GoWise Steam Air Fryer Review: An OK Combo Cooker

More complicated was ginger soy fish which steamed, half submerged in a mix of lime, soy sauce, and sesame oil. The recipe instructs you to put a shallow bowl small enough to cook the fish inside the cooking basket. It also needs to be large enough to hold the fish, and your fingers will thank you for figuring out how to extract the hot dish before you hit the Start button. That said, it made for a surprisingly quick and lovely meal.

Mess of Both Worlds

Next came combo cooking, where I was hoping to get a bit of the best of both worlds: Steaming for tender interiors, then a hot blast to crisp the exterior. I learned quickly that using combo mode meant it would only steam, then cook. Programming it felt like trying to figure out a Konami code. The touchscreen controls look sleek but are a complicated jumble best overcome with brute memorization. Adding time at the end of cooking (steam or combo) means you have to reset the temperature, which defaults to 370 degrees at the end of every cycle. Then you punch in the extra time.

You’re either beholden to GoWise’s recipes or laboriously experimenting with times and temperatures cribbed from them if you want to cook something else. I came to wish that the book was titled 100 Basic Recipes, with times and temperatures and charts. I would happily take a basic instruction manual in exchange for GoWise’s mediocre or strange takes on broccoli—blasted, but counterproductively coated with yogurt—or Italian stuffed peppers with “low-carb marinara sauce,” whatever that is.

I made stuffed mushrooms, a throwback hors d’oeuvre, stuffed with three cheeses folded into cream cheese with Worcestershire sauce and garlic, which I kinda just wanted to slather on my Triscuits. After eight minutes of steam and another eight with a 400-degree blast of hot air, they came out well. There’s not much to not like if you’re a fan of cheese and mushrooms, but the mushroom caps were a bit waterlogged. I wish I’d preblasted them before adding the filling, but that seems to go against the simplified ethos of air fryer cooking.

Perhaps the best combo-mode success came with honey-soy chicken thighs. After muddling my way through the poorly written recipe and stealing a few techniques and cooking temperatures from other recipes, they came out exceedingly well. They were tender and moist, with a crispy flavorful exterior, perhaps the best thing I made in the GoWise.

As with all smart kitchen appliances with apps, I was skeptical of GoWise’s. Not to gloat or anything, but my opinion did not change here. I cringed when I noticed more one-star than five-star reviews in the app store, and little in between. The featured review happened to mention the biscuit recipe was “wrong.” I pulled up the app, figuring the company must have corrected whatever it was by now, but no. The ingredients do not call for butter, but the first line of the procedure does. Due diligence done, I deleted the app.

Modern Conveniences

Despite this, I enjoyed my time with the GoWise. It cooked well enough and is pleasingly quiet. I love that the basket and tray are dishwasher-safe. No need to muck up that simplified ethos with five minutes of standing over the sink scrubbing out crusty bits! Though there were plenty of duds, I appreciated that it comes with 100 recipes, especially the ones that help users take advantage of the steaming and combo-cooking functions. I would have been much more interested in the whole thing if I could have controlled the heat during the steam cycle. You can do a lot of interesting stuff in a “regular” steam oven, but pegging the temperature at 212 really hamstrings the fun you could have with it.

Small black device with a digital screen and buttons on top and compartment below

Photograph: Amazon

The bigger problem with this air fryer is shared with all dedicated air fryers: They only do one thing (or, in this case, two), take up a ton of counter space, and have surprisingly little space for cooking. If you like air frying, use the convection setting you may have on the built-in oven you already own, or make sure the next built-in you buy has it.

If you really want a countertop air fryer, get the toaster-oven style, so you can air fry, bake, broil, or toast, with a more ample space. (Yes, the toaster-oven style has an even larger footprint, can be harder to clean, and takes a little longer to heat up, but still.) If you’re convinced you want a stand-alone air fryer, the GoWise is OK. The company should first sunset the app as an act of mercy. Just grab a copy of Air Fryer Perfection instead of the company’s recipe book and have some fun.