Spoilers: Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1 has a name that gives away part of what it does. More spoilers: the '3 in 1' things it does are being an air fryer, a small convection oven, and… a fish tank. Not really! The third thing it does is being a microwave. You can't go wrong if you want tasty food in a hurry.
We’ve become big fans of the best air fryers, mainly because they can cook things like French fries, chicken wings and spring rolls fast and efficiently. More importantly, they can cook food using less or no oil, which means even foodstuffs normally frowned upon for being greasy and not great for your waistline start looking like they’re just about respectable.
However, the traditional air fryer is a tad limited in that it pretty much just fries your food, although it will crisp things up into the bargain. That’s perfect if you’re after super crispy French fries, or perhaps those fried chicken wings, but it leaves a bit of a gap if you're looking for a kitchen appliance that can cater for all of your mealtime needs.
Enter then the Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1. Or, in America and Australia, Breville The Combi Wave 3 in 1. Whatever it's called, this is a mighty machine capable of not just frying your fries, but cooking everything else for dinner too. That’s because it’s a combination appliance that functions as a microwave, convection oven and air fryer too. While you’ve probably already got an oven the Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1 has the potential to replace that, or certainly make you use it less as it can be more efficient to use for many dishes.
Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1: what is it?
Sage's the Combi Wave 3 in 1 is a big and decidedly beefy countertop appliance that, crucially, needs plenty of space. This is partly because of its large 51.9 x 51.3 x 31.6 cm footprint, which is made worse by the fan unit that protrudes from the back, but also due to the fact that it’ll get a lot hotter than any regular microwave because of its electric oven credentials.
The good news about its exterior bulk is the way that the Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1 features plenty of space on the inside. If you’ve got a family that needs to be catered for then this appliance also comes armed with plenty of power, with 1100 watts for the microwave and 1550 watts for the convection oven element. As for capacity the insides can handle 32 litres, which is sizeable enough to prepare a plentiful supply of food no matter what the mealtime might be.
There’s no doubt that the design and build quality on offer from the Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1 helps to justify its price tag. The unit is very nicely put together, with plenty of brushed stainless steel on show, both inside and out. This is topped off by an internal light when you open the door that helps make your food look even more appealing.
The main buttons on the right-hand side of the unit feel great to the touch and, combined with the really nice LCD display deliver an excellent user-friendly experience. The menus are clear, sensible and you even get prompts to help ensure you cook things right, such as being told to use the supplied non-stick pan for air frying something as an example.
Sandwiched between the LCD screen and two large buttons are six function buttons that include Fast Combi, From Frozen, Air Fry, Oven, Microwave and Food Menu. Those large buttons let you dial in timings, temperature and weight settings and offer start and stop simplicity. Combined with the menu system displayed on the LCD screen, which changes from cool blue to orange during operation, it’s all pretty intuitive.
On the inside of the door there is a vertical collection of shortcut buttons that allow you to choose additional functions such as Grill, Keep Warm, Melt Chocolate and Soften Butter. There’s one for Popcorn too. Additional buttons include the ability to change units of measure, adjust the clock and also set the child lock.
Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1: is it any good?
Powering up the Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1 for the first time we found that the menu system is not dissimilar to the Sage’s excellent gadget The Fast Slow Pro pressure cooker. In other words, the layout is crisp, clear and largely logical. It’s worth picking through the supplied manual though as this appliance does a lot of different things. Start pushing buttons aimlessly and you could be looking at a very delayed dinner.
The Combi Wave 3 in 1 comes with a supplied circular trivet, like a grill tray, that can be used to rest food on for more even cooking by sitting it on the included glass microwave plate. There’s also that chunky crisping pan that’s made from non-stick material and boasts three fold down metal legs. You can use it flat on the glass microwave plate or raise it up on the legs depending on what you want to get heat around during cooking. We found this does have a tendency to tip due to the trio of legs, so care is needed during handling, especially when it’s hot.
Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1: performance
We found getting Sage’s the Combi Wave 3 in 1 to deliver optimum performance requires a little bit of practice, especially if you’re going for custom settings. You can, of course, use many of the presets, which generally perform as expected. The three core cooking options; air fryer, convection oven and inverter microwave all functioned predictably enough during the defaults.
However, the Fast Combi setting in particular proved to be really handy for shaving time off oven cooking times. Sage attributes this to its Element IQ system, which apparently pushes heat to where it’s needed most and we found it worked to great effect during air frying and roasting, but it can also be employed for baking duties too. What you effectively get is a mixture of convection oven heat, grilling and microwaving to produce fast and efficient cooking. It worked for us.
What is also impressive about this appliance is the way it can bring life back to food that often becomes quite unappealing if you reheat it. Pizza is a classic dish that can become horribly soggy in a conventional microwave. Sage’s the Combi Wave 3 in 1 is able to tackle this issue and actually reheats food while keeping it crisp and crunchy where needed. We found it really useful for resurrecting flaccid leftovers.
Meanwhile, there’s the ‘A bit more’ button, which is just that, providing you with an extra flourish of heat from whichever mode you’re in if you feel your dish isn’t quite as hot or crunchy as you’d expected. It’s a touch that highlights the Sage designers attention to detail. The 19 built-in smart presets also mean that this appliance is perfect for the lazy eater. However, with practice we found the real appeal of the Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1 was in its super flexible manual settings.
Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1: verdict
This is a machine that really can do a little bit of everything. Sure, it’s a hell of a thing that is big and bulky, but get it into position and start exploring all those settings and you soon start wondering how you managed without it. Top marks to Sage for producing something so good to look at and managing to pack in a bumper collection of intuitive controls too.
The Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1 could certainly replace your oven, and perhaps a couple of other kitchen appliance too, including your microwave and air fryer. Chances are though, you’ve already got an oven built in, so it could just mean you’d use your normal oven less and this a lot more. We think the Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1 could prove more energy efficient over time, particularly thanks to the Fast Combi setting.
There are one or two things that could be classed as minor irritations. As mentioned, if you’ve got the pan in the appliance with the legs folded down it can be a little bit awkward to hold in order to take out and turn food over. Three legs mean it’s got the potential to tip up if you’re the clumsy type. And, while the pan is fine for salmon fillets it’s less practical for a mountain of French fries unless you’re a wiz with a pair of tongs. That’s why the paddle in the Tefal Genius 2-in1 air fryer makes it such a brilliant bit of kit. While Sage's the Combi Wave 3 in 1 pretty much does it all on the cooking front, there is a degree of manual intervention needed.
You’ll also need to let the appliance cool down properly before cleaning it too. Unlike a conventional microwave this has an electric element inside, so make sure you don't reach in with a cloth and touch this if you’ve been cooking with convection heat for example.
Nevertheless, you’ve got lots of capacity at your disposal, plenty of variable heat settings and multiple presets if you’re simply not interested in exploring the finer points of the Combi Wave 3 in 1. Add all of these highlights together and this is an appliance that starts to look like very good value for money at just under the £400 mark.