Cooking | January 11, 2022 10:59 am

Review: The June Smart Oven Will Take Charge of Your Kitchen

This third-generation smart oven promises to replace 12 appliances. We spent a month testing that claim.

A June Oven on a kitchen countertop
The June Oven isn't watching you, but it's keeping close eyes (and AI) on your food
June

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I didn’t trust my oven. Even when it was right.

That admittedly makes June, a smart kitchen appliance, sound like a sentient machine. In a way, the “12-in-1” device (more on that later) does possess a weird intelligence and intuition; it could identify foods and adjust temperatures and cooking times without any effort from me.

June works in tandem with an app, an interior camera, artificial intelligence, multiple sensors and a few accessories (primarily a nonstick pan and a food thermometer) to produce an array of foods and meals — emphasis on the latter, as the machine can make your protein and veggies simultaneously. If you follow the hundreds of included recipes — with video instructions — and more simplified “programs” (if you just want to make something simple, like toast or reheat), you’re supposed to end up with perfectly-cooked … well, almost anything, be it steak, a breakfast sandwich, banana bread or grilled veggies. Even pasta (we didn’t try that one).

June launched in 2015; a third-generation model was recently released, and I was able to try out a test unit for about a month and a half, where I forced myself to cook 95% of my meals on the appliance (breakfast, lunch and dinner). I’ll get into the details below, but the big takeaway here is that June is not for everyone, but it could be exactly right for a certain subset of home cooks.

June oven unboxing
Unboxing the June Oven, which basically took up half our kitchen island
Kirk Miller

Setting up: Getting June on my wifi, downloading the app and getting the appliance up and running took minutes. And you can cook either via the app or a touchscreen on the oven door — if you’ve ever set up any modern device, be it a iPhone, Sonos or Chromecast, getting June going isn’t going to be a problem.

Getting June on my countertop, however? “June isn’t much bigger than your microwave,” as their site claims, but also notes it’s not a use-and-put-away device. No kidding; it’s nearly 40 pounds, and it took up nearly half of our kitchen island.

I can’t criticize June for its size; I live in a tiny Brooklyn apartment, so anything I put in there is going to feel intrusive. But it’s also big enough that you can’t just place it where you’d put, say, a toaster oven or a microwave (it’s certainly not going to work over a traditional stove, either). You’ll need some dedicated space for this. Consider this reality before you consider anything else.

The specs: 

  • Alexa compatible
  • Auto updates via wifi
  • A free Android/iPhone cooking app with recipes, live camera food, remote control and push notifications (free for the first year, $10/month for guided smart recipes after) 
  • 12.75” tall, 19.6” wide, 19” deep with a cubic foot of cooking space inside fits standard 9×13” baking sheets and dishes up to 12×16” 
  • Weighs 39 lbs. 
  • June is supposed to do the work of 12 different appliances, including convection oven, air fryer, dehydrator, slow cooker and toaster. The third-generation model added programs and accessories for dough proofing, grilling and stone firing pizza. And the newest software also features six heating elements that can be controlled individually for rotisserie and zone cooking.
June Oven cooking a full meal
What a larger meal looks like in a June Oven
June

What works:

  • June rewards people who follow directions. You literally can’t screw up a dish — everything we cooked according to the app came out exactly how we expected. With one exception, as we’ll note below.
  • “This is the best chicken you’ve ever made” is how my girlfriend described one lazy night where I cooked the simplest chicken breast I could muster. 
  • It takes longer than a microwave, but June did a much better job with preheating leftovers. 
  • Clean-up was no worse than a microwave and much less of a hassle than a traditional stove.
  • The accessories work well in tandem; your non-stick pan can also be your prep plate, and the various shelves and racks can be easily combined to suit whatever meal you’re prepping. 

What kind of works:

  • The food thermometer. Based on a perusal of Internet forums, I was definitely a minority in my inability to get the food thermometer — a necessity for many meat dishes — to work properly for three weeks. I even spent a half-hour call with the June team to see if I had a defective unit, as meat dishes that were supposed to take 20 minutes were somehow getting done in four, often requiring me to hit the manual “keep grilling” option every minute.
  • Turns out you have very, very particular in how you place the thermometer. And when you pre-heat and then cook on the enameled grill/griddle — which seemingly weighs more than the oven itself but probably doesn’t, but also definitely don’t drop it on your foot — thinner cuts of meat practically finish before you’ve shut the oven door. Once I made sure the thermometer tip was perfectly centered and not touching the grill, and then fully trusted the machine to tell me the correct amount of cooking time (which often included a suggested resting/plating of any meat for an additional 2-5 minutes), I noticed that June was correct in its cooking assessments. Score one for AI.
  • You can check in on your food using the app and the interior camera. I admittedly forgot about this option after a week, as it seemed superfluous to spy on food that pretty much ended up cooking exactly like it was supposed to cook. 

What needs work:

  • It wasn’t a big deal, but I really didn’t want to take “before” and “after” photos of everything I cooked. So I stopped doing it after the first week. I’m sure this screws something up in the cooking process, but I learned to ignore the prompts.
  • June has a popular breakfast sandwich recipe that I followed. I found its egg cooking to be rather lacking, however. Keep a pan and your traditional stovetop for that morning staple.
  • Sometimes the app would lose track of the dish I was working on, suggesting I “begin cooking” when I already had something going. I’d occasionally have to hack the recipe I was working on so it wouldn’t think I was starting a new dish — this, again, involved a lot of pushing the “keep cooking” prompt.
  • See where you plug in that June Oven thermometer in the picture above? Imagine plugging or unplugging that in small, hot oven space.

The Bottom Line: There were early moments of frustration with June — if you’re a mildly competent home chef (my claim), you have to “unlearn” certain kitchen habits, ignore most of the cookware you currently own and trust the machine. 

But everything I made with June was at worst acceptable and usually very good. No standouts, but there was a wonderful competence to everything. If you have the space and want to simplify (and speed up) your meals, by all means, try one out. Whether this appliance becomes the center of your daily routine or the kitchen equivalent of a Peloton gathering dust and taking up too much space is up to you. Interestingly, if you don’t particularly like to cook but you embrace technology, June might be a fun system to play with (or hack) while getting you to eat a little better.

I’d also suggest if you’re going to buy the June oven, you should go all in and get the “premium” edition, which includes all the accessories (most importantly, the enameled grill). Whatever configuration you get, they all arrive with a 100-day trial period. Even only halfway to that point, I’m not 100% sure if I’m ready to embrace our new kitchen robot overlord, but I’ve come to accept its oversized presence.