Life is full of choices. Truck camper options are no different. One option we really debated when we ordered our camper was the oven. We liked the idea of having an oven, but hated the fact that it took up so much space inside the camper. After much deliberation, we decided to pass on the oven and get a three-burner cooktop instead. Have we regretted the choice? Sometimes, but only because we love baked foods. That’s why we were intrigued when we learned about the Swedish Omnia Stovetop Oven during a recent online search. This simple, yet innovative product allows us to bake cakes, breads, casseroles, and a whole lot more, on our propane cooktop in a way that is fun and easy. This is a review of the Omnia Stovetop Oven.
The oven for the ovenless, the Omnia resembles a bundt pan or tube pan with a lid. It consists of a stainless steel base plate, an aluminum baking pan, a red aluminum lid, and a black storage bag (which is roomy enough to store additional items). The circular baking pan has a diameter of 9.8 inches and a height of 2-3/4 inches, and can hold up to 8 cups, large enough for a 9-inch cake mix or a full box of brownies. The total height including the lid and metallic knob is only 5.5 inches. The Omnia’s circular and compact size makes it perfect for recreational vehicles and boats of all sizes, including overlanders who camp only in tents.
How the Omnia works is pretty ingenious. The stovetop directly heats the Omnia base plate, which in turn heats the air trapped in between the base plate and the baking pan. At the same time, the baking pan’s wide, circular “chimney” and lid allows heat from the stove to rise up and circulate back down onto the food. Thus, the Omnia Oven creates hot air both under and above the baking pan just like a traditional oven. A few air holes in the lid allow steam to escape, so that foods bake rather than steam. As a result, Omnia dishes won’t be soggy as so often happens in a Dutch oven or a pressure cooker.
What kind of dishes can you cook in the Omnia Stovetop Oven? With the exception of a Thanksgiving turkey, just about anything, including casseroles, breads, cakes, cobblers, quiche, biscuits, pot pies, vegetables, baked potatoes, and cookies. Note, the Omnia Stovetop Oven works on propane, butane, standard electric stovetops, and even over campfires, but will not work on induction and ceramic cooktops.
Accessories can also be purchased for the Omnia, including a cookbook (numerous recipes can be found on the main Omnia website and other sites as well), a silcone mold that speeds clean up, and a stainless steel oven rack for baking and heating pre-baked bread, croissants, and dinner rolls. Omnia’s customer service also can’t be beat! It’s evident when dealing with the company that they really love and support this product. The Omnia can be purchased on Amazon.com for $67.00.
The Learning Curve
We first used the Omnia at the 2019 Northwest Overland Rally, a good test for trying it out. At first, we went easy, baking a small batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies with the windows to our camper wide open. We knew we were on to something good when the aroma drew in several neighbors at the rally. “Hey, who around here is baking chocolate chip cookies?” one women asked as she walked by the camper. Of course, we let her and her husband try one. The homemade cookies were a big hit at the rally. This gave us the confidence over the coming days and weeks to try other more complex recipes. Likewise, we also recommend that you start simple and work your way up to more complex dishes as you practice and develop confidence with the unit.
Getting used to the Omnia temperature settings takes a little practice. At first, we had to experiment with the flame settings on our propane cooktop to ensure we had the right temperature called for in the baking instructions. For example, if the instructions call for a temperature of 350 degrees, how do you get that temperature on a propane cooktop with no temperature settings? In recipes like these, we found it best to start with a low to medium flame to avoid any burning of the food, then adjust the flame accordingly. Fortunately, the Omnia cookbook and the numerous recipes that can be found on the Omnia website and on Pinterest address the temperature issue by instead calling for either a “low” or “medium” heat. In general, we found the time that it takes for a recipe to cook takes a little less time with the Omnia, similar to a convection oven.
A few warnings when using the Omnia. First, the metal knob on the lid can get quite hot, though this is pretty typical with most pots and pans. Second, the Omnia generates a tremendous amount of heat, especially in the baking pan’s chimney, so be careful when removing the lid. It is an oven, after all, capable of generating temperatures in excess of 450 degrees. And third, you’ll be meeting lots of new people as you use this stovetop oven in public settings, so be prepared for uninvited guests if you leave your windows open and the wind is blowing just right.
Pros and Cons
With a product like the Omnia Stovetop Oven, the pros are abundant. The biggest pro is its small size and light weight. As mentioned earlier, most RV ovens are large and take up a lot of space, but not the Omnia Stovetop Oven. When disassembled, the space is comparable to a standard pan. Not only that, the Omnia can cook an entire meal consisting of an entree with multiple sides. A similar meal without the Omnia would require two or three pots or pans. This translates into less time and less cleanup afterward and reduces the number of pots and pans kept in your camper. Who wouldn’t like that?
But that’s not all. Because the Omnia works great on a standard propane cooktop and doesn’t require any electricity, it’s the perfect cooking accessory for those who spend most of their time off-road and off-grid. It also works great during those times when fire dangers preclude the use of outdoor grills. But the biggest pro is the Omnia’s ability to bake delicious foods and dishes that we previously thought were impossible. Imagine being able to bake cakes, potatoes, foil dinners, nachos, and homemade chocolate chip cookies in your camper. With the Omnia, you easily can!
Are there any cons? Not really, though some people have concerns over the aluminum construction, preferring a thicker, heavier stainless steel instead. But as we often tell people, aluminum is lightweight, is a great conductor of heat, and is easier to clean. Another concern relates to cooking with aluminum itself and the possibility of aluminum leeching into acidic food. If this is a concern of yours, we recommend buying the silicone insert, which prevents aluminum contact with the food. Not only that, this silicone insert makes it almost impossible to burn food and makes cleaning the pan even easier by simply wiping it clean with a wet sponge or paper towel. Just be careful when using a knife or sharp object around it.
We love the Omnia Stovetop Oven! We often use it four to five times a week on our outings and that’s the truth. As you know, meal variety can suffer, living weeks and months at a time in a camper. Sure, take-out helps, but that can get expensive over time. With the Omnia, you can expand your menu selection tremendously in a delicious and nutritious way that will save you money. What’s the bottom line? The Omnia is a great kitchen accessory. It can do almost anything a real RV oven can do at a fraction of the weight and size. It’s also a great conversation piece. Yes, you can probably “make” one of these from an old tube pan, drip pan, and old saucepan lid, to save a little money, but I doubt you’ll be able to build one that works as efficiently and looks as good as the real thing. What would we rate the Omnia Stovetop Oven? On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, we enthusiastically give it a rating of 5 stars! It’s a great product and our favorite kitchen accessory!