Why buy a toaster oven?
Many people like to reheat food in the oven rather than the microwave, as they find many leftovers taste better and are crispier from warming in the oven instead. But why heat up a huge traditional oven to bake a potato, make a mini pie, or crisp up some nachos? Small-batch baking is the toaster oven’s forte. With the right countertop toaster oven, you can roast a chicken or turkey, toast open-faced sandwiches, bake a casserole, cook up some chicken nuggets for lunch, reheat leftovers, keep food warm, or make snacks, cookies, and cupcakes.
When you need your ingredients and seasonings to blend well or food to brown or crisp properly during cooking, the toaster oven is a clear choice over a microwave. They can also serve the same function as a regular toaster when it comes to toasting bread, bagels, and the like. Depending on the size and number of racks, you may also be able to toast more than two slices of bread or a single bagel at once.
The best toaster ovens will give you the same results as full-size ovens, with quick, even cooking, using just a fraction of the space. In city apartments, basement rentals, or homes that don’t have a traditional oven, toaster ovens can fill the job. Even if you have an oven, a toaster oven can be used to expand your cooking capacity for big occasion meals.
What should you look for in a toaster oven?
- Temperature Range: Toaster ovens typically range in temperature from 150 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, though the actual range varies from toaster oven to toaster oven. Look carefully to be sure your choice has a temperature range that will work for the ways you plan to cook. Some toaster ovens offer specific settings for types of cooking like broil, toast, convection bake, and warm, and some give you settings for specific types of food, like pizza, waffles, or toast.
- Size: When thinking about toaster oven size, you have to consider both the outside measurements (footprint) and the inside measurement (cooking capacity). Measure your counter space to ensure you have enough room for your toaster oven, allowing for some space around it so that you don’t heat up other things on your counter. Check the internal measurement of a toaster oven to ensure it can comfortably fit the food you want to cook in it.
- Safety: An auto-shutoff feature is always a good safety option in a toaster oven, as it’ll automatically turn off after a certain amount of time, even if you leave it on by mistake; this makes them much less of a fire hazard. Also consider models with a timer, ticking, and a bell that signals when time is up—something you’ll be able to hear clearly from another room so you don’t miss the alert and forget to take your food out. Some models also offer a cool-to-the-touch exterior to help protect your hands from burns.
Can you make baked goods in toaster ovens?
Yes, although its capacity and the number of baked goods you can produce at once will obviously be smaller in a countertop toaster oven compared to a full-sized traditional or wall oven. But as long as it has a bake setting, the temperature range is high enough for your recipes’ needs, and your baking pans properly fit inside it, a toaster oven will work just fine for making smaller batches of little cakes, cookies, muffins, and such.
Just keep in mind that toaster ovens tend to cook faster than traditional ovens. It may take some trial and error with baking times in a toaster oven; check your baked goods every few minutes to ensure they don’t burn, at least until you get the hang of baking in a toaster oven. Some models come with baking instructions and tips, which can help take away a lot of the guesswork.
Also be sure to never use parchment paper in a toaster oven, whether baking or otherwise, since the heating elements are so close to the pan, it’s a huge fire risk.
Cuisinart TOB-40N Custom Classic Toaster Oven
This stainless steel toaster oven boasts an array of useful and safe features, including a cool-touch handle and removable crumb tray.
Pros: Made out of stainless steel to provide an attractive look with long-lasting durability, this is a great toaster oven for just about any kitchen. It has five baking and cooking functions (toasting, bagel-specific toasting, broiling, baking, and keeping warm) plus a darkness shade adjuster that allows you to pick how well done you like your toast and bagels. It also features an automatic shutoff and a cool-to-the-touch handle. There are two different rack positions just like in a regular, standard-sized oven, so you can move your food further or closer to the heat source as needed for the cooking process. Besides the usual baking pan, this toaster oven comes with a wire rack, a recipe book, and a crumb tray, the latter of which is especially handy for quicker and easier cleanup. These accessories give you a little extra value for your money when this toaster oven is already priced slightly below average.
Cons: Unlike most toaster ovens, this model doesn’t have its own built-in timer. You’ll have to set baking times on your phone or regular oven or microwave. The letters and numbers on the controls are quite tiny and hard to read for some, so don’t forget your reading glasses when you’re using this toaster oven.
Bottom Line: This sleek, modern-looking toaster oven heats up nice and quickly and has almost every feature you could want in a toaster oven. It’s big enough to fit an 11-inch pizza or six slices of toast at once without taking up more than its fair share of countertop space.
Oster Countertop Toaster Oven
Two racks and an extra-large interior make this toaster oven perfect for family-sized baking.
Pros: This two-rack, durable stainless steel convection toaster oven has a large interior that’s 15.75 inches wide, 16 inches deep, and 8.9 inches high—enough room to cook a family-sized chicken, bake a large casserole, cook two large frozen pizzas, or toast 18 slices of bread. Its countertop footprint is only 19.29 by 21.65 by 12.91 inches. The oven’s temperature ranges from 200 to 450 degrees, with digital settings for pizza, bake, broil, and defrost. The 90-minute timer will automatically shut off the oven if the device overheats, while the turbo convection setting gives you fast, even heat, so you can get cooking or toasting faster. All the settings are clearly marked and displayed digitally for easy reading. For a little bit of extra money, you can also buy a version of this toaster oven with an air fryer setting as well.
Cons: This one doesn’t have a specialty bagel toasting setting or allow you to pick a darkness setting for your toast; you’ll have to experiment with the time a bit to figure out how to get your toast as dark or light as you prefer. Be very careful around this toaster oven when it’s in use, as it grows very hot when cooking or toasting and doesn’t have a cool-touch handle. Always use oven mitts when removing your food.
Bottom Line: Having access to more than one oven is useful for someone who cooks and bakes in large quantities, especially when hosting family or other guests. If you don’t have the space or money for an extra one, this large toaster oven makes a perfect substitute for an additional oven for daily cooking and holiday entertaining.
LUBY Large Toaster Oven
The unique French doors are a stylish and convenient design feature of this large toaster oven.
Pros: The French door design of this countertop toaster oven is stylish and convenient for getting pans of food in and out without obstruction. With its large interior (16.4 inches wide by 15.9 inches deep by 8.5 inches high), you’ll have enough room to cook a 20-pound turkey or 24 muffins with ease. You should even be able to use your full-sized pans for the regular oven in this device. Controls are simple and include a 60-minute timer with an auto-shutoff and a signal bell to ensure your food won’t overcook. The temperature range is 150 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can set the upper and lower racks to have their own separate temperatures if you want to cook two different types of food at once.
Cons: This isn’t a convection toaster oven, so it will grow quite hot during use, so be sure to put it in a safe spot. Some users also reported issues with the doors staying propped open, which may cause a bit of a hassle.
Bottom Line: You may not think of a toaster oven as a place to cook entire meals for the whole family or a full batch of baked goods, but this model allows you to do just that. The larger interior capacity has room for more foods than most, and with the precise temperature control of the two different racks, you can even cook a chicken on one while roasting vegetables or another side dish simultaneously.
BLACK+DECKER 4-Slice Toaster Oven
This multifunctional toaster oven is the perfect budget-friendly option.
Pros: This budget-friendly toaster oven is great for small living spaces. It fits up to four pieces of toast at once or cooks a 9-inch pizza, but it takes up minimal space on your counter, with an external measure of only 9.07 inches high by 11.63 inches wide. It has a temperature range of 200 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, control for browning levels, and a stay-on feature that makes regular baking easier. Besides the rack and appropriately sized baking tray, you also receive a handy crumb tray that fits along the bottom to catch crumbs, drippings, and other cooking debris. This makes the toaster oven much easier to keep clean.
Cons: The timer on this model only goes up to 30 minutes rather than the usual 60 to 90 minutes many toaster ovens have. This makes it a bit of pain for anything that takes longer to cook. And it does have fewer functions and modes than many other, pricier toaster ovens.
Bottom Line: Though much less expensive than full-sized ovens, toaster ovens can still cost a decent bit of money. If you don’t need anything fancy or have a more limited household budget, this toaster oven will get the job done nicely without costing an arm and a leg.
Calphalon Air Fryer Toaster Oven
This high-end toaster oven features a whole array of extra cooking and baking features, including an air fryer option.
Pros: If you want something more extensive and functional than the average toaster oven, this premium model should be just what you’re looking for. Most notable are all the extra functions it provides beyond the usual five or six that most models offer; it not only bakes, toasts, broils, roasts, toasts bagels, and keeps your food warm but also works as an air fryer, dehydrates, reheats, and has a special setting just for pizzas, all in one appliance. It’s also large and deep enough to fit a 12-inch pizza or a spatchcocked chicken with vegetables. The turbo convection feature provides superior airflow and faster cooking, while the interior light allows you to check on your food while it’s roasting or toasting without opening up the doors and disrupting the process. The LCD display is high contrast for easier reading and all the controls, settings, and modes are clearly marked with easy-to-use dials. You also receive not just a wire rack and non-stick baking pan with your purchase but a crumb tray and air fryer basket as well.
Cons: This toaster oven comes with a premium price tag to match its premium status, so it’s not a particularly budget-friendly option. Be careful to use oven mitts when opening it and to not place it right up against your wall or with any wires behind it, as it grows very hot when in use.
Bottom Line: This is about as high-end a toaster oven as you’ll be able to find on the market. It may cost more than your average toaster oven, but the 11-in-1 cooking functionality, turbo convection feature, large size, and bonus features make it well worth the money if your budget can accommodate it.
If you don’t have space for a traditional oven or want something to supplement your current oven, a toaster oven can be an excellent solution. They’re more versatile and multifunctional than a simple toaster and reheat food better than a microwave. As long as you have the countertop space available, a toaster oven will be a useful addition to pretty much any kitchen.