Can I cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner using just one kitchen appliance? I figured if the one appliance is smart enough, I could fix up a fabulous holiday feast for four in my small apartment.
I skipped on smart appliances in my DIY smart home renovation. But I spend quite some time in a separate city dwelling. There, I don’t have the fancy Frigidaire appliance suite or Alexa-enabled faucet my parents installed in their newly-intelligent kitchen a few months back. Nor do I have much space, but I’ve maximized my culinary capacities with the June Oven, a 12-in-1 smart convection oven that lets me channel my inner celebrity chef without the showroom-quality set up.
Measuring 19.6 x 19 x 12.75 inches, the June Oven is really the only countertop appliance I have room for in my galley kitchen. But it replaces the best toaster ovens, slow cookers, an air fryer and more. Plus it preheats significantly faster than my aged, built-in convection oven. Not to mention, I can preheat it from my phone.
As a lover of high-tech kitchen gadgets, I’m no stranger to app-enabled controls and other convenience features. The June Oven is by far the most ambitious device I’ve tested in my kitchen, though. Luckily, I’m ambitious, too, which is why I wanted to host Thanksgiving this year using this smart oven and its various settings to assemble a traditional holiday meal. Leaving nothing to chance, I attempted an entire cook-through a week early. Here’s how it went.
Puff pastry baked brie bites
I once conducted a different kind of “smart” holiday meal challenge. During the Alexa vs Google Assistant: Which is the best Thanksgiving dinner helper? showdown, I compared how each voice assistant’s smart displays presented recipes for puffed pastry baked brie, my signature appetizer. Alexa won in terms of creativity, but Google Assistant also sufficed.
Open to trying something new (new meaning something I saw on TikTok) I opted for air-fryer baked brie bites to kick off the holiday meal marathon. The June Oven can act as one of the best air fryers using rapid air circulation from the built-in fans. After topping mini brie wheels with a spoonful of cranberry jam and encasing it in an egg-washed puff pastry, I arranged them on the June Oven’s basket accessory.
Out came a collection of adorable, gooey cheese pockets protected by delicate, flakey dough. These brie bites are the ultimate amuse-bouche, and after air frying them in the June Oven, I don’t think I’ll make them a different way again.
Marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole
Though sweet potato casserole is a polarizing Thanksgiving accoutrement, it’s tradition — and an excuse to gorge on marshmallows at dinnertime. I baked peeled and diced yams in the June Oven, then mashed them with an exorbitant amount of butter and brown sugar.
Then it was time for the show. When you put marshmallows in the oven, you need to watch them carefully as they can go from a toasty brown to charred black in seconds. Luckily, the June Oven has a top-view camera, so I could surveil my sweet potato’s topping on my smartphone. In less than two minutes on the broil setting, I watched my mallows reach golden perfection, as though they were roasted over an open campfire and not in my contained apartment kitchen. I think the ultra-satisfying time lapse recording provided by the app impressed more than the dish’s actual taste, though the casserole certainly delivered fall-flavored decadence.
Garlic-herb turkey breast
I’ll admit, I’m not a huge turkey person in terms of cooking or consumption. When it’s just my nuclear family spending Thanksgiving together, we usually buy a turkey breast instead of the whole bird. The turkey breast I bought at Trader Joe’s would’ve been ideal for June Oven’s poultry-cooking spatchcock feature if it weren’t pre-cooked. Sue me, this shortcut is so worth it.
June also has a partnership with Trader Joes (so does the Brava Smart Oven,) so if you buy select prepackaged food from that store, the oven knows how to prepare it properly. My bone-in, garlic herb butter turkey breast wasn’t in the menu, but with the reheat setting and the internal thermometer dongle, I could track the piece of meat as it warmed up for dinner.
I kept it covered for half the heating time, then removed the wrapped foil, allowing the skin to color and crisp up in the oven. At counter height, opening the appliance’s door to baste for a juicy bird felt much safer than practically sticking my head inside a standard floor convection oven, too. I noticed the June Oven's internal temperature didn’t waver much either on the app’s clever temperature chart.
Stuffing, dressing, whatever you call it — the carby concoction you serve with turkey is my favorite Thanksgiving dish. On actual Thanksgiving, I’ll make it from scratch using stale bread, mirepoix and my homemade soup stock. But for this experiment, I went the stuffing-from-a-box route in another time-saving shortcut. I even splurged for the cornbread variety.
I loaded a soggy mixture of packaged bread crumbs and seasonings into a casserole dish and let the June Oven do the work. Knowing the app would alert me when it’s done, I finally stepped away for the best part of any holiday, the drinks. Last week I told you about my robot cocktail maker, the Drinkworks Home Bar Classic. I loaded in an Old Fashioned pod and let the machine do the rest, as if my appliance set up wasn’t effortless enough. I sipped my smokey drink until the stuffing finished, at which point dinnertime had at last arrived.
Can a single smart oven make Thanksgiving dinner?
In addition to the dishes detailed above, I made roasted green beans and cutout sugar cookies in the June Oven. Besides gravy simmered in a saucepan, the entire meal materialized in the smart oven. Now, when I host real-Thanksgiving, I know I don’t need to rely on my mediocre rental appliances to make the scrumptious holiday magic happen.
Yeah, I took a few shortcuts, but it’s not a bad thing. The point of operating in the IoT world is to work smarter, not harder, right? Everything on the table still tasted delicious, and with the energy saved I might actually enjoy hosting. At the very least, I’ll have time for a pre-dinner cocktail with my family. And if I fill up on mid-prep charcuterie (those brie bites are extremely addictive, after all), the June Oven can toast up baguettes for succulent leftover sandwiches the next day.