Have you ever wished your kitchen had a versatile, energy-efficient, and space-saving appliance that could handle a variety of cooking tasks?
Meet the toaster oven, an under appreciated kitchen hero that combines the capabilities of both a toaster and a traditional oven.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of toaster ovens, their functions, types, key features, cooking tips, comparisons with other appliances, and top picks for 2023.
So let’s dive in and learn “what is a toaster oven?” and why it might just become your new favorite kitchen appliance!
- Toaster ovens are a versatile, energy-efficient countertop appliance with many advantages over traditional ovens.
- Consider size, capacity, temperature control and settings when selecting a toaster oven for individual needs and preferences.
- This article provides top picks for 2023 suitable for various needs and budgets. The Cuisinart Air Fry Toaster Oven is our best overall pick while the Hamilton Beach 4 Slice Toaster Oven offers great value.
Understanding Toaster Ovens
A toaster oven is a small electric countertop appliance that brings together the features of an oven and a toaster, making it a versatile option among toaster and countertop ovens.
Capable of roasting various meals and foods like small roast beef, fish filets, bacon, and vegetables at higher temperatures than baking, it can also be used in conjunction with a full-sized oven to roast smaller casseroles or side dishes while the main oven holds a larger dish.
Moreover, it’s perfect for basic tasks such as making toast, reheating pizza, and baking frozen snacks.
Many toaster ovens use one-third to one-half less energy than a conventional oven when preparing small meals, making them more energy efficient, and they typically preheat in 5 minutes or less, which is faster than most traditional ovens.
Toaster ovens outshine traditional ovens in several ways. They:
- Allow for direct toasting on the oven rack by removing the pan
- Can maintain a cooler kitchen environment during warmer months
- Consume less than 0.2 watts in standby mode, enhancing their energy efficiency
These benefits clearly underscore the value a good toaster oven brings to any kitchen.
The best toaster ovens primarily function for:
Toasting in a toaster oven is achieved by broiling, which involves providing a final blast of heat to food by placing it close to the heating element without touching it, similar to the broiling function in a convection oven.
When baking, simply select the ‘bake’ mode and set the preferred temperature, then place the food to be baked in an appropriate container and insert it into the toaster oven.
For broiling, arrange the food on the baking pan and place it on the rack, allowing for a final blast of searing heat to be applied to the food without touching the heating element.
With their swift preheating, toaster ovens excel at:
- Reheating leftovers
- Cooking frozen foods
- Toasting bread
- Small-scale baking
They are especially efficient for reheating small dishes or toasting items that are buttered.
Most toaster ovens can accommodate four to six slices of toast or a 9-inch pizza, making them ideal for baking small batches of cookies, chicken breasts, casseroles, and lasagnas, as well as broiling seafood and small vegetables.
Since toaster ovens have less space to heat, the trade-off is in the amount of food that can be cooked at once, but they can also be used to defrost frozen foods by selecting the ‘defrost’ option and placing the food in a safe container.
Advantages Over Traditional Ovens
Significant advantages emerge when we compare toaster ovens to traditional ovens.
Toaster ovens are generally more energy efficient due to their smaller size, which means they consume less energy to heat up, as well as their smaller cooking area, which does not require as much energy to maintain a consistent temperature.
Furthermore, toaster ovens are more compact and occupy less counter space than traditional ovens, making them ideal for smaller kitchens and households.
The quicker preheating times of toaster ovens also stand as a significant advantage.
Toaster ovens preheat faster than traditional ovens, allowing for a quicker start to the cooking process, which can result in time and energy savings as the oven does not need to remain on for as long to reach the desired temperature.
Hence, if you desire a kitchen appliance that conserves energy, optimizes space, and saves time, a toaster oven may be the ideal solution for you.
Types of Toaster Ovens
There are several types of toaster ovens available on the market, including:
- Countertop toaster ovens
- Convection toaster ovens
- Rotisserie toaster ovens
- Infrared toaster ovens
- Combination toaster ovens
Some toaster ovens feature multiple oven racks for added versatility. Convection toaster ovens utilize a fan to circulate hot air around the food, leading to faster cooking times and more even cooking.
Air fryer toaster ovens employ a combination of hot air and a negligible amount of oil to cook food expeditiously and uniformly.
Compact toaster ovens, on the other hand, are typically smaller than traditional toaster ovens and designed to fit on countertops.
Each type of toaster oven comes with distinct features and benefits, addressing a variety of needs and preferences.
For instance, if you prefer a more energy-efficient option with faster cooking times, a convection toaster oven might be your best bet.
However, if a healthier cooking option is what you seek, an air fryer toaster oven could be well-suited to your needs.
And if you have limited kitchen space, a compact toaster oven can save the day without compromising functionality.
Convection Toaster Ovens
Convection toaster ovens offer the following advantages:
- Even heating
- Faster cooking times
- Convection cooking feature that uses a fan to circulate hot air around the food, resulting in more even cooking and faster cooking times than a traditional oven without the convection feature
- Additional features such as a rotisserie, broiler, and timer, offering even more cooking possibilities.
When compared to air fryer toaster ovens, convection toaster ovens usually have less robust convection fans, but they still provide faster cooking and a slightly crisper texture due to the even distribution of heat.
If you’re looking for a toaster oven that offers faster and more even cooking, a convection toaster oven might be the ideal choice for you. Here are some benefits of using a convection toaster oven:
- Faster cooking time
- More even cooking
- Energy efficiency
- Consistent results
Not only will it save you time and energy, but it will also ensure that your meals are cooked to perfection every time.
Air Fryer Toaster Ovens
Air fryer toaster ovens are designed to provide healthier cooking options by using a combination of hot air and a minimal amount of oil to cook food quickly and evenly.
They are typically equipped with a timer and temperature control, as well as additional features like a rotisserie and a broiler.
Some air fryer toaster ovens, like the Hamilton Beach model, have been found to produce crispy and juicy wings and fries that retain their texture and moisture.
The Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer is a smart oven air fryer. Pro is the most advanced air fryer toaster oven and the upgrade pick for 2023, offering more powerful convection fans for faster crisping and additional settings for proofing bread, slow cooking, and dehydrating.
If you’re looking for a toaster oven that offers healthier cooking options without sacrificing taste and texture, an air fryer toaster oven might be the perfect choice for you.
With its versatile cooking features and the ability to cook food quickly and evenly, it’s a great addition to any health-conscious home.
Compact Toaster Ovens
Compact toaster ovens are designed for individuals or small households with limited kitchen space, offering a convenient and space-saving solution without compromising functionality.
These ovens are smaller versions of traditional toaster ovens, designed to take up less space on the countertop while still providing the same functionality, such as:
- reheating food
Compact toaster ovens usually come with a timer and temperature control, as well as additional features like a rotisserie and a broiler, providing a wide range of cooking options in a small package.
If you have limited kitchen space but still want a versatile and efficient cooking appliance, a compact toaster oven could be the ideal choice for you.
With its smaller size and wide range of cooking functions, it’s perfect for those who want the benefits of a toaster oven without taking up too much valuable counter space.
Key Features to Consider
A set of key factors, including size and capacity, temperature control and settings, and the included accessories and extras, must be considered when purchasing a toaster oven.
These features can greatly impact the performance, versatility, and user experience of your toaster oven, making it essential to find a model that meets your specific needs and preferences.
For example, if you regularly cook for a larger family or like to entertain guests, a toaster oven with a larger capacity and multiple cooking functions would be more suitable than a smaller model with limited features.
However, if you have limited kitchen space or primarily use your toaster oven for toasting bread and reheating leftovers, a compact model with basic functions might be a better fit.
Regardless of your individual requirements, it’s crucial to carefully consider these key features and choose a toaster oven that suits your needs and lifestyle.
Size and Capacity
Selecting the right size and capacity for your toaster oven is a critical step in the purchasing process. To begin, assess the amount of counter space you have available, as well as the types of dishes you plan to cook in the toaster oven.
For instance, if you often cook large meals or need an oven capable of accommodating a baking tray, you may want to opt for a larger model, such as a countertop oven.
However, if you have limited countertop space or mainly use your toaster oven for toasting bread and reheating small dishes, a compact toaster oven might be a better fit.
When choosing a toaster oven, it’s also essential to consider its capacity. Most toaster ovens can accommodate four to six slices of toast or a 9-inch pizza, making them suitable for small households or individuals.
However, if you require more cooking space, you may want to consider a larger model with multiple oven racks for added versatility and capacity.
Temperature Control and Settings
Accurate temperature control and versatile cooking settings are crucial factors to consider when selecting a toaster oven, as they enable precise control over the cooking process.
With adjustable temperature settings, you can select the optimal temperature for different types of food, ensuring even cooking and achieving the desired level of doneness.
This is especially important for recipes that require specific temperature ranges, such as baking or roasting.
Furthermore, temperature control allows for personalization of the cooking process to suit individual preferences, whether you prefer a crisper or softer texture.
Toaster ovens offer a range of settings and functions, such as:
- Air fry
- Slow cook
These functions provide even greater versatility in the kitchen.
When choosing a toaster oven, consider the variety of cooking settings and functions it offers, as well as how easy it is to use and customize these settings, to ensure you select a model that meets your specific cooking needs and preferences.
Accessories and Extras
In addition to the main features and functions, many toaster ovens come with accessories and extras that can enhance your cooking experience and provide added convenience. These may include:
- Multiple oven racks for increased cooking flexibility
- Baking pans for different types of dishes
- Removable crumb trays for easy cleaning
- Air frying baskets for healthier cooking options
- Pizza stones for crispy crusts
- Rotisserie spits for juicy, flavorful meats
These additional features allow for even more cooking possibilities and make your toaster oven a versatile kitchen appliance.
When choosing a toaster oven, consider the accessories and extras it comes with, as well as any additional features that may be important to you.
By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that you select a toaster oven that not only meets your specific cooking needs, but also provides added convenience and versatility in the kitchen.
Cooking Tips and Techniques
Following some practical cooking tips and techniques is essential to fully utilize your toaster oven and achieve optimal results.
These tips will help you use your toaster oven effectively, ensure that your food is cooked evenly and to the desired level of doneness, and prolong the life of your appliance.
Following these tips and techniques will not only improve your cooking experience, but also enhance the overall performance of your toaster oven.
These cooking tips and techniques will come in handy, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice in the world of toaster ovens, helping you maximize your appliance usage and guarantee perfectly cooked meals every time.
The necessity of preheating your toaster oven lies in ensuring uniform heat distribution and achieving perfect cooking results. To properly preheat your toaster oven, simply follow these steps:
- Turn on your toaster oven and set it to the desired temperature.
- Allow the oven to heat up for a few minutes before placing your food inside. This will help to guarantee even cooking and avoid any cold spots in your food.
- The suggested preheating time for most toaster ovens, such as the Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Toaster Oven, is approximately 5 minutes.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your toaster oven is properly preheated and ready to cook your food to perfection.
In addition to ensuring even cooking, preheating your toaster oven can also help to:
- Eliminate any industrial residues that may be present in the oven
- Ensure that your food is cooked to perfection
- Keep your appliance clean and free from any unwanted residue.
By taking the time to preheat your toaster oven before use, you can enjoy delicious meals and maintain the cleanliness of your appliance.
The optimal placement of food items within your toaster oven is essential for even cooking and best results. When placing food in your toaster oven, be sure to:
- Leave enough space between the food and the heating elements to avoid burning or uneven cooking.
- If your toaster oven has multiple rack positions, make use of them to ensure the food is cooked to the desired level of doneness.
- For example, if you’re toasting bread, you may need to lower the toast shade setting for each successive batch to prevent burning.
It’s also important to regularly monitor your food while it’s cooking in the toaster oven to avoid burning or overcooking.
By keeping an eye on your food and adjusting the cooking time and temperature as needed, you can ensure that your meals are cooked to perfection every time.
Cleaning and Maintenance
For optimal performance and longevity of your toaster oven, proper cleaning and maintenance are vital.
To keep your toaster oven clean, be sure to regularly remove and empty the crumb tray to prevent grease from dripping onto the lower heating element.
Additionally, it’s important to clean the interior of your toaster oven as instructed by the manufacturer or the care and maintenance section in a guide.
This will help prevent the buildup of grease and food particles, which can negatively impact the performance and lifespan of your appliance.
When it comes to cleaning the rack and accessories of your toaster oven, wash them in warm, soapy water to remove any residue or food particles.
By taking the time to properly clean and maintain your toaster oven, you can ensure that it continues to perform at its best and lasts for years to come.
Toaster Oven vs. Other Appliances
With their unique features and benefits, toaster ovens distinguish themselves from other kitchen appliances. Here are some key differences between toaster ovens, countertop ovens, and air fryers:
- Toaster ovens are smaller in size and have a more limited selection of settings compared to countertop ovens.
- Countertop ovens can be used for full cooking, roasting, and baking of multiple recipes.
- Air fryers provide a healthier cooking option, as they utilize a convection mechanism that circulates hot air and requires less oil than traditional frying methods.
However, when comparing toaster ovens to other appliances such as countertop ovens, air fryers, and slot toasters, it’s clear that toaster ovens offer numerous benefits. These include:
- Larger cooking capacity
- More versatile in terms of cooking methods
- Smaller size
- Increased versatility
- Improved energy efficiency when compared to traditional ovens
These advantages make toaster ovens an ideal choice for those seeking a convenient and efficient cooking appliance.
There are some key differences to consider when comparing countertop ovens and toaster ovens. Countertop ovens are typically larger than toaster ovens, providing a greater capacity for cooking larger meals and accommodating larger baking trays.
They also offer more capabilities, including baking, roasting, and broiling, allowing for greater versatility in the kitchen.
On the other hand, toaster ovens are more compact and take up less counter space, making them ideal for smaller kitchens and households.
They also offer a range of cooking functions, such as toasting, baking, broiling, and reheating, making them a more versatile option for those who require a smaller appliance with multiple cooking capabilities.
Both air fryers and toaster ovens with air frying capabilities bring their own set of advantages and disadvantages to the table when it comes to cooking.
Air fryers are more efficient in terms of cooking time and require less oil, making them a healthier choice for frying.
However, they may have a smaller cooking capacity than toaster ovens, making them less versatile in terms of cooking different types of food.
Toaster ovens with air frying capabilities, on the other hand, offer a larger cooking capacity and a wider range of cooking methods, making them a more versatile option for those who enjoy experimenting with different recipes and cooking techniques.
By weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each appliance, you can select the one that aligns best with your needs and preferences.
In the realm of toasting bread and bagels, slot toasters and toaster ovens fulfill different purposes.
Slot toasters are:
- Compact, specialized toasters designed for toasting bread quickly and conveniently
- Feature straightforward controls and shorter toasting times
- Typically smaller than toaster ovens
- Specifically designed for toasting bread, making them a convenient option for those who primarily use their appliance for this purpose.
However, slot toasters are not as flexible as toaster ovens and cannot fit larger food items or accommodate different cooking methods.
If you’re looking for a more versatile and efficient cooking appliance that can handle a variety of cooking tasks beyond just toasting bread, a toaster oven might be a better choice for you.
Top Toaster Oven Picks for 2023
Based on expert reviews and testing, we’ve compiled a list of the top toaster ovens for 2023 to guide you in finding the perfect toaster oven for your needs.
These toaster ovens not only offer excellent performance and features, but also provide exceptional value, making them an excellent choice for anyone looking to upgrade their kitchen appliance lineup.
From the best overall toaster oven to the best value and best for air frying, our top picks for 2023 cater to a variety of needs and preferences, ensuring that there’s a toaster oven for everyone.
Whether you’re a busy professional looking for a quick and convenient way to prepare meals, a home chef seeking a versatile and efficient appliance to expand your culinary repertoire, or a health-conscious individual searching for healthier cooking options, our top toaster oven picks for 2023 are sure to impress and satisfy your needs.
Cuisinart TOA-26 Compact Airfryer Toaster Oven
The Cuisinart compact air fry toaster oven is our top-rated toaster oven for overall performance, features, and value.
This model offers strong baking performance, a compact size, and a reasonable price, making it an excellent choice for those looking for the best overall toaster oven. It also toasts bread to a lovely, even golden brown better than most other models.
The main limitation of the Cuisinart air fry toaster oven is its single dial control, which can be challenging to determine and may require several attempts to reach the optimal doneness.
Nevertheless, the Cuisinart air fry toaster oven’s excellent performance, compact size, and reasonable price make it our top choice for the best overall toaster oven in 2023.
With its versatile cooking functions and user-friendly design, this toaster oven is perfect for anyone seeking a top-performing appliance that doesn’t break the bank.
Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Countertop Toaster Oven
The Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Toaster Oven is our top pick for the best value toaster oven in 2023.
This budget-friendly model offers excellent features and functionality without sacrificing quality, making it an ideal choice for those looking for an economical option.
Although it has a few limitations, such as the toast shade setting on the timer dial being difficult to determine and requiring several attempts to achieve the desired doneness, the Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Toaster oven still provides great value for its price.
If you’re looking for a toaster oven that offers excellent performance and features at an affordable price, the Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Toaster Oven is definitely worth considering.
Its compact size and budget-friendly price make it an excellent choice for those looking for a reliable and efficient cooking appliance without breaking the bank.
Best For Air Frying
Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro
For those seeking a toaster oven with air frying capabilities for healthier cooking options, the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro is our top choice.
This advanced air fryer toaster oven offers more powerful convection fans for faster crisping, as well as additional settings for proofing bread, slow cooking, and dehydrating.
With its superior performance and versatile cooking features, the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro is the ideal choice for those who want to enjoy the benefits of air frying without sacrificing the versatility and convenience of a toaster oven.
With its top-of-the-line air frying capabilities and additional cooking settings, the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro offers the following benefits:
- Health-conscious individuals can enjoy the benefits of air frying, which uses significantly less oil than traditional frying methods.
- Home chefs can take advantage of the oven’s versatility and efficiency, allowing them to cook a wide variety of dishes with ease.
- The top-rated toaster oven provides an excellent cooking experience, ensuring that your meals are cooked to perfection.
Toaster ovens offer numerous benefits over traditional ovens and other kitchen appliances, making them a valuable addition to any kitchen.
With their versatility, energy efficiency, and space-saving design, toaster ovens cater to a wide range of needs and preferences, ensuring there’s a model for everyone.
By following our comprehensive guide, you can find the perfect toaster oven for your specific needs and enhance your cooking experience.
So why not give a toaster oven a try and discover the endless possibilities it can bring to your kitchen?
In the market for a toaster oven but want one in a color? Check out our top quality picks that could work for you!
Or if you are looking for one that is designed with a sleek and modern look, then check out our top picks for digital toaster ovens.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the point of a toaster oven?
A toaster oven is a convenient and quick solution for reheating leftovers, cooking frozen foods, toasting breads and baking small batches. It heats up faster than a full-size oven, and provides more control over the cooking process.
It is a great choice for those who don’t have a lot of counter space, or who don’t want to heat up their entire kitchen with a full-size oven. It is also a great option for those who want to learn.
What is the difference between an oven and a toaster oven?
The primary difference between an oven and a toaster oven is that the latter is smaller and uses less energy while providing similar cooking capabilities.
Toaster ovens are great for single-serving items, feature a removable wire rack and baking pan, and typically come with broiling and defrosting functions.
What do you cook in a toaster oven?
Cooking and baking with your toaster oven is a great way to enjoy delicious food without heating up the kitchen. You can make toast, bagels, granola, bacon, pork chops, fries, dry fruit, cookies, pizza, fish, veggies, and even reheat leftovers.
What are the disadvantages of a toaster oven?
Toaster ovens can be quite expensive compared to a traditional toaster and are not the best choice for simply toasting bread slices.
They can also be noisy appliances.
How to use toaster oven?
To use a toaster oven, first position it on a dry flat surface and adjust the racks. Select a cooking function, preheat the oven, place food inside, and adjust the settings before setting the time and beginning the cooking process.