Panasonic Light Oven

I hate microwaves. In my old house I never had one, and in my new house it came built in but never gets used. They warm food up, but they make it mushy or tough. No matter how you slice it, there’s always a better way to cook or warm up any given food.

The problem is that these superior methods of cooking often take a long time, particularly the oven. If I have leftovers from a restaurant, I like to put them in the oven. Three hundred fifty degrees for about 15-20 minutes makes them taste just like they did the night before. Unfortunately it takes much longer than that in practice because the oven must be preheated.

Welcome to the world of the Panasonic Light Oven. This sucker has been around for several years now, but hasn’t really been popular because no one can tell if it’s a microwave, toaster, toaster oven, or something else. The answer is that it’s basically a cross between a toaster oven, an oven, and the divine warmth of jesus.

The Light Oven works through two methods that you’ve never seen before. The first are these weird ceramic bars inside the box. The bars are infrared heaters which heat the middle of the food. This isn’t like a microwave where they heat the middle of the food and turn it into a leathery mush – it’s just as if an oven heated it.

The second method employed are super bright lights. Don’t be fooled – these aren’t like the 60 watt bulb you used to put in your barbie oven as a kid. These bulbs are so bright that they can instantly heat the chamber to about 500 degrees. No need to preheat! They’re so bright that wimpy reviewers complain that the oven is too bright – don’t listen to them. It’s glorious.

You can use the oven to bake, but I rarely do it. My foolproof method of leftover recovery is as follows:

  1. Remove other packaging and wrap leftovers in tin foil. I even do this for thick soups. The tin foil is nice and thin so that your food can heat even quicker.
  2. If possible, make your little tin foil package as even in height as possible. If something is too big to allow this, don’t worry about it.
  3. Set the light oven for 17 minutes at 355 degrees.

That’s it! After 17 minutes your food will taste perfect and be the perfect temperature. I do this many times a week and it’s always fantastic. When I went to Boston a few weeks ago and didn’t have a light oven I went crazy trying to reheat food. The regular oven and toaster oven both took too long.

Buy it at Amazon.

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6 comments

  1. Wow I have never even heard of something like this. I do admit I had an easy bake oven when I was little but back then I wanted to be a chef when I grew up.

    Basically, as I understand, it cooks the food as good as an oven but just takes away the preheat time that that regular ovens need?

    I will be sure to buy one if I am ever in the need of a heating appliance!

  2. Re: Tin foil
    I’m a big fan of the 500-pack of small sheets of foil you can get at Sam’s Club. They also make small (about 11″ x 11″) sheets of wax paper in a box. They’re very convenient, and I seldom need to use either product from the roll.

    Re: Small, portable ovens
    I have also always loved toaster ovens, as their heat-up time is much less than conventional ovens (I suspect a full-size gas oven would take less time to heat up than an electric oven, but they are very uncommon and I have no basis for comparison). Anyway, three years later, my $30 Wal-Mart special toaster oven is looking a little worse for wear, due in part to my roommates’ use of it, so I’ll be leaving it here and looking into the Panasonic when I get a place of my own.

  3. That is cool i wish i had one i hate not having the time to cook something.Then not being able to eat because i don’t want to warm it up in the microwave because it tastes bad.

  4. Ty, you’d have to buy cookware for this one, and from your posts it seems like you’re more of a “TV dinner” and “reheat” kind of guy, but you might want to check out a pressure cooker. It cooks 3-8 times faster than normal methods, and is perfect for things like tough cuts of meat, etc. Imagine a stew that would normally take you several hours, done in 15 minutes. It’s incredibly energy efficient and doesn’t leach the nutrients. Just thought I’d throw it out there.

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