out to simultaneously cook foods requiring different heating times, such as poultry or seafood with vegetables. The oven’s double-infrared burner and steam jets provide supplemental heating to thoroughly cook foods that don’t come in direct contact with the pan.

An intuitive touchpad control panel, with six auto settings, operates the oven.

How We Tested

We bought our Panasonic Countertop Induction Oven NU-HX100S through Abt.com for $600. At 19x9x15 inches, the appliance is about as deep and wide as a typical toaster oven, but it’s a bit shorter in height. That limits the size of the dishes you can cook—no whole roast chicken, for example—only parts. 

Though the Panasonic Countertop Induction Oven looks a bit like a toaster oven, it can do a lot more. So although we followed some aspects of our toaster oven testing protocol (toast and frozen pizza, for example), we tested the Panasonic primarily on its own claims, following several recipes from the cookbook that comes with the appliance, along with a handful of standard dishes. 

All together, we prepared eight recipes in the oven, including a family chicken and vegetable dinner, grilled steak, stuffing, and a plain old batch of toast. For most of the recipes, we also cooked another version in a standard or convection oven to see how the timing and tastes compared.

What We Found

Overall, we were very impressed by the Panasonic’s ability to produce well-cooked, flavorful meals more quickly than conventional cooking methods.

Consider the chicken dinner, which calls for four bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, a medley of root vegetables, oil, and seasonings. Not counting prep time, the dish took about 25 minutes, with no preheating time needed. The same dish took 45 minutes in a convection oven and almost 1.5 hours in a standard oven. The chicken was juicy and nicely browned (especially where it came into contact with the oven pan) and the vegetables were tender but not overcooked, with robust flavor profiles.

Our taste buds also got a workout over the grilled rib-eye steaks that came out of the Panasonic after just a few minutes searing on each side. In this case, the pan needed about 10 minutes to reach the necessary high heat, so there weren't any real time savings. But the sear marks from the aluminum grill pan were superb, especially compared with the experience of cooking on some contact grills, which don’t always get hot enough to get a good sear.

You can definitely get solid searing from a traditional grill pan after heating it over high heat on the stovetop for several minutes, but you’ll be left with a grease-splattered stovetop. With the Panasonic oven, the mess is contained in the airtight oven chamber and the aluminum grill pan is dishwasher safe.

Moving on to the side dishes, our sweet potatoes, squash, and turnip dish cooked faster than conventional methods, without any preheating, and the results were particularly delicious, perhaps due to the fine mist of steam that circulates throughout the oven’s interior during cooking. The baked stuffing was also a hit, and we saved time on preheating.

We also cooked frozen pizza, both rising crust and regular varieties, following the instructions on the boxes. The pizzas took as long as indicated on the box, minus any preheating time, and the results were on par with frozen pizzas cooked the conventional way.          

Last but not least—breakfast, including toast and bacon. This was the only phase in our test where the Panasonic proved sluggish. Six slices of bacon took about 20 minutes, compared with 5 minutes in the microwave. The toast took 7.5 minutes, compared with 2.5 minutes in a standard toaster. Both foods tasted good enough, but the Panasonic is not your go-to appliance for getting out the door quickly in the morning.

CR’s Final Take

Panasonic has been an innovator in the small-appliance category—its FlashXpress NB-G110P toaster oven, with unique quartz and ceramic heating elements, is a CR favorite, with a hardcore consumer following. The Panasonic Countertop Induction Oven continues that tradition. It’s like what a microwave would be if it cooked food the way we wanted it to instead of giving us rubbery chicken, soggy pizza, and a tendency to cook large dishes unevenly. 

That’s not to say the Panasonic is for everyone. Cost-conscious consumers will balk at the price. Skilled chefs might take a pass because they can achieve similar results using their cooktop, oven broiler, and other standard cooking equipment. But the oven will appeal to some consumers, including time-pressed parents who need to get weeknight dinners on the table fast, as well as enthusiasts of high-tech kitchen gadgetry. 

Regardless of whether the Panasonic oven takes off, its biggest contribution might be proving that the benefits of induction can extend from the cooktop to the oven. We’d like to see it initiate a wave of other helpful uses for the technology.