There’s been such a focus on the changes in tech devices like smartphones and smart home devices that people haven’t always noticed how the appliance market is making big changes too. Besides the fact that appliances both small and large are offering smart functions, one of the best changes I’ve noticed over the past year is how more and more appliances can now do double-duty. That means an appliance you’ve always had for one task can now take on several, and the best part is that they do it so well you can consolidate and save space in your kitchen. Take the Panasonic Microwave Oven with Steam (Model # NNDS58HB) for example: until I tried it this past week, I thought steam baking was reserved for high-end ranges.
I’d never have thought it was possible to have steam in a microwave, nor would I have thought that a microwave oven could bake up a loaf of banana bread and it would be one of the best loaves I’ve ever made.
That’s the beauty of a versatile appliances like the Panasonic Microwave Oven with Steam. It’s a microwave, a grill, a steamer, and a steam oven; all in one. It can take on healthy food like vegetables and steam them in a flash, then switch over and bake up a loaf of bread or muffins, freeing up your oven for other tasks. It can also add shots of steam to whatever you’re cooking.
Here’s what the Panasonic Microwave can do, what I thought of it, and how it will fit into your kitchen.
Appearance and features of the Panasonic Microwave with Steam
Any microwave oven you bring home will be bulky, and in my small kitchen I shoot for appliances that fit neatly under my upper cabinets. Upon first glance, I didn’t really think the Panasonic Microwave would do that, but it actually fit in perfectly with room to spare.
It’s an attractive appliance too; all black glass with a stainless-steel handle. It’s 1.0 cu. ft. so it’s not really small on the inside, and the cooking space is maximized by the cube shape.
Included in the box are two booklets. One book has instructions for using the device, which I recommend you keep with you because there’s a lot of different functions on this microwave. The other book includes recipes, and when you look through it you’ll be as surprised as I was at all of the dishes you can make or bake in this microwave oven.
Included with the microwave are a flat oven platform for grilling and baking and a ribbed rack to place fish or, in my test case, grill turkey bacon. There’s also a compartment that holds water, and when you fill that up you can choose to cook with steam or press a button and have the microwave randomly shoot steam onto whatever you’re making for an interval of one, two, or three minutes.
Features on the Panasonic NN-DS58HB Microwave
- A 1.0 cu. ft microwave with both steam, microwave, oven, and combination features
- Has 100% Pure Turbo steam cooking to cook your vegetables or steam other foods like fish, all without oil or extra work
- Senor cooking and automatic reheating
- 23 cooking programs
- Flatbed design increases your cooking space
- Inverter technology cooks everything evenly
- Offers 4 self-cleaning programs
Testing the Panasonic Microwave Oven
The first temptation you may have when you put a combination microwave like this one on your counter is to just use it as a microwave. That would be a mistake. There’s far too many functions on this combination device to miss out on, so your first step should be taking a look at the included instruction booklet to see exactly what it can do and what types of food it will cook with those settings.
In all there are 23 cooking programs, and I used quite a few of them when I was testing this microwave out. I put a few pieces of turkey bacon right on the included grill and they cooked up perfectly. I used the Quick 30 feature to warm up soups and stews, and I used the easy defrost to bring a bag of blackberries back to life.
I even added a piece of salmon wrapped in tinfoil and steamed it to perfection. Yes, because of the different programs, tinfoil can be placed inside this microwave. Just keep in mind you should read the manual before you do so, because tinfoil isn’t available for use with all functions.
What intrigued me most was the steam function on this microwave. I visited a test kitchen a few years ago and I watched the chef bake up a loaf of banana bread in a steam oven. It was possibly the best banana bread I ever had, and I always said when I got my hands on a steam oven I would try that myself.
Here was a steam oven right in front of me, so banana bread it was. I thought it was even more fitting that I was taking on such a thing in a microwave oven, because if it worked it would be a solution to all of those times I thought I really needed a second oven in the kitchen.
Baking in a microwave oven
Baking in the Panasonic microwave isn’t that different than baking in your own oven. You start by preheating it, and that will take about five minutes or so to get to 350 degrees. Just keep in mind that when your oven is ready to go, you need to set the timer and use it. Unlike a range that you can turn on and leave for hours, if you don’t activate the timer on this microwave oven, it will eventually shut off.
I lined my metal loaf pan with parchment paper, put it on the lowest setting for the ribbed rack, and turned it on for an hour. I used the oven program, although I’m sure you could also use the combination oven/steam function for the same purpose. With this microwave, you don’t really have to worry that you made the wrong choice, because while it’s baking in oven mode, you can inject shots of steam at set intervals.
All you have to do is press the steam button and hold it down for a few seconds. That activates the steamer and injects steam into the oven itself while you are baking. Having that moisture increases the moisture in your loaf, and means no dry bread after baking.
It worked too; I injected steam at random intervals throughout the hour I baked the loaf, and when we cut it up we were shocked at how delicious it was. I usually make good banana bread, but having it made with steam made it that much better.
The only difference between baking in this oven and baking in a full-size oven would be the duration. I’m used to cooking banana bread for an hour, but you could easily turn this one off at the 45-minute mark and still have a well baked loaf of bread.
I also could have skipped using the ribbed pan and just placed the loaf on the bottom platform. I noticed the loaf was cracking on the top at the 39 minute mark, and that’s a sign that it’s getting a lot of heat from the top of oven. I choose to leave it as is to see how it came out, and although the top of the loaf was a little darker than I’m used to, overall it was a really great loaf of bread.
Functions on the Panasonic Microwave with Steam
I did some research online and found that the name of the ribbed rectangular pan used as a baking platform is called the Pana-crunch pan. It’s used for both the grill function and the oven function, and it’s supposed to grill your food from above while keeping the bottom of your food evenly cooked. You’d use this for dishes like pizza when you want a crispy crust, but you still want your cheese to be melted properly.
I tried it with a pre-made pizza and it delivered a crunchy crust with delicious cheesy topping. I also tried it with a hot pocket, and unlike how a standard microwave makes the pocket soft, the crust of the pocket was crispy and the inside was perfectly cooked.
It wasn’t lost on me that I don’t normally make these dishes in a microwave oven; I make them in my full-size oven or toaster oven. That’s the beauty of this microwave. If you have a toaster oven for quick pizzas and other snacks and a microwave, you can consolidate with one appliance. The fact that it cooks all of these dishes well and adds steam? That’s just a huge bonus.
Overall thoughts on the Panasonic Microwave with Steam
Using the Panasonic microwave was a total pleasure. How often can you say that about a microwave? I love seamless, easy to use appliances, and I love appliances that do double-duty even more. I have a small kitchen with limited counter space, but I still cook and bake enough that I appreciate having an extra oven around. The fact that this oven is also a microwave and steamer is just the icing on the cake.
Clean up is easy too: there are four functions on this microwave to help you with cleaning it, so there’s no extra elbow grease involved in scrubbing tiny particles off the roof of the microwave.
You can free up your own counter space and have a lot of fun cooking with the Panasonic Microwave with Steam, and it’s available right now on Best Buy’s website.