Nothing beats the convenience and versatility of a toaster oven. In the summer, when it's too hot to preheat a full-size oven, a miniature version works just as well to cook frozen pizzas and flatbreads. A toaster oven is also useful for those who lack room for a stove.
Are you looking for a unit for your space-challenged kitchen, or are you just looking for a model that will deliver perfectly toasted bread? Whether it's for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there's a toaster oven to fit your needs.
Considerations when choosing
It's likely that you'll be housing your brand-new toaster oven on your countertop, so it's essential to consider your available space. How much counter real estate you're willing to allocate to your toaster oven will dictate whether you select a large model or a compact one.
Do you have little ones? It's important to note that a toaster oven heats up very quickly and the outside gets really hot, which can be dangerous for curious little fingers. Some models might feature heatproof sides, but that doesn't mean the material will stay completely cool to the touch. Always be careful when using this type of product. Make sure you set your toaster oven on a level surface and that the cord doesn't dangle over the counter.
Toaster oven features
Cooking modes: Typical cooking modes for a toaster oven include baking and toasting, but you can find devices that also include modes such as broil, reheat, and convection. Convection is a specialized feature that allows for even cooking and baking. Toaster ovens with this feature are typically priced above $60.
Temperature: If you just want to use your toaster oven to toast bread, the temperature options don't matter that much. But there's no reason to limit yourself. Many models can heat up as high as 500°F, making them perfect for baking things like pizza or frozen foods. If you frequently cook frozen pizzas, choose a toaster oven that's deep enough to fit your favorite pie. Some models even have a specialty pizza setting.
Easy-open glass door: This is a must if you want to be able to see inside and check on your food. Most toaster ovens have a see-through door, but some have larger windows than others. Choose a model with a door that opens smoothly, so there's no force required to access the interior.
Timer: Like on a regular-size oven, a timer is an important feature that helps you keep tabs on whatever you're cooking. Without the reminder, it's easy to forget and burn your food.
Multiple racks: Some models have trays and different rack heights so you can cook more than one item at once. Models with multiple racks or trays are typically larger and have a bigger footprint. Most budget toaster ovens under $60 come with at least one rack.
Q. Can a toaster oven replace a full-size oven?
A. That depends on your needs. You certainly can't cook a Thanksgiving meal for a dozen guests with just a toaster oven, but for a single person who doesn't entertain a lot of guests, a large toaster oven may be a suitable alternative.
Q. Why not use a regular pop-up toaster?
A. A toaster oven is more versatile than a traditional toaster. If you like to make frozen appetizers or cook pizzas in addition to enjoying a morning piece of toast, a toaster oven enables you to do so without the wait time involved in preheating a full-size oven.
Toaster ovens we recommend
Best of the best: Breville Smart Oven Convection Toaster Oven
Our take: A high-end toaster oven with plenty of features to satisfy breakfast lovers and pizza snobs alike.
What we like: The large interior can fit a lot more than other models, and there are three rack heights to enable users to cook a variety of items at once.
What we dislike: It's a big unit, so expect to sacrifice some counter space.
Best bang for your buck: Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Oven with Convection
Our take: A low-cost option for those who want reliability and performance without spending too much.
What we like: The interior is generously sized -- it fits a 12-inch pizza. The budget-friendly oven even has a convection setting.
What we dislike: The exterior gets fairly hot. Some parts aren't stainless and could be vulnerable to rusting.
Choice 3: Black+Decker 4-Slice Toaster Oven
Our take: An affordable toaster oven suitable for low-volume cooking. Good basic toaster oven.
What we like: It's inexpensive and compact, so it's perfect for those low on space.
What we dislike: The interior is limited in size.
Steph Coelho is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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