The Five Best Toaster Ovens
Do you want to make perfect toast for a crowd or cook a small meal without heating up a large oven? Then you need a toaster oven. The best toaster oven will fit perfectly in your kitchen and will be able to handle all of the tasks you throw its way, from toasting bread and bagels to baking a small batch of cookies–See which toaster oven works best for you.
How to Choose the Right Toaster Oven
Whether you’re shopping in-store or browsing online, the number of toaster oven options can be overwhelming. While some models are pretty bare bones and will toast, bake, and if you’re lucky, broil food, others claim to provide a top-of-the-line small oven experience. They come with settings such as “Pizza,” “Roast,” and “Keep Warm.”
While the features are the toaster oven offers are essential things to consider when picking the best toaster oven, they aren’t the only thing to look for. You also want to consider whether the oven will fit on your countertop or in the space you have for it, how it performs, and how it looks.
Important Characteristics to Consider
There are several important characteristics you’ll want to weigh before you decide on the right toaster oven.
Size –Inside and Out
When it comes to toaster ovens, size matters. Get an oven that’s too big, and you might not have space for it on your counter. Get an oven that’s too small, and it might not be able to hold the pans or baking dishes you bought to use with it.
Take a look at the exterior dimensions of any toaster ovens you’re considering as well as the interior dimensions. As Consumer Reports points out, sometimes, toaster ovens that seem large or that have a significant exterior footprint have very little room inside. Occasionally, even the biggest of countertop ovens aren’t able to toast six slices of bread at once.
It’s a good idea to measure the space you have the for toaster oven before you start taking a closer look at the models available. Measure the length and width of available counter space, as well as the clearance between the surface of the counter and any cabinets above it. Toaster ovens often need a fair amount of space on the top and sides while they are in use. The sides and top heat up and can be a fire hazard if a wall or cabinet is too close.
After you have an idea of the room you have for the small oven, think about what you plan on making it in. Do you plan on toasting no more than two slices of bread at once or do you want to prepare up to six slices at a time? Are you going to heat up a frozen pizza in the oven?
If you are going to use the oven for pizza, the rack should be at least 12 inches across. Most frozen pizzas are that size or a little smaller. Baking sheets and pans designed for toaster ovens are usually less than 12 inches deep and long.
One of the reasons people choose to invest in a toaster oven is because the smaller ovens use less energy than a standard oven. According to TreeHugger, the best toaster oven will use about half the amount of power as a conventional oven.
But not all toaster ovens are created equally. Some are more powerful –and use more electricity–than others. That does affect their performance, but it can also mean higher energy bills for you. Usually, toaster ovens use around 1100 to 1800 watts, depending on the model.
The wattage might not be something you care about, but if you’re concerned about your electric bill or want to lower your energy use, it’s better to go lower. Using more watts doesn’t necessarily mean your oven will cook more efficiently. It does mean that it will use more energy, though.
Heats Food Evenly
Whether you’re cooking a pizza in your toaster oven or multiple slices of bread, you don’t want half of the food to burn while the other half remains uncooked. The ideal countertop oven will heat and cook food at the back of the oven at the same rate that it heats and cooks food in the front.
Toaster ovens that feature convection are might be better able to heat and cook food evenly than ovens that merely rely on two heating elements on the top and bottom. Convection ovens have a fan that blows the hot air around the inside of the oven so that all areas of the interior end up getting the same amount of heat.
Keeps Accurate Temperature
If you set your toaster oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, is it heating up to that temperature? An oven that gets hotter than 350 degrees is just as a bad as one that doesn’t get as hot as it claims. In one case, you end up with food that cooks too quickly and possible burns. In the other, you end up waiting forever for the toast to toast or for a pizza to bake.
Some toasters just look better than others. They have sleek controls and are made of shiny stainless steel. Others might be made from a white or black plastic and have chunky knobs.
The design of a toaster oven goes beyond looks, too. Some models have design features that help them function better or that make them easier to use. For example, you might find a toaster oven that has an auto-eject rack. The door of the oven might have hooks or magnets that pull the shelf out whenever you open it, making it easier to take food out or put it in the oven, without burning yourself.
Safety is a significant consideration when buying the best toaster oven. You don’t want to risk a fire by leaving the oven on all day, so looking for one that has an auto-shutoff feature is a good idea.
Another safety feature you’re likely to see on any toaster oven is a very short cord. A short cord might make it difficult to find an outlet to plug your oven into or might limit the places you can put your new toaster oven in the kitchen. But the goal is to reduce the chance of having someone trip over the cord and knock the oven to the floor.
Additional Features to Look For in a Toaster Oven
While some features are a must-have in the best toaster oven, others are merely bells and whistles. They might make the oven a bit easier to use or improve its functionality somewhat, but if they aren’t present, they might not be deal breakers.
Usually, the interior of a toaster oven features a non-stick interior. That might not seem like that exciting of a feature, but it can come in handy if something you’re cooking spills onto the bottom or sides of the oven. The non-stick finish makes it easier to keep the inside of the oven clean.
You won’t find automatic shutoff on all toaster oven models. But if you’re the type of person who often forgets to turn off the iron or coffee maker, having an auto shutoff feature on your toaster oven can be a literal lifesaver.
Being able to adjust the height of the baking rack inside the oven can influence how quickly or evening it cooks. It also plays a role in determining how browned and crispy your food gets. If you’re interested in broiling your food with a toaster oven, being able to raise the rack so that it’s closer to the heating element can be useful.
Many toaster ovens, even the lower end models, come with a baking pan or sheet. Since you’re most likely getting an oven to do more than toast slices of bread, having a sheet that fits inside of it is usually pretty important.
Like the baking pan or sheet, the broiling rack often comes standard with a toaster oven. Whether you need one or not depends on how much broiling you plan on doing.
Beyond baking, broiling, and toasting, what other functions do you want your toaster oven to have? Somme ovens feature the bare minimum, while others have enough functions potentially to replace a full-sized oven completely.
For example, some toaster ovens have a pizza function, and others will roast vegetables or cook a rotisserie chicken. Another standard feature on higher-end toaster ovens is a freezer button, which adds a few minutes to the cooking time for items that come directly from the freezer.
Digital Controls and Display
Older toaster oven styles featured knobs for setting the temperature, cooking function and time. These days, you’re likely to see digital controls and displays, which allow for a greater degree of accuracy when setting the temperature and cook time.
Top Five Toaster Ovens For 2018
The KitchenAid toaster oven is so much more than just a toaster oven. It has features that let you keep food warm, broil and bake side dishes and heat up a pizza from frozen. It’s meant to be used alongside your conventional oven, making it a perfect companion for those times when you’re preparing major meals.
The oven comes with a collection of baking sheets and racks and is large enough to accommodate two 12-inch pizzas at the same time.
- Includes nine pre-programmed cooking functions.
- Interior is non-stick, which makes for easy cleaning.
- Has a digital display, which shows the oven temperature and cooking time. You can set the time for up to 120 minutes.
- Includes a convection option for fast, even cooking.
- You set the time and temperature using knobs, which can be fiddly to use.
- There’s no light inside the oven, so it can be difficult to check on the status of food you’re cooking without opening the door.
- Measures 18 by 16.1 by 12.1 inches, which might be too big for smaller kitchens.
If nothing less than the best will do, the Wolf Gourmet toaster oven might be what you’ve been searching for. It holds up to a quarter sheet baking pan or a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and has six cooking functions (bake, broil, warm, roast, proof, and toast). It also has a convection fan for even cooking.
- Includes a temperature probe, so you can monitor the internal temperature of meats and other food while they cook.
- Has five heating elements, which allows it to cook food evenly.
- Convection feature lets it cook food in less time than a standard oven.
- Includes an auto-shutoff.
- The rack is adjustable.
- Large size means it takes up a considerable amount of space. The exterior measures 22.5 by 22 by 12.5 inches.
- The oven is very heavy — 40 pounds.
- Costs almost as a much as a standard oven.
The Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Toaster Oven is the model you want if you’re in the market for a simple design and are looking for a toaster oven with limited thrills. Although it’s got a petite footprint, the inside of the oven is large enough to hold a full six slices of toast or a 12-inch pizza.
The oven’s door opens up and away from the toaster oven, rather than out like a typical oven door. Since the door swings up, it’s more difficult, if not impossible for food to spill onto the door as you remove it.
- Small size means it’s a good fit for even the smallest of kitchens or those with very limited counter space.
- Features a crumb tray, which can you slide out and wash by hand or in the dishwasher.
- Has a convection feature for even, fast cooking.
- Timer only goes up to 30 minutes, so you’d need to constantly reset it if you’re cooking something that takes longer.
- A limited number of cooking functions (bake, toast, broil, and convection).
- No digital display.
The Cuisinart Exact Heat Toaster Oven has built-in functions that help it regulate the temperature of the oven, so your food cooks evenly and precisely. The oven offers several cooking functions, including bake, broil, bagel, reheat and defrost.
- Includes a digital display and electronic touchpad controls, which make it easy to set the temperature and time.
- Large enough to hold six slices of bread.
- Interior is large enough to hold small casserole dishes or two small hens.
- The convection fan is very noisy and seems added on as an afterthought.
- The door is glass and people have complained that theirs has shattered while the oven is in use.
The Breville Mini Smart Oven claims that it can move the heat to where it’s needed, providing even cooking. As you might guess from its name, the oven is smaller than average and holds only four slices of bread. If space is limited in your kitchen, it might be ideal for you.
- Element IQ feature adjusts the heat of the four heating elements, so that food cooks evenly.
- Has an auto-shutoff feature and an adjustable cooking rack.
- Digital display lets you toggle between Fahrenheit and Celsius.
- Small interior only holds four slices of toast or an 11-inch pizza.
- Buzzer that signals that cooking time is over is very loud.
Also check out Best Toaster Ovens Under $100
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