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What is a Cook and Hold Oven?

With the ability to cook and hold food at the highest quality with less labor, low-temperature ovens have become the foundation of many foodservice operations. These units are efficient, versatile, and great for cooking, baking, roasting, braising, sous vide, proofing, fermenting and more. 

The main benefit of cook and hold ovens is that they reduce food shrinkage during cooking, which helps your bottom line. This tool can help calculate how much additional meat you can yield using a cook and hold oven rather than a convection oven.

Since these ovens enable overnight cooking, your restaurant can significantly save on overhead costs like labor. Additionally, this type of oven doesn’t require a hood or ventilation, making it easy to install anywhere. 

Cook and Hold Oven Types

There are various types of low-temperature ovens to choose from, depending on the needs and challenges of your foodservice operation.  Key features to consider are temperature ranges and the applications you hope to achieve.

Smoker Ovens

A unique feature of smoker ovens is that they can hot or cold smoke food.  Each oven has a fully-integrated smoker box that smokes real wood chips to add bold flavors to your menu. You can adjust the level of smokiness based on the amount of time food is kept in the oven.

Cook and Hold Ovens

The low and slow cooking and holding method accounts for 15-20% less shrinkage of meat. These ovens have auto-hold settings, reducing the need to monitor and adjust temperatures. Additionally, cook and hold ovens that utilize gentle, radiant Halo Heat® technology are ventless and cook, hold and rethermalize food at the highest quality.

Rethermalization Ovens

This type of oven is known as a “heat and hold oven” and is used to heat pre-cooked foods to their desired serving temperature. The downside is these ovens are only able to reheat food, not cook then hold it to completion. Because of this, you need an additional oven to actually cook the food.

Energy Efficient Oven Technology

Low-temperature cooking is quite effective because it reduces shrinkage and is cost efficient. It also helps lock in flavor and moisture. However, not all energy efficient commercial ovens are created equal. Some cook and hold ovens utilize harsh heating elements, like fans, cal rods and controlled vapor. These heating mechanisms can result in overcooked inconsistent food. Not to mention, moving components and added water vapor in the oven chamber can lead to added maintenance costs and oven downtime. 

Halo Heat® Technology

Halo Heat technology provides gentle, radiant heat that evenly surrounds food without using extremely hot elements, added humidity, or fans. This is possible due to a low-density thermal cable wrapped around the sides and bottom of the holding cavity. The cable emits even temperatures and automatically pulses on and off throughout the cooking and holding process. This type of energy efficient cook and hold equipment only costs $1-2 per day in electrical usage and does not require water hook ups.

Probe Cooking

Probes are arguably the best way to obtain optimal food temperatures while cooking. Some cook and hold ovens can set food probes to your ideal internal temperature, and the oven will automatically switch to hold mode one a set cook temperature has been reached. The oven will then hold the food at the perfect temperature until it’s ready to be served.

Low Temperature Ovens with Fans

When using a low-temperature oven that distributes heat with fans, food product is exposed to more extreme temperatures that fluctuate. Fans can also increase the overall cost of ownership, as moving parts can fail over time and cause added maintenance costs. There's also significantly more protein shrinkage and less consistency than results from Halo Heat ovens.

Low Temperature Ovens with Controlled Vapor 

Low-temperature ovens that utilize controlled vapor must be filled with clean water and connected to a water source to operate correctly. This limits the options for the location of your oven within the kitchen. Additionally, limescale buildup can increase overall cost of ownership.

Control Options 

Most cook and hold ovens have different control options available to match the sophistication level of the kitchen where you place them.

Simple Controls

Simple controls often include buttons and dials rather than touch screens. Nowadays, touch-based controls are becoming standard for new models. Stored recipes and cook and hold by probe options are often available. Recipes can be uploaded and downloaded by USB, and HACCP documentation can be enabled.

Deluxe Controls

In addition to all the features of simple controls, deluxe controls allow kitchen staff to categorize, filter, and search recipes for seamless identification and execution. Notifications help guide the cooking process, and images can be added to each recipe to assist with dish selection. As an added bonus, deluxe ovens also feature ChefLinc™ cloud-based, remote oven management system. Operators can push and pull recipes to their ovens across multiple locations from anywhere they are, as well as receive data-driven insights.

Comparing Cabinet Styles

There’s a size configuration to suit every kitchen, each serving various purposes and providing multiple solutions. In addition to the size, it’s important to consider how the inside of the oven is equipped. Side racks are standard on most models. Additional configurations are also available based on your needs.  

Countertop Oven

Ranging from 12-14 inches tall, countertop ovens are the smallest style and hold up to 36 pounds of food. These are perfect for small-batch cooking, and the compact design allows you to maximize your counter space in small and large kitchens alike.

Under Counter Oven

This type of oven can hold up to 100 pounds of food and range from 31-34 inches tall. These ovens are low profile and can easily slide under counters and work tables to maximize space. Casters make cleaning and maintenance a breeze.

Single Compartment Half Height Oven

Slightly taller than under counter ovens, these hold up to 150 pounds of food. Their height ranges from 40-48 inches tall. Half height ovens are compact, and you can maximize kitchen space by stacking a second holding cabinet onto this oven.

Double Compartment Oven

Free standing, full-size ovens are ideal for large kitchens and big operations. They hold up to 300 pounds of food and range from 73-82 inches in height. Their two-section design enables different foods to be cooked simultaneously with individual timers and thermostats for each compartment.

Conclusion

While there are a wide variety of cook and hold ovens available, it’s essential to find one that meets all of your space and operational needs. Thanks to Alto Shaam’s Halo Heat technology, our cook and hold ovens ensure your food is cooked evenly and consistently, without a hood, fan, or additional water source.

To discover the unique savings opportunities for your foodservice operation, talk to an expert today.

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