For the past couple of years, combination ovens have really taken the appliance world by storm. Whereas once the humble toaster oven reigned supreme as the kitchen’s main multi-tasker, now there are a wealth of small appliances capable of doing multiple tasks in just one unit, from steaming to toasting to baking.
Type of oven: Countertop combination oven
Capacity: 28.3 liters
Dimensions: 17 13/16" x 18 7/8" x 14"
Weight: 35.28 pounds
Number of settings: 40 presets, and unit can operate as a convection oven, steam oven, air fryer, food dehydrator, bread proofer, grill, toaster, and rice cooker
Energy Star Certified: No
Construction material: Food grade stainless steel
Warranty: Yes, 1 year limited
The Fotile 4-in-1 Chef Cubii Countertop Steam Oven is one such entrant into the best oven marketplace, offering not just the more common air frying and convection oven capabilities, but also the ability to steam food, proof bread, and (allegedly) dehydrate everything from grapes to mushrooms.
Though it’s sleek and well-built, it’s, unfortunately, a bit hard to operate, with two fussy, unlabeled knobs controlling a hidden screen full of way too many options and presets. Speaking of those presets: The machine offers 40, which run the hyper-specific gamut from roasting a chicken to dehydrating farfalle to baking a chiffon cake. Unfortunately, while all those presets sound great, we found them to be unreliable, confusing, and only really capable of producing mixed results. Overall, we found the 4-in-1 oven to be impressive in theory, but lacking in execution when it really counted.
Fotile Chef Cubii: Design
Sleek, white, and modern, the Fotile 4-in-1 cuts an imposing figure on a countertop. With an oven-style hinged front door, the Chef Cubii is easy to load and access. The entire oven is controlled by two knobs on the machine’s front, which flank a typically hidden LED screen. Press and hold the left knob to access the screen, which you can then use to toggle through all the settings. Unfortunately, though, it’s hard to remember which of the two knobs you use to actually do the scrolling, and we found ourselves having to start the process over more than once. The knobs also act as selection buttons, and feel sturdy and well-made.
It’s worth noting that the oven’s temperature controls can be a bit tricky to nail down, since the machine is calibrated to celsius settings. Hence, the temps the unit offers for air frying, for instance, start at 356℉ and run up to 446℉, which can seem a little confusing to an American audience used to doing everything in 25 degree increments—or even five degree increments. A turn of the dial on this oven actually jumps temps by nine degrees every click, which can just feel a little odd.
There are a couple of good things about the oven’s appearance, though: Inside the oven’s door, there are pre-set codes that you can use on the oven, meaning you won’t have to worry about losing the manual. Also, the oven comes with a “humidity-controlled chip” attachment for dehydrating that could prove easy to lose, but luckily it’s magnetized, meaning you can just stick it to the side of the oven.
Fotile Chef Cubii: Features
The Fotile 4-in-1 is awash in a comical wealth of features, including 40 presets and the capacity to cook in a number of different ways, including steaming, air frying, roasting, and acting as a rice cooker.
The oven also has a built-in self-cleaning function, and comes with three included trays: One for steaming, one for grilling, and one for baking.
Unfortunately, though, those racks aren’t actually labeled and the manual’s drawings are less than helpful in that regard, meaning you’ll be left wondering when you’re meant to use each one, on which level of the unit you’re supposed to put it to optimize cooking, and why, for some reason, the baking tray is also bizarrely convex in the middle, meaning anything you put on it that can roll will roll. Beyond that, it’s unclear which of those racks you’re meant to use for the machine’s other capabilities, like rice cooking, dehydrating, and so on. If this isn’t your first steam oven experience, then you might have no problem figuring that out, but if you’re new to the concept or to this oven, then you’ll definitely be left shaking your head a bit.
Fotile Chef Cubii: Setup and assembly
The Fotile 4-in-1 comes well-packed in a large cardboard box. You’ll probably need more than one person to wrestle it out of the packaging, but once it’s out, it’s a breeze to set up. Just slide in the included racks and plug it in, and—after a brief cleaning cycle described in the manual—you should be good to go. There’s a drawer that pulls out from below the door that you can fill with water for steaming, and while it’s a little tricky to fill that up and not get water everywhere, it’s certainly doable if you do it over the sink and get the angle just right.
Here’s where we note, though, that the machine has a rather large steam vent, which sort of sticks out of the machine’s rear. If you’re steaming anything in the oven, a fairly large amount of steam will come out of said vent, meaning you’re going to want to be conscious about where you place the oven in relation to cabinets, wallpaper, or anything else that might be affected by that gaseous water.
Beyond that, the oven can also get a bit hot if you’re using it for longer periods of time—to roast a chicken, let’s say—meaning you’ll also have to keep it a good distance away from other cabinets and from items you won’t want getting too toasty. We found both of these lessons out the hard way after the steam somehow caused a small portion of our cabinets’ wood stain to run, and all the chocolate chips in said cabinet to slightly melt. Some Amazon buyers have mentioned having to DIY a vent attachment out of parts from a hardware store, which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s also not ideal, especially considering that at $499, the oven’s not exactly inexpensive.
Fotile Chef Cubii: Performance
We really wanted to like the Fotile 4-in-1, but ultimately we just found ourselves more frustrated than impressed. As mentioned above, the oven’s knobs felt fussy and hard to use. The LED screen has almost too many options to choose from, meaning you’ll always have to pick from steam, low steam, true convection, convection bake, broil, steam-bake, steam clean, descale, warm, proof, dehydrate, air fry, or “menus,” which will take you to the 40 different presets, all of which are weirdly specific also slightly confusing. A far cry from the world of the best microwaves.
For instance, if you choose “roast a whole chicken,” the oven will then ask you what temp you want to do it at and for how long. It gives you suggestions, but those don’t appear to be based on anything super clear—for instance, it doesn’t ask how big the chicken you’re roasting is, so how do you know if they’re giving you directions for a three pound chicken or a five pound chicken? Beyond that, the racks are a bit confusing, as previously mentioned, so our test chicken came out of its cycle weirdly gray on the inside but also burnt on the top. It tasted fine and was cooked to temperature, but it was hard to get past its unappealing visual vibe.
We also ran into trouble with the steaming function, which we attempted to use to make carrots for kids’ lunches. There’s no carrot pre-set, which is fine—we just rolled the dice and chose broccoli instead—and the carrots came out okay, if a tiny bit crunchier than we might normally like. The rub was that the oven was absolutely soaked inside after the steaming cycle, though, meaning we had to soak out all the leftover water with a towel. It was a slightly gross and tedious process, and one that left us wishing we’d just used a basket on the stove to do the job in the first place.
We ran into similar issues with the dehydrating function, which, admittedly, isn’t something that this writer necessarily does all the time anyway. We tested it with some green grapes we had in the fridge, picking the “juju/plums/raisins” preset and hoping for the best. After a weirdly long preheat—which, it should be noted, is a problem across the board—the oven said it would take just an hour to turn the grapes into raisins. This seemed too good to be true, and indeed it was. When we came back an hour later, the grapes were still plenty hydrated, seeming instead to just be slightly warmer and maybe a little more shriveled if you really looked for it.
Fotile Chef Cubii: Care and maintenance
The countertop steam oven is fairly easy to clean and care for, especially considering it has a self-cleaning function. The included trays are dishwasher safe and easy to clean, and once you get past the whole “soaking up the water after a steam” issue, the oven really is quite user friendly—at least when it comes to keeping it clean.
The oven’s door and knobs also feel sturdy, as do its racks and interior, meaning it could last for some time.
Fotile Chef Cubii: Price and availability
The Fotile 4-in-1 Chef Cubii Countertop Steam Oven retails for $499 and is available to purchase from the manufacturer. It’s also available on Amazon, Lowe’s, Home Depot, P.C. Richard & Son, and Wayfair.
Compared to other countertop steam ovens, the Fotile Chef Cubii seems to be a little on the more expensive side of things. The Tovala 6-in-1 is just $199.99, while the Cuisinart steam and convection oven retails for about $255 and the AUG countertop steam oven is $369.99. There are more expensive ovens out there—ROBAM’s 20-in-1 oven with steam capacity goes for $649—but the Fotile Chef Cubii is definitely up there.
Fotile only sells two countertop ovens: This one, and a slightly different looking 4-in-1 steam oven that’s $549 and only available direct through appliance dealers. From the specs on the site, it seems to be a fairly similar oven, but with a (hopefully) more user-friendly interface.
Fotile Chef Cubii: User reviews
On Amazon at press time, the Fotile 4-in-1 has 4.1 stars with 125 ratings. It’s got a 4.8 on Home Depot with over 45 reviews, and on Fotile’s own site it has a 4.7 star rating, with almost 50 users weighing in.
On Amazon, users seem to agree that it’s fairly easy to use and easy to clean, though some do complain about how big it is and the placement of that steam vent. Others say that the oven takes too long to preheat, with one user writing, “I suspect they are misstating the power ratings. I've had a lot of toaster ovens all across the price range. I'm an Electronics Tech for many years and have an inherent "feel" for electronic devices. I almost pulled out my measuring tools (don't have a Wattmeter but do have bench level amp and voltage meters) but it was too much work for a return. Judging from my previous ovens, this one is not as rated.”
Another Amazon user says that they, too, found the manual and instructions a bit confusing. “I’m not saying the instructions are not helpful because they still provide most of the information you need,” they write, saying, “The oven itself is not that intuitive if you are not very familiar with all these functionalities of ovens. If there can be easier starter guides (like videos), it will be a lot easier to use.”
Fotile Chef Cubii: What the experts say
Shawn Akbarpour, a salesperson at Appliance Leaders in Hayward, Calif., says that he’s seen more and more steam ovens entering the American market from Asia, where they’re already quite popular. He says that he’s tested the oven out in his own home and thinks it’s well made and compact. “There aren’t very many steam ovens at this size and that are relatively inexpensive,” he says, noting that he thinks it’s the perfect size for a frozen pizza, a few chicken thighs, or a small portion of roast beef. He uses it when his wife and family aren’t home and he has to cook for himself, saying it’s great to not have to worry about making a bunch of dishes that he doesn’t want to clean up.
Though he admits the oven is relatively new to the market and so there’s not a ton of data about its overall longevity, he also agrees that it feels sturdy and well-made, and should last for some time with proper maintenance and care. In short, keep it clean and keep it appropriately spaced from existing cabinets and other appliances and you should be good to go.
Should you buy the Fotile Chef Cubii?
Honestly, maybe not. While we liked the idea of the Fotile 4-in-1, we were more let down by it than we were impressed. While some functions worked great, like the air fryer, others like the dehydrator left us shaking our heads. There are other ovens that do a good portion of what this oven does, but better, and if you’re in the market for a countertop steam oven, there are at the very least other options out there that could be worth a try, especially considering they’re available for a fraction of the price.