Are you considering buying your first toaster oven? Or replacing an old favorite? Purchasing a toaster oven can be overwhelming, with many options available today.
You wish to choose the best option.
You are so excited to cook with this toaster oven that you tell everyone you know about it. Heck, strangers too!
Well, there are two secrets to finding the ideal small oven for you:
Determine precisely what YOU wish to achieve with your toaster oven. Then conducting research. Below are nine tips for selecting a toaster oven to help you find your ideal match.
Sometimes your large oven dies unexpectedly (we’ve been there!). You lack time to consider all of the available alternatives carefully. If you’re desperate for a fluffy baked potato, you need a small oven RIGHT NOW.
If so, skip to the “What Do You Want To Cook?” section, which should help you quickly determine what size toaster oven to purchase.
We believe it’s simple to fall in love with almost any toaster oven, so long as it can accommodate the food you wish to prepare. If the Oster we bought on impulse from Costco years ago could have been adapted into a quarter sheet pan, we would likely still be using it today.
Wait! Before you leave, you should at least skim this post, which explains Everything You Need to Know About Convection Toaster Ovens. Consider whether the absence of this feature would make you unhappy.
Okay, if you’re here to discuss heavy-duty toaster ovens, let’s get started!
SIZE AND SPACE
When selecting a toaster oven, there are two IMPORTANT factors to consider:
- Where you will prepare meals.
- What do you wish to prepare.
Before shopping for a toaster oven, take a measuring tape and write down the exact dimensions of the space where you intend to install it.
All toaster ovens must have a minimum clearance or space between the appliance and overhead cabinets, rear walls, and both sides when used.
Once you’ve found a toaster oven, check the manual for the clearance amounts (See Tip #7 – Websites). Typically, they are listed first under the Important Safety Measures section.
If they cannot be located, contact the manufacturer.
They will have the information you need, allowing you to evaluate their customer service (see Tip #8 – Customer Service Test Drive).
Most toaster ovens are constructed with intentionally short power cords for your safety. It is easy to understand their position. It would be terrible if someone tripped over a long cord and a 25-pound hot oven fell on their foot or even worse.
However, this does not mean it is not challenging, especially if your kitchen lacks available power outlets.
Take a few moments to survey your surroundings. How far away is the nearest electrical outlet from where you plan to use your toaster oven?
Some large, high-wattage toaster ovens require operation on a dedicated circuit separate from other appliances.
What does this entail?
Sincerely, I’m not sure.
I assumed it had to do with not plugging two appliances into the same outlet. Tim then kindly informed me that I was mistaken and that multiple outlets could be connected to the same circuit.
While searching online, I found this Family Handyman article about electrical overloads that you may find helpful. However, if you are uncertain about your home’s wiring and circuit load, you should seek the advice of a licensed electrician.
So, What Do You Wish To Prepare?
Consider the type and quantity of food you intend to prepare in your toaster oven. Do you desire to cook?
- One baked potato, two pounds of Brussels sprouts, or a thirteen-inch pizza?
- Two small fillets of salmon, a whole chicken, or a 14-pound turkey?
- Half a dozen cookies, brownie mix from a box, or a two-layer cake?
Examine the pots and pans you currently use to prepare your favorite foods. Do you use an 8×8 pan for brownies and a quarter-sheet pan for cookies?
Create a list of the various pan sizes you intend to use. Keep this list handy so you can compare it to the interior dimensions of any toaster cut.
BUDGET AND REPUTATION
Whether or not you have a set budget, prioritize quality, durability, and reputation over flashy features. A small oven with few settings and dependable heating elements is a million times superior to one with 25 settings but unreliable heating elements.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “That’s great and all, but where can I find quality toaster oven recommendations?”
Engage in conversation with your family, coworkers, and friends. Send a tweet or conduct a Facebook poll if you use social media.
Those who enjoy cooking with their toaster ovens enjoy discussing them.
Don’t believe us? Check out these recommendations for toasters from our fantastic community!
After you have narrowed your list down to two or three toasters that fit your budget, you can delve deeper.
- Examine the Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond reviews.
- Examine a few “Best Toaster Oven” articles, such as this one or this one, in which your preferred options have been rigorously evaluated.
- Check out YouTube for user-created videos to see them in action, and feel free to ask questions in the comments section.
Once you’ve chosen a toaster oven that fits your counter space and meets your cooking needs, a sale is always just around the corner.
When are toasters typically discounted?
- From late April through June, retailers offer wedding and graduation gift discounts.
- Small appliances are heavily discounted for the holidays from late October through December.
- Each major American holiday
Cooking with a toaster oven requires only a few essential functions: bake, toast, and broil.
By adjusting the rack placement and temperature, these three functions can be used to cook virtually anything.
- Bake: The bake function operates similarly to a conventional “big oven,” with most heat coming from the bottom. The toaster oven maintains a constant temperature by cycling the top and bottom elements on and off or pulsing them to varying intensities.
- Toast: With the toasting function, power is distributed evenly to the upper and lower heating elements. It is ideal for toasting bread, waffles, and pizza leftovers on both sides.
- Broil: The broil function cooks food with only the top elements using direct radiant heat. The broiler can melt cheese, “grill” vegetables and small cuts of meat, and brown the tops of casseroles. If you enjoy broiling foods, look for toasters with a third upper element dedicated to broiling and the ability to adjust the temperature of the broiler.
Toaster ovens today are LOADED with additional functions.
Listed below are some of the most popular. We have attempted to give you a general idea of what each function does, although the specifics will vary between brands.
As you read the following descriptions, consider which ones you would use, and which should be on your must-have list. There are only so many hours a day, so I can guarantee it won’t be all of them!
- Bagel: Crisps the top and interior of your bagel while only warming its crusty exterior slightly.
- Pizza: Heat is distributed from above and below to crisp the crust and melt the toppings. It will have a predetermined time and temperature and, if available, may automatically select convection. Some pizza functions will also adjust the cooking time based on the size and freshness of the pizza.
- Cookies: Have a predetermined baking time and temperature for cookies. Typically, convection will be selected automatically if available.
- Warm: Will maintain a mild temperature around cooked foods to keep them warm.
- Will maintains a mild temperature of around 160 degrees Fahrenheit, above the “danger zone” for bacterial growth of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Proof: Produces a warm but cool (around 80 degrees Fahrenheit) environment for rising yeasted bread and pizza doughs.
- Reheat or leftovers: This function uses a medium-low temperature range (275F to 325F) to reheat leftovers without browning or to dry them out.
- Slow cooking: It is designed to replicate a countertop slow cooker or crockpot. The toaster oven will operate for an extended period at a low temperature.
- Roast: The elements are programmed to have a more aggressive approach (as opposed to the gentler “Bake” heating) in achieving and maintaining the set temperature, as opposed to “Bake.”
- Dual or Phase Cooking: Permits the simultaneous operation of two cooking functions and temperatures in a single session. For instance, if you were preparing a casserole, you could set the Bake function for 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and the Warm function for 30 minutes.
- Dehydrate: Using a fan and low heat, herbs, fruits, and other foods are dehydrated over an extended period. Typically includes a unique rack.
- Air-Fry: Air-frying involves using a fan and high heat to rapidly crisp and brown food. Ideal for crisping up frozen items. Typically includes a unique rack.
- Steam: Includes a unique water reservoir that permits you to steam or poach food and bake artisan bread in a bakery style.
Many specialized functions, such as “Roast,” have preprogrammed controls for the heating elements. Manufacturers typically do not include a great deal of specific information about them.
This can make determining when to use a specialized function and troubleshooting issues difficult.
Some digital toaster ovens are designed to remember the settings (such as temperature and time) you use for each function. This could be useful if you frequently bake a cookie recipe or frozen pizza.
There is no limit to the unique features added to toaster ovens, ranging from convection fans and interior lights to rotisserie spits. Here are some common and uncommon ones we’ve encountered.
- Convection: A fan that circulates warm air throughout the toaster oven to cook food more quickly and evenly.
- LCD Display: Displays the selected function and temperature settings. In certain instances, the display will change color during preheating and when the dish is complete.
- Interior Light: Opening the door to check on your food can drastically reduce the interior temperature of your toaster oven. A light enables you to observe the condition of your food without opening the refrigerator door. Look for toasters with easily accessible and replaceable light bulbs.
- Timer: The timer will signal the end of the cooking time and sometimes the end of the preheating cycle. Some timers include an automatic shut-off function to turn off the toaster oven after cooking, and a few allow you to adjust the beep volume.
- Auto-Eject Rack: Using magnets or a hook, the oven rack will automatically advance when the toaster oven door is opened.
- Multiple Rack Positions: Various rack positions allow you to move your dishes closer or further away from the various heating elements during the cooking process. If you want to cook with multiple pans at once, search for toaster ovens with different rack positions and multiple oven racks.
- Fahrenheit/Celsius Button: allows you to display degrees as either Fahrenheit or Celsius.
- Frozen Button: Notifies the toaster oven that you are cooking with frozen food so that it can add additional time (depending on the item) to defrost and cook your frozen pizza, cookie, bagel, or toast.
- Temperature Probe: Using a temperature probe that attaches to the toaster oven, cooking food to a predetermined internal temperature is possible. The probe is inserted into the food and transmits its internal temperature to the toaster oven.
- Rotisserie: Allows meat or poultry to be roasted in a rotisserie fashion. The walls of the toaster oven will contain special openings for inserting the included rotisserie spit. The rotisserie spit will slowly rotate within the toaster oven to cook your meat or poultry evenly.
- Interior Non-Stick Coating: Nearly all toasters have an interior non-stick coating for simple cleanup. Before making a purchase, you should contact the manufacturer if you are concerned about this.
5. ACCESSORIES AND PANS
Potatoes baked in a dark roasting pan and pizza baked in a stone pan. You want your toaster oven to include at least a crumb tray and a baking pan. Extra accessories, such as a pizza stone or broiling rack, are designed to fit your toaster oven, which is an advantage.
- Baking Pan: A toaster oven-sized metal pan that can be used for baking and broiling.
- Broiling Rack: A metal rack that fits inside a baking dish. It raises the food during broiling and converts the baking dish into a drip pan for cooking meats and poultry.
- Removable Crumb Tray: The crumb tray collects crumbs and spills that may fall to the bottom of the toaster oven. The tray should be removable and slidable so it can be wiped clean or scrubbed as necessary. Consider purchasing a detachable tray from the exterior for the best crumbs-free experience (without opening the door). A man is removing a crumb tray from an oven toaster.
- Pizza Pan or Pizza Stone: A round metal pan or baking stone sized for use in a toaster oven for cooking pizza.
- Cutting Board: During use, the top of a toaster oven becomes extremely hot. Some manufacturers sell specially designed cutting boards that fit atop a toaster oven and feature silicone feet for air circulation and elevation. These boards provide a cooling surface for cooked food, can be used as a trivet when placing food on a serving table, and can be used to chop ingredients.
6. CONSIDER ACCESSIBILITY
Numerous readers with physical disabilities have shared and educated us on how their toaster ovens have facilitated cooking.
While every individual’s experiences and requirements are unique, some of the issues our readers have mentioned affecting their ability to cook are vision impairment, hearing loss, fatigue when standing, and limitations in using one side of their body.
For some, the ability to cook at counter height and no longer must stoop to remove heavy dishes from a full-sized oven is an improvement.
Cindy informed us that her Oster convection toaster oven is her primary oven because she cannot stand for extended periods, and the large oven is difficult for her to operate while seated.
Others have found toasters with audible and visual indicators useful, like flashing lights or beeps when the oven is turned on or when cooking is complete.
Numerous readers emphasized the importance of large, legible prints for the different functions and temperature markings.
A close-up of the knobs on a toaster oven.
Our toaster oven’s settings are printed exceedingly small and in a difficult-to-read shade of light gray.
Marion, blind, made a Hamilton Beach toaster convection/broiler oven more accessible by adding bump dots to the temperature and time knobs in multiple locations.
If you are attempting to make your kitchen more accessible for yourself, a loved one, or a friend, check out this informative and resource-rich post from The Kitchn on Cooking with A Physical Disability.
And if you have an experience to share or an adaptable toaster oven solution, please do so in the section below!
7. WEBSITES AND WARRANTIES
A view of an open laptop from above. You should always visit the manufacturer’s website before purchasing a toaster oven.
Once you’ve found the one, you’re interested in, download the manual, and peruse it to determine whether you have any questions.
Check to see if they sell replacement trays and pans and additional accessories. Determine if any instructional videos exist. A website that explains how to cook with your particular small oven and provides recipes would be a definite plus in my book.
While on the manufacturer’s website, locate the warranty information and review it. Note the warranty duration, what it covers, and how defective appliances and parts are handled.
Store Return Procedures
Before you hand over your cash or click the “BUY” button, investigate the store’s return policy. In some situations, you may need to deal directly with the store to resolve a problem.
There are stores with liberal return policies and others with highly restrictive policies. Before making a purchase, it is prudent to understand a store’s policies.
8. TEST DRIVE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
We hope your toaster oven always behaves itself. However, occasionally you may encounter a problem and require customer service. In times of frustration, knowing what to anticipate when you pick up the phone or send an email is helpful.
While reading reviews (Tip No. 2: Reputation), remember how people describe their customer service experiences.
Visit a manufacturer’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. When a concern is raised, are they polite, responsive, and quick to offer solutions?
Please give them a real-world test drive by calling or emailing the customer service department. Ask any questions that arise while reading the manual.
A stack of manuals for toaster ovens.
You intend to purchase a great toaster oven that will last for years. You may be entering into a very long-term customer service relationship.
One suggestion, however, is to try at least once more if you have a negative experience. You have likely held a customer service position in the past. (I’ve worked as a waitress, a sandwich maker, and a video store employee – RIP Blockbuster Video)
Therefore, you know customer service representatives are human, like the rest. The first individual you spoke with may be new or having a bad day.
9. GO TO A PHYSICAL STORE
A department store contains toaster oven shelves. I recognize that you may not have this option, but if you do, you should take it!
Make use of the toaster ovens:
- Adjust the dials. Are they simple to align with the various functions, or are they incredibly loose?
- Imagine that you have just prepared the most delicious macaroni and cheese ever. To remove your food, pull the rack out as you would normally. Does it slide out of the toaster oven, falling forward?
- How simple is it to remove the crumb tray? Will you scatter crumbs as you attempt to remove them?
- Do the accessories included appear durable or thin and flimsy?
- A cheap baking pan should not be a deal-breaker, but you should consider the cost of purchasing a different one when calculating the total price.
A department store’s shelves of baking pans.
If you are at a department store (such as Target and Macy’s) or a kitchen supply store (such as Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma), pick up a few of the pans on your list and try each one. Ensure that the essential cookware will fit!
It can be challenging to select the “best” toaster oven due to the abundance of options. The difficulty lies in locating one that meets your specific needs and preferences. We hope these tips have been helpful.
Do you already possess a toaster oven that you enjoy? Share your best advice for selecting a toaster oven.
Why Trust Us
You will find what you are looking for at dulceriabakery. From classic to luxury brands, you'll find both. We will help you to select appliances that fit your needs, budget and lifestyle. Whether you want to stop by to learn more — or plan to make a major purchase — we’ll treat you like family and assist you every step of the way. Shop with us today to receive friendly and experienced help along the way.