I love to cook and bake. It’s a passion of mine. And while we have a nicely sized kitchen (albeit one in serious need of a kitchen renovation), the counter space is quickly being taken up by my love of small appliances. That means compact and stylish small appliances that can do more than just one thing are a dream. If I can get rid of two appliances and replace it with one that is equally as effective at accomplishing both tasks, I’m in heaven. Such is the intent with the Cuisinart 3-in-1 Microwave Air Fryer Oven, which functions as a microwave with the ability to do combination microwave/oven cooking as well as air fry.
I set this baby up in my kitchen and used it for a few weeks, including making entire dinners using only the device as well as using it in place of my microwave or air fryer whenever we needed to cook, reheat or air fry something.
What is the Cuisinart 3-in-1 microwave air fryer oven?
As the name implies, the Cuisinart 3-in-1 microwave air fryer oven can be used as either a microwave or an oven/air fryer, or even both at the same time if you so desire.
The unit is compact but note that it has a heightened top portion that makes it slightly larger on the outside than you might realize. This is important to consider if you are looking to slide it into a specific fitted spot or shelf: make sure it’s the right size microwave for your space.
It comes with a turntable assembly, AirFry basket, and Air FryPan. With an easy-wipe stainless steel interior and door with cool-touch handle along with a viewing window and cooking guide chart with tips on cooking or reheating the most commonly made items, it focuses on convenience.
One thing worth noting about the size and operation of this small appliance: the interior is smaller than you think, even when looking at the exterior size. You can’t fit a large-sized plate in it, so don’t expect to be able to reheat a big plate of food. That said, I didn’t feel hindered by this, as I could easily squeeze a serving onto a smaller plate. Not to mention that this encourages you control portion sizes and re-think eating more than you really need to!
Also, note that the door is fairly low to the bottom of the unit so if you place it on a counter where the microwave doesn’t jut out a bit, the door might graze ever so slightly on the counter. It’s best to place the small appliance on a shelf or narrow counter where it can sit nicely over the edge so the door opens freely. Ideally, you should have at least 3 inches of space behind the unit as it does generate some heat. We noticed that, placing it under a cupboard, the items in the cupboard were warm after using it.
Using the Cuisinart 3-in-1 microwave air fryer oven
There’s a bit of a learning curve on how to use this small appliance, but once you get the hang of it, you can stop relying on the manual. Select the cooking mode you want from the top of the menu (it’s only in English but a cut-out overlay with French language guides comes in the box, which is a neat addition), then select the desired level of heat using the silver selector dial. With the air fryer or oven, you can select from degrees in Fahrenheit while with the microwave, you choose the temperature from 10P (High) down to 1P (low). It’s nice to have the range, which includes five temperature options, including medium/low defrost, medium, and medium high as well, but chances are you’ll use high and medium low-defrost for most meals.
It also has some handy preset cooking options. For the microwave, this includes things like popcorn, potato, veggies (both fresh and frozen), beverage, melt/soften, and reheat. As someone who often microwaves butter too much when trying to soften it for baking, these are unique and handy features. For the microwave, presets are for fries, wings, and snacks.
The silver dial helps you select both time and temperature by turning it right or left and pushing in to select. It doesn’t run as smoothly as I would like, but my guess is that it loosens up over time.
A mode called combi cooking lets you shift between microwave and oven cooking. Use combination 1, which is 70% microwave cooking and 30% oven for things like baked goods or casseroles that you want to microwave first then switch to air fry to get a nice crispy exterior. Combination 2, which sees the reverse, is ideal for roasting meats, microwaving it first then switching to oven/air fry for the majority of the power.
Let’s get cooking! How did the food turn out?
While it wouldn’t be practical for me to have tried every possible mode in this unit in the time I had it (unless I wanted to gain 15 pounds in the process!) I did try quite a few modes for a variety of things. Here are some of the most notable dishes, results, and insights discovered through the process.
I used the air frying function the most, starting with making chicken drumsticks with homemade spice mix. I added a bit of oil spray to the bottom of the air fryer basket then neatly fit 10 chicken drumsticks in a single layer. You have to use the air fryer pan with the basket, which is a great addition as it captures all of the juices that run off. I chose the wings preset, which cooked them for 25 minutes. They came out perfectly cooked, juicy inside while nice and crisp on the outside. I loved that I didn’t need to turn them over halfway through the cook and that clean-up was simple. Both the air fryer basket and pan are durable and easy to clean. At any time during the cook, you can press the Stop/Cancel button to have a look inside. There is an interior viewing light but the glass is pretty dark on the door so I was not able to verify cook without actually opening the door.
I continued to make a variety of things using the air fryer function throughout the few weeks I had this microwave, including frozen French fries and fresh vegetable spring rolls. When my husband barbecued chicken wings, we used the air fry function to reheat the leftovers for lunch the next day. Everything came out great and beautifully heated throughout very quickly. The fresh spring rolls, for example, were golden brown after just 10 minutes at 400 degrees. The frozen French fries, which are thin cut, were crispy and ready for salting in the same amount of time. I cooked those without spraying oil in the air fryer pan, which required a bit of releasing with a spatula, but they came out without sticking, an issue I’ve experienced with other air fryers.
Along with everyday microwaving needs, I tried a couple of specific things in this microwave. First was roasting broccoli. I used a microwave-safe dish with a bit of water but did not have a vented cover so just cooked it uncovered. I used combi mode C2 for nine minutes. The broccoli came out pretty good. My 9-year-old loves melted cheese on everything so I used the melt mode to melt a slice on his portion afterwards.
I also tried a recipe that comes in the manual for maple cinnamon oatmeal. The texture of the oats and the fruits, including fresh blueberries and ripe bananas, was really nice.
One feature I absolutely love is that the microwave will continue to beep until you take the food out. As someone who microwaves her black coffee to reheat it daily and, nine times out of 10, forgets to go get it, this would prevent me from wasting delicious java and encourage me to get up and stretch while I go grab my re-heated caffeine fuel.
Should you get the Cuisinart 3-in-1 microwave air fryer oven?
Given its size, this small appliance isn’t a microwave replacement for a large family. It is, however, a great air fryer and combo oven for a small family, couple, roommates, or single person.
Despite taking up as much room on the counter as a standard microwave, the Cuisinart 3-in-1 microwave air fryer oven has a surprisingly small interior. With that said, I was still able to fit 10 chicken drumsticks, which is more than enough to feed our family of three. I did, however, have to make the fries separately.
As far as air fryers go, this is a great option, particularly if you have been thinking of replacing your microwave with something more multifunctional. You still get the benefits of a microwave with the ability to air fry, all in one unit. That’s a pretty awesome proposition, and worthwhile for finally replacing that ancient microwave you’ve been meaning to upgrade.
Think you might want to take the plunge and grab one? Check out the Cuisinart 3-in-1 microwave air fryer oven at Best Buy online.